ArtsEmerson aims far and near in fifth season

Pauline Malefane, a member of Isango Ensemble, which will present “The Magic Flute” at the Cutler Majestic Nov. 4-9.
Pauline Malefane, a member of Isango Ensemble, which will present “The Magic Flute” at the Cutler Majestic Nov. 4-9.(Keith Pattison)

The kickoff of an ambitious three-year residency by theater artist and author Daniel Beaty highlights the fifth season of ArtsEmerson: The World on Stage, which will also include performances by troupes from Capetown, London, and Montreal — as well as tiny Ashfield, in Western Massachusetts.

“[Beaty] is embedded in the community, he’s not just flying in for a weekend,” said ArtsEmerson executive director Robert Orchard. “He’s an inspirational figure as well as an incredible artist.”

ArtsEmerson announced its 2014-15 season Wednesday, although some details are incomplete.

Orchard said ArtsEmerson is meeting its goals of presenting new and international works that would not be seen in Boston otherwise, and establishing multi-year relationships with artists. “We’ve created a place for ArtsEmerson, and people have a perception of what we do, although it’s a pretty wide range of work,” Orchard said.


Beaty’s “Breath and Imagination” will play the Emerson/Paramount Center Mainstage Jan. 27-Feb. 8, 2015, under the direction of ArtsEmerson director of artistic programs David Dower. It tells the story of Roland Hayes, the son of a Georgia slave who built a musical career in Boston that eventually took him around the world as a renowned classical singer.

Beaty will also conduct a community outreach program to black and Latino youth using methods from his new book, “Transforming Pain to Power: Unlock Your Unlimited Potential.”

“The concept is that people’s sense of possibility is controlled by whatever their narrative is around the sources of pain in their life, whether it’s incarceration issues or drug issues in the home like Daniel grew up with, or violence or neglect,” Dower said. “It’s about them developing a sense of narrative around their own possibilities, and performing that narrative and living in that narrative.”

Beaty will continue his work with area youth while creating additional stage productions for the next two ArtsEmerson seasons. The residency, beginning in July, was funded by a $350,000 grant from the Barr Foundation, and is being managed by ArtsEmerson and the Elma Lewis Center for Civic Engagement, Learning and Research at Emerson.


The season kicks off Oct. 1-12 at the Emerson/Cutler Majestic Theatre with “Traces” by the Montreal-based circus-style troupe Les 7 Doigts de la Main, combining music, story-telling, and acrobatics.

Joseph Marcell stars as “King Lear” in a production from Shakespeare’s Globe in London, running Oct. 15-23 at the Emerson/Paramount Center Mainstage.

At the Cutler Majestic Nov. 4-9 is a production of “The Magic Flute” by the Isango Ensemble from Capetown, South Africa. “They’re just full of joy and buoyancy and life,” said Orchard, who said he has been trying to arrange a performance by the troupe for years.

New York’s PigPen Theatre Company brings “The Old Man and the Old Moon” to the Cutler Majestic Nov. 19-23. A group of seven young actor-musicians tells what happens when the old man abandons his duty filling the moon with liquid light to search for his missing wife.

Feb. 13-15 brings some star power to the Cutler Majestic, but with a twist. Isabella Rossellini co-created (with Jean-Claude Carrière) and stars in “Green Porno, Live on Stage,” in which she employs some unusual theatrical devices to teach audiences about the sex lives of insects and other creatures. This wry show began life as a Sundance Channel series.

March 5-15 brings “Tristan & Yseult” by the Kneehigh troupe from Cornwall, United Kingdom, to the Cutler Majestic. Its version of the classic tale is set to music by artists “from Irving Berlin to Bob Marley.” And from March 11-29, it’s “Keep Culture and Clash On: 30 Years of Revolutionary Comedy Remastered,” as the Latino comedy trio Culture Clash hits the Jackie Liebergott Black Box at the Paramount Center for a celebratory anniversary show.


From April 9-12 at the Cutler Majestic, it’s “Needles and Opium” from Ex Machina and Robert Lepage of Montreal, tracking the crossing artistic paths of Jean Cocteau and Miles Davis in 1949.

ArtsEmerson’s last announced performances are April 30-May 15 at the Paramount Center Mainstage, with Double Edge Theatre of Ashfield presenting “The Grand Parade (of the Twentieth Century),” using music and movement to explore iconic moments and images from history.

At least two more productions are in the works but not yet finalized, and ArtsEmerson promises details of other initiatives later this year. “This isn’t it by any means,” said Orchard.

Tickets are on sale to members from May 7-30 — memberships are $60 — at 617-824-8400 or Some ticket packages are available to non-members during the same period. Individual show tickets go on sale to the public May 31.

Joel Brown can be reached at