Blogging the Arts: Let Me Down Easy at The American Repertory Theatre

A couple weeks ago I participated in a panel about blogging and social media at StageSource’s annual Boston Theater Conference with Nicholas Peterson (Assistant Director of Marketing at The American Repertory Theatre) and Charlie McEnerney (Marketing Director at ArtsBoston). We spent 90 minutes conspiring with one of the most well attended break-out sessions of the conference talking about how theaters of all sizes (and budgets) can make use of the online world to reach out and engage a new audience.

I’ve teamed up with local arts non-profit The American Repertory Theatre for a series of blogger events during the upcoming 2008-2009 season at their two spots in Harvard Square. Each blogger receives a complimentary ticket for themselves and a friend. The first event for the new season takes place on September 16th for Let Me Down Easy a play in evolution, written conceived and performed by Anna Deveare Smith. (If you were a West Wing fan like me, you might recognize Anna from her role as National Security Advisor Nancy McNally on The West Wing, 2000-2004.)

About the Production:

Well known to A.R.T. audiences as the creator of Fires in the Mirror, Anna Deavere Smith is one of the most acclaimed and provocative writers and performers of our time. Her latest one-woman show, LET ME DOWN EASY a play in evolution, is a journey in search of human qualities that are too seldom in the news – compassion, generosity, and grace.

Channeling a dramatic range of interview subjects, from sports stars and philosophers to healthcare professionals and survivors of the Rwandan genocide, Anna Deavere Smith asks a question for our age: how do we pursue grace and kindness in a competitive and sometimes distressing world? Generous and powerful in its vision, LET ME DOWN EASY a play in evolution is a virtuosic exploration of the resourcefulness of the human spirit.

To jump start conversation about the production, the A.R.T. has posted an entry on their blog titled “What is Grace” — they’ll be reading and collecting (and responding to) opinions before and after the blogger night on September 16th. Might be a cool use of Seesmic to get video reactions to the question, too? I’ll post a separate blog entry here at with my own tidbits answering the question.

As the A.R.T. staff began to discuss how the word “grace” factors into Anna’s production of LET ME DOWN EASY a play in evolution, we realized how individual concepts of grace are very different and very personal. One member of our group found himself uncomfortable with the word; others found it powerful. Some saw it spiritually, while others associated it only with the body.

How do you think about grace? Do you think of yourself as someone who experiences grace in your life? Why? How? If you work in the world of health care and healing, how do you see grace fitting in?

If you’re a Boston area blogger and you’d like to join us for Let Me Down Easy a play in evolution on September 16th, head over to the RSVP page to sign-up. Each blogger receives two tickets so feel free to invite a friend, too! As an added bonus, A.R.T. is giving away two pair of tickets to see KOOZA from Cirque de Soleil.

Here’s a YouTube video from 2005 at the TED Conference where Anna Deveare Smith portrays four people she interviewed for “On the Road: A Search for American Character.” — author Studs Terkel, convict Paulette Jenkins, a Korean shopkeeper, and a bull rider.

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