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Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  1,036 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
Anna Deavere Smith's stunning new work of "documentary theater" in which she uses verbatim the words of people who experienced the Los Angeles riots to expose and explore the devastating human impact of that event.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 15th 1994 by Anchor (first published March 1st 1994)
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Jan 26, 2017 Chris rated it really liked it
If you lived though the King beating and its aftermath, including the Riots. You really need to read this. Smith conducted interviews with various people, and this is the stage production script of those interviews.
Sadie Hillier
Sep 19, 2016 Sadie Hillier rated it it was amazing
I genuinely wish I could make this required reading for ... everyone. Everyone in America at least, especially fellow white people who cannot feel the pain and the tension that was prevalent in 1965, that was prevalent in 1992, that is still prevalent today in 2016. I finished reading this book around the same time news broke that a police officer had shot Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man whose car was having trouble. It's 2016 and somehow the fact that black people should not be murdered ...more
Carol B.
Jan 16, 2017 Carol B. rated it liked it
This book is, essentially, a re-ordered transcript of Anna Deavere Smith's act. These pages include more of the interviews, and each interview is presented as a kind of lyric. While I appreciated that choice (to present the interviews as poetry), the transcripts don't have anywhere near the same impact as watching the interviewees being acted out. The documentary is particularly effective as a means for discussing race because of Smith's embodiment of various people...but this book seems most ef ...more
Kizz Robinson
Jan 27, 2017 Kizz Robinson rated it it was amazing
The book is beautiful and educational and amazing. Of course, it's also disheartening and demoralizing because we're watching the same things happen over and over again 25 years later. I hope more people re-read this and Smith's other work so we can increase the increments of our change.
Jill Marzolino
Feb 04, 2017 Jill Marzolino rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
How have the LA riots not just continued for 25 years? Seems like these same issues are still coming up.
Very interesting, immersive reading experience
American history is known for certain signature triumphs. Anna Deavere Smith's Twilight is a crucial exploration of what is arguably American culture's signature tragedy: that whatever it is that one thinks makes the United States "great", that thing exists side by side and in constant tension with our ongoing failure to address social injustice, economic inequality, and the clash of race, power, and privilege.

For those who may not be familiar with Anna Deavere Smith's work, she has pioneered h
Dec 08, 2008 Benewaa rated it liked it
This book like Fires In The Mirror was inspired by a racial tension. This was inspired by the Rodney King riot riot in Los Angeles. The riot was sparked by the brutally beaten of an African American man by four white policemen. This incidence like the Fires in the mirror incidence was associated with racism and many people stood up to let their voices to be heard.
Anna Smith interviewed many people from both sides and also people from other races and she turned made them into monologues. Her s
Sep 14, 2016 Melissa rated it really liked it
This play is thought-provoking, which I think describes Anna Deavere Smith perfectly. The L.A. riots happened when I was only 11, and what I did have access to as a girl leaving in a suburb outside of Atlanta, Georgia was not both sides of the story. It was interesting to dive into these events as an adult and see the effects they had on the place I now call home.

