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ArtsEmerson Bringing ‘Transformative’ Play to Boston Neighborhoods


Adobuere Ebiama in Daniel Beaty's Mr. Joy. Photo/Craig Bailey

Mr. Joy, Daniel Beaty’s exploration of race and class in America first produced by ArtsEmerson two years ago, is on the road in a Neighborhood Tour of Boston.

Throughout April, actress Adobuere Ebiama will travel to Allston, East Boston, and Dorchester’s historic Strand Theatre to bring free performances of the show to residents in their own neighborhoods. (The opening show in Hyde Park was April 1-2).

“We bring Mr. Joy back this spring to give more of Boston a chance to experience this transformative work by our artist in residence, Daniel Beaty,” ArtsEmerson Co-Artistic Director P. Carl said.

In the one-woman play, a Harlem community is shaken when Mr. Joy, a Chinese immigrant whose shoe repair shop has been a neighborhood pillar for decades, is the victim of an attack. Through the lens of Mr. Joy’s customers – all played by Ebiama – the audience learns the profound impact the shop owner has had on each of their lives.

When Mr. Joy first played at the Emerson/Paramount Center in October 2015, performances sold out, and its themes of “transforming pain into power” became a catalyst for discussions on race, class, and community, in post-show conversations.

The Neighborhood Tour is a partnership between ArtsEmerson and the Boston Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Racial Equity.

“The City of Boston’s resilience initiative includes a unique focus on social and economic resilience in a city affected by historic and persistent divisions of race and class,” said Atiya Martin, chief resilience officer. “The story of Mr. Joy is one example of how these challenges can manifest into opportunity and we are proud to support its tour in Boston neighborhoods that will start new conversations to propel our work forward.”

In addition to Mr. Joy, ArtsEmerson has produced Beaty’s Breath and Imagination in January 2015 and Emergency, in which Beatty also starred, in May 2013.

ArtsEmerson Co-Artistic Director David Dower said having Beaty in residence has had a significant impact on ArtsEmerson and its audiences.

“Daniel has been both a mentor and a champion for our values, and this neighborhood tour of Mr. Joy adds one more dimension to his impact on our city,” Dower said.

Performances are free and open to the public. To RSVP, visit


Remaining shows:


BCYF Jackson/Mann Community Center, 500 Cambridge Street, Allston

Friday, April 7, 7:00 pm and Saturday, April 8, 7:00 pm


ZUMIX Firehouse, 260 Summer Street, East Boston

Saturday, April 15, 8:00 pm and Sunday, April 16, 3:00 pm


The Strand Theatre, 543 Columbia Road, Dorchester

Thursday, April 20, 7:30 pm and Friday, April 21, 8:00 pm



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