Tag Archives: Arts Emerson

ArtsEmerson Presents “American Moor” Directed By Kim Weild 




Keith Hamilton Cobb
Photos by C. Hovde and Chris Lang

ArtsEmersonwill host the return of the award- winning American Moorwritten and performed by Keith Hamilton Cobb, an urgent solo work examining the experience and perspective of black men in America through the metaphor of William Shakespeare’s character, Othello. The 2018 IRNE and Elliot Norton award-winning play received wide-spread acclaim from Boston audiences and critics – American Moorplays ArtsEmerson for two weeks of performances, April 10–21, at the Emerson Paramount Center Robert J. Orchard Stage. 

American Moorchallenges the capacity of theatre to fulfill the human longing to be fully visible and embraced; it’s a show that poses the question “who gets to perform Shakespeare?” while exploring the inequities of life as a black actor and life as a black man. The Boston Globe’s Don Aucoin calls it “a deep-from-the-heart spellbinder [that] is ablisteringly eloquent and penetrating meditation on the ever-urgent matter of race in America

“Keith’s got something timelessly entertaining, powerfully urgent and deeply disruptive to say with American Moor,” says ArtsEmerson artistic director David Dower. “In his first appearance in Boston he struck a chord that still reverberates. Just like we’ve done with Daniel Beaty’s Mr. Joy, Melinda Lopez’ Mala, and with companies like Whistler in the Dark, Arlekin Players, and Bedlam, we’re delighted to create the opportunity for more people to experience an award- winning production. Keith and Kim have continued to evolve the show since last we saw it here, as well, so even its fans will find surprises that reward a repeat visit. With Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Othello having just wrapped a visit to A.R.T., it’s a perfect time to confront the complexities of that play, its title character, and the American culture — Keith is absolutely burning to take us there.” 

American Moorwas previously presented in Boston in 2017 by O.W.I 7:30pm

For more information:
Online: ArtsEmerson.org
Phone: 617-824-8400
In Person: Paramount Center Box Office, open Tuesday-Saturday from 10am-6pm (also open on Sunday 2/3 beginning at 12noon)


JANUARY 16 – 27, 2019

(Photo Credit: Judy Sirota Rosenthal)

ArtsEmerson, Boston’s leading presenter of contemporary world theatre, is excited to announce the return of Manual Cinema with their production, The End of TV.After thrilling Boston audiences with Ada/Ava in 2018, the ingenious artists of Manual Cinema cast a theatrical spell through live-action silhouettes, video feeds, overhead projection and a five-piece band performing an original score with their new creation. 

Set in a post-industrial Rust Belt city in the 1990s and told through a collection of original 70’s R&B-inspired art pop songs, The End of TV explores the quest to find meaning amongst the increasingly constant barrage of commercial images and advertising white-noise. Manual Cinema combines handmade shadow puppetry, cinematic techniques, and innovative sound and music to create this immersive experience for audiences. Chicago Tribune calls it “the very retro-coolest and most creatively compulsive show.” 

“I love the imagination of artists, and the artists of Manual Cinema specifically,” says ArtsEmerson artistic director David Dower. “They’ve invented a form out of the simplest of tools, animated it with the pure joy and abandon found in child’s play, and the result is fresh, fun, and surprisingly moving. The techniques here will be familiar to fans of their earlier work, but they continued to evolve their style with The End of TV, introducing new elements to the mix. And they’ve harnessed it to a timely story that sweeps over us and carries us away. I’m so happy they were able to come back so soon after their debut at ArtsEmerson last season.” 

The End of TV depicts the promise and decline of the American rust belt, through the stories of Flo and Louise, both residents of a fictional Midwestern city. Flo is an elderly white woman who was once a supervisor at the thriving local auto plant. Now succumbing to dementia, the memories of her life are tangled with television commercials and the “call now” demands of QVC. Louise, a young black woman laid off from her job when the same local auto plant closes, meets Flo when she takes a job as a Meals-on-Wheels driver. An unlikely relationship grows as Flo approaches the end of her life and Louise prepares for the invention of a new one. Their story is intercut with commercials and TV programs, the constant background of their environment. 

The End of TVruns just two weeks at the Emerson Paramount Center’s Robert J. Orchard Stage located at 559 Washington Street in downtown Boston. For more information go to www.ArtsEmerson.org, by phone at 617.824.8400, or in person at the box office.

A Boy Named Hamnet


Arts Emerson

Through October 7

Emerson Paramount Center



Reviewed by Bobby Franklin

Photo by Gianmarco Bresadola

The U.S. premiere of Dead Centre’s  Hamnet now playing at the Emerson Paramount Centre in Boston is a powerful 60 minutes of theatre. The multi media production brings us into the world, past and present, of Shakespeare’s only son Hamnet who died at the age of 11. The work is an original, creative, and very interesting look at the relationship between a father and son, and the effect that relationship, or lack of, has on the mind and emotions of a young boy.

I say past and present as the ghost of Hamnet fills the theater in what could be seen as a mix of Hamlet and Waiting For Godot. Ollie West plays the title character who brings us into his world as he deals with the struggle to understand his relationship, or lack of, with his famous father whom he barely knew. Young West is first seen live with a knapsack projected onto a large screen as he makes his way from the audience onto the stage. The screen and the projections on it will be used to incredible effect throughout the performance.

Photos by Gianmarco Bresadola

We learn right off this isn’t going to be a historical work, but instead a metaphysical exploration. While bouncing a ball off the screen Hamnet tries to explain, with the use of Google, the theory of quantum tunneling. He admits he has no idea what it means but assure us if his father were there he would know.

What’s in a name? A lot when your father is William Shakespeare. But it is not the name Shakespeare that troubles him. Hamnet is aware that his name today is most often seen as a typo, and he is trying to measure his self worth. Hamnet has many questions and turns to the audience and Google for answers. But as Vladimir and Estragon find in Godot, often times there simply are no answers. 

“Why would anyone chose not to be?” is one of those questions, and in the remarkable scene where he gets to face his father he asks that, and many others. The scene is done with the senior Shakespeare appearing on the screen with his son. Hamnet is seen both on the screen as well as on the stage itself at the same time. Shakespeare is  with him on the screen throughout most of this time, giving it a  Banquo’s ghost flavor. I’m not sure how all of this was done, but it is amazing to watch. The fact that there is a bit of the handy dandy to it does not diminish how powerful the dialog between father and son is. Whether you see the work of Shakespeare in this conversation, or Beckett, or even Bart Simpson, you will be touched by it. Can fathers and sons ever understand each other? Here, they do try, but it is emotional and awkward for them. 

Photo by Gianmarco Bresadola

Using the relationship between Hamnet and Will Shakespeare to explore so many questions does not limit us to just these two people. It speaks to all of us, and it will leave you with more questions than answers, but also with more understanding.

Ollie West, who is simply outstanding as Hamnet, will be replaced by Aran Murphy midway through this run. I highly recommend you take in this amazing production. I would even go as far as saying it would be worth seeing a second time when the cast change is made.