The world premiere of “The White Card,’’ a play by poet Claudia Rankine that delves into the dynamics of racism, will be among the productions slated for ArtsEmerson’s 2017-18 season.
The upcoming season will also include the US premiere of “Reversible,’’ by the Montreal-based circus troupe Les 7 doigts de la main (The 7 fingers of the hand), a frequent visitor to Boston; “Kiss,’’ a play-within-a-play by Chilean dramatist Guillermo Calderon; and “The State of Siege,’’ by French existentialist author Albert Camus, in a production by the Paris theater troupe Theatre de la Ville.
The New York theater company Bedlam, known for its pared-down, vigorously physical interpretations of classic works, will perform “Hamlet’’ and George Bernard Shaw’s “Saint Joan’’ in repertory.
Founded in 2010 by Robert J. Orchard, ArtsEmerson is a presenting and producing organization that operates under the auspices of Emerson College and presents shows at two theaters housed within the Paramount Center (one of them named after Orchard) as well as at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, also owned by Emerson.
Describing him as a “champion and grand supporter of ArtsEmerson,’’ the organization is dedicating its 2017-18 season to Ted Cutler, a leading arts philanthropist who died in late March at 86. The Cutler Majestic is named after Cutler and his late wife, Joan.
In keeping with its motto — “The World on Stage’’ — ArtsEmerson makes international productions a prime focus of its programming. But the organization — which is headed by co-artistic directors David Dower and P. Carl and executive director David Howse — also places an emphasis on works that address social issues, prominently including racism.
In Rankine’s “The White Card,’’ a white couple who wield significant power in the New York City art world host a black artist for dinner. “When the couple’s activist son joins them for dinner, tensions arise, truths are interrogated, and the notion of intent — both conscious and unconscious — becomes paramount,’’ according to a summary provided by ArtsEmerson. Carl said in a statement that Rankine’s “The White Card’’ will “offer Boston an opportunity to go deep into the divide around race to create dialogue that seeks to both provoke and to heal.’’
The play, whose run dates and venue will be announced at a later date, was co-commissioned by ArtsEmerson in association with Cambridge’s American Repertory Theater and The Broad Stage, which is based in Santa Monica, Calif. Rankine won acclaim for 2014’s “Citizen: An American Lyric.’’ ArtsEmerson had originally planned to stage an adaptation by Rankine of “Citizen’’ as part of the current season, but announced in September that it would be postponed to the 2017-18 season to “allow the project more time to develop.’’ However, Rankine ultimately decided to write a new play rather than adapt “Citizen’’ at this time, according to a spokeswoman for ArtsEmerson.
ArtsEmerson’s season will kick off Sept. 6-24 with “Reversible,’’ at the Cutler Majestic, in which eight circus performers from Les 7 doigts combine acrobatics, dance, theater, and illusion in a show that pays homage to their heritage and their ancestors.
Next up is “Home,’’ by Geoff Sobelle, which seeks to inspire audiences to ask whether home is just a physical structure or something more. As part of that inquiry, an actual house will be constructed on the Robert J. Orchard Stage inside the Paramount Center during each performance. “Home’’ will run Sept. 27-Oct. 1.
Calderon’s “Kiss’’ revolves around the young members of a theater troupe who come face-to-face with their erroneous cultural assumptions when they stage a theatrical version of what they think is a Syrian soap opera. It will be at the Jackie Liebergott Black Box inside the Paramount Center Oct. 26-Nov. 19.
“Gardens Speak,’’ by Lebanese artist Tania El Khoury, will be presented at the Robert J. Orchard Stage Nov. 12-19. It’s an interactive sound installation that contains the oral histories of 10 citizens who died at the hands of Syria’s ruling Baath party. The 40-minute “Gardens Speak’’ will be presented to only 10 audience members at a time.
French director Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota will helm a production of Camus’s “The State of Siege,’’ a seldom-staged 1948 allegorical drama about the emergence of a totalitarian regime. It will be at the Cutler Majestic Nov. 9-11. Next is “Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia,’’ a symphonic work that is the result of a collaboration between two survivors of the Khmer Rouge: composer Him Sophy and director Rithy Panh. “Bangsokol’’ will be at the Robert J. Orchard Stage Dec. 19-20.
Anglo-Kuwaiti writer-director Sulayman Al-Bassam will bring “In the Eruptive Mode’’ to the Robert J. Orchard Stage Jan. 24-28, 2018. The piece unfolds in monologues in which half a dozen women describe their experiences during the 2011 democratic uprisings that became known as the Arab Spring. Clyde Petersen’s “Torrey Pines,’’ slated for the Jackie Liebergott Black Box Feb. 14-17, 2018, is a stop-motion animated film set to a score that will be performed by a rock band onstage. It’s described as “a trans-queer-punk coming-of-age story’’ based on a true story.
Feb. 28-March 4, 2018, “Ada/Ava’’ will employ shadow puppetry and live-action silhouettes to explore the story of a woman’s journey through grief after her twin sister dies. The production by Chicago-based Manual Cinema will be at the Robert J. Orchard Stage.
March 7-25, 2018, Bedlam will stage “Hamlet’’ and “Saint Joan’’ at the Robert J. Orchard Stage. Then, May 3-6, 2018, at the Cutler Majestic, the dance company Step Afrika! will perform “The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence,’’ a movement-and-music piece inspired by Lawrence’s paintings about the large-scale relocation by African-Americans from the rural South to the urban North. Closing out the season May 30-June 3 at the Cutler Majestic will be “Cold Blood,’’ which will feature dancing hands and a lyrical voice-over narration as it “cycles through a series of different lives (and deaths) in a hypnotic dream-like state,’’ according to press materials.
Don Aucoin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.