Socialist Worker

Twilight—a poignant reworking of a play that exposes injustice

Issue No. 2588

Nina Bowers in Twilight

Nina Bowers in Twilight

Martin Luther King said that riots are the language of the unheard—this play expresses that.

The one-person show, skilfully performed here by Nina Bowers, was first devised and performed by Anna Deavere Smith following the 1992 Los Angeles (LA) riots.

The riots were sparked by the brutal police beating of Rodney King and the murder of Latasha Harlins, a young black woman who was shot dead by a shopkeeper.

Some 63 people were killed and over 2,000 injured.

Smith interviewed more than 300 people—including jurors in the King case, cops, community activists and victims of police violence.

This interpretation weaves 19 of those interviews together.

The riots are often framed as being about tension between the black and Korean community. But this performance tells a different tale, not just one of racism but of class politics too.

For one character it is about black people rejecting the view that they only good at “crime, sports and entertainment”.

The voice of Angela King, Rodney King’s aunt, is powerful one.

And the voice of a Korean resident expresses that they too were victims of institutional racism.

A juror in the second case—when two of the four cops who beat King were found guilty—speaks of the weight of the decision, the breakdown of misconceptions and how it changed all those involved.

The final voice of Twilight, an activist looking to bring about a truce between gangs in LA, demonstrates the struggle to come together.

This is powerful and poignant performance. It gives a sense of the injustice faced by black people then—and is a reminder of the brutality that continues today.

Anna Blake 

Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992
The Gate Theatre, London. Until 10 February

Coming Out: Sexuality, gender and identity

This exhibition opened last month to mark 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act 1967 partially decriminalised homosexuality.

It features works by artists including Tracey Emin, Francis Bacon, Grayson Perry, Andy Warhol, Sarah Lucas and Sunil Gupta.

Visitors can explore over 80 artworks by renowned artists exploring themes of gender, sexuality and identity in art. The exhibition will releave new research in LGBT+ history.

As part of the exhibition, the Coming Out Gallery Trail will see a series of art interventions throughout the museum looking at changing views of sexuality and gender identity.

There is also a programme of events including curator tours and workshops.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Until 15 April. Free. For details of events during the exhibition go to

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Tue 23 Jan 2018, 14:23 GMT
Issue No. 2588
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