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Nurse Jackie (tv show)

Anna Deavere Smith mines for meaning in 'uhhs,' 'you knows'

Anna Deavere Smith mines for meaning in 'uhhs,' 'you knows'

The Baltimore-born writer and performer Anna Deavere Smith looks for the places in language where the intellect breaks down and raw feeling takes over.

Nearly always, she finds it in the "uhhs," "you knows," sentence fragments and the other stuff that most interviewers consider to be extraneous and — mistakenly, Smith thinks — nearly always remove.

Smith leaves every syllable in during her riveting, one-performer shows, which channel the essences of dozens of her real-life interview subjects, from a cowboy to a Korean-American grocer. The shows explore such hot-button topics as the American health care system ( "Let Me Down Easy") or the Los...