fb-pixel Skip to main content

Circuses, operas, Melinda Lopez premiere in store at ArtsEmerson

“Machine de Cirque”  will run Sept. 21-Oct. 2.
“Machine de Cirque” will run Sept. 21-Oct. 2.L’Oeil Du Loup

In its 2016-17 season, announced Monday evening, ArtsEmerson will present new works by several theater artists who have previously made memorable appearances on the organization’s stages, while also providing a showcase for an opera trilogy and a new solo play by Boston dramatist-actress Melinda Lopez.

A part of Emerson College’s Office of the Arts, ArtsEmerson will get an earlier start than usual on its season when it presents “Cuisine & Confessions’’ July 12-Aug. 7 at the Cutler Majestic Theatre.

It’s an acrobatic and choreographic exploration of food and memory by Les 7 doigts de la main, a Montreal circus troupe. Boston audiences are familiar with Les 7 Doigts, which has brought indelibly imaginative productions like “PSY’’ and “Sequence 8’’ to ArtsEmerson.


Up next, from Sept. 10-17 at the Cutler Majestic, will be the “Ouroboros Trilogy,’’ three operas that are thematically linked by questions of life, death, and rebirth. All featuring librettos by Cerise Lim Jacobs, they are: “Naga,’’ a world premiere by Boston composer Scott Wheeler; the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Madame White Snake,’’ by Zhou Long; and “Gilgamesh,’’ a world premiere by Paola Prestini. The trilogy will be copresented by ArtsEmerson and its producers, Beth Morrison Projects and Friends of Madame White Snake.

The circus is back in town from Sept. 21-Oct. 2, when “Machine de Cirque’’ will be at the Paramount Center Mainstage, featuring the Quebec City troupe of the same name in a show about five men who made it through the apocalypse and are now trying to construct a machine that will enable them to locate other survivors.

While we’re on the subject of the end of the world: Several works by Samuel Beckett will be blended into “Here All Night,’’ at the Paramount Center Mainstage Oct. 5-9. It’s by Gare St. Lazare Ireland, which previously brought first-rate productions of “Waiting for Godot’’ and “Moby Dick’’ to ArtsEmerson. Directed by Judy Hegarty Lovett, “Here All Night’’ will feature actor Conor Lovett and soprano Melanie Pappenheim, with music by composer Paul Clark that will be performed by Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh.


“Mala’’ is Melinda Lopez’s account of the final days of her beloved mother, an immigrant from Cuba. In the play, starring Lopez herself in a world-premiere production, the playwright juggles the demands of her own life and work with the emotionally fraught task of moving her mother into hospice care. “It’s a meditative piece about loss, like ‘The Year of Magical Thinking,’’’ said Polly Carl, co-artistic director at ArtsEmerson. “Mala’’ is scheduled for Oct. 27-Nov. 20 in the Jackie Liebergott Black Box at the Paramount Center.

In “Our Secrets,’’ a production by Bela Pinter and Company of Hungary that is set in Communist-ruled Budapest in 1980, a musician being tape-recorded by the government privately admits to pedophilic desires and is then coerced into becoming an informant. It will be at the Paramount Center Mainstage from Jan. 19-22, 2017.

Paying a return visit to ArtsEmerson from Feb. 8-19, 2017, will be the Druid Theatre Company of Ireland, with Martin McDonagh’s “The Beauty Queen of Leenane,’’ a tale of a manipulative mother and a frustrated — make that very frustrated — daughter. Slated for the Paramount Center Mainstage, it will be directed by Garry Hynes, who also helmed “The Cripple of Inishmaan’’ at ArtsEmerson in 2011.

Tentatively scheduled for March 15-19, 2017, at the Paramount Center Mainstage is the world premiere of “Citizen: An American Lyric,’’ an adaptation by Claudia Rankine of her book, which explores the state of race relations through poetry and criticism. “This will be something that will reverberate,’’ predicted co-artistic director David Dower.


“17 Border Crossings,’’ a solo show about migration and borders — real and imagined — will run April 19-29, 2017 at the Jackie Liebergott Black Box. A production by Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental, which brought “Red-Eye to Havre de Grace’’ to ArtsEmerson two years ago, “17 Border Crossings’’ is created and performed by Thaddeus Phillips.

Another solo show will close out the ArtsEmerson season: “How To Be a Rock Critic,’’ based on the writings of the late Lester Bangs and set on the last night of the critic’s life. It’s a production by Jessica Blank, who will direct, and Erik Jensen, who portrays Bangs. Blank and Jensen created “Aftermath,’’ a powerful piece of documentary theater about Iraq war refugees that was a high point of ArtsEmerson’s first season in 2010. “How To Be a Rock Critic’’ is scheduled for May 11-21, 2017, at the Jackie Liebergott Black Box.

“The Beauty Queen of Leenane” will run Feb. 8-19, 2017.
“The Beauty Queen of Leenane” will run Feb. 8-19, 2017.Matthew Thompson

Don Aucoin can be reached at aucoin@globe.com.