Arts Emerson in Boston: The Next Thing (TNT) Festival – Feb. 15-24

Bloodplay with Michael Cyril Creighton, Hanlon Smith-Dorsey, Paul Thureen, Hannah Bos, and Birgit Huppuch. Photo Credit:Sue Kessler.

Bloodplay with Michael Cyril Creighton, Hanlon Smith-Dorsey, Paul Thureen, Hannah Bos, and Birgit Huppuch. Photo Credit:Sue Kessler.

A Ten-Day Festival of Live Performance, Screenings and Workshops

New Initiative by ArtsEmerson, Center for Theater Commons, and New York’s Under the Radar Festival

ArtsEmerson: The World On Stage announces a new initiative, adding to its third season of acclaimed international theatre programming. The Next Thing (TNT) is a ten-day festival of performances, screenings and workshops presented in association with The Center for the Theater Commons and New York’s Under the Radar Festival. TNT Festival, which runs Feb. 15—24, 2013, will feature new work by Mike Daisey, Boston-based company Sleeping Weazel, the return of UNIVERSES and more, as well as screenings, workshops and music. All TNT Festival events take place in The Paramount Center (559 Washington St.).

TNT Festival’s dense line-up of theatre, film, live-streamed events, music and workshops, all housed in ArtsEmerson’s Paramount Center in Boston’s theatre district, creates an unprecedented opportunity for a deep dive into the world of contemporary ensemble performance. This distinctive Festival includes six theatrical events totaling 17 performances, three workshops with six companies of artists exploring process and methodologies for devising work, 18 screenings of 14 films– including a theatre performance streamed live from Arizona, and a concert by a local band known for its theatrical work – over three weekends.

According to David Dower, ArtsEmerson’s Director of Artistic Programs, “TNT is designed to take audiences on a high energy tour of contemporary performance, featuring a combustible combination of pioneering theatre artists of the moment, films celebrating legendary performances that inspired them and artist-led excursions into the techniques and processes fueling these companies. From the opening moment, when monologist Mike Daisey uncorks his latest monologue right through to the closing—an open-rehearsal presentation of a new work in progress by the spoken word ensemble UNIVERSES, there is a focus on what’s next, richly informed by what’s come before.”

Festival passes and Mike Daisey’s American Utopias are on sale at or by phone at (617) 824-8400. Full Festival Passes are $100 for admission to six theatre and music events and Half Festival Passes are $60 for a choice of three theatre and music events. (Full and half passes do not include Mike Daisey tickets.) There are a limited number of passes available, and they also include admission to all related film programming and artist workshops. Passes also entitle holders to a $10 discount on Mike Daisey tickets, and a $5 discount on additional admissions. Tickets for the Boston premiere of Mike Daisey’s American Utopias are $45-$75. Single tickets for all other TNT Festival stage performances are $25.

American Utopia - Mike Daisey and audience. Photo: Peter Taub.

American Utopia – Mike Daisey and audience. Photo: Peter Taub.

February 15 and 16, 8 p.m.
American Utopias
Mike Daisey

Created and performed by Mike Daisey
Directed by Jean-Michele Gregory
Paramount Center Mainstage
Recommended for ages 14+

Controversial monologist Mike Daisey in his newest work paints a distinctly American vision of utopia—how we create public spaces in which we come together to act out our dreams of a better world. Daisey takes us all over the map to pursue the story: from Disney World and its nostalgic theme park perfection, to the drug-fueled anarchic excesses of Burning Man, to Zuccotti Park, where in the unlikeliest place the Occupy movement was born. Gun-play, giant glittery dildos, raving animatronic presidents and brutal police actions come together to paint the stark landscape of our new American dream.

Mike Daisey has been called “one of the finest solo performers of his generation” by The New York Times for his groundbreaking monologues which weave together autobiography, gonzo journalism and unscripted performance. Daisey has created over 15 monologues with his collaborator Jean-Michele Gregory, including the 24-hour feat All the Hours in the Day, the critically acclaimed The Last Cargo Cult, and The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, which he released under an open license and has been downloaded over 100,000 times, staged in more than 40 unique productions around the world and translated into six languages.

Linda Mancini and Jay Smith in Vision Disturbance. Photo: New York City Players.

Linda Mancini and Jay Smith in Vision Disturbance. Photo: New York City Players.

