PlayMakers presents ‘Mr. Joy’ April 26-30

PlayMakers Mr JoyPlayMakers Repertory Company presents “Mr. Joy,” a work by award-winning playwright Daniel Beaty, as the final production of its 2016/17 PRC² second-stage season. The production is directed by Vivienne Benesch, PlayMakers’ Producing Artistic Director, and stars Tangela Large, who returns to PlayMakers after a successful turn in “Detroit ‘67” in fall 2016. The run runs April 26-30.

The PRC2 series features a unique “second act” conversation after each performance, to spur conversation between the audience and members of the creative team on the timely, topical subject matter of each PRC² play.

“Mr. Joy” tells the story of a Harlem community after Mr. Joy, a Chinese immigrant of a neighborhood shoe repair shop, is the victim of an attack. The play is a tapestry of monologues by nine of Mr. Joy’s customers and neighbors, as they reflect on the impact he has had on each of their lives, and on their community. The nine characters, all played by Large, include 11-year old Clarissa, the story’s narrative guide, her “gangsta granny” Bessie, a 16-year old aspiring poet and others dealing with the very topical issues of race, gentrification, and social integration.

“I am thrilled to close out our 2016/17 season with this heartbreakingly beautiful work, which very much embodies the theme of transformation we have been exploring at PlayMakers all season. In choosing this play, I was inspired by something playwright Daniel Beaty said about it: that individual transformation, and individual contribution, is a core path to social transformation,” says Vivienne Benesch. “With this play, our goal is to access the feelings and motivation behind each character, not just intellectualize them. The extraordinary Tangela Large, who breathes life into all of the play’s characters, will take the audience on a journey that explores what — and who — binds a community together, and how faith in the possibility of change can heal.”

The “Mr. Joy” Creative Team:

Vivienne Benesch is completing her first season as PlayMakers’ Producing Artistic Director. For 12 seasons, she served as Artistic Director of the renowned Chautauqua Theater Company (CTC), presiding over the company’s transformation into one of the best summer theatres and most competitive summer training programs in the country. She directed more than fifteen productions at CTC including an acclaimed re-imagining of “Romeo and Juliet” featuring the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, theatre, opera and dance companies. She brought CTC’s production of “Amadeus,” performed with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and Buffalo Philharmonic, to the Virginia Arts Festival featuring PlayMakers company member Ray Dooley. She has helmed productions of “The May Queen,” “Three Sisters,” “Love Alone,” “Red,” and “In The Next Room” for PlayMakers, directed for The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Trinity Repertory Company, and extensively for the Juilliard Drama Division, where she served on the faculty for several years. Vivienne is also an acclaimed actress who has appeared with Gene Wilder, Al Pacino, Blythe Danner, and Dame Maggie Smith, and received an OBIE Award for her performance in Lee Blessing’s “Going to St. Ives”.

She is a graduate of Brown University and NYU’s Graduate Acting Program.

Tangela Large made her PlayMakers debut in the critically-acclaimed “Detroit ‘67” in Fall 2016. She has previously appeared in “Mr. Joy” at City Theatre in Pittsburgh and ArtsEmerson in Boston, for which she received the 2016 IRNE Award for Best Solo Performance, as well as an Elliot Norton Award nomination for Best Solo Performance. Other regional credits include: “The Taming” (Shakespeare and Company); “Intimate Apparel” (Chautauqua Theater Company); “Serial Black Face” (Long Wharf Theater); “Orpheus Descending,” “Henry IV” (Intiman Theatre Festival); “pen/man/ship” (Magic Theatre); “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” (Trinity Repertory Company, nominated for a Motif Award for Best Supporting Actress). Tangela was in “Clybourne Park” and “Comedy of Errors” (Chautauqua Institution, 2013 Season). She earned her MFA in Acting from the Brown/Trinity MFA Programs; BA, University of West Georgia. She is a proud alumni of Atlanta’s finest Tri-Cities High Visual and Performing Arts Magnet Program.

About PlayMakers:

PlayMakers is the professional theater in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina’s premier resident theater company for more than 40 years. PlayMakers has been named one of the “best regional theatres in America”.

About the PRC² Second Stage Series:

PRC² features innovative, topical work that encourages both artist and audience to take risks in unknown territory. Sharing in the process of new work under construction or artists grappling with hot button issues, the audience engages in discussions with the creative artists and expert panelists following each performance. Each production is followed by a “second act” of conversation with our audience.


“Mr. Joy” takes the stage at the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art at 120 Country Club Road, from April 26-30, 2017. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Opening Night: April 26. For information and to purchase tickets, call 919.962.7529 or visit Individual ticket prices for “Mr. Joy” start at $10 for UNC students and $15 for non-students.

Special Events:

  • April 26, 7:30 m. — Opening Night
  • April 26–30 — Free post-show discussions with members of the creative team