Best Ensemble Cast in a Play

Fires in the Mirror

Anna Deavere Smith wrote Fires in the Mirror, a kaleidoscopic account of a 1991 race riot in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, as a virtuoso one-person evening of monologues. Male, female, black, white, young, old were all to be portrayed by the same actor. But in a production that focused on division, Mustard Seed Theatre split the cacophonous evening between two versatile actresses — Michelle Hand and Rory Lipede — who each portrayed numerous roles as if they were two heads of the same Gorgon. It was almost misleading to speak of two brilliant performances: Under the methodically invisible direction of Lori Adams, Hand and Lipede breathed as one, paused as one and supported each other in the most unobtrusive ways. The cumulative effect of having two actresses enact a play that had been conceived for one became doubly terrifying.

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