Emergency (formerly Emergence-SEE!)
Written and Performed By Daniel Beaty
An explosive new play where rhythm, rhyme and remembrance rise.
- Every now and then you see a performance that jolts the senses to attention. This is one of them! Somehow
this artist touched something so deep in me that I love to see in a performance and in the human spirit. I sat
in awe and profound admiration listening as he connected us to the exhilaration, the pain, and the promise of
what it is to be human. By the end, I was on my feet shouting like someone in church—I was so moved.
Ruby Dee
- Glorious! Daniel Beaty’s Emergence-See! is mesmerizing, lyrical, timeless theater.
Sir Peter Shaffer (Equus, Amadeus)
- Daniel Beaty is a miracle. Emergence-See! is urgent, passionate, and deeply moving.
Zoe Caldwell (Master Class, Medea, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie)
- Emergence-See! is brilliant. Daniel Beaty is genius!
Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show, A Raisin in the Sun)
And here’s what the critics are saying about Daniel Beaty and Emergence-See!...
- Funnier than most serious plays and vastly smarter than most funny plays, Daniel Beaty’s Emergence-See!
is the most intriguing new show of the season. Its premise is inspired: On a clear blue day in 2006, a slave ship
appears in New York Harbor. At the Public, on a stage scarred by shattered timbers, the actor-playwright teases out
all the provocative consequences of its arrival.
Beaty tells stories within stories, all loaded with heart. You may think you’ve seen a lifetime’s worth of poetry
slams, but watch what rich use Beaty makes of one here, how exuberantly theatrical the result is. (Beaty has
a flair for the big crescendo, drawing ovation after ovation—it’s like a magic trick that gets you every time.)
The unique virtue of Beaty’s play is how seamlessly his interest in a personal embrace of personal history shifts to
take in the national embrace of national history. Is the ship a blessing or an embarrassment? A source of guilt or of
healing? Are reparations the answer? His view is at once genuinely universal, in the sense that we are all, like that
ship, in the process of emerging into the world, becoming more fully ourselves; and pointedly topical, as when he
attacks blinged-out rappers who forget where they came from.
The leading playwrights who are now coming of age write about the world in a way that is engaged but not
doctrinaire; their plays have a disabused optimism. With his unflinching readiness to contend with all voices, left
and right, and his ability to be at once idealistic and tough-minded, Beaty gives reason to hope this may be the lens
through which writers now in their thirties will view the world—and reason to wonder if his future plays will put
him near the head of that group.
Jeremy McCarter – New York Magazine
- Heads up if you’re near the Public Theater. The energy pouring out nightly could knock you off your feet.
Its source is Daniel Beaty, and he’s performing his one-man, multi-character show called Emergence-See!
The show begins with a slave ship rising up from the Hudson River in front of the Statue of Liberty. Beaty uses that
event to launch into a passionate and funny exploration of black life, past and present.
Over the course of 80 minutes, Beaty plays 40 characters—men and women, young and old, rich and poor, straight
and gay—who comment on the event in the harbor. They’re all connected in some way and end up revealing
various points of view on the black experience.
With just a shift in his body language and his voice, Beaty conveys the essence of each character. He weaves
together poetry, drama-filled monologues and songs to address everything from homosexuality and racial profiling
to AIDS. He uses his voice like a finely tuned instrument, ranging from booming low notes to delicate upper
Beaty constantly prowls the set with endless energy. He is mesmerizing.
Joe Dziemianowicz – DAILY NEWS
- Daniel Beaty’s explosive, affecting solo play Emergence-See! may be the most important new American
drama since Angels in America. In a taut, riveting hour-and-a-half, it paints a portrait of our particular political
moment with astonishing incisiveness, revealing hidden or repressed truths and pointing optimistically toward a
bright tomorrow that embraces bitter yesterdays and apathetic todays without being stymied by either. Beaty’s a
slam poet, and most of the characters in this extraordinary play are poets either by design or by nature or both; the
words he gives them to say hearken back to ancestors as diverse and encompassing as Kushner and Hansberry and
Shakespeare and whoever made up the story of Goldilocks. On top of that, Beaty’s performance as no fewer
than 35 different characters in Emergence-See! is a tour de force of the highest order. This is acting and
playwriting of the deepest humanity; as far as I’m concerned it’s a show everybody ought to see.
Beaty’s work is breathtaking in giving voice—so many voices—to people who don’t often get a chance to
speak to us from the stage. We discover history lost or deliberately obscured, and we discover a present that’s
subject to the same fate; if only for placing the invisible and the unheard centerstage, this is significant theatre.
But there’s even more going on here, as Beaty connects to what’s in every human heart, a refrain that’s been sung
since suffering began.
