Daniel Beaty: Theater for Social Good

“Theater should reflect reality,” says Daniel Beaty, a playwright, singer, and performer who takes on hard social issues like race and class in his one-man shows.
Beaty 555 bright

A spark was lit when Daniel Beaty’s second-grade teacher asked him to recite a poem for a Black History Month celebration. Beaty says he knew at that moment, “this feels like what I’m supposed to do.”

Despite family challenges of addiction and incarceration, Beaty earned degrees from Yale and the American Conservatory Theater. He is now an award-winning playwright, singer, and performer who portrays every character in his one-man shows.

Beaty’s plays are profoundly moving—and inspiring tools for social change. His latest play, Mr. Joy, is a powerful story of people in a Harlem community who connect across the divisions of class and race to overcome the trauma of violence. 

“Theater,” Beaty says, “should reflect reality, dig into it in a way that unearths something that is ultimately aspirational.”

“I really do believe we are all connected at our core.”


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