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Stories of tyranny and liberation take center stage in our 2019/20 Season. From the wives of Henry VIII to Captain Ahab, from the signers of the Declaration of Independence to Gloria Steinem, these pivotal figures from history and literature speak directly to the struggles we are facing in America today.
Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director Diane Paulus
Read More About the Season in The Boston Globe
By Toby Marlow & Lucy Moss
Choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille
Music Supervision Joe Beighton
Music Direction Roberta Duchak
Orchestrations Tim Curran
Directed by Lucy Moss & Jamie Armitage
Presented by arrangement with Kenny Wax, Wendy & Andy Barnes, George Stiles and Kevin McCollum in association with Chicago Shakespeare Theater
August 21 – September 29, 2019 at the Loeb Drama Center
Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. All this time, the six wives of Henry VIII have been reduced to a single rhyme—so they picked up a pen and a microphone. From Tudor Queens to Pop Princesses, the wives take to the mic to tell their tales, remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into a 75-minute celebration of 21st century girl power.
“★★★★! 75 minutes of exhilarating entertainment from six killer queens. They will, they will rock you!” – Daily Express
Additional Production support of SIX is provided by The Chung Family Foundation and Stacy Osur and Keith Gilbert, and Maggie Gold Seelig & Family and MGS Group Real Estate.
Created by Daniel Alexander Jones
Original Songs by Jomama Jones
With Bobby Halvorson, Laura Jean Anderson, Dylan Meek, and Josh Quat
Additional Music by Samora Pinderhughes & Tariq Al-Sabir
September 19 – 29, 2019 at OBERON
Daniel Alexander Jones performs as the iconic Jomama Jones in a spiritual revival for turbulent times. This intimate journey through the darkness of personal and political upheaval and the shards of shattered illusions is illuminated by spontaneous humor and what The New Yorker calls Jones’ “very particular radiance.” With all original music, drawing influence from Prince, Sade, Diana Ross, and Tina Turner, Black Light is marked significantly by the Black American Freedom movement, Afromysticism, goddess mythology, and divination. This immersive performance piece removes the barrier between artist and audience through inquiry, story, and song.
“★★★★! Jomama invites us to see her, to witness her, and to go from Black Light back out into daylight with our senses somehow both sharpened and softened: more able to hear others, more able to see ourselves.” – Vulture
Additional production support of Black Light is provided by Jonathan Glazer and Hadley Leach.
World Premiere Musical
Music, Lyrics, Book, and Orchestrations by Dave Malloy
Based on Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Music Direction and Supervision by Or Matias
Choreography by Chanel DaSilva
Developed with and Directed by Rachel Chavkin
December 3, 2019 – January 12, 2020 at the Loeb Drama Center
“We are all in the belly of the whale…”
From the creative team behind A.R.T.’s 2015 production of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 comes an epic musical adaptation of Herman Melville’s iconic American novel. As the egomaniacal Captain Ahab drives his crew across the seas in pursuit of the great white whale, Melville’s nineteenth-century vision of America collides head-on with the present.
“Dave Malloy breaks many of the rules that have accrued around American musical theater, and Ms. Chavkin has been making enormously inventive, and often wildly experimental, work for years.” – The New York Times
Production support of Moby-Dick is provided by Alison and Bob Murchison. This production is supported, in part, by Allison Johnson through the Incubator Fund.
Gloria: A Life
Written by Emily Mann
Directed by Diane Paulus
In association with the McCarter Theatre Center and by special arrangement with Daryl Roth
January 24 – March 1, 2020 at the Loeb Drama Center
History. Her story. Our story. This new play about Gloria Steinem and the women she has partnered with in a decades-long fight for equality is brought to life by a dynamic ensemble of performers. Fifty years after Gloria began raising her voice and championing those of others, her vision is as urgent as ever. Gloria’s belief in talking circles as a catalyst for change offers us all a path forward. The first act is Gloria’s story; the second is our own.
“A powerful stage experience that’s one part theater, one part consciousness-raising.” – Vogue
Community engagement support and production sponsorship of Gloria: A Life is provided by Allison Johnson. Education and engagement support is provided by Bank of America.
Macbeth In Stride
Created and performed by Whitney White
Directed by Tyler Dobrowsky and Taibi Magar
Postponed | OBERON
Macbeth In Stride is a live concert and theatrical event that excavates the underbelly of female ambition. With throbbing orchestrations of vintage rock, creator/performer Whitney White traces the fatalistic arc of Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth while taking a look at black female power and desire. One in a five-part series all exploring Shakespeare’s women set to music.
Book by Peter Stone
Music and Lyrics by Sherman Edwards
Directed by Diane Paulus
Postponed | Loeb Drama Center
They knew they would make history, but not what history would make of them. Fed up with living under the tyranny of British rule, John Adams attempts to persuade his fellow members of the Continental Congress to vote in favor of American Independence and sign the Declaration. But how much is he willing to compromise in the pursuit of freedom? And who does that freedom belong to? Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director Diane Paulus directs a new production of this Tony Award-winning musical, reexamining this pivotal moment in American history.
