Nov 19

“WET: A DACAmented Journey.” A Lucid Dreamer Speaks.


Presented by ArtsEmerson
Produced by Cara Mía Theatre & Ignite/Arts Dallas
Written and Performed by Alex Alpharaoh
Directed by Brisa Areli Muñoz

November 8-25, 2018
Emerson Paramount Center
Boston, MA    02111
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Review by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) Alex Alpharaoh’s one-man show is a captivating fusion of poetry and play. Alpharaoh transforms from character to character, suspense to comic relief with shape-shifter ease, never missing a stanza as he leads the audience through his onstage persona, Anner’s, ceaseless real-life struggles as an undocumented person in the US. Even traveling to see his dying grandfather for the first and last time is a life-threatening ordeal. It’s not life-or-death, but life as you know it-or-an undiscovered country certainly feels like comparable stakes. Continue reading

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Jun 25

BeBe Winans was “Born for This”

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Original Music and lyrics by BeBe Winans
Book by Charles Randolph-Wright, BeBe Winans and Lisa D’Amour
Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright
Choreographed by Warren Adams
Orchestrations, Arrangements, & Music Direction by Steven Jamail
Starring Milton Craig Nealy, Kirsten Wyatt, Phillip Brandon, Matthew Griffin, and Donald Webber, Jr.

June 15 through July 15, 2018
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
219 Tremont Street, Boston, MA

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Downtown Boston, MA)  Born for This was the musical biography of soul gospel musician Benjamin “Bebe” Winans, a Detroit native who began his career releasing albums with his sister Priscilla “CeCe” Winans from 1984 through 1996.  In 1989, BeBe won a Grammy for Best Male Soul Gospel Performance. In 1997, he signed with Atlantic Records and released his first of seven solo albums. That same year, BeBe delivered the international hit “I Wanna Be The Only One,” which featured British soul trio Eternal and topped the UK Singles chart in May 1997.  Throughout his career, Bebe has collaborated other Grammy award winning R&B vocalists – such as Stephanie Mills, Whitney Houston, and Stevie Wonder.
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May 08

A Majestic “Migration”


Presented by Step Afrika!
Produced by 
ArtsEmerson
Choreographed by Jakari Sherman, Jackie Semela, Paul Woodruff
Percussionists: Artis Olds, Jakari Sherman, Andrew Vinson

May 3 through 6, 2018
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
219 Tremont Street, Boston, MA

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

“One of the most important functions of jazz has been to encourage a hope for freedom, for people living in situations of intolerance or struggle.”  –Herbie Hancock, jazz pianist and bandleader

(Boston, Massachusetts)  I could feel the crackling energy of the show, even before it started.  I could anticipate that it’d be a layered and textured theatrical experience that engaged the audience, even before dancers and musicians arrived on stage.  I am a person who is always listening to music. Likewise, I’m a patron who yearns for a show’s soundtrack to play both before and after the performance, as well as during its intermission.  The recording of African drum music, peppered with the rattling of gourds and the rhythmic clapping of hands, was vitalizing and encouraged a social atmosphere before the show began. Most patrons were out of seats, strolling around, greeting each other, standing in small circles having spirited conversations, smiling while sipping drinks; it was the pre-party I always wished for. Continue reading

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Mar 05

Driving Mr. Daisy: “The White Card”

Karen Pittman and Daniel Gerroll in The White Card. Photo: Gretjen Helene Photography; Charlotte manages Charles’ microaggressions.

Presented by ArtsEmerson with the American Repertory Theatre
By Claudia Rankin
Directed by Diane Paulus
Dramaturgy by P. Carl

Feb. 24 – April 1, 2018
Emerson Paramount Center
Robert J. Orchard Stage
Boston, MA
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Reviews by Kitty Drexel and Noelani Kamelamela

(Boston, MA) The White Card is a conversation starter for those unused to discussing race at length. It’s for those who think we live in a post-racial society, the kind of person who resents the dialogue because there are “bigger problems” to fix. Other attributes include denying racism because they have imaginary Black friends, thinking “all lives matter,” and feeling threatened when any indication of their own culpability within society’s systemic racism. Those who have regular discussions on race, inequalities and the struggles for justice will have their work affirmed. Continue reading

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Feb 22

A Queer Bildnungsroman “Torrey Pines”

Presented by ArtsEmerson 
Torrey Pines
Directed by Clyde Petersen
Animated by Clyde Petersen & Chris Looney
Original music recorded in collaboration with Kimya Dawson and Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie)

