Monday, February 13, 2012

Anna Deavere Smith Plumbs Religion and Art at Grace Cathedral

Last Sunday, worshipers at the 11 a.m. service at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco heard something unusual: a sermon delivered by Anna Deavere Smith, the award-winning actress and playwright.
Clad in white robes and standing between two flickering candles, Smith teased the audience that there would be some interactive elements: “I grew up in the black church so it’s Black History Month and I’m going to need you to be responsive.”
One of her chief themes was the search for “you.”
“Show of hands. How many of you have searched on Google to see what others are saying about you?” she said, pausing to absorb the crowd’s laughter.
It was the first homily for Smith, 61, who is also the first artist-in-residence at this Episcopal cathedral on Nob Hill. She is working on a play, to be performed at the cathedral on Feb. 17 and 18, that will explore the meanings of grace. She has also taken part in a series of public conversations for the Sunday morning Forum program; this coming week she will join the composer John Adams onstage.

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