By Shannon Thomason
Writer, actor, composer and singer Daniel Beaty has been chosen to receive the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s 2017 Ireland Distinguished Visiting Scholar Award.
Beaty will speak and perform his 2006 critically acclaimed, off-Broadway solo play, “Emergency,” at 4 p.m. Friday, March 10, in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. A reception will be held after the event, which is free and open to the public.
Beaty portrays a cast of more than 25 characters in “Emergency,” acclaimed as an explosive and funny tour-de-force, featuring slam poetry, multicharacter transformation and song. “Emergency” enjoyed a sold-out, extended run at The Public Theater in New York.
In the midst of the finals for the nationally televised spoken word competition, “America’s Next Top Poet,” a slave ship mysteriously emerges in front of the Statue of Liberty, sending New York City into a whirl of emotion and self-examination.
Seen through the lens of one of the contestants and his family at the center of the maelstrom, Beaty delightfully teases out his tale with the colorful commentary of neighbors and bystanders. Juxtaposed against the powerful poetry of the other contestants, the responses to this surreal happening and varied testimonies on identity and personal freedom weave a stirring commentary on what it is to be human and the longing to be free.
Dean Robert E. Palazzo said the College of Arts and Sciences is fortunate to honor Beaty.
“A multidimensional artist, Mr. Beaty challenges our thinking regarding the fundamental nature of race relations and the influences of economic class structures on our society through his performances, comedy and writing,” Palazzo said. “He represents a cadre of public intellectuals influencing modern thought through their art. We look forward to his public Birmingham performance at UAB.”
As a performer, Beaty has appeared in theatrical productions, operas and television programs worldwide. He performed at The Kennedy Center in the 2004 tribute to actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, and has also performed at The White House.