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New ArtsEmerson Season Will Challenge, Charm

ArtsEmerson will bring opera, circus, and provocative plays from around the world during its 2016-2017 season lineup, announced this week.

“The season is a potent mix of stories and styles that we offer as an invitation to get swept into the vibrant, urgent conversation underway in Boston about who we are and how we live together, how we find our unity in our diversity,” said co-artistic director David Dower in a press release.

The seventh season of ArtsEmerson will kick off with Cuisine & Confessions, the U.S. premiere of Montreal’s Les 7 doigts de la main’s latest circus, July 12-August 7 at the Cutler Majestic Theatre. Cuisine & Confessions incorporates all five senses into the acrobatics and choreography, for a literal theatrical feast.

Another Quebecois circus, Machine de Cirque from Quebec City, will be at the Paramount Mainstage September 21-October 2. This raucous and dazzling show uses props such as juggling clubs, drum kits, a teeterboard, and bath towels to make you laugh and cheer.

Before that however, September 10-17 will bring the Ouroboros Trilogy, a series of operas centered around Madame White Snake, a character from Chinese legend. Naga, composed by Emerson Professor Scott Wheeler, is about a young monk who is tempted by Madame White Snake while on the path to nirvana. Madame White Snake, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize and composed by Zhou Long, is the tale of a demon who longs to become human so she can experience love. Paola Prestini composed Gilgamesh, in which the half-demon son of Madame White Snake must choose between family and happiness. All librettos were written by Boston’s Cerise Lim Jacobs.

Two Irish theater companies will visit the Paramount Mainstage next year: Gare St. Lazare will perform Here All Night, a musical interpretation of Samuel Beckett, October 5-9; and Druid Theatre Company will offer Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane, about the relationship between a lonely single woman and her aging, manipulative mother, February 8-19.

Mothers and daughters will be having a bit of a moment on ArtsEmerson stages.

Playwright/actress Melinda Lopez, who came to the Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre in February for a Public Dialogue on diversity in theater, returns October 27-November 20 to perform in Mala, her one-woman show about a “bad daughter” caring for her mother in her final days. The show will be directed by Dower, with ArtsEmerson co-artistic director Polly Carl as dramaturg.

From Hungary comes Béla Pintér & Company’s Our Secrets, about a musician whose confession of pedophilia is recorded in 1980 Communist Budapest and who is subsequently pressured into becoming a government informant. Our Secrets will run from January 19-22 at the Paramount Mainstage.

Citizen: An American Lyric is a staged version of Claudia Rankine’s poetic examination of race in America, which won the 2014 National Book Award. Rankine works with video artist John Lucas to challenge audiences to wrestle with the aggressions of daily life in the United States. It will run from March 15-19 at the Paramount Mainstage.

Thaddeus Phillips of Lucidity Suitcase International takes audiences on a trip around the world, examining the mundane and surreal experiences of travel in Hungary, Serbia, Morocco, Colombia, the Netherlands, and Mexico in 17 Border Crossings, coming to the black box theatre April 19-29.

You’ll have to wait more than a year to see How to Be a Rock Critic, based on the writing of Lester Bangs and performed by Erik Jensen May 11-27 in the black box theatre. In a living room strewn with records, beer bottles and drug paraphernalia, Bangs starts railing about his missing copy of Astral Weeks and invites audiences to imagine a single night in the legendary rock critic’s short life.

In the meantime, there are still two performances left in ArtsEmerson’s 2015-2016 season: Marissa Chibas’ Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary will run from April 27-May 1 at the Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre; and Latino Theater Company’s Premeditation runs from May 4-14 at the Paramount Mainstage.

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