Production support of 1776 is provided by Katie and Paul Buttenwieser, The Linda Hammett Ory & Andrew Ory Charitable Trust, and Serena and Bill Lese. Additional production support is provided by Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine, Janet and Irv Plotkin, and Professor Mark V. Tushnet. Education and engagement support is provided by Bank of America.
By Kirsten Greenidge
Directed by Steven Bogart
Produced by Company One Theatre in collaboration with the A.R.T. and with support from the Mellon Foundation’s National Playwright Residency Program administered in partnership with HowlRound
July 17 – August 17, 2019 at Commonwealth School
Welcome to Gleason Street—where the teachers are underpaid, the head of school is overwhelmed, and we do NOT talk about that thing that happened at the last parent council meeting (so don’t bother asking about it).
As the audience tours the struggling elementary school, each classroom explored and each encounter witnessed could upend our assumptions about the ways we educate, govern, and collectively strive toward the greater good. Equal parts playful and provoking, Obie Award winner Kirsten Greenidge’s Greater Good is a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience.
“Greenidge is never one to shy away from topics that fuel fiery debates [and] seems to have an uncanny sense of the world around her.” – The Boston Globe
What to Send Up When It Goes Down
Written by Aleshea Harris
Directed by Whitney White
November 20 – 24, 2019 at The Ex
The Movement Theatre Company’s production of What to Send Up When It Goes Down is a play-pageant-ritual-homegoing celebration in response to the physical and spiritual deaths of Black people as a result of racialized violence. As lines between characters and actors, observers and observed blur, a dizzying series of vignettes build to a climactic moment where performance and reality collide. Meant to disrupt the pervasiveness of anti-blackness and acknowledge the resilience of Black people throughout history, this theatrical work uses parody, song, movement, and audience participation to create a space for catharsis, reflection, cleansing, and healing.
“If you’re a lover of theater, looking for signs of fresh and original and in-the-moment life on the American stage, you need to see What to Send Up.” – The New York Times
Production support of What to Send Up When It Goes Down is provided by the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University.
Afterglow @ OBERON
Afterglow @ OBERON features playwrights, cabaret performers, and solo artists in a collaborative series curated by Quinn Cox, founder of Provincetown’s annual Afterglow Festival. Past performers include Tori Scott, Taja Lindley, Joey Arias, Erin Markey, Johnny Blazes, and Lady Bunny. Tickets to Afterglow @ OBERON performances will be available as add-ons to subscription packages—single tickets will go on sale to the general public later this year. Additional artists will be announced at a later date.
The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret
October 3 & 4, 2019
This balls-to-the-wall cabaret features the music of Prince, Lady Gaga, Black Sabbath, Nina Simone, and more.
Witch Camp, featuring Amber Martin and Nath Ann Carrera
November 7, 2019
Take a journey to Witch Camp with the songs of Led Zeppelin, Yoko Ono, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, and more.
The Maturation of an Inconvenient Negro (or iNEGRO)
February 20, 2020
A raw self-reflection of a young Black man coming into himself, but still not yet himself.
New York Values
An emotional, informative, and interactive theater piece where music and movement intersect in an homage to those who live at the margins.
April 16, 2020
An outrageously queer concert experience that shatters the boundaries of gender with a striptease of “Latin Lover” clichés.
Molly Pope, A Gay Man, and a Piano
May 14, 2020
Armed with the two things absolutely necessary for a good time, Molly Pope indulges in a set of songs she’s always wanted to tackle.
Live @ OBERON
Live @ OBERON includes an eclectic array of musical artists for exceptional original performances. Past performers include STL GLD, Samora Pinderhughes, The Sweetback Sisters, and Billy Dean Thomas. Tickets to Live @ OBERON performances will available as add-ons to subscription packages.
Cliff Notez’ Why The Wild Things Are
September 13, 2019
Cliff Notez’ new album Why the Wild Things Are is a testimony of existence, protest, and survival.
October 5, 2019
Enjoy a wild “country outlaw revue” with the two-time Boston Music Awards Country Artist of the Year.
Oompa’s Cleo: An Intimate Experience
November 9, 2019
Oompa returns for an intimate evening with music from her sophomore album Cleo.
The Vijay Iyer Trio
December 4, 2019
Award-winning and celebrated composer-pianist Vijay Iyer brings his trio to OBERON for an evening of jazz.
The Sweetback Sisters’ Country Christmas Singalong Spectacular
December 20 & 21, 2019
The Sweetback Sisters bring the holidays to life with a holiday sing-along and Christmas trivia for the whole family.
STL GLD Presents The New Decade with Cliff Notez and Latrell James
December 31, 2019
Toast the new year as three forces in New England Hip Hop come together for a collaborative experience that might never be seen again.
Arc Iris’ iTMRW
January 25 & 26, 2020
Experimental pop band Arc Iris tells the story of a world where climate change has taken its toll, New York City has sunken into the ocean, automation runs the world, and ordinary life is easy yet dull.
Ruby Rose Fox Presents Black Valentine
February 7, 2020
An alternative Valentine’s Day celebration for those who are single, grieving, in-love, out-of-love, or for whom love is complicated.
The Fromm Players at Harvard’s Black Speculative Musicalities
April 3 & 4, 2020
A celebration of the radical sonic imaginings of the African diaspora and African American artists who have challenged and expanded our notions of what music is.
Run AMOC! Festival
December 13 – 14, 2019
A.R.T. will present the American Modern Opera Company’s third annual Run AMOC! Festival in December 2019. Led by Artistic Directors Matthew Aucoin (Crossing, 2018 MacArthur Fellow) and Zack Winokur (The Black Clown), the company serves as the artistic home for seventeen of the most exciting singers, dancers, and instrumentalists of the rising generation. Festival programming will be announced at a later date.
“A troupe of young and preternaturally talented musicians.” – The New York Times
The Donkey Show
Every Saturday night through September 7, 2019
The Donkey Show, directed by Diane Paulus, will continue performances at OBERON every Saturday night through the summer, concluding its decade-long hit run on September 7, 2019. Delivering the ultimate disco experience, the crazy circus of mirror balls and feathered divas, of roller skaters and hustle queens, is inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The glitter-filled party rages on the dance floor to all the best 70s hits as the show unfolds around the audience. After the show, the party continues into the night so you can live out your fever fantasy. The first production Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director Diane Paulus staged at the A.R.T., The Donkey Show was a catalyst in establishing OBERON as a club-theater venue where artists could experiment with space, storytelling, and the relationships between performers and audiences. The A.R.T. is looking forward to OBERON’s next chapter as it deepens relationships with local artists and companies, as well as performers who come to this unique space from across the country and around the world.
A.R.T. in the World
As the A.R.T. pursues its mission to expand the boundaries of theater on its stages in Cambridge, the theater’s work continues to reach audiences beyond Greater Boston—throughout the US and around the world. The 2019/20 Season begins with two productions that will perform at two of the most prestigious international theater festivals. Tickets are available through the respective presenting entities.
The Black Clown
Adapted from Langston Hughes’ poem by Davóne Tines and Michael Schachter
Music by Michael Schachter
Directed by Zack Winokur
Choreography Chanel DaSilva
Music Direction and Supervision by Jaret Landon
Scenic & Costume Design by Carlos Soto
Lighting Design by John Torres
Sound Design by Kai Harada
July 24 – 27, 2019 at Lincoln Center’s 2019 Mostly Mozart Festival
“Cry to the world / That all might understand: / I was once a black clown / But now— / I’m a man!”
Direct from its autumn 2018 premiere at A.R.T., The Black Clown brings Langston Hughes’s famed 1931 poem to life in a stunning new music-theater piece that fuses vaudeville, gospel, opera, jazz, and spirituals. Powerful and prescient, the experience of a black man’s resilience against a legacy of oppression unfolds, featuring baritone Davóne Tines in the title role. He’s joined by an ensemble of 12 and a chamber orchestra performing a vibrant score by Michael Schachter.
“An exquisite show. Song and sight that plunges into the soul. I’m still thinking about it. The Black Clown is precisely why we have and need theater.” – Jared Bowen, WGBH
HEAR WORD! Naija Woman Talk True
Directed by Ifeoma Fafunwa
An iOpenEye/A.R.T./Ifeoma Fafunwa Production
August 19 – 25, 2019 at the Edinburg International Festival’s You Are Here series
HEAR WORD! gives an intimate view into the obstacles that Nigerian women face. Stories of domestic violence, of women’s absence from positions of power, of resilience and resistance, of shattering the culture of silence, of overturning the status quo, of abuse, disrespect, bravery, sisterhood and joy. It’s a life-affirming call for female solidarity and empowerment that will shock you with its frankness, amuse you with its comedy—and galvanize you into action.
“Hear Word! is agitprop theater of an exceptionally vital order … These are sparks to be fanned into flame. By the end the brightness radiating from its all-female cast has the glare and heat of a raging bonfire.” – The New York Times
In addition, Waitress (A.R.T. premiere August 2015) continues performances on Broadway, in London’s West End, and across the country on a national tour. Diane Paulus’ Tony Award-winning production of Pippin (A.R.T. production December 2012) opens in Tokyo in June 2019. Jagged Little Pill (A.R.T. premiere May 2018) will open on Broadway this fall. Notes from the Field (A.R.T. production August 2016) and All the Way (A.R.T. production September 2013) are currently available on HBO. The immersive phenomenon Sleep No More (A.R.T. premiere October 2009) continues at The McKinnon Hotel in Shanghai and its run at The McKittrick Hotel Off-Broadway.