Daniel Beaty is a man of many talents. And in his off-Broadway, award-winning play called Through the Night, he is a man of many men. Tonight, July 27, Mr. Beaty is bringing this one-man performance to Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs, courtesy of Monina von Opel.
“I’ve been watching his career evolve over time,” said Ms. von Opel. “I like to watch people evolve. I am very interested in the creative process.”
She saw Mr. Beaty’s original version of Through the Night and worried that it was a bit too long. She admitted that when she approached him afterward, she “tip-toed through the thickets” in voicing her criticism.
Ms. von Opel recalled, “He said ‘Oh, I’m cutting it! Come back and see the final version.’” When she did, she knew it was just right.
The play is about six men, all played by Mr. Beaty, with nearly nothing in common; a young scientist, a college-bound kid from the projects, an ex-convict, a corporate executive, a store owner and a mega-church bishop. But through the course of the play, each man faces a life-altering experience that challenges him to push through the night with the one he loves.
There’s humor, there’s drama, there’s music and monologue, and there’s Daniel Beaty, alone on stage, with just a few scattered set props. In total, he plays 13 characters.
“I love performing like this,” said Mr. Beaty. “It allows an audience to go on a journey of imagination. It’s almost like having a book enacted for you.”
Mr. Beaty doesn’t make use of costumes or scenery to convey the setting. He simply does it through speech and action.
“He sees through the souls and the eyes of these characters,” Ms. von Opel said. “It’s very poetic.”
And she said that he’s just as appealing off-stage.
“He’s utterly charming. He’s a sweet, kind man and that comes out in his writing. He gets his points over in such a poetic and gifted way. He has a deep understanding of people in different situations, different stages of life, everything. He has a writer’s empathy.”
Mr. Beaty has visited the Vineyard previously, but has never performed here before. He’ll have a few days to explore the Island before he takes the stage.
“Nobody says no when I ask them to come to the Vineyard,” said Ms. von Opel. “I usually tip-toe up, but nobody even takes a minute to think about it. They say ‘Yes! When?’”
Daniel Beaty performs his one-man play Through the Night tonight at 8 p.m. at the Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs. Proceeds from the performance benefit the Vineyard Playhouse. For tickets and more information, visit vineyardplayhouse.org.