I did find the play a bit hard to read because Smith created it from interviews she did with people who lived through the riots and th
Mar 15, 2009 Marisa rated it really liked it
Unlike the other Twilight, Anna Deavere Smith's Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 is a powerful collection of stories from the 1992 L.A. riots. If you ever get a chance to see this amazing actress (who I first saw as Nancy McNally, the national security advisor on The West Wing) acting out the monologues published in this book, do! She inhabits these characters in a fascinating and compelling way. The text on its own, too--with Smith's added stage directions, etc--is striking and gives those of us who ...more
Mar 21, 2014 Camille rated it really liked it
The Los Angeles race riots of 1992 erupted after a “not-guilty” verdict was announced for the police officers charged with beating a black motorist named Rodney King. Anna Deavere Smith interviewed people involved with and affected by the chaos in their city at the time. The script for Twilight: Los Angeles was created from the words of those interviewed, verbatim. The power of this form of documentary theatre lies in its ability to capture the far reaching effects of the incident and to allow t ...more
Nov 28, 2007 Tatiana rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
In the introduction Smith talks about the role of theater in society, and specifically the role she tries to take with her theater in her American society. She says she is trying to get to the human quality behind the crisis and thereby trying to get to the process, the inner workings of society's problems. I don't remember much of the LA riots, I think I was too young, too consumed by my own, tangible, immediate issues to care about something so vague and far away in anything but the most basic ...more
Jan 30, 2009 Efrain rated it it was ok
I hated this book. I think it's just because of Smith's redundant style of writing. Don't get me wrong, I love her acting and her ideas but there was simply too much repetition in this book. Not only were some scenes just slapped on in random places, but to make it worst the scene dealt with the same problem the book went over about five scenes ago. I feel like Smith just waiting for the morning of to put everything together and she took all her interviews with people and put them in a pile and ...more
Apr 20, 2013 Diana rated it liked it
Set in Los Angeles after the riots in the early '90's, Twilight is a startlingly unabashed look at the event that led to a city almost burning. Written in the manner of a reality TV show; Twilight is like watching one half of an interview. This play is much more powerful when it is watched as opposed to when its read. The true charm of this piece is the fact that one actress plays every part and with a talented actress, the show really comes to life. Don't sell this work short--do yourself a fav ...more
Aug 18, 2015 Matthew rated it really liked it
The first hand accounts of the LA Riots, transcribed in a faithful manner by Smith and translated to the stage are still fascinating in book form. Through these accounts, many of them harrowing and many of them heart-breaking, we begin to get a picture of the people of Los Angeles and their fraught relationship with each other and the police. Many of these insights are distressingly relevant today, over twenty years later. If the book suffers from anything, it's a sense that there are many many ...more
Jan 30, 2010 Zach rated it really liked it
Not to be confused with the currently popular Twilight (vampire) series, this is truly a work of art. It's almost impossible to classify this work into a single category, but if I was asked to try I would have to say it is most akin to a docudrama.

Smith's interviews are often wrenching, sometimes humorous, and always powerful. Her use of a poetic structure throughout the work adds to the underlying meaning. It treads on new ground (covering the LA riots) and does so through the eyes of those who
Robin J
Apr 13, 2014 Robin J rated it it was amazing
The Rodney King arrest was such a turning point. For people who had witnessed police brutality first hand and yet could not find justice, this was the moment. There was video; there was no question that the police were violently and viciously brutal. So the verdict in the King trial was not just shocking, it was shattering. The justice so many expected to finally find was denied--the riots were tame compared to the explosion that could have come. This play--a document of various voices of people ...more
Miss Karen Jean Martinson
Sep 20, 2011 Miss Karen Jean Martinson rated it really liked it
Re-reading for class, but I was happy to return to this text. It's a lot more nuanced than I remember. Having lived in LA, it also impacted me a bit more viscerally than it did the first time I read it. I lived in K-Town, I worked with Watts Village Theater Company in South Central, I've been on the West Side and shopped at the Beverly Center (crazy as that mall is) - so the places are real to me, which made the interviewees that much more real as well. Thanks Anna. You're not perfect, but you d ...more
Oct 29, 2011 Mandy rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. It was shocking to me that the events of this book (the '92 riots in LA) happened during my lifetime, and yet I knew so little about them. The form is unique - Smith interviewed a bunch of people and used their words verbatim in short poem-like monologues. Surprisingly, the multitude of voices is not confusing, rather she succeeds in painting a very broad and diverse picture of the time and place. Sometimes, however, I needed a bit more context (usually character-rela ...more
Aug 09, 2015 Greg rated it liked it
This book was the first-year summer reading book for Moravian this year and what a fantastic choice! It is an impressively unorthodox choice in that it isn't a classic and it isn't new but it is extremely timely. I love that a school with Moravian's emphasis on the arts would choose a theatrical piece that ties so well to one of the most important issues currently making headlines. I enjoyed reading it and regret I was not able to participate in a dialogue with students about it but I applaud th ...more
Jan 25, 2009 WaiThain rated it did not like it
Compared to Fire in the Mirrors by Anna Deavere Smith, I enjoyed this book better because it was easier to follow. This book describes what happened in Los Angeles in 1992 and the people who were affected were interviewed. The moments of the incident is specific and Smith provided the occupation of each interviewee. In Fire in the Mirrors, the Jews supported the Jews while the Blacks helped the Blacks. All of them just complained how they suffered from discrmination. I dislike books that are too ...more
Qi Yin
Dec 08, 2008 Qi Yin rated it it was ok
Twilight: Los Angeles is another book by Anna Deavere Smith. Similar to Fire in the Mirror, Anna Smith uses interviews as her source to portray the beating of a man named, Rodney King. Anna Smith also uses people of all perspective to portray this event. Since this event was video type, the police, which is the perpetrator was clearly shown.
