Anna Deavere Smith’s Docudrama Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992: Crossing Boundaries or Re-Mythifying the Orient?


Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 (1994), Anna Deavere Smith’s 15th project in her On the Road series, is a docudrama that explores American identity through the diverse cultural memories of the 1992 Los Angeles crisis. She works to make the play an open platform where racial minority groups in multicultural America can negotiate and coexist by repeating interviews from various groups who were involved in the L.A. crisis. Despite the many advantages in her docudrama, the genre itself has been criticized, owing to the dubious characteristics of “reality,” “truthfulness,” and “neutrality” that she emphasizes. This paper examines the characteristics of the docudrama that Smith employs and investigates whether Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 is effective in achieving her aim of shedding light on the diverse layers of American identity. In particular, this paper will focus on “reality,” one of the significant traits of the docudrama, and will investigate whether or not this might cause other forms of racial discrimination. Moreover, the researcher will analyze whether Smith’s racial representation is balanced so that the play becomes meaningful to minorities and helps them work through their foundational historical trauma, that is, the L.A. crisis, which has already become part of their cultural identity.