Beaty, just 30 years old, is astoundingly wise, and this play of his is loaded with his potent and visionary
wisdom. Go see it.
Martin Denton – nytheatre.com
- I found myself won over by the sheer energy and charisma that ceaselessly emanates from the gifted and
dazzling Mr. Beaty’s performance.
It’s a fantastical tale to be sure, but what it has to say about the need to connect with the past, as well as with the
realities present, is not only valid, but often uplifting. In addition to Beaty’s talents as a mimic—employed to give
life to a whole gamut of disparate characters—he also possesses a rich and resonant baritone voice which he uses to
fine effect throughout the evening.
Beaty is such a vibrant and electric presence. So, even if you’ve grown somewhat fatigued of the entire solo
performer genre, nevertheless make your way down to the Public Theater to check out this entertaining show
by the dynamic and dexterous Mr. Beaty. He’s a real talent to watch.
Margo Channing – BroadwayWorld.com
- In Daniel Beaty’s electrifying one-man show—Emergence-See!—Rodney, a poet, describes the pain of black
American and a culture that was historically denied its identity. The pain, he says, is “in so many of us sleepwalking
these street in an unconscious state of emergency.”
This unconscious state, and the disconnect from one’s true identity, is what Beaty unabashedly attempts to tear down
in Emergence-See!—a lyrically brilliant must-see from an exciting young artist.
Beaty frantically cycles through an array of characters, voices and dialects—stringing together monologues like
beads on a necklace to create not just a story, but a community with divergent ideologies. His most affecting
characters include a lovable little girl with health issues, a Jamaican man with a unique outlook on life, a hopeful
prostitute and a diverse group of poetry slam competitors.
Under the direction of Kenny Leon, Beaty’s impeccable sense of rhythm and flow seeps into every aspect of his
ambitious production, including the lightning-fast transitions between characters and scenes. As he glides and
dances around the imaginative, multi-tiered set—he maintains a constant sense of forward momentum and
an urgency that hold the audience and refuses to let go.
Peter Santilli – The Associate Press
- There may be a lone figure onstage, but the new theater piece Emergence-See! boasts a cast of characters rivaling
the biggest Broadway musical.
Daniel Beaty, the show’s writer and performer, plays more than 40 characters in this socially charged show about
the impact of slavery on the African-American psyche.
Under the direction of Kenny Leon, the charismatic Beaty assumes all the roles in rapid-fire fashion, switching
instantly between characters old and young, male and female, straight and gay, American and African. His
chameleon-like performance, especially the skill with which he shifts his vocal tones, is highly impressive.
Frank Scheck – NEW YORK POST
- Though only 80 minutes long, Daniel Beaty’s Emergence-See! contains enough characters, ideas, ambition and
poetry to fill a performance twice its length.
Leon’s staging helps separate the characters and clarify the script’s meaning, but it’s Beaty’s performance that
carries the positive, appealing energy from one character to the next. His ability to mimic so many different
characters is remarkable—with each character given individualized accents to facial tics. Even more impressive,
is Beaty’s deftness at both writing and performing slam poetry. He wraps his voice around these vibrant,
intricate poems with charismatic full of life intensity.
Emergence-See! is unabashedly successful—funny, thoughtful, evocative and moving.
Julia Furay – CurtainUp
- You might think any show that begins on a slave ship would have nowhere to go but down. But when Daniel
Beaty appears on one at the very start of Emergence-See!, his acclaimed solo show that’s now found a berth at The
Public Theater, all bets are off. His singing an ethereal spiritual in a richly resonant baritone jolts you to attention
with the possibility that this show might take you places others of its ilk would never dare.
That it maintains enough individuality to glitter prominently in a crowded month of openings is a tribute to
Beaty’s writing and performing talents.
Matthew Murray – Talkin’ Broadway
- Lady Liberty receives some unexpected company in the solo show Emergence-See! Minding her own business as
usual in the middle of New York Harbor, standing solitary and symbolic, she see her status as a tourist attraction
temporarily upstaged when a slave ship, submerged for hundred of years, suddenly rises to the surface at her feet.
The circus that greet this supernatural event spills across the stage of the LuEsther Hall at the Public Theater in the
supple person of just one actor, Daniel Beaty.
Mr. Beaty’s writing for his central characters is compassionate and precise, and the more briskly sketched
cameos are nicely steeped in satire. Mr. Beaty is also a fine singer, and the performance is punctuated with brief
musical interludes. He moves with the easy grace of a man attuned to the rhythmic impulse that links music and
The symbol at the center of Mr. Beaty’s encounter between African-American and the ghosts of the past is a novel
one. The notion of a phantom slave ship joining New York’s armada of tourist attractions is provocative and funny.
