American Repertory Theater Presents the New England Premiere of Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education

For Immediate release: July 7, 2016

Contact: Kati Mitchell 617.495.2668



American Repertory Theater


the New England Premiere of

Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education

Created, Written, and Performed by Anna Deavere Smith

Music Composed and Performed by Marcus Shelby

Directed by Leonard Foglia

August 20 - September 17 

Loeb Drama Center



Cambridge, MA — The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University, under the leadership of Artistic Director Diane Paulus and Executive Director Diane Quinn, presents the New England premiere of Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Educationcreated, written, and performed by Anna Deavere Smithwith music composed and performed by Marcus Shelby, directed by Leonard Foglia.


Performance dates: August 20, 23-27, 30-31, September 1-3, 7-10, 13-17 @ 7:30PM;

August 21, 27, 28, September 3, 4, 7, 10, 11, 17 @ 2PM; September 14 @ 11AM.

Press opening: Thursday, August 25 at 7:30PM.

Press invitations will be sent out in late July.

Audio Described and Open Captioned performances: Thursday, September 15 @ 7:30 PM and Saturday, September 17 @ 2PM


Ticket prices from $25, now on sale by phone at 617.547.8300, in person at the Loeb Drama Center ticket services at 64 Brattle Street, or online at


“Through powerful monologues, Anna Deavere Smith has tackled race riots, integration and health care. In Notes from the Field, she's using her characters to explore the school-to-prison pipeline.” – NPR


“Smith is magnificent — with each role, she wants you to feel their pain, share their anguish, frustration, and outrage.” – San Francisco Examiner


“Together they deepen our understanding of the growing number of young people from largely poor, urban and minority communities who are stuck on what reformers are calling ‘pathways to prison.’” – Los Angeles Times


A leader in national conversations on race and justice, Anna Deavere Smith now asks audiences to talk back. Urgent and inspiring, Notes from the Field — adding a Boston chapter to the work in progress — traces the connections between America’s education system and its mass incarceration crisis. In the first act, Smith’s trademark portrait performances introduce the students, parents, teachers, and administrators caught in America’s school-to-prison pipeline. In the tradition of call and response, a second act of facilitated discussions asks audiences to evaluate their own position in a network of difficult histories and devastating social policies. 


About the Creative Team:


Actress, playwright, and teacher, Anna Deavere Smith is said to have created a new form of theater. She received the National Humanities Medal, presented to her by President Obama in 2013. She was the 2015 Jefferson Lecturer for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow for Theatre Arts (for the development of Notes from the Field).  She is a MacArthur Fellow, and received The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. She is recipient of two Tony nominations, and two Obie awards. She was runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize for her play Fires in the Mirror (seen at the A.R.T. in 1992). She has created over 15 one-person shows based on hundreds of interviews, most of which deal with social issues. Twilight: Los Angeles, about the Los Angeles race riots of 1992, was performed around the country and on Broadway. Let Me Down Easy (seen at the A.R.T. in 2006) focused on health care in the U.S. In popular culture she has been seen in Nurse JackieBlack-ishThe West WingThe American PresidentRachel Getting Married, and Philadelphia. Books include Letters to a Young Artist and Talk to Me: Listening Between the Lines. Honorary degrees include those from Yale, Juilliard, the University of Pennsylvania, Barnard, Radcliffe, Wesleyan, Williams, and Northwestern. She sits on the board of trustees for the American Museum of National History, the Aspen Institute, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She is University Professor at New York University, where she also directs the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue.


Marcus Shelby is a bandleader, composer, arranger, bassist, educator, and activist who currently lives in San Francisco, California. Over the past 25 years he has built a diverse biography as a composer. His work and music has focused on sharing the history, present, and future of African American lives, on social movements in the United States of America, and on early childhood music education Shelby was bandleader of Columbia Records and GRP Impulse! Recording Artists Black/Note. Currently, Shelby is an artist in residence with the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival and the Artistic Director of the Marcus Shelby Orchestra. In 2013, Shelby received a commission from the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival to compose “Beyond the Blues: A
Prison Oratorio” an original composition for big band orchestra about the “Prison Industrial Complex,” which will premier September 2015. Shelby was awarded a 2009 Black Metropolis Research Consortium Fellowship in Chicago for Summer 2009 to conduct research for his commission to compose “Soul of the Movement” — a musical suite on MLK and the Civil Rights Movement. He worked extensively in Bay Area Theater, Film, and Dance on a range of productions, including composing scores for Notes from the Field, Joanna Haigood’s dance theater work Dying While Black and
Brown, Margo Hall’s plays Bebop Baby and Sonny’s Blues, the Oakland Ballet’s Ella, Robert Moses Kin’ Dance Company, The Pacific Boy Choir, The San Francisco Girls Choir, The Oakland Youth Chorus, and many other productions over the past 19 years in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since 2002, Shelby has worked with the Equal Justice Society and is currently commissioned to create a musical theater work with choreographer Joanna Haigood and director Stephen Anthony Jones about the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Shelby also has arranged for, toured, and conducted the Count Basie Orchestra featuring Ledisi, performed and recorded with Tom Waits, and received the City Flight Magazine 2005 award as one of the “Top Ten Most Influential African Americans in the Bay Area.” Shelby is active in music education and currently teaches at The Community Music Center, Old Adobe Elementary School, St. Paul’s Middle School, and the Stanford Jazz Workshop. He also serves on the San Francisco Arts Commission.


