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‘Little Amal’ leads the way to ArtsEmerson’s 2023-24 season

ArtsEmerson will bring "Little Amal" to Boston for a free outdoor "Event of Welcome" on Sept. 7 at a location to be announced later. The 12-foot puppet represents a 10-year-old Syrian refugee.The Walk Productions and Respective Collective

ArtsEmerson’s 2023-24 season will begin not at any of its three theater venues but instead outdoors, with an “Event of Welcome” for “Little Amal,” a 12-foot-tall puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl.

As part of a theatrical project designed to raise awareness of the plight of displaced people, “Little Amal” has journeyed through numerous countries and, last fall, to New York City. The puppet will be in Boston Sept. 7 at a location still to be determined.

“It speaks to the experiences of children in wartime,” ArtsEmerson executive director David C. Howse said in a telephone interview. “Its message is: Don’t forget about us. ‘Little Amal’ is really, truly representing the refugee experience.”


Seven other productions are slated for ArtsEmerson’s upcoming season, announced Wednesday night. Operating under the auspices of Emerson College, ArtsEmerson is a presenting and producing organization that brings an international flavor to each theater season.

The story of the Wampanoag people will be the focus of “We Are the Land” at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre from Sept. 29-30. Described as “part pageant, part play,” the production, created by Siobhan Brown and Hartman Dietz, will feature Wampanoag artists, actors, and storytellers whose mission is to “tell our own story in our own words,” according to Ronee Penoi, director of artistic programming at ArtsEmerson.

That story is one of colonization, dispossession, resilience, and resurgence. Singing, dancing, and drumming will be woven throughout the testimony in “We Are the Land.”

Next on the ArtsEmerson schedule is “The Book of Life,” a work about the recovery from trauma. It is the product of a collaboration between Rwandan and Canadian artists.

Scripted by Rwandan playwright-performer Odile Gakire Katese, who is also in the cast, “The Book of Life" will run Oct. 18-22 at the Emerson Paramount Center. It will feature original music and letters written by Rwandans.


“It asks what do you carry forward once the worst has happened," said Howse. “It’s really about recognizing the past while leaning into the future."

From Nov. 8-12, the Paramount will be home to “The Real James Bond . . . Was Dominican.”

Written and performed by Christopher Rivas, it’s about the impact on Rivas’s sense of identity as a Bond-obsessed Dominican-American youth in Queens when he learned that Ian Fleming’s real-life model for the suave and dashing 007 was a wealthy, well-connected Dominican diplomat, race-car driver, and pilot named Porfirio Rubirosa.

Starting off the New Year from Jan. 23-28 at the Paramount will be Yngvild Aspeli’s adaptation of “Moby-Dick,” Herman Melville’s classic tale of obsession. The production by the Norwegian theater company Plexus Polaire employs seven actors, video projections, and 50 puppets, including a life-size whale.

A scene from 7 Fingers' "Duel Reality," coming to the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre Feb. 7-18, 2024.Einar Kling Odincrants

The inventive, Montreal-based circus-theater collective 7 Fingers returns to ArtsEmerson, this time with “Duel Reality,” described as “an epic love story that echoes ‘Romeo & Juliet.’” Slated for Feb. 7-18 at the Cutler Majestic, it will be the seventh show by the 7 Fingers presented by ArtsEmerson, preceded by “Passengers,” “Reversible,” “Cuisine & Confessions,” “Traces,” “Sequence 8,” and “PSY.”

From March 27-April 7, ArtsEmerson will present “Mrs. Krishnan’s Party,” an immersive production by the New Zealand-based Indian Ink Theatre Company, at the Paramount’s Jackie Liebergott Black Box.

Written by Justin Lewis and Jacob Rajan, it stars Kalyani Nagarajan as Mrs. Krishnan and Justin Rogers as James, her tenant. When James invites a few friends to a party to celebrate Onam — an ancient Hindu festival celebrating the rice harvest — as well as the return home of Mrs. Krishnan’s son, the gathering attracts dozens of strangers, and Mrs. Krishnan has a challenge on her hands. The show features juggling, music, dancing, and even cooking.


Rounding out the season from April 19-21 at the Cutler Majestic will be “Book of Mountains and Seas,” a new work by composer Huang Ruo and renowned puppeteer Basil Twist. With an ensemble of dozens of puppets and accompaniment by the vocal ensemble Ars Nova Copenhagen, the show delves into Chinese creation myths and their relevance in the context of climate change.

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Don Aucoin can be reached at Follow him @GlobeAucoin.