This year, the United Solo board nominated three performers for the Special Award Carrie Fisher in Wishful Drinking (Roundabout Theatre Company), Matt Oberg in The Event (Barrow Street Theatre), and Anna Deavere Smith in Let Me Down Easy (Second Stage Theater).
The 2010 Special Award went to Anna Deavere Smith for Let Me Down Easy. Four-time Academy Award nominee Marsha Mason joined us to celebrate and present awards at the Closing Ceremony on November 21st at the Theatre ROW.
In Wishful Drinking, an irreverent journey through a show business career marked by dysfunction and personal tragedy, Carrie Fisher reinvents herself from cult actress (Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy) into consummate satirist and entertainer. She shares dark episodes like the death of close friends, bouts with substance addiction, illness and divorce, and the ugly side of celebrity culture with signature wit, lightness of touch, and inimitable flair. From a convoluted family history to her sudden rise to stardom in a cultural phenomenon, Ms. Fisher proves that any personal twist of fate can, and perhaps should, be mined for laughs. Her humor and positivity show an irrepressible creative spirit in this beguiling stage memoir.
In John Clancy’s ultra-meta piece, The Event, is wry, revelatory and irresistible. As a lone actor drawing attention to the artifice of theater and the strange, unspoken covenant between performer and audience, Mr. Oberg is compelling as a postmodern everyman in the spotlight. The piece is a funny, yet harrowing, examination of the suspension of disbelief that lays bare the trappings of theater, and makes the very act of performance seem otherworldly, straddling falsehood and immediacy. It probes the nature of art in a way that feels incisive and fresh, thoughtful and mysterious.
ANNA DEAVERE SMITH
Her Let Me Down Easy, an ambitious exploration of the American health care system, is a monumental achievement. As Ms. Smith inhabits doctors, patients, politicians, and other players in the unwieldy health care debate, she avoid partisan preaching or easy answers in favor of a profound investigation into questions of life, death and disease, sharing diverse testimonies from people in the heart of the issue. Ms. Smith’s work is crucial – it sheds light on timely dilemmas in a way that makes them intimate, devastating, and demanding of attention. In this documentary work, as in her previous interview-based solo pieces, she demonstrates impeccable artistry, capturing the tics and pauses of her subjects with immaculate precision. She shows that art is often most essential when it comes in the form of unadulterated truth.