Notes From the Field: Doing Time in Education
By Grade Pirez – A High School Student who volunteers for Promise the Children & Girls’ Inc.
It’s difficult to put into words how incredibly moving Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education was. I’d like to warn you, though, that I’m not familiar with stage performances outside of Broadway musicals, so I can’t give a particularly artistic review of the production. I am, however, familiar with the rampant racism that has been a pressing issue for the United States– and I also happen to be interested in issues centered around school systems– so my perspective on the social issues aspect will be far more in-depth.
And goodness, are there a lot of issues. I loved how Smith embodied each of the people she interviewed, seamlessly
Yet, there is also another critical part of the piece: racism. By projecting clips of police abuse from cases like Freddie Gray and the Texas pool party of 2015, she shifts the focus onto the Black Lives Matter movement, and how ethnicity is connected to the “pipeline.” Truly something that our society cannot, and should not forget, is the ongoing crisis with white-on-black violence. Even if there wasn’t as large an emphasis on improving schools, it was still a very informational experience that shed light on an important subject.
One of the most immersive parts of the piece, in my opinion, was the group discussion session, wherein everyone is split into groups determined by a letter on their pamphlet. It encourages people to share their opinions on the show, and discuss how the piece will leave a lasting effect on their lives outside of the theater. As someone who hates being put on the spot in front of people I don’t know very well, this was probably the only part that I did not enjoy. Even so, I did like hearing about other people’s opinions and learning about their own personal experiences.
I highly recommend seeing the performance, especially for those who have an interest in education and/or the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s an entertaining and truthful work– simply an unforgettable experience.