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Acclaimed Actress, Cellist Launch Global Performance Laboratory

MARCH 11, 2013 – CELEBRATED ACTRESS AND PLAYWRIGHT Anna Deavere Smith and cellist Joshua Roman will launch Georgetown’s new interdisciplinary Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, with a performance and campus residency March 12-18.

Smith, a television, theater and film star who has appeared in Nurse JackieThe West WingLet Me Down Easy and Rachel Getting Married, will begin her residency with a March 12 symposium involving her work-in-progress, On Grace.

The symposium, “On Stage With ‘On Grace’: Religion, Redemption and Politics,” features panelists talking about grace as it is understood by different faiths and how it operates – or doesn’t – in politics. 


On Grace is a search for the possibility of grace, kindness and goodness in the human experience,” Smith says. “We know about competition and conquest – in many ways we train ourselves and teach our students to be competitive and strategic. On Grace suggests that goodness is an option.”

Included in the free symposium are Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, a professor at Georgetown Public Policy Institute; Imam Mohamed Majid, president of the Islamic Society of North America; and Michael McCurry (G’85), former White House and State Department spokesman.

The symposium is co-sponsored by the Mortara Center for International Studies and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs.


A photo of Joshua Roman, pictured here with his cello.Acclaimed cellist Joshua Roman will accompany actress Anna Deavere Smith during a stage reading of On Grace and lead a cello workshop with students of the Georgetown University Music Program during his residency.

Smith will deliver a staged reading of On Grace, March 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the university’s historic Gaston Hall.

Roman will play his cello during the reading, after which Smith will talk about politics with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, now Georgetown’s Mortara Distinguished Professor of Diplomacy.

On Grace seeks to define the concept of grace from multiple perspectives. In the play, Smith presents verbatim material she has gathered through extensive interviews on the subject with prominent theologians, authors and activists.

The New York Times has dubbed Smith “the ultimate impressionist: she does people’s souls.”  


The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics is a joint initiative between the Theater and Performance Studies Program and the School of Foreign Service (SFS). It is designed to leverage Georgetown’s strengths in international relations and theatrical performance to study the power of the performing arts in advancing peace and social justice.

“We are thrilled to launch the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics with the residency of one of America’s greatest actor-activists, Anna Deavere Smith,” says laboratory co-director Cynthia Schneider, distinguished professor in the practice of diplomacy at SFS and former U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands. “[She] embodies the intersection between performance, society and politics that is at the heart of the lab’s mission.”

Derek Goldman, artistic director of the Davis Performing Arts Center, says the lab is “a natural outgrowth of our ongoing, intensive exploration of the intersection of theater and politics here at Georgetown.”


Smith will visit a class on Culture and Diplomacy: Performance, Film, and Media – taught by Schneider and Goldman, also a professor of theatre and performance studies.

She will also participate in a Q&A with Theater and Performance Studies Program majors and Roman will lead a cello workshop with students of the Georgetown University Music Program and members of the Kindler Cello Society of Washington.

Tickets for On Grace are sold out, but individuals may register at performingarts.georgetown.edu to receive more information should additional seating or viewing options become available. All tickets unclaimed by 7:25 p.m. will be released to patrons in the standby line at Gaston Hall.

For more information, visit the homepage for the Department of Performing Arts at Georgetown.