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New ArtsEmerson Season Looks to Forge Connection, Conversation

Three men in orange crop tops, tight shorts or leggings and sunglasses dance between prison cells, a glitterball hanging above them
Prison Dancer: The Musical. Courtesy photo

For its 2024-2025 season, ArtsEmerson will present nine shows originating from around the corner in Boston, across the pond in the U.K. and Belgium, from down in South African, and even interstellar space.

The new season, announced in a special event at the Paramount Center on Wednesday, May 22, also will feature the U.S. premiere of Prison Dancer: The Musical, a Broadway-bound Canadian production that celebrates the power of art to set us free.

The season continues ArtsEmerson’s commitment to international work and celebrating differences, reflecting the vital diversity of our city, and deepening our connection to one another.

“For 14 years, ArtsEmerson has been Boston’s home for contemporary theatre that is the prompt, and conversation is the point,” said ArtsEmerson Interim Executive Director Ronee Penoi.

“Following a historic season of four sold-out shows, our ’24-’25 season includes a slate of remarkable pieces that make good on our commitment to be a home for difficult conversations around race, incarceration, conflict, our role in the global ecosystem, and more, inspired by incredible artists from around the globe. Our hope this season is that all of Boston feels that sense of welcome and invitation to join us on that journey,” she said.

As always, Emerson students, faculty, and staff can get one free ticket to any ArtsEmerson presentation on the day of the show, and can purchase up to two $10 tickets in advance to any ArtsEmerson presentation.


Woman in black cocktail dress sits on lap of man in white linen suit, holding his hand
Christopher Rivas and Annie Gonzalez in Rough Magic. Courtesy photo

Christopher Rivas (The Real James Bond…Was Dominican) returns to kick off the season with a special summer engagement of Rough Magic on July 12-13. Rivas and Annie Gonzalez harness the chemistry of this “is it love?” story as they take audiences through the maze of a tangled relationship in this new play.

Five people stand on stage holding black cards numbered 1 to 5.
Fight Night. Photo/Michiel Devijer M

The season officially opens September 20-21 with Fight Night (Belgium’s Ontroerend Goed). Through a series of guided prompts and questions, Fight Night takes the audience on a journey to choose the best candidate. Random checks, voting signposts, coalitions, campaigns, debates, consultants, exit polls, spin doctors, opinion gauges, list pushers, and referendums will inform the vote and make for an evening of humor and sharp political commentary.

Black dancers pose in a tight formation on stage, musicians in silhouette behind them
In the Same Tongue. Photo/Kameron Herndon

From September 26-29, Dianne McIntyre’s In the Same Tongue will revive the spirit of her internationally celebrated company Sounds in Motion. Featuring the poetry of Obie-winning playwright Ntozake Shange, In the Same Tongue unites a company of dancers and musicians to explore how dance and music “speak” to each other, exploring legacies like that of 1920s Harlem salons and the Black Arts Movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

figures with papier mache heads wearing orange prison jumpsuits and green fatigues stand with fists raised
On the Eve of Abolition. Photo/Pedro Iván Bonilla

On the Eve of Abolition, running October 31-November 3, uses puppets, video projection, and miniature sets to transport audiences to 2047, when prison abolitionists have created the conditions to end the prison industrial complex in the transnational liberated lands of Southern North America. Developed and performed by artists and collaborators of Papel Machete, this project incorporates community engagement with abolitionist organizations and currently and formerly incarcerated people and their families to create a vision of an abolitionist future.

Humans and marionettes, sit around a fire in a crate
Life & Times of Michael K. Courtesy photo

In the new year, lifelike marionettes will come alive on stage to depict the trials and tribulations faced by a family seeking to escape political turmoil in Life & Times of Michael K from January 31-February 9. In Lara Foot’s adaptation of J.M. Coetzee’s Booker Prize-winning novel, in collaboration with Tony Award-winning Handspring Puppet Company (War Horse), Michael K is charged with moving his ailing mother away from their war-torn home to the South African countryside where she grew up.

The highly anticipated Prison Dancer: The Musical follows its sold-out run at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre with a three-week run at ArtsEmerson February 22-March 16. Romeo Candido and Carmen De Jesus took inspiration from one of the world’s first YouTube viral videos to bring audiences inside the redemption, suffering, and joy that embodies the story told in this incredible new musical.

The Seasons, based on The Four Seasons with additional arias and ensembles by Vivaldi, makes its World Premiere in a co-presentation with Boston Lyric Opera March 12-16. A group of contemporary artists gathers at a nature retreat to make their art. But extreme weather impacts them without warning and changes their lives forever. Co-conceived by Tony Award-winning playwright Sarah Ruhl (Eurydice) and Grammy-winning countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo.

Seated man in pink jacket looks up, holding a book in his left hand. Screen behind him has green words projected onto it
It’s a Motherf**king Pleasure. Photo/Paul Fuller

From April 2-13, hot off the back of their smash-hit VAULT Festival and Soho Theatre runs, multi award-winning, disability-led theatre company FlawBored will present It’s a Motherf**king Pleasure, a scathing satire on the monetization of identity politics that spares no one.

person wearing headphones kneels at desk with a telephone on top and speaks into a microphone; image of astronaut is projected on ceiling
Utopian Hotline. Courtesy photo

The season closes out May 1-18 at the Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science with Theater Mitu’s Utopian Hotline, produced in association with Octopus Theatricals. The piece was inspired by the 1977 NASA Voyager mission, which launched the Golden Record into space, as well as the uncertainty and isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It begs the question: If we were to send another message into the distant future, what message would we send? Part telephone hotline, vinyl record, and live performance, Utopian Hotline creates a moment of community and invites audiences to reimagine our shared future by leaving their own messages on the hotline.

For more information on the 2024-2025 live performance season, as well as film screenings, visit ArtsEmerson.

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