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Students attend Beaty’s ’Mr. Joy’

Daniel Beaty

Daniel Beaty performs Mr. Joy for Emerson students at the Cutler Majestic Theatre on August 31. (Photo by Dan O'Brien)

Nearly 1,000 students attended a performance of Mr. Joy by playwright, actor, and ArtsEmerson Artist-in-Residence Daniel Beaty at the Cutler Majestic Theatre on August 31.

Emerson President Lee Pelton and numerous faculty and staff also attended the event and participated in discussions with students following the performance.

Set in Harlem, the play portrays several characters whose lives have been impacted by Mr. Joy, a Chinese immigrant whose shoe repair shop has been a neighborhood pillar for decades. After Mr. Joy suffers an attack, the community is shaken and a story is told that intersects race, ethnicity, and other dimensions of diversity.

While sharing his thoughts before the performance began, Pelton told students that “the foundation of our learning is diversity. It’s the core of what we do here.”

Cutler Majestic student crowd

Students, faculty, and staff fill the Cutler Majestic Theatre before the Mr. Joy performance. (Photo by Dan O'Brien)

“Diversity is not an add-on at Emerson College. It is essential,” Pelton said. “The intersection of these engagements are places of learning…even if from time to time they are places of discomfort.”

“I know you will enjoy [Mr. Joy] and I hope that it will challenge you,” the president said.

Beaty’s residency with ArtsEmerson is a multifaceted arts and civic engagement project that focuses on working with youth organizations in Boston.

Kenney, Balan, Afolayan

First-year students Aliza Kenney '19, Tara Balan '19, and Deborah Afolayan '19. (Photo by Dan O'Brien)

Before the show began, audience members and first-year Performing Arts students Aliza Kenney ’19 and Tara Balan ’19 expressed excitement over their newly found theater opportunities at the College.

“It’s just amazing,” Kenney said. “Every time I walk into an Emerson theater, I’m blown away.”

“It’s exhilarating to know that you’re going to work on this stage at some point,” Balan said. 

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