"Eight years ago, I was living in a community in New York," playwright Daniel Beaty says, "and there was a Chinese-American man who fixed my shoes." At the time Beaty was a struggling actor and teacher with little money and a penchant for frugality. "He worked magic," Beaty recollects. "I'd take my one pair of fancy beat up shoes into his shop, and they'd come out like new." 

One morning Beaty woke up, and the shop was boarded up and circled with caution tape. He asked neighbors and friends what happened, and slowly uncovered rumors of an attack. "I never saw anything in the newspaper," Beaty shares, but the story lived with him for a long time. He eventually wrote ArtsEmerson's newest production that asks the question "What happened to Mr. Joy?"

The play shares stories and experiences from five other people that slowly draw the outline of Mr. Joy. It ponders race and class in America, and is acted by Tangella Large, who takes on each of the plays five parts. 

"I'm always eager to get deeper-- to be even more honest and true," Large says. This play, she says, gives her an opportunity to do just that. The play is about both language and truth, but also embadies a sense of "witnessing." The playgoers are encouraged to interact with Tangela's cast, and she says she draws energy from the audience as what she calls a "dynamic castmate."

To learn more about ArtsEmerson's production "Mr. Joy," click on the audio link above. To purchase tickets for the play, click here