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‘Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992’ is a play Anna Deavere Smith produced utilizing verbatim depictions of the numerous casualties, onlookers, observers, and even culprits she met as a result of the Los Angeles riots. Smith examines an assortment of occasions paving the way to the Rodney King tragedy and considers the variety and strain of a city in disorder. Anna Deavere Smith’s play contains numerous assortments of individual stories that give an understanding of the perplexing points of view, feelings, and various real factors experienced by a wide scope of individuals in the city of Los Angeles. Smith utilizes the voices of people in their discourse to introduce various focuses and themes, none refuting more fair or invalid than the other. Smith cites that “occasionally notions are taken out of context”, which sums up how multitudes of people felt and managed their circumstances during that time. Through Smith’s astonishing work, I clearly saw two themes develop within the play that created a pressure yet an enlightened filled atmosphere when individuals in the Los Angeles riots frequently took actions out of context building further tension and also the development of hope in the hearts of certain individuals as time progresses on.

Smith viably obscures the lines between good and bad and rather makes apparently advocated bigotry according to each perspective. An African American activist for the community, Gina Rae, bombards Charles Lloyd with hatred for protecting a Korean lady when managing the death of Latasha. Gina Rae bombards Lloyd utilizing class contrasts, naming him ‘a sellout’ (Smith, 42). This contention turns the audience against Lloyd through her sensational speech. Just once Lloyd talks, the audience gets torn by the circumstance, as Lloyd battles black culture’s ability to permit him to prevail without condemnation. These alternate points of view paint an image of the issues with prejudice, as specific moves are made outside of any relevant connection to the subject at hand, and bigotry strikes on as thinking for such activities.

This represents the intricacy of racial connections inside racial gatherings. Smith likewise depicts interracial contact among Koreans and African Americans when Jay Woong Yahng, a liquor store owner, expresses: “That youngster…usually black, black guys. And they come inside, at one time. That makes me, makes me pay attention the other places, and they gonna try and steal something” (Smith, 47). The Korean retailers show that by focusing on certain racial gatherings, more agony than equity is caused, resulting in an inadequate reaction. Through everybody’s enthusiastic reaction, racial pressure is uncovered and persistently reused. Smith viably stresses the foolishness of racial relations in this period, as the absence of comprehension between each gathering brought about additional issues with each gathering. The absence of understanding led to further violence and chaos in the city but also resulted in a way that help shed hope in the hearts of certain individuals involved in the heartbreaking situation.

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The development of hope and optimism slowly comes out as we draw near the end of the play. There were constant bickering and arguments going on during the tragedy at hand, and because of that, the theme of hope didn’t even cross my mind. Whereas, in the last and final act Anna Smith articulates a moment of light that beams through the characters, and there was a sense of optimism experienced. Hope is difficult to visualize, especially amongst racial discrimination and social inequity because of the separation that arises between us, humans, due to the color of our skin. This theme of optimism springs from Elaine Brown when she states, “If you seriously make a commitment because, and that commitment must be based not on hate but on love… that the love of your people then you gon’ have to realize that this may have to be a lifetime commitment” (Smith, 146-147). This helps create for the audience a sense of change and difference that Elaine Brown wishes to see, and within it brings a successful outcome that can surely evolve in the future through the change we create now.

Lastly, Reginald Denny also communicates a feeling of hope and expectation through the contemplations of him claiming to potentially own a house in the future, exclaiming, “Someday, when I uh get a house… it’s just gonna be all the riot stuff and it won’t be a blood and guts memorial It’s not gonna be a sad it’s gonna be a happy room it’s gonna be a happy room […] of all the […] love and compassion” (Smith, 114). Reading this passage that Reginald Denny spoke radiated such a positive and peaceful atmosphere of what he wishes for in the future, and that alone brought a sense of hope into a place and situation full of hate and anger. Love was also stated by both characters portraying to the audience that if we have hope for the world to be a better place, there must be love because through love we can create change and that will keep us going and will help drive out hate. Optimism and hope were a theme that helped turn such a sad and anger-filled play into a spark of change we hope to see in our community and world.

The disorder reviewed in this play was not just within one specific racial group, but the hope seen for the future was also diversified. This play exposed and explored the devastating human impact through the events that led up to the Los Angeles riots. These events not only created hatred in the hearts of Gina Rae, Mrs. Young-Soon Han, Stanley K. Sheinbaum, Jay Woong Yahng, and so many others for each other but also for the society and country they live in. “I hate this country. I really hate. We are not like customers and owners but just like enemy” (Smith, 47). Jay Woong Yahng furiously stated this comment, creating an image to us, the audience, of how broken the world we sadly live in is. As pain and havoc seem to be a repeated aspect of these circumstances, a spark of hope appears to be on the horizon. The division seen between racial groups throughout the play was undeniable, but the anticipation for change to happen within the individuals cultivates a possible solution that is to come. Cornel West is a scholar, Smith interviewed, and the optimism he sees for the black community is seen through his statement: “Hope looks at the evidence and says it doesn’t look good at all…We gonna take a leap of faith beyond the evidence to attempt to create new possibilities based on visions that become contagious so people can engage in heroic actions…That’s hope” (Smith, 106). The yearning for change by taking the leap of faith, Cornel states, helps spark a sense of hope in the black community. Through months of interviews with almost two hundred people, Anna Deavere Smith created a play that delivered and reflected the diversity and tension in the city of Los Angeles. We were able to see that division and connection for change happened between not only people of color but the disagreement that arose within the same racial groups due to the misinterpretation of one’s action.

Through Smith’s astonishing work, I clearly saw two themes develop within the play that created a pressure yet an enlightened filled atmosphere when individuals in the Los Angeles riots frequently took actions out of context building further tension and also the development of hope in the hearts of certain individuals as time progresses on. Being a case that ties with racial discrimination, there was a great deal of tension that built up in multiple individuals, also causing infuriation in others as certain perspectives were taken out of context. Amongst all the bickering and devastation, hope can’t be ignored. The Los Angeles riots made history along with numerous other racial cases and protests, but with all this pain there also comes a sense of change that must happen. Hope doesn’t mean love and peace will happen right away, it creates in us a belief that change is possible, and through love and peace we will find the solution we are all devastatingly looking for.

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