Writer, actor, composer and singer Daniel Beaty has been chosen to receive the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s 2017 Ireland Distinguished Visiting Scholar Award.
The Caroline P. and Charles W. Ireland Distinguished Visiting Scholar Award is given to a distinguished intellectual outside of the UAB academic community whose work is groundbreaking and transformational in his or her field. During their time on campus, awardees give a public lecture and share their knowledge through informal meetings with students and members of the faculty.
Beaty will speak and perform his 2006 critically acclaimed, off-Broadway solo play, “Emergency,” at 4 p.m. Friday, March 10, in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. A reception will be held after the event, which is free and open to the public.
Beaty portrays a cast of more than 25 characters in “Emergency,” acclaimed as an explosive and funny tour-de-force, featuring slam poetry, multicharacter transformation and song. “Emergency” enjoyed a sold-out, extended run at The Public Theater in New York.
In the midst of the finals for the nationally televised spoken word competition, “America’s Next Top Poet,” a slave ship mysteriously emerges in front of the Statue of Liberty, sending New York City into a whirl of emotion and self-examination. Seen through the lens of one of the contestants and his family at the center of the maelstrom, Beaty delightfully teases out his tale with the colorful commentary of neighbors and bystanders. Juxtaposed against the powerful poetry of the other contestants, the responses to this surreal happening and varied testimonies on identity and personal freedom weave a stirring commentary on what it is to be human and the longing to be free.
New York Magazine declared, “Funnier than most serious plays and vastly smarter than most funny plays, Daniel Beaty’s ‘Emergency’ is the most intriguing new show of the season. Its premise is inspired.”
The College of Arts and Sciences is truly fortunate to have Daniel Beaty as its Ireland Prize winner for 2017, says Dean Robert E. Palazzo, Ph.D.
“A multidimensional artist, Mr. Beaty challenges our thinking regarding the fundamental nature of race relations and the influences of economic class structures on our society through his performances, comedy and writing,” Palazzo said. “He represents a cadre of public intellectuals influencing modern thought through their art. We look forward to his public Birmingham performance at UAB.”
Beaty holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in English and music from Yale University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in acting from the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. At graduation, Beaty was awarded the Louis Sudler Prize for Excellence in the Arts. He is a member of New Dramatists.
As a performer, Beaty has appeared in theatrical productions, operas and television programs worldwide. He performed at The Kennedy Center in the 2004 tribute to actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, and has also performed at The White House.
He has received praise and awards for his work in theater, for both writing and acting. Beaty received the 2007 Obie Award for Excellence in Off-Broadway Theater for Writing and Performing and the 2007 AUDELCO Award for Solo Performance for “Emergency,” and he has toured the play nationally and internationally.
In 2010, his critically acclaimed solo show “Through the Night,” which was produced by Daryl Roth, ran off-Broadway at the Union Square Theatre. Beaty received the 2010 NAACP Theater Award for Best Solo Show, the 2010 Audelco Award for Solo Performance and the 2010 Ovation Award for Best Leading Actor in a Drama.
As a writer, poet and singer, he has appeared on NBC’s “Showtime at the Apollo,” HBO’s “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry,” and BET’s “106 & Park.” As a composer, his 2008 collaboration with composer and violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain led to “Darwin’s Meditation for the People of Lincoln,” an orchestral work that continues to tour in the United States and internationally. He also wrote “Trippin’,” a musical that was optioned by Disney and produced by Harlem Stage. His most recent work is “Breath & Imagination,” about the life of African-American vocalist Roland Hayes. His children’s book, “Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me,” is based on his poetry and was published by Little Brown in 2013.
Some of Beaty’s many awards include the 2007 Scotsman Fringe First Award for the best new writer at the Edinburgh Festival, the 2007 Culture Award for Best in Theater by New York Magazine, the 2008 Lamplighter Award from the Black Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C., the 2008 Edgerton Foundation’s New American Play Award and the 2011 Peter Ziesler Memorial Award.