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Artist Delays Opening of 'Twilight' : Theater: Anna Deavere Smith is still researching the much-anticipated solo show based on last year's riots. It is now scheduled to premiere at the Mark Taper Forum on June 13.

May 28, 1993|DON SHIRLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The opening of "Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992," Anna Deavere Smith's solo show at the Mark Taper Forum about the Los Angeles riots and the events surrounding them, has been postponed 10 days, from Thursday to June 13. Already in previews, the show is the most anticipated of the city's spring theater season--and Smith's most ambitious work to date.

Best known for the recent PBS broadcast of her earlier work, "Fires in the Mirror," about racial riots in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., the Bay Area-based Smith takes on numerous personas in her shows, drawing the text from interviews she has conducted with public and private figures involved in a real-life event.

According to Gordon Davidson, Taper artistic director, Smith was unable until Wednesday to interview Reginald O. Denny, the truck driver beaten at the start of the riots. He is among several key figures who have been unavailable to the artist until this week. The possible addition of material from these interviews necessitates the change in the opening date, Davidson said.

The decision to postpone was made jointly by Davidson and Smith, he said.

In assembling this show over the past year, Smith has interviewed more than 175 witnesses and other key players in the civil unrest. "It's an enormously complicated piece; it has taken every bit of time we've given it," Davidson said.

This marks the third time this season that the opening of a main-stage show at the Taper has been postponed. In November, "Angels in America" was delayed for a week because of technical problems with the set. In March, the critics' opening of "Scenes From an Execution" was postponed one day after leading lady Juliet Stevenson injured her back. An understudy went on for Stevenson at what would have been the critics' performance, but Stevenson was back on stage for the official opening the following night.

Taper spokeswoman Nancy Hereford said the "Angels" incident was the first postponement in 25 years of Taper main-stage productions. "I think it's coincidental," she said, citing the different reasons for each incident. "I don't think it's a pattern."

Previews of "Twilight" began last Sunday and will continue through June 12. The text is expected to change during that period. Audiences will be informed of the process in a brief speech by a Taper official before each preview.

Tickets for the June 3-12 performances will continue to sell at post-opening prices of $26-$32 rather than the $20 preview price. However, anyone who requests an exchange of tickets from that period to a post-opening date will be accommodated, said Hereford.

On June 13, a previously scheduled matinee will be replaced by the opening night performance at 7:30 p.m. Ticket holders for the matinee are being called and offered tickets at any other performance. Smith's contract commits her to only seven performances a week instead of the Taper's normal eight.

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