In 1992, Anna Deavere Smith was commissioned to create a show based on the Los Angeles riots of that year. In April of that year, four white Los Angeles police officers were acquitted of all charges stemming from their violent beating of an unarmed black man, Rodney King, while he was being arrested for drunk driving. In response, an initially peaceful rally descended into a violent riot in which resulted in thousands of fires, severe injuries, and 58 deaths.
Through the process of about 200 interviews, Smith captured the story of Los Angeles. Real people are brought to life on the stage: scholar Cornel West, Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, riot victim Reginald Denny, Angela King (Rodney King’s aunt), and dozens more. Through the multitude of voices, the story of the 1992 Los Angeles Riot is brought to life, as a twilight, the place between day and night, where we reach across racial and ethnic boundaries to find the language necessary to confront the deep divides and complexity of the experiences of those who lived through the riots.
Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 guide sections