This book is fine, I like Fire in the Mirror more because it is more back and forth between the Jewish and Black community and it is very interesting in com
Paula Martin
Oct 27, 2015 Paula Martin rated it really liked it
It's hard to give this a star rating because it is really a play,and so I read it differently than I would read and rate other books, but I was pretty impressed by it. It is really an oral history of where we were after the LA riots of 1992, and how different people reacted to it. I wish I could have seen it on stage.
Nov 16, 2016 Jeanine rated it it was amazing
My daughter read this in her Dramatic Literature Class so I wanted to read it too. It is a masterpiece. It is all real, suddenly I was back in Los Angeles with the Rodney King beating and the trial in Simi Valley where those police officers were acquitted. Such an amazing feat, talking with all of those people about their experiences. Everyone should read this book.
Aug 11, 2010 ashwini rated it liked it
As with most of Deavere Smith's plays that rely on verbatim transcripts of interviews, I wonder how much credit she should get as a dramatic author and not as a performer. She may be asking the questions, but these are not her words. Still, I saw her perform pieces from this at Umich, and it was definitely stirring and emotional.
Jesse James
Apr 28, 2007 Jesse James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even better than reading this play that looks at the various perspectives of the Rodney King beating and the riots that followed, is seeing her perform it. She takes on different voices and personalities in a way that is artistic and believable. Plus, I saw her at a Starbucks once on the Upper East Side and I love her.
Aug 27, 2010 Meg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this play after I stumbled upon it while looking for plays I could direct at the Renaissance School. It treats the before, during,and after of the 1992 race riots (Rodney King ring a bell?) from multiple perspectives. I am excited to work with kids to create a production of it this fall. It creeps up on you suddenly and strikes the heart in unexpected ways.
i thought this book was based around the murder of rodney king and i also thought that this book was a continuation of fires in the mirror talking about segregation and racism. these monologues have a lot of opinions and i think i would've enjoyed it more if the book had more of a solid background story than people talking about their feelings on the event.
Apr 19, 2010 Wendy rated it it was amazing
Just an incredible book that really captured the emotions of the people who were affected in the LA riots. If you have the chance, I'd highly recommend watching Anna Deavere Smith's performance of the people she interviewed. It's been a long time since I read it, but it was so powerful that it's still fresh in my head.
Macy Halladay
Jun 26, 2013 Macy Halladay rated it it was amazing
Anyone living in Los Angeles or even California needs to read this book. It is a defining piece of history. I also starting reading this the day Zimmerman got the not guilty verdict and the parallel cycle of history was unnerving.
Dec 03, 2007 Jgilon41 rated it really liked it
Sad to say, I can't think of another piece of prose I've read about riot. This is a needed topic, with a lot of compelling points of view that convey just how wierd and disjointed Los Angeles is. A quick read with a lot of bang.
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Anna Deavere Smith (born September 18, 1950) is an American actress, playwright, and professor. She is currently the artist in residence at the Center for American Progress. Smith is widely known for her roles as National Security Advisor Nancy McNally in The West Wing and as Hospital Administrator Gloria Akalitus in the Showtime series Nurse Jackie. She is a recipient of The Dorothy and Lillian G ...more
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“He was trying to get me to come inside
and away from the scene,
but I said, "No."
I said, "We have to stay here
and watch
because this is wrong.”
More quotes…