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Exploring the Lives Affected by American Health Care

Anna Deavere Smith, actress and playwright, will give performance lecture on personal health care stories.

Jan. 8, 2014— Actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith will give the 2014 David P. Gardner Lecture in the Humanities and Fine Arts, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 7 p.m., Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle. This event is free and open to the public but tickets are required. Tickets are available through the Kingsbury Hall box office, or by calling 801-581-7100.

Sponsored by the University of Utah’s Tanner Humanities Center, Smith’s performance lecture, “Health Care: The Human Story,” will explore the complexities of the American health care system. She will base her lecture on her one-woman show, “Let Me Down Easy,” in which she interviewed patients, doctors, and administrators to understand what is happening in health care today.

“Anna is an exceptional performer and artist whose explorations of complicated social and moral issues accentuate our shared humanity,” said Bob Goldberg, professor of history and director of the Tanner Humanities Center. “Her work both educates and enlightens by highlighting the nuanced personal stories of our world.”

As an actor, teacher and playwright, Smith created an acclaimed series of one-woman plays based on her interviews with diverse voices from communities in crisis. She has won two Obie Awards, received two Tony nominations, a MacArthur Fellowship and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. In January 2013, she was awarded the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, one of the most prestigious prizes awarded for the arts. She has had roles in numerous films, including “Philadelphia,” “An American President,” and “The Human Stain,” and has worked in television on “The Practice,” “Nurse Jackie” and “The West Wing.” Smith is the founder and director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue and is a professor of performance studies at New York University.

The Gardner Lecture was founded in honor of former University of Utah President David Pierpont Gardner and features distinguished scholars and artists from the humanities and the fine arts in alternating years. This year’s lecture is funded by the Tanner Trust and co-sponsored by the College of Fine Arts, the Division of Medical Ethics and Humanities in the School of Medicine, the Lawrence T. and Janet T. Dee Foundation, and Associated Students of the University of Utah. For more information, contact the Tanner Humanities Center at 801-581-7989,