Let Me Down Easy
Watch the Full Program

Originally presented at Long Wharf Theatre, the play received its New York premiere at Second Stage Theatre. The Great Performances production was recorded in February 2011 in the Kreeger Theater at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, DC, launching a national tour that concluded in September. Watch the full performance below.

Smith, through her chameleon-like virtuosity, creates an indelible gallery of portraits, from a rodeo bull rider to a prize fighter to a New Orleans doctor during Hurricane Katrina, as well as boldface names like former Texas Governor Ann Richards, legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong, network film critic Joel Siegel, and supermodel Lauren Hutton. She performs 19 characters in the course of an hour and thirty five minutes. Their stories are alternately humorous and heart-wrenching, and often a blend of both. Building upon each other with hypnotic force, her subjects recount personal encounters with the frailty of the human body, ranging from a mere brush with mortality, coping with an uncertain future in today’s medical establishment, to confronting an end of life transition. The testimony of health care professionals adds further texture to a vivid portrayal of the cultural and societal attitudes to matters of health.

  • Rheba Heggs

    Thanks to PBS for sharing this amazing work with the public!

  • Nancy M. Dion

    Powerful! I will add this to my syllabus for Behavioral Medicine with physician assistant students.
    Thank you Professor Smith for a tour through America, our health system and dying.

  • J. P. Finerty

    A brilliant performance in conception and production. I saw this twice in Berkeley this summer and was delighted that it was recorded for PBS. I was a bit disappointed that the Eve Ensler interview, part of the Berkeley performance, was not included since it was astonishing. But once again Anna Deveare Smith shines a light on an important part of American life.

  • V. Wortman

    I totally loved this. I have been a victim of the health care system with a family member in critical condition with no insurance. It was a real adventure and the quality of care was certainly substandard until, after seven months, we found a doctor who pulled strings and got them the care they needed. It can be done with all the fight you have. PBS, thank you so much for sharing. Anna is certainly a real talent and moving to watch.

  • FrederickRLynch

    One of the finest stage performers in America finally gets her “Great Performances” moments. A masterful one-woman show. Some classic characters and memorable portraits! Hope this will soon be released on DVD.

  • Tawanda

    Loved this play, have viewed it several times here as well as notified friends, surprised that one of the characters are missing and that a DVD/Blu-ray is not yet available for purchase.

  • Maureen Monahan

    Interested in purchasing a DVD of this performance.

    Are there copies available?

  • Sharon

    May 21, 2013

    I had just received the link from my daughter, Suzanne, to view this play that was on PBS. This was such a great performance by Anna Deavere Smith. Wonderful acting, and great research on all these real individuals. The one I really liked was the one about the Hurricane Katrina and the Hospital involved and how she portrayed those victims that were poor and would possibly not make it out of the hospital. Thank you Anna for this wonderful performance. Thank you Suzanne for sharing this.

  • Linda Hewes

    I would like to purchase a DVD/BluRay of this performance. Is that possible? Watching the Arena Performance on my computer is frustrating because it has frequent hesitations (to catch up) and I would like to share this performance with my book club in the Fall. I did order the Bill Moyers interview, but would also like to own Anna Deavere Smith’s actual Performance of “Let Me Down Easy” on a DVD/BluRay disc. I was privileged to see her perform (twice) at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC and would like to share her message about mortality, health care, and class divides with so many of my friends.

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