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‘Re-Storying’ Our World: ArtsEmerson Announces 12th Season

The shows ArtsEmerson will present during their 2022-23 season blend genres, unleash surprises, and show audiences a more complete, honest, and inclusive glimpse into humanity’s shared history.

Seven of the nine shows will be presented live and in person; two will be offered as live virtual performances. The productions are making their way to Boston (or personal devices) from China, Kenya, France, Zimbabwe, and across the United States, and reflect ArtsEmerson’s commitment to present work from around the globe, uplift marginalized voices, and showcase work by artists of color.

“If we want to change our world, we need to change our story,” said ArtsEmerson Director of Artistic Programming Ronee Penoi. “Re-storying is the act of rewriting our shared history, mythology, and values so that it is fully truthful, representing all people – especially those whose voices have been silenced by those who fear losing power and privilege. Only when our history is re-storied can we understand who we are and where we are going.”

Here’s the 2022-2023 lineup:

Black dancers on stage

Step Afrika! (USA)
October 5-16

When Africans lost the right to use drums, the beats found their way into the body of the people. Inspired by the Stono Rebellion of 1739 and the Negro Act of 1740, Drumfolk spotlights the rhythmic cycle of life that holds us all together through music, stepping, tap, and ring shouts. Step Afrika! have been called “masters of stepping” by The New Yorker and “electrifying talents” by The New York Times.

white man in black jacket and bowler hat points gestures with both index fingers
On Beckett

On Beckett
Bill Irwin (USA)
October 26-30

Renowned actor/clown and MacArthur “genius grant” winner Bill Irwin explores a performer’s relationship to the works of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, incorporating passages from various works, including Waiting for Godot, Texts for Nothing, and Watt. Irwin’s physical approach to Beckett’s writing invites audiences to experience the writer’s language as never before. The New York Times called this intimate, fun-filled performance “captivating … radiant, living theater.”

Young black woman wearing headphones closes eyes and smiles in bedroom
Theatre for One: We Are Here (Nairobi Edition)

Theatre for One: We Are Here (Nairobi Edition)
Christine Jones (USA) and Octopus Theatricals (Kenya)
November 4-20 (virtual)

The vision of artistic director Christine Jones, Theatre for One: We Are Here (Nairobi Edition) is a virtual theatrical experience that showcases six microplays by female writers/performers from Kenya. All of their stories question the link between ancestry and civilization, the real and surreal, the inner being and external existence. One performer and one audience member journey together in search of answers through these deeply personal works that unfold in an intimate, shared moment.

Asian man sits in front of screen showing himself lying prone, all bathed in blue light
Made in China 2.0

Made in China 2.0
Wang Chong (China)
February 1-12

Wang Chong takes audiences on a journey deep inside his personal experiences of making theatre around the world, unpacking stereotypes around what China brings to the world stage. In Made in China 2.0, Chong casts himself as lead performer, where his status as a novice actor becomes one of the show’s charms. Straddling the line between dramatic performance and pop culture lecture, the show uses documentary footage from Théatre du Rêve Expérimental, a company he founded in 2008.

silhouette of woman, buildings, windmill, lightning bolt over sepia tone background

Manual Cinema (USA)
February 22-26

Love, loss, and creation merge in this thrilling version of Mary Shelley’s classic Gothic tale. Using more than 500 handmade puppets, dozens of old-school projectors, and live actors and cinematic elements, Emmy Award-winning troupe Manual Cinema returns to ArtsEmerson with an eye-popping visual feast. Stitching together the classic tale of Frankenstein with its author’s biography, the performance collective create an unexpected story about the beauty and horror of creation.

Man in suit holds up projection paper of redacted document
Cointelshow: A Patriot Act

Cointelshow: A Patriot Act
Mondo Bizarro (USA)
March 8-13 (virtual)

Join Special Agent Christian White on a cheerfully creepy, grimly funny tour of the FBI’s notorious counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO) through which the organization sabotaged, disrupted and repressed domestic groups like the Black Panther Party, the American Indian Movement, and individuals like Dr. Martin Luther King and Fred Hampton. Using actual COINTELPRO artifacts and transcripts, creator/performer L.M. Bogard takes audiences behind the curtain of heavily censored documents into the secrets the U.S. government holds over its own people.

woman and two men dance in around one another
Shadows Cast

Shadows Cast
Raphaëlle Boitel and Julien Couzy (France)
March 30-April 2

Family represents the ultimate cocoon where we seek protection from a very young age. But what if this cocoon is also where we find trauma? What goes unsaid? These secrets and unspoken truths become like ghosts hiding in the shadows of ourselves and our families. A potent mix of dance, circus, and cinema that draws inspiration from visionaries such as David Lynch, Fritz Lang, and Alfred Hitchcock, Shadows Cast highlights the dangers of lying to ourselves and others.

woman crouches on stage, empty chair behind her
And So We Walked

And So We Walked
DeLanna Studi (USA)
April 26-30

In Studi’s frank and inspiring one-woman show, a contemporary Cherokee woman and her father embark on a 900-mile journey along the Trail of Tears to truly understand their own identities and the conflicts of the nation. Recounting the six-week journey, which retraced the path her great-grandparents took in the 1830s during the forced relocation of 17,000 Cherokee from their homelands, becomes a powerful dramatic memoir drawing on interviews, historical research, and personal experience.

black woman in colorful head scarf looks directly at camera in front of grey background

nora chipaumire (USA and Zimbabwe)
May 17-21

Nehanda explores the legend of Nehanda, a powerful spirit venerated by the Shona people, native to Zimbabwe and central Mozambique, who inhabits only women. nora chipaumire, the creative artist/performer behind this genre-bending musical performance, once described Nehanda as “a Zimbabwean Joan of Arc.” Conceived as a an opera, but featuring turntables, Ngoma drums, and field recordings, Nehanda offers a musical and philosophical defense of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle.

ArtsEmerson was founded in large part to push boundaries and expand whose stories are told on stage, said Executive Director David Howse.

“We’re leaning into this commitment even more intentionally in our second decade as Boston’s leading presenter of contemporary theatre from around the globe. That is why … we are so excited to uplift an incredible lineup of performers and productions that spark important conversations and inspire us to build a better world together,” Howse said.

Emerson students, faculty, staff can get one free rush ticket to any ArtsEmerson performance, screening, or concert. Emerson community members also can reserve up to two tickets per show for just $10 (30 percent off for any additional tickets). For more information, visit ArtsEmerson.

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