On March 3, 1991, a 26-year-old Black man named Rodney King was brutally beaten by officers of the Los Angeles police department. The incident was caught on tape, the first of long line of disturbingly similar videos to go viral. The four officers involved were charged with assault and excessive use of force. A year later they were acquitted by a mostly white jury in the nearby suburb of Simi Valley where the trial had been moved. News of the acquittal set off five days of unrest in South Central Los Angeles, which left 50 dead, 2000 injured, 9,500 arrested, and $1 billion in property damages. Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 is Anna Deavere Smith’s artistic response to these traumatic events. Using more than 350 interviews, Smith creates a mosaic of four dozen characters to ruthlessly probe issues of race and class that set Los Angeles ablaze. First performed in 1994, Twilight remains a stunning, insightful, and relevant work of documentary theatre.
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