Leonard Foglia is a theater and opera director, as well as librettist. His work has been seen on Broadway, across the country, and internationally. As a director, his opera credits include the premieres of three operas by Jake Heggie: Moby-Dick (Dallas Opera, San Diego Opera, Calgary Opera, Opera of South Australia, San Francisco Opera, where it was filmed for PBS' Great Performances, and Washington National Opera), Three Decembers (Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago), and The End of the Affair (HGO, Madison, Seattle). His production of Heggie's Dead Man Walking has been seen across the country. He also recently directed the world premiere of Cold Mountain at Philadelphia Opera and Santa Fe Opera. As a librettist, his mariachi opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (To Cross the Face of the Moon), with music by Jose "Pepe" Martinez, had its premiere at HGO in 2010 and since has been performed at San Diego Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago as well as the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris and in Phoenix and Tucson. A Coffin in Egypt, with music by Ricky Ian Gordon, premiered at Houston Grand Opera in March 2014 and was subsequently performed at Opera Philadelphia. His theater credits include the original Broadway productions of Master Class (also national tour and West End), Thurgood (also the Kennedy Center where it was filmed for HBO), and The People in the Picture, as well as the revivals of Wait Until DarkOn Golden Pond, and The Gin Game. He directed Anna Deavere Smith's Let Me Down Easy Off-Broadway and on tour (filmed for PBS' Great Performances). Other New York productions: The Stendhal Syndrome (Primary Stages) and the Encores! presentation of One Touch of Venus (City Center). Regional productions include Unusual Acts of Devotion (Philadelphia Theater Company), Distracted (Mark Taper), Things Being What They Are (Bay Street), Paper Doll, The Secret Letters of Jackie and Marilyn (Pittsburgh Public), The Subject Was Roses (Kennedy Center), Seascape, A Coffin in Egypt, The Woman in Black (Bay Street), God's Man in Texas, Dinner with Friends (The Old Globe Theatre.


Set design is by Riccardo Hernandez (The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess), costume design by Ann Hould-Ward (The Color Purple), lighting design by Howell Binkley (Hamilton, several productions at A.R.T, including Twelfth Night), sound design by Dan Moses Schreier (American Psycho), and projections by Elaine McCarthy (Spamalot).



The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University is a leading force in the American theater, producing groundbreaking work in Cambridge and beyond. The A.R.T. was founded in 1980 by Robert Brustein, who served as Artistic Director until 2002, when he was succeeded by Robert Woodruff. Diane Paulus began her tenure as Artistic Director in 2008. Under the leadership of Paulus and Executive Director Diane Quinn, the A.R.T. seeks to expand the boundaries of theater by programming events that immerse audiences in transformative theatrical experiences.


Throughout its history, the A.R.T. has been honored with many distinguished awards, including the Tony Award for Best New Play for All the Way (2014); consecutive Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Musical for Pippin (2013) and The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (2012), both of which Paulus directed; a Pulitzer Prize; a Jujamcyn Prize for outstanding contribution to the development of creative talent; the Tony Award for Best Regional Theater; and numerous Elliot Norton and IRNE Awards.



The A.R.T. collaborates with artists around the world to develop and create work in new ways. It is currently engaged in a number of multi-year projects, including a new collaboration with Harvard's Center for the Environment that will result in the development of new work over several years. Under Paulus’s leadership, the A.R.T.’s club theater, OBERON, has been an incubator for local and emerging artists and has attracted national attention for its innovative programming and business models.


As the professional theater on the campus of Harvard University, the A.R.T. catalyzes discourse, interdisciplinary collaboration, and creative exchange among a wide range of academic departments, institutions, students, and faculty members, acting as a conduit between its community of artists and the university. A.R.T. plays a central role in Harvard's newly launched undergraduate Theater, Dance, and Media concentration, teaching courses in directing, dramatic literature, acting, voice, design, and dramaturgy. The A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training, run in partnership with the Moscow Art Theatre School and the Harvard Extension School, offers graduate training in acting, dramaturgy, and voice.


Dedicated to making great theater accessible, the A.R.T. actively engages more than 5,000 community members and local students annually in project-based partnerships, workshops, conversations with artists, and other enrichment activities both at the theater and across the Greater Boston area.


Through all of these initiatives, the A.R.T. is dedicated to producing world-class performances in which the audience is central to the theatrical experience.


Release Date:
July 7, 2016

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