‘Through The Night’ tackles issues prevalent to Black men

The City Theatre will begin the 2012 season with a rousing one-man show that tells six connecting stories that shares the details of what it means to be a Black man in the United States of America in this day and age.

DANIEL BEATY performs (Photos by J.L. Martello)

“Through The Night,” which was penned, performed and directed by award-winning actor, writer, singer and composer Daniel Beaty, is part poetry and part soul, it presents a colorful range of characters ranging from a 10-year-old boy, an overweight bishop of a mega-church who is addicted to Ho snack cakes, a college student desperate to escape the projects and three more amazing characters. “Through the Night” showcases the dogged determination, hope and courage needed to make it through the obstacles that sometimes hinder life.

“My purpose is to transform pain into power. I’m taking what’’s most difficult and making that into something that is powerful. I believe you reach back and help other people to deal with their problems,” said Beaty who was born in Dayton to a mother who worked as a social worker and a father who, although he took care of Beaty, was a heroin addict and drug abuser who ended up behind bars for the remainder of Daniel’s childhood.

The genesis of “Through The Night” came from a 2007 National Urban League Equality Index report titled “Portrait of a Black Male” that pointed out huge gaps between African-American men and their Caucasian counterparts. Those issues include education, disease and incarceration. It took three years for Beaty to take “Through The Night” from idea to fruition.

“I started with the exploration of core issues that plague Black men and I waited to deal with the contradictions of that. I wanted to show how the characters change or not change and how they live. The play takes place over six hours in the lives of these six men. Choosing characters was a process. I wanted to talk about issues that were hot to me in a way that people would understand. I want to reach young Black boys and I wanted to explore the male psyche,” Beaty said.

Presenting hot-bed issues to theater goers in an interesting, easy-to-understand manner is why City Theatre Artistic Director Tracy Brigden wanted to bring Beaty and “Through The Night” to Pittsburgh audiences.

“It was a no-brainer to bring him to Pittsburgh. This piece of writing is so revered and it’s speaking from a specific place, but everyone has issues that they are dealing with. Everyone is struggling to get through the night in some way. It’s rare to see positive portraits of African-American men on stage and to see something with so much hope, it was important to put that on stage,” Brigden said.

Beaty received the Obie Award for excellence in Off-Broadway Theatre for Performing and Writing in 2007. Also during that year, Beaty won the AUDELCO Award for Solo Performance for his other one-man production, “Emergence-See!” In addition, he also earned the Scotsman Fringe First Award for the best new writer at the Edinburgh Festival. He also scored a Lamplighter Award from the Black Leadership Forum in the nation’s capitol.

The prolific performer has worked throughout the United States, Africa and Europe, performing on the same bills as Ruby Dee, the late Ossie Davis, Mos Def, Tracy Chapman and Phylicia Rashad.

Beaty has high hopes for the Pittsburgh premier of “Through The Night.”

“I’d like to have a theater full of people of different races in the audience. I hope they are entertained and provoked to think about the issues and to transform pain into power by thinking with an open heart about the issues that Black men in America deal with and how we deal with them,” Beaty said.

“Through The Night” will run at the City Theatre from Jan. 14 through Feb. 5.

The preview schedule will run Saturday, Jan. 14 at 5:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m.; Tuesday, Jan. 17 and Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m.; Thursday, Jan. 19 at 8 p.m.

The regular run schedule will be: Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.

The City Theatre is located at 1300 Bingham Street in Pittsburgh’s South Side.

(Tickets for “Through The Night” range from $30 to $60 and can be purchased by visiting www.citytheatrecompany.org or calling 412-431-4400.)

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