Feb. 14 – 17, 2018
Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre
Boston, MA
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ArtsEmerson presented a lovely set of screenings of “Torrey Pines” with a live band and live foley.  A stop motion film about a young adolescent’s experiences, the lead in the film was also the lead in the band which played, Your Heart Breaks.  The Seattle band has been touring with this movie since its premiere in 2016.  It is wonderful that this movie was brought to Boston, especially since there are few art pieces with trans creators at the helm. Continue reading

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Jan 26

Caregiver Vents and Mourns in “Mala”

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company and ArtsEmerson
Written and performed by Melinda Lopez
Directed by David Dower

Jan. 6 – Feb. 4, 2018
Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) “Dying doesn’t make you wise,” says Melinda Lopez, describing the death of her tough, stubborn mother. “Dying doesn’t make you generous.” The words could serve as the thesis of Mala, a story of a loyal daughter processing guilt and bitterness over the death of her elderly parents. Baked into the subject matter is a grim but gentle humor, one that picks at the coat of polish usually applied to recollections of the grieving process. Lopez’s pain, here, is visceral and true, not some softly lit movie set. Continue reading

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Nov 03

Art within Cultural Context: “Kiss”

Kiss presented by ArtsEmerson
Written by Guillermo Calderón
Directed by David Dower

October 26 – November 19, 2017
Emerson Paramount Center՚s Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre
Washington Street
Boston, Massachusetts
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Review by Holly Goss

(Boston, MA) Kiss is a play within a play that tells the story of a zealous young theatre group՚s gross misinterpretation of a Syrian play called Kiss. These naive and fresh-faced actors, come up against a nasty dose of realism when they learn what Kiss really means. However the play falls apart when the cast try to diligently apply their new knowledge, to re-perform this seemingly simple love story and reveal the true horror of the war lurking underneath. This second performance falls flat and fails to deliver the big twist the audience anticipate. Kiss tackles a breadth of themes, the war in Syria, the importance of cultural context, the purpose of art. However, the writing is ultimately overly ambitious and is unable to get to the heart of these important questions. Continue reading

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Jan 23

Complaining Grows the Heart: OUR SECRETS

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Co-presentation with: The Baryshnikov Arts Center and Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center
Created by Béla Pintér and Company
Directed and written by Béla Pintér

Jan. 19-22, 2017
Emerson/Paramount Center
Robert J. Orchard Stage
Boston, MA
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Performed in Hungarian with English supertitles

Review by Noe Kamelamela and Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MAIt is 1980’s Budapest. Communism is the rule of the land (more on this important info is HERE, thanks to the ArtsEmerson blog). Impotent folk musician, István Balla Bán can only get it up for children. He is inconveniently attracted to his step-daughter Timike. At his wife’s request, he sees a therapist to whom he reveals his disgusting secrets. Govt. spies secret record his admission and use the recording to blackmail him. To avoid responsibility for his illness, István spies on his friend who writes an underground, anti-Communist magazine.  Please note, the graphic sexual content in this production involves adult actors playing minors. It is appropriately disturbing. Continue reading

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Nov 05

Death is Not A Fight You Win: MALA

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Written and performed by Melinda Lopez
Directed by David Dower
Dramaturgy by P. Carl

Oct 27 – Nov. 20, 2016
Audio Described Performance: SAT, NOV 12 @ 2PM
American Sign Language Performance: SAT, NOV 19 @ 2PM
Emerson/Paramount Center
Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre
Boston, MA
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Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Forgiveness is a conscious act of releasing pain. To forgive oneself is to choose to unburden purposeful self-torment. It’s one of the hardest gifts to give ourselves and the most necessary. Mala is not a show about a woman who has forgiven herself for the role she played in her parents deaths. It is about a woman so torn up that she must relive her role in them with each performance. Continue reading

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Oct 06

Figments of the Id: HERE ALL NIGHT

Presented by ArtsEmerson and Gare St Lazare Ireland
Conceived and created by Judy Hegarty Lovett, Paul Clark, Conor Lovett, Caoimhin O’Raghallaigh
Includes texts from Watt, The Unnamable, First Love, Words and Music, and Malone Dies by Samuel Beckett
Directed by Judy Hegarty Lovett
Composed/music directed by Paul Clark
Additional compositions by Caoimhin O’Raghallaigh

Oct. 5 – 9, 216
Emerson/Paramount Main Stage
Boston, MA
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Gare St Lazare Ireland on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Here All Night is a chamber opera with women’s ensemble based on the works of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett. Let that sink in; it’s a contemporary opera with source texts by the man who wrote Waiting for Godot (among other abstractions). This is not a “normal” piece of pleasant theatre. Buckle your seatbelts and gird your loins, it’s going to be a bumpy night. Continue reading

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