One of the most intriguing performances of this year's National Black Arts Festival will be the Obie-winning hit Emergence-See!, written and performed by Daniel Beaty. Directed by Kenny Leon, Emergence-See! (July 26-29 at the Alliance Theatre) recounts the media event that surrounds a 19th-century slave ship's inexplicable arrival in present-day New York City, with Beaty performing 40 distinct characters. An actor, singer and slam poetry champion, Beaty has appeared on the third and fourth seasons of HBO's "Def Poetry," and NBC's "Showtime at the Apollo."
In Darfur: "I had an opportunity recently to see the Public Theater's In Darfur at a special one-night presentation in Central Park. The play delves into the current genocide taking place in Darfur in a way that is both artistic and enlightening. What was most powerful for me was that after the performance there was a panel discussion with several activists and artists who are currently working to bring change to Darfur. I truly believe the arts have the power to change the world, and this night was a powerful example of that possibility."
Andrea Bocelli: "Andrea Bocelli is in constant rotation on my iPod. Often after a performance, I will lie down, play his music and allow his voice to carry me to relaxation. This brilliant Italian tenor has a freedom and passion to his singing that moves me deeply. I have studied and performed opera, and I understand how challenging the music can be. Andrea Bocelli makes it seem effortless."
"Grey's Anatomy": "I have been performing quite a bit and haven't had much time for television. I decided to go to the video store and get back episodes of 'Grey's Anatomy' because I have so many friends who love the show. I'm hooked. I think I watched 10 episodes between performances over the last couple of weeks. The show knows how to laugh at itself and manages to walk the delicate line between having heart and not being sentimental. The characters have wonderful contradictions and humanity. These are all qualities I try to highlight in my writing as well."
The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe: "When I begin work on a new play, I often revisit favorite plays. The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe is my absolute favorite. I love the mixture of farce, social commentary, and heart-wrenching poignancy. As an artist, I also look for new, imaginative ways to tell stories. Rather than be didactic, I like to come from 'off center.' The Colored Museum accomplishes this in a remarkable way."
The State of Black America 2007: Portrait of the Black Male, published by the National Urban League: "I am currently working on a new play called Resurrection about the state of black men in America. I have been doing a lot of research on the issues black men in our society are facing. I found the 2007 State of Black America report to be both insightful and informative. The book has statistics, but most importantly, it has several powerful essays by leaders in economics, education, health and other fields who provide practical solutions. As I present Resurrection, I intend to offer solutions, and I feel confident that this book will play an important role."