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Last updated: 3/30/17

Mr. Joy: The Neighborhood Tour

What happened to Mr. Joy? A poignant story of class, race, and learning to dream again.

ArtsEmerson and the Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Racial Equity present "Mr. Joy: The Neighborhood Tour." The series of free theater performances takes place in four Boston neighborhoods. Daniel Beaty’s "Mr. Joy" explores issues of race and class in America to help us find our common humanity. Tickets to all performances on the tour are free. But, due to limited space, advance reservations are strongly encouraged.

Still of Adobuere Ebiama performing in Mr. Joy


What happened to Mr. Joy? A Harlem community is shaken when Mr. Joy, a Chinese immigrant whose shoe repair shop has been a neighborhood pillar for decades, is the victim of an attack. Through the lens of Mr. Joy's customers, from the bubbly eleven-year-old Clarissa (who captured everyone's heart in Daniel Beaty's "Emergency") to the sincere and savvy “gangsta granny” Bessie, we learn the profound yet unassuming impact the shop owner has had on each of their lives. Playwright and ArtsEmerson Artist-in-Residence Daniel Beaty ("Breath & Imagination," "Emergency") returns with another moving reflection on transforming pain into power, this time through the virtuosic performance by acclaimed actress Adobuere Ebiama. A poignant, funny and stirring solo piece, "Mr. Joy" invites us to consider how we respond to violence as individuals and as a community, and the power of the invisible ties that bind us all.


"Mr. Joy" was originally produced by ArtsEmerson in the Emerson/Paramount Center in October of 2015. The play’s themes of "transforming pain into power" – a signature concept of playwright Daniel Beaty – strongly resonated with Boston audiences both through sold-out performances and provocative post-show conversations. The experience of the play became a catalyst to begin important discussions on race, class, and community. ArtsEmerson felt an urgency to continue them by touring the production throughout the neighborhoods of Boston.