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Notes From the Field

From 121 member  reviews
Members say: Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

About the show

Second Stage Theatre presents acclaimed solo artist Anna Deavere Smith's new documentary show about people impacted by America’s school-to-prison pipeline. More…

'Notes from the Field' depicts the personal accounts of students, parents, teachers, and administrators caught in our country's school-to-prison pipeline. Investigating a justice system that pushes minors from poor communities out of the classroom and into incarceration, Smith's solo show shines a light on a lost generation of American youth. Drawn from interviews with more than 200 people living and working within a challenged system, Anna Deavere Smith continues her mastery of documentary solo performance by stimulating awareness and, ultimately, change.

Member Reviews (121)


Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent
Avg Score

Engrossing, Thought-provoking, Well-acted, Ambitious, Intense

See it if you are interested in racism, incarceration, and education. Problems and solutions are presented. ADS transforms into many characters.

Don't see it if you want a show with a plot. NFTF explores issues from different angles, but is not a traditional play. A few characters went on too long.

Also Some material could have been trimmed, but I got invested in each char... Read more Read less

Educational, Inspiring, Relevant, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to learn about disadvantaged people in our society. You want to see the world through their eyes. You want to open your own eyes.

Don't see it if You are not interested in watching Ms. Smith present a serious documentary in which she plays all the characters.

Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Resonant, Absorbing

See it if Bravura performance by Deaver Smith highlights the devastating chain from subpar education to crime to jail met by men & women of color

Don't see it if Very downbeat despite respites of humor & optimism; a dulling sameness settles in notwithstanding Deaver Smith's brillance

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if great idea. great acting. great projections

Don't see it if you don't like being bludgeoned by Ms Smith's views,

Ambitious, Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Intense

See it if you're a Smith fan & have admired her past works and talent to create multiple characters, enjoy relevant, hot topic theater

Don't see it if One person shows are not your thing, you're not interested in the issue of how blacks and minorities are treated by the justice system

Great acting, Profound, Relevant, Resonant, Powerful

See it if you're interested in one-person shows, plays that comment on true events, or are interested in issues of race and social injustice.

Don't see it if you're looking for escapist theatre. This show is grounded in harsh realism and pulls no punches. It's an important work of art.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant

See it if You're interested in topical works that tackle the issues of race and education, and/or have enjoyed Anna Deavere Smith's previous work.

Don't see it if You're not interested in listening to nonfiction interviews being acted out in a one-woman play, no matter how remarkable.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if you're interested in raising awareness of our social justice system, ethnic minorities and the need for a more effective education system.

Don't see it if you don't want to see the dynamic ADS portray diverse characterizations of courage and great humanity during the worst of times.

Also This play and Anna Deavere Smith's performance are standing ovation wo... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intense

See it if You are open to hear about the problems the country faces about race relations and the education system.;Anna Deavere Smith plays 19 charac

Don't see it if You do not like feeling lectured to and have made up your mind about the prison v education problem; Dislike watching the Freddie Grey case

Also This is a problem that exists since the days of the Civil Rights March... Read more Read less

Exquisite, Great staging, Great acting, Riveting, Thought-provoking

See it if see notes

Don't see it if see notes

Also The show compiles interviews from various players in several of the sh... Read more Read less

Must see, Absorbing, Great acting, Profound, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to experience an exquisitely acted theater piece that documents the relationship between education and the penal system. Important.

Don't see it if Must see.

Also Anna Deavere Smith is genius.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if you are a fan of Anna Deavere Smith or are interested in superbly reenacted testimonials from real-life events about the black struggle.

Don't see it if you are looking for light entertainment or are not interested in racial issues.

Thoughtful, Provocative, Ruminative, Outstanding acting, Compelling

See it if Anna Deveare Smith brings the pain, the tenderness, the philosophy of real people involved in the struggle for equality and visibility to...

