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BACK THE NIGHT A new drama by Boston-area playwright Melinda Lopez ("Becoming Cuba,'' "Sonia Flew'') that examines the issue of sexual assault on college campuses. Em (Melissa Jesser) is in denial about the problem until her best friend, a feminist blogger named Cassie (Amanda Collins), is attacked. Also featuring Stephanie Clayman, Evan Horwitz, John Kooi, and Michael Underhill. Directed by Daniela Varon. Feb. 4-28. Boston Playwrights' Theatre. 866-811-4111, www.bostonplaywrights.org

RENT It was 20 years ago that "Rent'' moved from off-Broadway to Broadway for what proved to be a Tony-winning run that would last more than 5,000 performances. Stacey Stephens ("West Side Story'') helms a production of the late Jonathan Larson's musical, loosely based on Puccini's "La Boheme,'' about a group of struggling artists and friends in the East Village amid the specter of AIDS. Feb. 5-21. Fiddlehead Theatre Company at Back Bay Events Center, Boston. 617-514-6497, www.fiddleheadtheatre.com

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1984 A new adaptation created and directed by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan of George Orwell's brilliant, unsettling novel depicting a totalitarian future characterized by constant surveillance and fear of Big Brother. Featuring Matthew Spencer as Winston Smith. Feb. 14-March 6. American Repertory Theater in association with Headlong, Almeida Theatre, and Nottingham Playhouse. At Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge. 617-547-8300, www.americanrepertorytheater.org

AUGUST WILSON'S HOW I LEARNED WHAT I LEARNED Eugene Lee portrays the late August Wilson ("Fences,'' "Joe Turner's Come and Gone'') in a solo show that focuses on the playwright's years in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, where most of the plays in his Century Cycle are set. As a young man Wilson worked odd jobs to support himself, confronted racism, spent a brief stint in jail for not paying his rent, and forged friendships with writers that helped shape his art and worldview. Co-conceived and directed by Todd Kreidler. March 5-April 3. Huntington Theatre Company, at BU Theatre, Boston. 617-266-0800, www.huntingtontheatre.org

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BOOTYCANDY Robert O'Hara's comedy about growing up African-American and gay, based on his own life and constructed as a loosely connected series of vignettes. Directed by Summer L. Williams and featuring a talented cast that includes Johnny Lee Davenport, Maurice Emmanuel Parent, John Kuntz, Jackie Davis, and Tiffany Greene. Contains nudity; recommended for adult audiences. March 12-April 9. SpeakEasy Stage Company at Roberts Studio Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.speakeasystage.com

THE REALNESS: A BREAK BEAT PLAY World premiere of a play by Idris Goodwin, who incisively explored ambition and identity in the world of hip-hop in "How We Got On.'' In "The Realness: a break beat play,'' a young man looking to break into the hip-hop scene of 1996 falls for an MC and finds himself drawn into a web of duplicity. Directed by Wendy Goldberg. March 16-April 10. Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell. 978-654-4678, www.mrt.org

BLACKBERRY WINTER Adrianne Krstansky, whose performances often delve deep ("Come Back, Little Sheba,'' "The New Electric Ballroom,'' "Three Viewings'') stars in Steve Yockey's drama as Vivienne, a middle-age woman forced to confront the decline of her mother from Alzheimer's disease. Also featuring Paula Langton and Ken Cheeseman. Directed by Bridget Kathleen O'Leary. A National New Play Network "rolling world premiere.'' March 26-April 17. New Repertory Theatre, Charles Mosesian Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown. 617-923-8487, www.newrep.org

MR. BURNS, A POST-ELECTRIC PLAY After a global catastrophe, a small band of survivors attempts to recount an episode of "The Simpsons'' from memory. The cast includes Aimee Doherty, Lindsey McWhorter, Jordan Clark, Nael Nacer, Joseph Marrella, Gillian Mackay-Smith, and Brandon G. Green. Anne Washburn's play is directed by A. Nora Long, with music direction by Allyssa Jones and choreography by Yo-el Cassell. April 8-May 7. Lyric Stage Company of Boston. 617-585-5678, www.lyricstage.com

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WE'RE GONNA DIE Company One Theatre cofounder and artistic director Shawn LaCount, who has shown an astute touch with quirky plays like Annie Baker's "The Flick'' and Kristoffer Diaz's "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity,'' helms the New England premiere of Young Jean Lee's cabaret-style song cycle, which blends autobiographical storytelling with philosophical inquiries into the vagaries and mysteries of existence. April 20-29. Presented by Company One Theatre in collaboration with American Repertory Theater. At Oberon, Cambridge. 617-547-8300, www.americanrepertorytheater.org

DAUGHTER OF A CUBAN REVOLUTIONARY Writer-performer Marissa Chibas stars in a solo show that delves into the story of three key figures in her life: her father, an important ally of Fidel Castro who later defected from Cuba and called for Castro’s overthrow; her uncle, who was a candidate for the presidency of Cuba; and her mother, a runner-up in a Miss Cuba contest. Directed by Mira Kingsley. April 27-May 1. ArtsEmerson at Jackie Liebergott Black Box, Paramount Center, Boston. 617-824-8400, www.artsemerson.org


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