CAMBRIDGE, MASS: American Repertory Theater (the ART) has announced its 2019-20 slate, including mainstage shows as well as work in their series ART Breakout, Afterglow @ OBERON, Live @ OBERON, the Run AMOC! Festival, The Donkey Show, and ART in the World.
“Stories of tyranny and liberation take center stage in our 2019/20 Season,” said Terrie and Bradley Bloom artistic director Diane Paulus in a statement. “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.”
The season kicks off with Six (Aug. 21-Sept. 27) by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, presented by arrangement with Kenny Wax, Global Musicals, George Stiles, and Kevin McCollum. The show, directed by Moss and Jaime Armitage, hands the mic to Henry VIII’s half dozen wives, who tell their stories with 21st-century flair.
Next will be Black Light (Sept. 19-29), created by Daniel Alexander Jones with original Songs by Jomama Jones, Laura Jean Anderson, Bobby Halvorson, Dylan Meek, and Josh Quat. Daniel Alexander Jones appears as alter ego Jomama Jones, in what the ART. calls an “intimate journey through the darkness of personal and political upheaval and the shards of shattered illusions.”
Following will be the world premiere of Moby-Dick (Dec. 3, 2019-Jan. 12, 2020), with book, lyrics, music, and orchestrations by Dave Malloy. The musical, developed with and directed by Rachel Chavkin, is based on the novel by Herman Melville about the entanglements of a ship’s crew with the famously elusive great white whale.
The season will continue with Gloria: A Life (Jan. 24-Feb. 22), written by Emily Mann
and directed by Diane Paulus, presented in association with McCarter Theatre Center and by special arrangement with Daryl Roth. The play tells the story of Gloria Steinem and the women who fought with her for gender equality.
Then the theatre will offer the world premiere of Ocean Filibuster (March 7-27), created by PearlDamour and written by Lisa D’Amour with music by Sxip Shirey.
This musical work, directed by Katie Pearl and commissioned and developed by the ART through a partnership with the Harvard University Center for the Environment, follows what happens when Mr. Majority proposes to the local government a plan to capitalizes on the world’s oceans by reducing them to more modest inland bodies of water.
Up next will be Macbeth in Stride (April 23-May 10), created and performed by Whitney White. The concert play, “a battle cry for Black female power and desire that excavates the underbelly of female ambition,” looks at the downfall of Lady Macbeth and her husband with Shakespeare’s text interlaced with the music of artists such as Ike and Tina Turner and the Doors.
Closing out the mainstage season will be 1776 (May 22-June 28), with a book by Peter Stone and music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards. The classic musical about the Second Continental Congress and the trials and tribulations leading up to the creation of the U.S. Declaration of Independence will be directed by artistic director Paulus.
In addition to the main slate, the organization will present two shows as part of its ART Breakout series, which features “cutting-edge performances that push theatrical boundaries,” and the final shows in the decade-long run of The Donkey Show.
The first ART Breakout production will be the world premiere of Greater Good (July 17-Aug. 17, 2019), written by Kirsten Greenidge and directed by Steven Bogart. The show, produced by Company One Theatre in collaboration with ART, offers an immersive experience that looks at the history of Boston by moving through the halls of Gleason Street, a “progressive school that’s struggling to live up to its mission.”
The second ART Breakout show will be What to Send Up When It Goes Down (Nov. 20-24), written by Aleshea Harris and directed by Whitney White. The play (published in American Theatre’s April 2019 issue) is “a community ritual created in response to the deaths of Black people as a result of racialized violence.”
The Donkey Show, Diane Paulus’s first directing project at the ART—a disco-inspired club experienced based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream—will perform through Sept. 7. The show, which opened a several-year run Off-Broadway in 1999, has been appearing at the ART since 2009.
American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, founded in 1980, stages new work “driven by risk-taking, artistic inquiry, and passionate inquiry.”