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Mr. Joy

Mr. Joy: The Neighborhood Tour 2020

A poignant story of class, race and learning to dream again.

FEB 27–MAR 10

ArtsEmerson presents the 4th annual Mr. Joy: The Neighborhood Tour, a series of free theatre performances of Daniel Beaty’s Mr. Joy, a play that explores issues of race and class in America to help us find our common humanity. Directed by David Dower and performed by Debra Walton, public performances this year include Boston, Concord, Natick, Hingham, and Norwood.

Advance reservations are strongly encouraged to ensure access.


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 Debra Walton. 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.

"Currents of urgency. Exhorts us to pay attention."
- The Boston Globe