Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992
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Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  677 ratings  ·  48 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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Camille
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
Robin J
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
Linda
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...more
Benewaa
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...more
Marisa
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
Tatiana
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
Efrain
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
Diana
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
Zach
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...more
WaiThain
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
Mandy
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
Qi Yin
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...more
Miss Karen Jean Martinson
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
john nielsen boyack
Jan 18, 2014 john nielsen boyack rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: White People
Recommended to john nielsen by: Bob Goldberg
a wonderful way (and reminder) to walk into the holiday weekend. thanks, anna, for your tireless efforts to speak and write these stories.
Meg
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.
Kevin2
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.
ashwini
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.
Wendy
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.
Jesse James
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.
Leonard Pierce
I was inspired to revisit this when Anna Deveare Smith turned up in Rachel Getting Married, one of my favorite movies of 2008. It suffers a bit in book form by losing her astounding performances, but it's still a compelling work that formulates a sort of LA-as-apocalypse vibe.
Stephanie
An interesting look at the 1992 L.A. riots. Devere Smith interviewed numerous L.A. residents and business-owners and then portrayed each of them on stage in a one-woman show revealing the varying experiences, prejudices and thoughts surrounding the riots.
Macy Halladay
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.
Jgilon41
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.
Paul Ivanov
I read this book as a participant in UC Davis' Campus Community Book Project http://occr.ucdavis.edu/ccbp2004/inde...

A riveting account of the events that unfolded after the Rodney King verdict.
Ray
A fascinating attempt to distill the 1992 LA riots/uprisings into a piece of theater. Smith is a genius. Lots of rich commentary here. However I probably would have rather see this be performed than read it.
M-K
Excellent. Anna Deavere Smith interviewed many people involved in the LA Riots and then created a play in which she told all their stories. It is powerful to hear the various points of view.
Jamie
this was a great piece that gave insight on the LA Riots. I really enjoy the Deavere Smith's honesty and her ability to get people to be honest. Wonderful snapshot of a moment in time.
Emily
I actually enjoyed this book immensely. It was very powerful, and moving.

read for ENGL 3370: American Modernism through Contemporary Literature in Spring 2013
Kristin
I really wish I could have seen this performed live. We watched some of a video where Anna Deavere Smith performed all of the monologues and it was amazing.
Caroline
Fantastic, a series of monologues as a part of a documentary theatre project. It's powerful on paper, even better on stage.
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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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