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ArtsEmerson’s Tenth Season to Bring World Premieres, Returning Favorites

Triptych (Eyes of One on Another), coming to ArtsEmerson October 30, 2019. Photo/Maria Baranova

ArtsEmerson will celebrate its 10th anniversary of bringing contemporary world theatre to Boston with five new commissioned works and five reprises from six countries. The 2019-2020 season will bring circus, mixed media, music theatre, and first-person narrative – all from fresh, diverse perspectives – to the Paramount Center and the Cutler Majestic Theatre.

The landmark anniversary season will feature the world premiere of Detroit Red, produced by ArtsEmerson and written by Will Power, which uplifts Malcolm X’s under-examined experiences as a young man living in Boston. It will also feature the U.S. premiere of Teatrocinema’s Plata Quemada, the gritty true story of Argentina’s most daring bank heist.

“For our 10th season, we wanted to show everyone both where we’ve come from and where we are taking them next,” ArtsEmerson Artistic Director David Dower said in a statement. “ArtsEmerson started quickly, mounting the first season just months after we were formed, but over nine short seasons, we’ve emerged as an established institution that animates a critical corner of Boston’s cultural landscape – thriving in the intersection of global performance and civic transformation.”

glasses in front of red X
Detroit Red will have its world premiere at the Robert J. Orchard Stage in February 2020.

The season opens September 25, 2019, with the U.S. premiere of Passengers, from Montreal’s famed contemporary circus/theatre company The 7 Fingers – their seventh ArtsEmerson engagement. Passengers runs through October 13.

October 30-November 3, ArtsEmerson will present Triptych (Eyes of One on Another), a collaboration of artists working together for the first time, inspired by and featuring images from photographer Robert Mapplethorpe’s body of work on the 30th anniversary of his death.  Triptych is composed by Bryce Dessner, guitarist for the Grammy Award-winning band The National, featuring libretto by Korde Arrington Tuttle and poetry by Patti Smith and Essex Hemphill, sung by the eight-person choral ensemble Roomful of Teeth.

The 10th anniversary season will also include ArtsEmerson’s signature civic engagement programming, including Welcome to Boston cast parties, Play Reading Book Clubs, a city-wide read, and partnerships with local multicultural organizations and film festivals. The season also will kick off the fourth annual Mr. Joy: The Neighborhood Tour, a touring series of free performances of Daniel Beaty’s Mr. Joy, which premiered in ArtsEmerson’s 2015-2016 season.

Other 2019-2020 performances are:

The Magic Flute, November 6-10 – South Africa’s Isango Ensemble returns to Boston with a reprisal of Mozart’s classic opera.

An Iliad, November 20-24 – Homer’s Coat’s Obie Award-winning adaptation of Homer’s epic poem places one man on a bare stage with a simple question: Has anything really changed since the Trojan War? Starring Tony Award-winning actor Denis O’Hare (American Horror Story, True Blood, Dallas Buyers Club).

The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes, January 23-26 – When a group of activists with intellectual disabilities holds a public meeting, they discover a history they would prefer not to know, and an ambivalent future. From Australia’s Back to Back Theatre, committed to inclusion for people with disabilities.

Detroit Red, February 1-16 – The world forever knows him as Malcolm X, but when he lived in Roxbury, they called him “Detroit Red.” Internationally renowned playwright Will Power combines the accuracy of a historian with the lyricism of a poet to shine a contemporary light on a pivotal coming-of-age moment in the celebrated, controversial civil rights leader’s life.

man holding machine gun in front of graphic car
Teatrocinema’s Plata Quemada opens March 11, 2020.

Plata Quemada, March 11-15 – Teatrocinema pulls out all the stops to deliver a heart-pounding noir tale of bandits, betrayals and blowouts. Their groundbreaking storytelling intertwines live-action performances with eye-popping illustration and animation, creating a hyper-stylized graphic novel that comes to life before an audience’s eyes.

Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, March 26-29 – Returning to ArtsEmerson as a fully realized stage production after its sold-out 2017 workshop, Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower brings together over 30 original musical anthems and requiems drawn from 200 years of black music to adapt Butler’s sci-fi Afrofuturist masterpiece for the stage.

69° S (The Shackleton Project), April 28-May 3 – Phantom Limb brings this jaw-dropping tale of willpower at the edge of the world to life through a combination of dance, life-sized puppetry, and cinema set to the music of Kronos Quartet.

Metamorphosis, May 13-17 – Franz Kafka’s most famous literary invention becomes a 3D reality in this awe-inspiring and surprisingly funny adaptation from Iceland’s Vesturport, with an original soundtrack scored by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. Metamorphosis was a word-of-mouth sensation in Boston in 2013.

For detailed descriptions, tickets, and show times, visit

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