Charles Isherwood – The New York Times
- As a speaker and singer, Beaty has control of an exquisite instrument, and simply listening to him is always
a pleasure. Playing a host of characters who react to a slave ship that rises from Hudson Bay and settles in front of
the Statue of Liberty, he remains as pure and powerful at the top of his impressive range as he does at the bottom.
Many of his creations are slam poets, and Beaty uses the form to build symphonies out of the rhythm of his words.
The show is most exciting when he suddenly alters a poem’s meter, volume or speed so it can suggest some new
Mark Blankenship - Variety
- Emergence-See! a must-see
One would probably be hard pressed to find a more passionate new play in New York than Emergence-See!
In addition to the fierce commitment and dynamic presence that Beaty puts forth in order to perform to this
ambitious project, his text is centered on his driven belief that contemporary African Americans have lost the ability
to come to terms with their shared racial history in America.
Director Kenny Leon has aided Beaty by reinforcing Beaty through various technical means, creating an overall
sense of stunning theatricality.
Matt Windman – am New York
- Emergence-See!, is a rousing, bruising panoply of being black in New York.
This piece has language on its side. Mr. Beaty’s slam poetry background exposes itself in swoops of lyricism, but
the richer stuff never overstays its welcome. In fact, the text often works most confidently in his shortest strokes.
Mr. Beaty has a pitch-perfect musical—even operatic—ear. Not only does he pepper the piece with lovely snatches
of gospel and doo-wop, but he knows how to give himself bravura set pieces without interrupting his dramaturgical
His many victories in the world of slam poetry situates him comfortably in a familiar vein: Those swinging Def
Comedy Jam cadences have wormed their way well into the popular consciousness. But Mr. Beaty, while keeping
the form’s upbeat messages of selfhood front and center, is surprising because of his dramatic sympathy. He may
always talk about being truthful to a self, but his real “truth” lies in his gracious negotiations between multiple,
contradictory, messy—a very city of—selves.
Helen Shaw – The NEW YORK Sun
- Daniel Beaty unfolds the premise of his energetic solo show Emergence-See! in its first minute: A 400 year old
slave ship from Ghana has suddenly arisen from the Hudson River and docked near the Statue of Liberty.
It’s a striking, immediately telling image, worthy of George C. Wolfe’s impish but pointed The Colored Museum.
And the spectrum of reactions Beaty portrays – embarrassment, exhilaration, disbelief—handily probe the stillunpurged ancestral memories of African-American, and index how far the race has, and hasn’t, come since the
Atlantic passage.
Beaty is a compelling, fired-up figure, with a shaved head, close-set eyes, and a stirring voice. His apparent
specialty is the hip-hop “slam” poetry he offers under the guise of a Harlem poets’ café. Some are brilliant set
pieces that could be lifted from the show without much damage.
Rob Kendt - Newsday
- A one-man tour-de-force debuts at the Public Theater.
Daniel Beaty—actor, writer and poet—is a major new talent whose work is currently on display at the
Public’s LuEsther Hall in a solo show aptly titled Emergence-See! At its core, Emergence-See! is a play about
the black experience in America today and what it means to be free; an ambitious undertaking to say the least.
Many questions arise throughout the play. What is freedom and what are the responsibilities that go along with
being free? To be free, does one forget the past or embrace it? And how does one move forward from the past? Is
freedom just a state of mind? Purposely, Beaty doesn’t attempt to answer all of these questions. Instead he
expresses a range of ideas, conceits, and points of view—social as well as political—and communicates them
through his forty plus characters. No small feat to pull off. Yet through his amazing gift for story-telling and his
uncanny ability to play many characters, Beaty stays true to his themes all the while entertaining and enlightening
his audience. A stimulating and rewarding play emerges from the voices of his characters and it demands to
be seen.
Beaty has ingeniously incorporated a slam poetry competition into his play and four of his characters recite their
poetry at a club run by a colorful character named Sharita. As performed by Beaty, each piece is a showstopper;
executed with breathtaking brilliance, power and conviction. Each piece also stands alone and could be
successfully performed outside of the play, like an aria from an opera. The opera metaphor comes to mind because
Beaty has a gorgeous operatic voice and he sings throughout the play.
Kudos to the Public Theater for producing this play and bringing Beaty to the public’s attention. You will be
hearing a lot from this young man in the future. Emergence-See! is Must-See!
Elliot Rush –TheaterScene.net
- An African-American college professor must come to terms with being descended from slaves. In a strange
theatrical coincidence, this plotline is the fulcrum of two current off-Broadway shows: Tanya Barfield’s Blue Door
at Playwrights Horizons, and Daniel Beaty’s stirring one-actor, multi-multi-character Emergence-See!
Unquestionably, Beaty is an extraordinarily talented performer—complete with a gorgeous singing voice—
and his writing displays a complex mind, a very caring heart, and a deep soul.