February 20-22, 7:30 p.m.
February 23, 8 p.m.
Vision Disturbance
New York City Players

By Christina Masciotti
Directed by Richard Maxwell
Paramount Center Mainstage
Recommended for ages 12+

Mondo is a middle-aged woman whose traditional Greek husband recently divorced her and then sued her for spousal support. The heavy stress causes her to develop a vision problem: she’s lost her depth perception and the world appears flat. She goes to a local eye doctor and what begins as a music therapy prescription to heal her eye turns into a deep emotional connection that neither of them can shake. With Vision Disturbance, acclaimed downtown New York director Richard Maxwell directs his first project by a contemporary playwright other than himself. Focusing sweetly and intently on the consolations of human connections, this “writer’s play” provides a simple, wonderful glimpse into the complexities of everyday life.

New York City Players is a theatre company founded in 1999 under the artistic direction of playwright and director Richard Maxwell to create original work about people, relationships and feeling. The company has produced 25 projects in over 20 countries. New York City Players appeared in the 2012 Whitney Biennial and has been selected for national and international recognition, including four Obie Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship and Foundation for Contemporary Arts Award. Vision Disturbance is the first production in the company’s American Playwrights Division, a program dedicated to producing works by early-career experimental playwrights.

Blood Play with Paul Thureen, Hannah Box, Oliver Butler. Photo: Javier Oddo.

Blood Play with Paul Thureen, Hannah Bos, Oliver Butler. Photo: Javier Oddo.

February 21, 8 p.m.
February 22, 6 p.m.
February 23, 9:30 p.m.
Blood Play
The Debate Society

By Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen
Directed & Developed by Oliver Butler
The Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre at the Paramount Center
Recommended for ages 14+

A darkly comic thriller of post-war verve and pre-­adolescent disquiet, Blood Play is set in the tranquil Chicago suburb of Skokie in the early 1950s. While the kids are away on a camping trip, a string of coincidences leads to a spontaneous grown-­up party in the basement of a brand new ranch house. Games are played, exotic cocktails are drunk and new friends are made. But…things are happening that no one is talking about. And something is stirring underground.

The Debate Society is a Brooklyn based company that creates new plays through the collaboration of Hannah Bos, Paul Thureen (writer/performers) and Oliver Butler (director/developer). Typically shaping a new play via a rigorous 12-18 month development process, the company specializes in creating unexpected stories set in supremely intricate, vividly theatrical worlds. They were awarded a “Village Voice Best of Award” for “Best Argument for Devised Theater – 2010”. The Debate Society trio are 2011 Sundance Institute Fellows.

A Supposedly Fun Thing with Ethalia Papacosta, Photo by Daniel Fish.

A Supposedly Fun Thing with Ethalia Papacosta, Photo by Daniel Fish.

February 22, 8 p.m.
February 23, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.
February 24, 2 p.m.
A (radically condensed and expanded) SUPPOSEDLY FUN THING I’LL NEVER DO AGAIN (after David Foster Wallace)
Daniel Fish

Directed by Daniel Fish
Based on works from A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, Consider The Lobster and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace
Studio 7 at the Paramount Center
Recommended for ages 14+

Drawing exclusively from audio recordings of award-winning writer David Foster Wallace (readings he gave of his short fiction, essays and an extensive interview he did for German television), director Daniel Fish and an ensemble of five actors seek to re-create the amazing presence Wallace brought to everything he wrote about, be it professional tennis, a boy’s thirteenth birthday or America’s obsession with entertainment. Tennis balls fly and individual listening devices serve as functioning props, delivering the text live to the actors. The selection, order and tempo of the recordings are mixed live during each performance. Wallace’s work as translated by the performers evokes both his presence and his absence, asking us: How present can we be? How generous in the way we experience the cacophony of our world?

Produced with the permission of the David Foster Wallace Literary Trust. Developed in residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center and University of Rochester International Theatre Program.

Daniel Fish is a New York-based artist working in theatre, opera and film. He received his BS in Performance Studies in 1989 from Northwestern University. He has created work at theatres throughout the U.S. and Europe. Recent work includes Tom Ryan Thinks He’s James Mason Starring in a Movie by Nicholas Ray, House for Sale, based on an essay by Jonathan Franzen, and a film, The Dollar General. He has taught directing and design at The Yale School of Drama, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Princeton University and Bard College.

