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Great Performances: Let Me Down Easy

As in her acclaimed earlier plays "Fires in the Mirror" and "Twilight: Los Angeles," Anna Deavere Smith interviews an eclectic range of people and then performs as the interviewees in their own words. This new gallery of indelible portraits from "Let Me Down Easy," ranges from boldface names such as cyclist Lance Armstrong, supermodel Lauren Hutton and Texas Governor Ann Richards, to lesser-known but equally memorable characters, including a rodeo bull rider, a New Orleans hospital doctor and the director of a South African orphanage — all sharing their searing experiences in confronting the price and politics of health, facing the end of life and encountering the ultimate resilience of the human spirit.

"Let Me Down Easy" star Anna Deavere Smith as Elizabeth Streb, the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

"Let Me Down Easy" star Anna Deavere Smith as Elizabeth Streb, the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

Credit: Courtesy of Joseph Sinnott WNET 2011

"Let Me Down Easy" star Anna Deavere Smith as Brent Williams, the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

"Let Me Down Easy" star Anna Deavere Smith as Brent Williams, the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

Credit: Courtesy of Joseph Sinnott WNET 2011

"Let Me Down Easy" star Anna Deavere Smith as Lauren Hutton, the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

"Let Me Down Easy" star Anna Deavere Smith as Lauren Hutton, the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

Credit: Courtesy of Joseph Sinnott WNET 2011

"Let Me Down Easy" star Anna Deavere Smith as Ann Richards, the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

"Let Me Down Easy" star Anna Deavere Smith as Ann Richards, the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

Credit: Courtesy of Joseph Sinnott WNET 2011

"Let Me Down Easy" star Anna Deavere Smith as Michael Bentt, the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

"Let Me Down Easy" star Anna Deavere Smith as Michael Bentt, the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

Credit: Courtesy of Joseph Sinnott WNET 2011

"Let Me Down Easy" star Anna Deavere Smith as Hazel Merritt, the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

"Let Me Down Easy" star Anna Deavere Smith as Hazel Merritt, the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

Credit: Courtesy of Joseph Sinnott WNET 2011

"Let Me Down Easy" star Anna Deavere Smith as Peter Gomes, the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

"Let Me Down Easy" star Anna Deavere Smith as Peter Gomes, the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

Credit: Courtesy of Joseph Sinnott WNET 2011

"Let Me Down Easy" star Anna Deavere Smith as Ruth Katz, the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

"Let Me Down Easy" star Anna Deavere Smith as Ruth Katz, the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

Credit: Courtesy of Joseph Sinnott WNET 2011

"Let Me Down Easy" star Anna Deavere Smith as Dr. Phillip A. Pizzo, the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

"Let Me Down Easy" star Anna Deavere Smith as Dr. Phillip A. Pizzo, the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

Credit: Courtesy of Joseph Sinnott WNET 2011

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