Beaty has been blessed with a superb production courtesy of director Kenny Leon, who provides his star with just
the right amount of motion to keep the proceedings involving yet not frenetic.
The ship’s name, by the way, is Remembrance. How apt. Daniel Beaty is a name to remember, as is this vivid
portrait of the African-American experience in present-day New York.
Brian Scott Lipton – TheaterMania.com
- Beaty is Brilliant in Emergence-See!
Daniel Beaty is a master performer in his one-man show playing at the Public Theater. Emergence-See! tells
the story of a slave ship that suddenly appears at Liberty Island and depicts characters from all angles sharing their
reactions to this incredible event.
And each character that he shares has a message to convey. Throughout the show, one feels the overwhelming
respect that Beaty has for poetry. And listening to several poems that he has created for his characters, one knows
very clearly that he is a gifted poet.
Although there is humor in the play and a range of emotions are displayed, the final emotion one feels is hope.
Hope that we are all connected and that by acknowledging our past, we secure our future.
Beaty was able to take this play to the next level after having performed it about three years ago because of the
incredible input of Broadway director Kenny Leon. You really have to experience this production for yourself.
Linda Armstrong – New York Amsterdam News
- Daniel Beaty’s one-man show, which he also wrote, explodes with language, passion, and movement, filling
the stage at the Public with color, characters, and excitement that is awe-inspiring. Beaty’s magical realist
fantasy is the story of a phantom slave ship rising out of the Hudson and its impact on the city.
Beaty integrates various styles of poetry throughout and the theater fairly resonates with the more that 40 characters
he creates in the scant 90 minutes. Essentially a meditation on freedom and how we seek it out and need it as much
as we need air or water. Beaty writes with economy and precision, taking the audience on a journey that juxtaposes
the surreal with human truth.
Christopher Byrne – Gay City News
- Run, Don’t Walk to Emergence-See! at the Public Theater.
Gripping and inspirational, a one-man masterpiece Emergence-See!, written and performed by Daniel Beaty,
gathers many voices to dramatize the urgency of self-realization and empowerment in the African American
community. Directed brilliantly by Kenny Leon, Beaty gives powerful multilayered performances of many
characters who revolve around the nucleus of a distraught father and his two adult sons.
Joan H. Allen – Daily Challenge
- Mr. Beaty portrays about 40 characters over a dazzling 90 minutes in a show called Emergence-See!
Mr. Beaty looks outward for his characters and story, finding an engaging array of urbanites and folding them into a
quirky, pliable tale that lets him comment on many aspects of black life, from many vantage points.
The show is full of memorable moments, among them an intense look at a black motorist detained in a profile stop
and a hilarious “duality duel” between a character called Nerd and another called by a different N-word.
Neil Genzlinger – The New York Times
- A funny, passionate show.
That very combination—old and new, American and African—is the idea embedded in this one-actor, multicharacter show about the schizophrenia at the center of the current African-American experience. Since he plays all
of the characters, the talented Daniel Beaty literally embodies the theme he dramatizes.
Among the show’s diverse strengths is its sophistication, rejecting the predictable polemics without losing the
passion. Just as each of the many pieces looks as though it might turn into harangue or kitsch or slush, it veers off
into self-ironizing humor of fiercely sane cultural analysis.
Four characters are performing poets at the Café, all wildly different, each presenting knockout poems that actually
further the plot. Narrative links among the characters emerge as they develop and reappear, and Beaty shapeshifts
with astonishing ease.
The triumph is that even with its seriousness of purpose, Emergence-See! is remarkably entertaining.
At a time when everyone and his uncle seem to be performing multiple-character solo shows, this one’s a
Toby Zinman – Variety
- EMERGENCE-SEE! – A Must See!
It seems that in New York, as in Vancouver, standing ovations have become so common place that they have lost
their significance. I have frequently observed, in perplexed amusement, audience members leaping to their feet after
quite unexceptional shows.
However, after a tour-de-force performance by Daniel Beaty in Emergence-See!, I was on my feet with the
rest of the audience.
Beaty is an amazing actor/singer/writer who was the 2004 Grand Slam Champion at the “World famous
Nuyorican Poet’s Café.” In Emergence-See! he plays so many characters that I lost count.
I was spellbound for the 90 minutes of this show. Beaty’s transitions from little girl to educated professional,
transvestite, homeless man, Trinidadian immigrant, television personality, African Chief and of course Rodney,
Freddie and Reginald among others were faultless. Thank you, Kenny Leon (Director) and Daniel Beaty, for a
superb evening of theatre.
Gillian Lockitch – immediatetheatre.com
Emergence-See! opened at the Public Theater in New York on October 22, 2006.