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Play Assignment

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Anna Deavere Smith is a woman who features in her own play acting different characters of ordinary people in order to bring out their stories. She goes ahead to narrate the Los Angeles Uprising according to various public figures’ standpoints. Some of the public figures are Darly Gates who is the Police Chief, Charlton Heston, an actor, Los Angeles former editor Shelby Coffey III, the former president of Los Angeles Police Commission Stanley K. Sheinbaun, as well as Ruben Martinez who is a journalist. Smith also narrates the story in accordance with ordinary people’s stories. Smith does this by changing herself and using the individuals’ words, as well as mimicking the way they talk, their dressing, attitudes, and manners. The play opened people’s eyes to one of the worst disasters in the history of the United States. At the time Smith was working on her play, the city of Los Angeles was overwhelmed with violence and fear. The reason for the violence was a video clip in which four L.A police officers were seen thoroughly beating a black motorist who went by the name of Rodney King. After the four police officers had been acquitted, the violence erupted.

In Smith’s play Twilight, there are two main perspectives that are highlighted, which include the issues of race and class and sexuality and gender. When comparing and contrasting the two, there are a number of aspects that are clearly visible. According to the play, race and class in this case are almost similar, since people who are treated with violence are black and in many cases, they are those who belong to a low class. When it comes to contrasting, it is evident that the main perspectives of black people are very different, since their rights have been violated, even despite the fact that some of them belong to a high class. Therefore, black people have been victims of racial discrimination regardless of whether they were from a high class or a low class; the fact that one was black was all that counted.

Comparing these two principal perspectives to the main idea in Dr. Dre’s song “The day the niggaz took over,” it is easy to see some similarities. In Dr. Dre’s song, the main theme seems to be that even today black people are still slaves. Thus, they have to fight for their rights to be treated with respect and humanity, even if it means using violence. “You’re still a slave. No matter how much money you got…” (Dr. Dre interlude line 2). This bears close resemblance to Smith’s play, in which race and class are chiefly highlighted and predominantly the dreadful way black people are treated. Dr. Dre also mentions the idea that black people in the United States are not wanted, “If you ain’t down for the Africans here in the United States, period point blank.” (Dr. Dre intro line 1)

 There are ordinary people, as well as public figures, in Smith’s play Twilight, and there are those who have different points of view regarding various issues. For example, Elvira Evers is a general worker and cashier at the Canteen Corporation, and Paul Parker is a chairperson of the defense committee. The points of view of these two characters are in juxtaposition, since it is clear that Elvira is appreciative of what white doctor Thomas has done for her in terms of saving her life and that of her baby. “I was just looking for that familiar face and soon as I saw him I say, well I’m alright now.” (Smith 96) On the other hand, Mr. Paul Parker is a bitter man because his brother Lance has been accused of committing a murder and his father was shot due to a petty robbery. Another reason why he is so angry is the fact that the nation was making a big deal after a white boy by the name of Reginald Denny had been beaten. “If Denny was Latino, Indian or black they wouldn’t give a damn” (Smith 116). The characters in Twilight cannot be referred to as young; Elvira has a five-year-old baby. Reginald is also old, since he remembers that his father was killed 11 years ago and he has children. Reginald is not well-off, since he hopes to have his own house someday. On the other hand, in Dr. Dre’s song, it is evident that the characters are African-American, “how many niggas are ready to lose?” (Dr. Dre Bridge 1) They are young, judging from their lingo and their love of music in their cars.

In relation to the characters’ attitudes towards Rodney King’ situation, Dr. Dre states that he prefers violence to protect himself rather than being beaten like Rodney by four white policemen, “Me not out for peace and me not Rodney King…” ( Dr. Dre Verse 1line 3) He would rather use guns as a way of protecting himself. As for Rudy Salas who is a painter and sculptor, he states that racism is “insanity,” since he was beaten by the police in the year 1942. The difference between an ordinary person affected by the riots and a public figure is that ordinary people have no means to protect themselves, while public figures do. Moreover, public figures have influence and money.

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