Freedom inquiry

It’s mid-November, which is to say the heartwarming holiday shows are nearly here. But if you’re looking for something a bit more bracing and adventuresome, try Daniel Boyd Beaty’s touring show this weekend. Beaty, who trained as a writer and musician at Yale University and studied acting with the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, will perform his original one-man play Emergence-See!

The thumbnail description: In 2005, a slave ship emerges out of the Hudson River in front of the Statue of Liberty. The 90-minute piece based on this premise includes song, slam poetry and monologues. Beaty plays 40 characters, ranging from an 11-year-old girl to the 400-year-old ghost of an African chief.

“The ship is sent by the spirit of an ancestor, who is encouraging people to explore how free they really are,” Beaty explained in a recent interview. “Not ‘free’ in terms of slavery, but in terms of their ability to love, their ability to dream, their ability to achieve their goals. The play is about many characters in different neighborhoods, responding to this event, and the changes it causes in their lives.”

“There’s a sort of quirkiness to it,” Beaty added. “I use humor and extreme characters to explore deeper things. You’ll be enjoying a character who feels very familiar and then hear something that will provoke you.”

When Beaty performed Emergence-See! at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York City, the play won accolades from The New York Times, which called it “intense” and “hilarious.” The Village Voice called Beaty’s roles the “characters from Black America we’ve all been waiting for.” He later took the show to the National Black Theatre Festival, where he linked up with Sacramento producer William A. Parker.

Beaty will give three performances in the Sacramento area this weekend: Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Admission is $20 at Monterey Trail High School, located at 8661 Power Inn Road in Elk Grove. Visit or call (916) 271-8202 for further details.