Matthew Krauss, News Writer • email@example.com
On Friday, October 13, E&H held its first 2017-18 school year theatre performance, the one man show titled Emergency. In the play, actor Daniel Beaty portrayed 43 different New Yorkers who all witness a slave ship appearance in the modern day Hudson River. The main narrative is about a mentally disturbed man who has climbed on top of the slave ship and what people’s reactions are to it.
Beaty came to E&H through a grant from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation.
“Every season they have a roster of different actors to choose from and one was Beaty,” explained Associate Professor of Music Lisa Withers. “This year’s guest artist series theme is race and poverty, so he fit our needs.”
The show had a biographical element to it. One poem within the play called “Knock Knock” tells of the knocking game a boy played with his father and how sad he was when his father could not play the game back nor was able to speak or touch him through the glass and bars of the jail.
In a documentary called Behind the Glass, Beaty explored how he felt similar to the boy in the poem. Beaty’s father has been arrested over 60 times. Beaty is passionate about prison reform and advocates fighting against New York Governor Cuomo’s 2017 resolutions attempting to limit visitation days of inmates.
Beaty has been featured in multiple New York Times reviews. After attending Yale, he stayed around the New England area and in gratitude for his services Boston Mayor Marty Walsh tweeted a picture of the proclamation initiating April 20 to be Daniel Beaty Day in recognition of the “transformative power” in his art.
Jonathan Tripp, a first-year theater student, went to the workshop Beaty conducted last Friday. He said, “He tried to teach us that anyone can perform and write poetry which is exactly what we did in the workshop.”
Tripp, who then watched the play that night, described it as “Coherent in switches between characters and surprisingly relevant.”
Beaty started a program in 2012 called the I Dream campaign in order to help build communities, deal with trauma and examine ways race and class are prevalent in America. One of the centers for this program is Omaha, Nebraska which according to Newsweek magazine is the most dangerous city to be an African-American. Beaty uses poetry to help former gang members address violence as can be seen in his documentary film I Dream of an Omaha Where. This film was developed as a part of this program.