WONDERLAND’s guide to theater and performance art to check out from January to March—including Sondheim, shadow puppets, and shows about the Arab Spring, a mass shooting, art forgery, police violence, confronting everyday racism, the Great Recession and ‘Shakespeare In Love.”
“Ada/Ava” by Manual Cinema, at ArtsEmerson’s Emerson Paramount Center
Robert J. Orchard Stage, Boston, Jan. 10 to 14.
Chicago’s Manual Cinema use magical shadow puppetry, live-action silhouettes, overhead projection and live music to tell a story of twin sisters tending a New England lighthouse until one dies. Then the surviving sister “embarks on a journey to move beyond her grief and discover herself with the arrival of a traveling carnival.”
“Shakespeare In Love” by SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Boston Center for the Arts Calderwood Pavilion, Boston, Jan. 12 to Feb. 10.
The New England premiere of the stage adaptation of the Academy Award-winning 1998 film. This “romantic comedy of errors” draws on mistaken identities and other Shakespearean tropes to invent a tale of a young Will Shakespeare’s overcoming writer’s block by falling in love with a noblewoman who has disguised herself as a boy to appear in one of his shows.
“Road Show” by Lyric Stage Company, Boston, Jan. 12 to Feb. 11.
Stephen Sondheim was inspired by a New Yorker article to draft this musical about the boom-and-bust adventures of real-life brothers Addison and Wilson Mizner, from the Alaskan Gold Rush to the Florida real estate boom in the 1930s
“20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” by Imaginary Beasts at the Charlestown Working Theater, Charlestown, Jan. 13 to Feb. 4.
A “tongue-in-cheek,” “cross-eyed, unsteady” steampunk sendup of Jules Verne’s submarine science fiction classic “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”
“Playback Theater for People of Color” by True Story Theater at Shambhala Meditation Center, Brookline, Jan. 13
Artlington’s True Story Theater promotes “social healing through theater” by inviting audience members to talk about their lives. Actors then “portray the heart of what they heard using music, movement, and dialogue. From this simple interaction, people laugh, cry, share fresh insights, and bond.” Note: This performance is for those who personally identify as a person of color, with a troupe also composed of people of color. A similar event for those who identify as white will be held on Jan. 20 and another for everyone, regardless or race, on Feb. 1.
“Rainbow Collapse” Anya Smolnikova and Jared Williams at Boston Center for the Arts Mills Gallery, Boston, Jan. 19.
Anya Smolnikova and Jared Williams’s durational performance art involves a pyramid of television sets and a birch forest that immerse you in the aftermath of “a complete societal and environmental collapse.”
“In the Eruptive Mode” by Kuwait’s Sulayman Al-Bassam Theatre at ArtsEmerson’s Emerson Paramount Center Robert J. Orchard Stage, Boston, Jan. 24 to 28.
Six poetic, satirical monologues by Anglo- Kuwaiti writer and director Sulayman Al-Bassam bring to life women caught in the turmoil of the 2011 Arab Spring.
“Hype Man: A Break Beat Play” by Company One at Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Theatre, Boston, Jan. 26 to Feb. 24.
In Idris Goodwin’s play, a hip-hop trio is on the verge of making it big, when a police shooting of an unarmed black teen “forces them to navigate issues of friendship, race, and privilege.”
“Hear Word! Naija Woman Talk True” at American Repertory Theater, Cambridge, Jan. 26 to Feb. 11.
A cast of leading Nigerian actresses relate multi-generational stories among Nigerian women of inequality and transformation, of “the factors that limit their potential for independence, leadership, and meaningful contribution in society.”
“Death and the Maiden” by Commonwealth Shakespeare Company at Babson College, Wellesley, Jan. 30 to Feb. 11.
In Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman’s 1990 psychological thriller, after a totalitarian dictatorship crumbles, a former political prisoner crosses paths with a man she thinks may be the man who jailed and raped her. The play “explores the after-effects of repression on hearts and souls.”
“For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf” by Praxis Stage at Hibernian Hall, Roxbury, Feb. 15 to 25.