Stephanie Burlington Daniels in Birth Breath Bride Elizabeth. Photo by David Marshall.

Stephanie Burlington Daniels in Birth Breath Bride Elizabeth. Photo by David Marshall.

February 22, 9 p.m.
February 23, 6:30 p.m.
Birth Breath Bride Elizabeth
Sleeping Weazel

Written and directed by Kenneth Prestinizi
Starring Stephanie Burlington Daniels
The Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre at the Paramount Center
Recommended for ages 16+

Mary Shelley-Breath, a “mad” academic, gives birth to a newly imagined post-feminist manifesto that re-mixes Frankenstein with Princess Diana, Elvis Presley, and a young bride’s hope to have the cake of her dreams. The zany mash-up of topics and social criticism provides an experience unlike any audiences have seen before. This inventive solo piece is as much a crackpot lecture gone awry as it is a tour-de-force performance of one woman’s need to name and tame the hungry ID roaming unchecked inside us all. Boston’s own fringe theatre company Sleeping Weazel delivers a quirky and lively performance of Kenneth Prestininzi’s Birth Breath Bride Elizabeth to The Next Thing festival.

Under playwright Charlotte Meehan’s direction, Sleeping Weazel explores and engages novel approaches to developing, presenting and exhibiting new art—multimedia theatre, interdisciplinary installations, performance events, music, poetry and video/audio. They present work that crosses and confounds the boundaries of “mainstream” and “avant-garde” as well as boundaries between art forms. Based in Boston and fanning out virtually across the globe via their cyber art gallery, projects include individual and collaborative productions in the theatre, on DVD, CD and Vimeo, at readings, audio-theatre concerts and performance events. For more information on their shows and to view exhibitions in their cyber art gallery, please visit

February 24, 12 p.m.
Spring Training
Staged Presentation of a work in progress
Paramount Center Mainstage
Recommended for ages 14+

Acclaimed international musical/spoken word ensemble UNIVERSES returns to ArtsEmerson to take on The Rite of Spring as a springboard to investigate rites of passage. In this staged presentation of a work in progress, they’ll bring their unique talents to an exploration of Stravinsky’s groundbreaking composition and create a daring 21st century soundtrack on ritual and revolution. Be there as cultural barriers are broken anew in this workshop presentation.

Known for their 2001 seminal hit, Slanguage, New York-based UNIVERSES is a national/international ensemble of multi-disciplinary writers and performers who fuse poetry, theatre, jazz, hip-hop, politics, down home blues and Spanish boleros to create moving, challenging and entertaining theatrical works. UNIVERSES’ last play Party People premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival July-November 2012. They were last seen at ArtsEmerson in 2012’s Ameriville.


February 20, 9:30 p.m.
Walter Sickert and the ARmy of BRoken TOys

Paramount Center Mainstage

Come on an adventure through time and space from Jules Verne to Jim Henson, sliding down the rabbit wormhole like Alice 20,000 leagues under the Labyrinth. Walter Sickert, winner of The Boston Phoenix Reader’s Poll – Best Artist 2011 and 2012, and founder/impresario of the SteamCRUNK band Walter Sickert & the ARmy of BRoken TOys, will host an evening of Time Traveling wonderment, previewing their new album The Soft Time Traveler. Joining them on this musical journey through time is Bent Knee, whose signature orchestral textures, haunting vocals, and dynamic compositions are the calling cards of their own twisted rock; as well as a host of others.


The weekend before the Festival, ArtsEmerson will screen “Priming TNT Festival” — classic films that pair well with the live performances of TNT Festival. The two weekends during the Festival are devoted to films that expand the depth and breadth of TNT Festival. Working with Under the Radar in New York, ArtsEmerson has programmed a line-up of events that includes filmed performances of iconic American ensembles, films from the archive of On The Boards TV that feature present day pioneers like Young Jean Lee (The Shipment) and Reggie Watts (Transition), Spike Lee’s Passing Strange, and a couple of unique events seldom seen anywhere else, such Aaron Landsman’s City Council Meeting live-streamed from Tempe, AZ. Films take place in the Bright Family Screening Room at the Paramount Center.


In three 2-hour workshops, two companies of artists will present their work and working methods. Artists and audiences alike are invited to join these companies as they explore process and methodologies for devising work.

February 20, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30pm
Blood Play (Debate Society) & