August 1991. Crown Heights Brooklyn. A car in a rabbi’s motorcade goes out of control and kills a Black boy. In retaliation, a Jewish student is slain by Blacks. Riots and upheaval shake both communities, and New York itself. Anna Deavere Smith’s Fires in the Mirror explores race, identity and the aftermath of the Crown Heights tragedies in a unique theatrical way. Smith’s play presents over two dozen people, real people, whom she interviewed about the Crown Heights events. These “characters” speak directly to us in their own words, creating a raw, multi-faceted portrait of what it means to live in a diverse, polarized urban America. Fires will be performed by Philicia Saunders as her senior creative thesis. Saunders plays all roles, as Smith did, from a Caribbean-American self-styled teenaged “bad boy” to an elderly Hassidic rabbi, from the Australian brother of the slain student to the Reverend Al Sharpton. It is a powerful, provocative piece of theater.
Philicia Saunders ’10