Nitozake Shnge’s mid-1970s “choreopoem” is a series of poetic monologues about the struggles and loves of African-American women.
“Winter Solstice” by Apollinaire Theatre Company at Chelsea Theatre Works, Chelsea, Feb. 16 to March 10.
Prolific German playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig wrote this prickly postmodern comedy in 2013 and ’14 to mull the rise of fascism across Europe—symptoms we now see plainly here in the United States as well. The story begins when mom invites a man she met on the train home for a holiday drink. The charming gentleman slowly reveals himself to be a well-mannered neo-Nazi. Is the welcoming liberal family equipped to handle this?
“Virginia Woolf’s Orlando” by Lyric Stage Company, Boston, Feb. 23 to March 25.
Playwright Sarah Ruhl—author of “Stage Kiss” and “Dear Elizabeth”—adapts Virginia Woolf’s novel “Orlando” for the stage. “After a particularly wild night in 17th-century Constantinople, Orlando the man wakes up to find himself a woman, and abandons herself to five centuries of change with an insatiable appetite to discover what it means to live fully in the present, in her own skin, and in her own time.”
“The White Card” an ArtsEmerson presentation of an A.R.T. production at ArtsEmerson’s Emerson Paramount Center’s Robert J. Orchard Stage, Feb. 24 to April 1.
An up-and-coming black artist hoping to sell her work has dinner with a “powerful, well-intentioned white couple” and their activist son in this world premiere from writer Claudia Rankine and director Diane Paulus in an ArtsEmerson presentation of an A.R.T. production. The play “unpacks the insidious ways in which racism manifests itself in everyday situations, prompting the question, ‘Can American society progress if whiteness stays invisible?’”
“Ripe Frenzy” by New Repertory Theatre at Studio One, Boston University, Boston, Feb. 24 to March 11.
In Jennifer Barclay’s play—winner of the National New Play Network’s 2016 Smith Prize for Political Theatre—a small town deals with a mass shooting at a high school theater production of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.”
“Brawler” by Boston Playwrights Theatre, Boston, March 1 to 18.
This world premiere of Boston-based playwright Walt McGough’s modern-day take on Sophocles’ tragedy “Ajax” moves the action to the world of pro hockey and tells of the downfall of a player who had been known as “the scariest man in the National Hockey League.”
“Skeleton Crew” by Huntington Theatre Company at the Boston Center for the Arts Calderwood Pavilion, Boston, March 2 to 31.
This play from Dominique Morisseau’s “Detroit Project” brings us into the break room of a small auto plant struggling in Great Recession Detroit. “When confronted with the possibility of the factory closing, power dynamics shift and each [worker] is pushed to the limits of survival.”
“Hamlet” and “Saint Joan” in repertory by Bedlam at ArtsEmerson’s Cutler Majestic Theatre, March 7 to 25.
The New York troupe—which is performing its version of “Sense @ Sensibility” at American Repertory Theater through mid January—stages Shakespeare’s tragedy of the prince of Denmark and George Bernard Shaw’s tragedy about Joan of Arc in repertory. Meaning, “2 Plays, 4 Actors, 49 Characters. … Iconic figures are brought vividly to life in two riveting, unexpectedly funny, stripped-down stagings.”
“The Snowflake Man” by PuppetKabob at Puppet Showplace Theater, Brookline, March 8 to 11.
Sarah Frechette’s puppet troupe deploys Czech-style marionettes, miniatures, pop-up paper art, music and live storytelling to recount the life of Wilson ”Snowflake” Bentley (1865—1931), a Vermont farmer and scientist who was one of the first people to photograph individual snow crystals.
“The Bakelite Masterpiece” by New Repertory Theatre at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, Watertown, March 17 to April 8.
At the end of World War II, Han van Meegeren sits in a prison cell accused of selling a long-lost Vermeer to the Nazis. His defense? The painting was actually a forgery that he painted and fake aged with a plastic known as Bakelite. To prove it and save his skin, he must paint another forgery.