You've got to be pretty captivating to hold an audience with a solo show—and Daniel Beaty is riveting. From slam poetry to stage musical, he's done it all—and infuses his solo work with a blend of all of his talents to create a show that is uniquely his, but that speaks to all of us. A poetry slam champion and Obie Award-winning performer, Beaty explores the internal conflicts and external contradictions of the black American experience—and the ways in which we're all connected, regardless of skin tone.
As he says, "We all have white bones, we all long to have our dreams realized, to love and be loved." And as he shows in his work, we all know this is much sadder, funnier, more difficult, and more beautiful than the world we've created would allow us to think.
In all of his work, Beaty digs into personal experience to find the truths that resonate most broadly—and in most of that work he inhabits a wide range of characters. An Ivy League honors student and rising star in the performance world, he grew up in Dayton, Ohio, with a crack-addicted brother and a heroin-addicted father who was in and out of prison. His mother did the best she could, and as he went through life he developed a sharp eye and voice to record and play back the world around him. His work is optimistic, even progressive—he is propelled forward by looking at the past but refusing to live in it. His stories aren't tales of oppression or rants against the "Man." They're snapshots of a wide range of experiences and perspectives, acknowledging that these lives we're all trying to lead are rife with internal conflict, no matter where we come from or what we look like. Ingrained, inherited self-hatred can do much more damage than surface bigotry, and we can't change the world until we change ourselves—no matter who "we" are.
In Beaty's new solo show, Resurrection, he inhabits six interconnected black men at all stages of life and in all parts of American society: a child scientist, a college-bound young man from the projects, an ex-con, a corporate executive, the owner of a health food shop, and the bishop of a megachurch. They experience an unexpected event that will change their lives forever and bring them together across all divides.