Don't see it if ...light as an unflinching and contemporary series of conversations. You know the material - she introduces you to its effects. Superb.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you have any interest in justice/are interested in voices of color/are not afraid to be confronted with the challenges facing America

Don't see it if you do not want politics in your theatre/you prefer to keep your blinders on

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if You have never seen ADS (if you have, you will go without fail), you like spectacular acting, or an interest in education good and bad.

Don't see it if You seek only amusement, and don't care why or how so many people end up in prison.

Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Masterful, Must see

See it if You want to leave the theater shaken, in a good way--by the performance, and the message that the performance delivers.

Don't see it if You want to remain apathetic, and pretend that we live in a world where everyone is equal, and has the same opportunities. It shook me.


See it if you care about the future of a fair and just society, want to have your heart and mind challenged, love great writing and acting.

Don't see it if you want fluff and happy endings, only care about yourself.

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intense, Inspiring, Powerful

See it if thoughtful, insightful, portrayal of 17 different characters by the incomparable and smart Anna Devere Smith. Inspired to help education

Don't see it if one woman shows on a tough topic. - poor education link to incarceration. uses actual disturbing news footage to introduce characters

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Heartbreaking, Great acting, Relevant

See it if you want to see a one-woman show that address real-life difficult topics in a meaningful way, inspiring both rage and hope.

Don't see it if you are the kind of person that responds to the Black Lives Matter movement by saying All Lives Matter.

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great acting, Insightful, Powerful

See it if powerful critique of race and prison in america

Don't see it if don't like political stuff

Absorbing, Great acting, Profound, Must see

See it if you want to see Master Craftsperson Anna Deavere Smith show how education goes hand-in-hand with the rise in prison terms/systems.

Don't see it if you don't like one-person shows. Or don't want to see racial equality. Or rather see HAMILTON.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You like one-woman shows with very up-to-date, relevant information. You like to follow the news events along controversial racial events.

Don't see it if You don't want to be confronted by racial controversy. You don't like one-woman shows.

Must see, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great acting

See it if You want a new perspective on the education to prison pipeline. Also, if you've never see Anna Deavere Smith, this is one of her best.

Don't see it if You are not open to changing your opinion on poverty, race relations, police brutality, education, or the prison system.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Profound, Thought-provoking

See it if you care about social issues, particularly education, and want to see a tour de force performance by a skilled actor.

Don't see it if you're looking for escape/entertainment. This is for thinking/feeling/caring human beings.

Relevant, Riveting, Profound, Intense, Absorbing

See it if you want to explore one of the most important issues facing modern America with a woman who singlehandedly invented a new brand of theatre.

Don't see it if you absolutely must have a full cast of actors, don't want to think about systemic racism, or don't enjoy call-and-response.

Also Anna is mesmerizing onstage, and her ability to transform into her sub... Read more Read less

November 2nd, 2016
"Though her command of different voices is what’s most obviously dazzling in theatrical terms, that mimetic talent wouldn’t count for much if it didn’t make us share the intent focus she brings to her subjects...That’s what makes Ms. Smith so invaluable. She creates a dialogue out of monologues a...
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November 2nd, 2016
"In the audacious and mind-opening 'Notes from the Field,' Anna Deavere Smith delves into poverty, police brutality, mass incarceration and educational failure. Even as she shifts, with almost insouciant skill, among 17 characters of different sexes and races, she never disappears...Her probing i...
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November 2nd, 2016
"Each segment — well, maybe one or two are less riveting than the others — is fairly astonishing, with apt climaxes and startling kickers. The overall argument, too, is theatrically structured, moving from abstractions to specifics and from causes to results to a form of transcendence...In a way,...
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November 2nd, 2016
"She portrays dozens of real-life figures with dazzling, chameleon-like versatility...There are many powerful moments in the show...Despite the performer's skills and the vital importance of the social issues discussed, 'Notes from the Field' proves too diffuse to have the intended impact. The pi...
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