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ArtsEmerson 2023-24 Season Asks Us to Re-Examine Our Relationships

With the eight live performances being presented for the 2023-24 season, announced Wednesday, May 24, ArtsEmerson is hoping to introduce audiences to stories that challenge our understanding of ourselves and others.

“This season in many ways is about relationships – our relationship with our history, our relationship to land, and our relationship to the ‘other,’” ArtsEmerson Director of Special Programming Ronee Penoi said in a statement. “I’m delighted that this season welcomes so many perspectives from around the globe, reminding us of our connectedness, and how much we have to learn from one another.”

The season will kick off on Thursday, September 7, by welcoming Little Amal to Boston after a journey of more than 5,000 miles over 13 countries. Little Amal is a 12-foot puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee that has brought awareness to the plight of thousands of children currently feeling their war-torn homelands.

Little Amal will be followed by performances as varied as a pageant/play of song, dance, and spoken word by Wampanoag artists about the Wampanoag people; a story about a James Bond-obsessed Dominican boy who discovers the inspiration for 007 was a Dominican diplomat; and a multimedia retelling of Moby Dick. The 7 Fingers, a fan favorite, also will be back with a new acrobatic tour-de-force.

“I am very excited about the upcoming 2023-2024 season, which continues our rich tradition of celebrating narratives from around the world,” ArtsEmerson Executive Director David Howse said in a statement. “With our ongoing commitment to presenting stories that authentically represent diverse experiences and cultures, we are privileged to champion artists whose works fearlessly push the boundaries of theatre.”

Don’t forget, Emerson community members get a number of perks, including a free rush ticket on the day of the performance, or two $10 advance tickets. Visit artsemerson for more details.

Here’s the 2023-2024 schedule:

12-foot puppet of Syrian girl in pink and purple dress walks down a Harlem street surrounded by a brass band, spectators
Little Amal in Harlem. Photo/Respective Collective.

Little Amal
Little Amal-Amir Nizar Zuabi, Sarah Loader
September 7

Little Amal, a 12-foot puppet of a Syrian refugee child, has caught the attention of millions of people worldwide and has brought awareness to the plight of thousands of children who are fleeing their war-torn homelands. Upon her arrival in each new location, Little Amal is met with community-created events that are authentic to local communities and designed to uplift and inspire the people around her. Experience the magic of Amal’s walk of freedom when ArtsEmerson welcomes her to Boston in this very special event.


man in traditional Wampanoag dress stands in front of facade of wigwam, other people in traditional dress
We Are the Land, performed by members of the Wampanoag Nation.

We Are the Land
The Wampanoag Nation
September 29-30

The Wampanoag people have been stewarding their land for over 10,000 years across several eastern states, including Massachusetts. After colonization, their voice was silenced. We Are the Land is part pageant, part play, where audiences will hear directly from Wampanoag people telling their story of their relationship to the soil, how it was taken away, and how the nation has re-established themselves in a way that both honors their ancestors and looks to the future. From Mashpee Wampanoag tribe member Siobhan Brown and Hartman Dietz, working with a group of Wampanoag artists, actors, and storytellers.


women in colorful braids smile and play African drums, drawing of a sun behind them.
The Book of Life. Photo/J.L. Preece

The Book of Life
Volcano Theatre
October 18-22

In 2019, a group of Rwandan and Canadian artists came together in Kigali to develop a show about recovery from trauma. Combining original music, and extraordinary collection of letters written by ordinary Rwandans, the wisdom of Kiki Katese, and a story about talking animals, The Book of Life offers real, tangible hope for a more just and peaceful future.


man in white tank top sits on stage floor next to wooden box in a parabola of light
The Real James Bond … Was Dominican. Photo/Driscoll Otto

The Real James Bond…Was Dominican
DNAWORKS
November 8-12

What happens when a James Bond-obsessed Dominican boy in Queens finds out that the real James Bond was Dominican? Learning that Bond creator Ian Fleming drew upon the life and career of Porfirio Rubirosa – a Dominican diplomat, international polo champion, race car driver, and pilot – to develop the classic 007 characters, performer Christopher Rivas set out on a quest to learn everything about this man. Join Rivas as he digs deeper into the world of Bond, its inspiration, and what it meant to him growing up in Queens.


woman and man playing electric guitars appear to stand on top of puppet of sperm whale, vapor coming from blowhole
Moby Dick. Photo/Christophe Raynaud de Lage

Moby Dick
Plexus Polaire
January 23-28, 2024

Herman Melville’s immeasurably influential novel is brought to life in this production featuring seven actors, 50 puppets, video projections, a drowned orchestra, and a life-size whale. Renowned director Yngvild Aspeli stages this eye-popping visual adaptation of the classic book with the help of Norwegian theatre company Plexus Polaire. Moby Dick is, on its surface, the simple tale of a whaling expedition, but the story’s haunting themes of obsession lead us to question the unexplained mysteries of life and of the human heart.


Two acrobats swing from two upright poles as a third dives over their feet, six acrobats on ground look up
The 7 Fingers perform Duel Reality. Photo/Arata Urawa

Duel Reality
The 7 Fingers
February 7-18

Welcome to circus on a whole new theatrical level. The 7 Fingers’ reputation and fandom in Boston has grown with each stunning production they’ve brought to ArtsEmerson. Their seventh show is an epic love story that echoes Romeo and Juliet and will dazzle the senses and stir the heart. Competition can be playful at times, but it can also be dangerous. Is it a game? Is it war? Is it love? Duel Reality has all the answers.


Middle-aged woman in sari tastes something from a pot on the stove as man in traditional Indian dress looks at her, mouth agape
Mrs. Krishnan’s Party. Photo/Indian Ink Theatre Company

Mrs. Krishnan’s Party
Indian Ink Theatre Party
March 27-April 7

Mrs. Krishnan is renting an apartment to James, a larger-than-life DJ. James has invited a few friends into the back room of Mrs. Krishnan’s corner shop as a special surprise to celebrate Onam, an ancient Hindu festival, and the return home of her son. But when dozens and dozens of strangers turn up (you, the audience), Mrs. K has no choice but to throw the party of her life! It’s an immersive experience with music, dancing, and more. Watch as the cast juggles cooking, music, and welcoming guests in an unfolding drama where no two performances are the same.


large puppet of a creature appearing made of driftwood stands before a red Chinese lantern
Book of Mountains and Seas. Photo/Teddy Wolff

Book of Mountains and Seas
Beth Morrison Projects
April 19-21

Book of Mountains and Seas is a daring new work by award-winning composer Huang Ruo and MacArthur Fellow puppeteer/artist Basil Twist. In this pitch-perfect collaboration, the show takes on ancient Chinese creation myths, first transcribed in the fourth century BCE, which are strikingly relevant to our current climate change emergency. An ensemble of massive puppets, as beautiful as they are intimidating, and the chorus of Ars Nova Copenhagen, harness music and a stunning visual tableau to offer a portrait of nature and our vital, tenuous relationship to it.

For more information on shows, or to purchase tickets, visit artsemerson.org.

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