For immediate release…
Thursday – Jan. 23, 2014

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - The Northern Kentucky University Office of African American Programs & Services, in collaboration with the NKU Department of Theatre & Dance, will present Daniel Beaty’s “Emergency,” directed by Daryl Harris, in the NKU Robert and Rosemary Stauss Theatre from Jan. 31 through Feb. 2.

Audience Advisory: contains mature language and subject matter.

A slave ship emerges out of the Hudson River in front of the Statue of Liberty sending New York into a whirlwind of emotion and exploration in this explosive solo tour de force featuring slam poetry, multi-character transformation and song. Deondra Kamau Means portrays a cast of 27 characters originated by Daniel Beaty, including a homeless man, research scholar, Republican business executive, street vendor and 11-year-old boy from the projects who all respond to the unexpected phenomenon.

Through the characters’ individual responses to this surreal happening and their varied testimonies on identity and personal freedom, Emergency weaves a stirring commentary on what it is to be human and on the longing to be free.

Director Daryl Harris, an NKU professor of theatre and dance, said first heard of the show about a year ago. “I was immediately drawn in by the borderline absurdist concept of a slave ship emerging from the Hudson River in the 21st Century,” he said. “When I learned that one actor played 27 roles, I was completely hooked. It was a perfect storm for the social activist and the theatre artist in me.” 

Harris said the casting choice was easy. “Deondra? Who else! He was my first and only choice,” Harris said. “He’s brilliant on so many levels: actor, singer, storyteller and more. We do not see enough of him in the Greater Cincinnati area.”

Means talked about his process in preparing for this one-man magnum opus. “First is the text,” he said. “Just the words and the language, immersing yourself in the text and learning the voices. Once you’ve gotten that, you have to learn the characters. The bones, the flesh and the spirit. The bones are the words, the flesh the character development and the spirit is creating the overall feel of the characters, the show.

“My favorite parts are the Chief Kofi/Reginald scenes,” he said, “because of the contrast between this powerful culturally rich African Chief and this contemporary black professor and scholar who has been beaten down by the current society and by his lack of connection to his past. It’s very interesting because it reflects what I see in society and individuals today.”

Dannie Moore, associate dean and director of African American Programs & Services at NKU, was instrumental in making the production happen. “The AAPS is a department that prides itself on offering programs and services that cultivate opportunities to engage with faculty, staff and alumni, and to celebrate African American culture. We are excited about collaborating with the Department of Theatre and Dance to bring Daniel Beaty’s play Emergency to NKU. This is a great educational opportunity for our students, an opportunity that also will keep them entertained.

Show times are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $6 general admission and $3 for students with a valid ID. Each performance will be followed by a post-show discussion. For more information and to purchase tickets call the NKU Fine Arts Box Office at (859) 572-5464 or go to

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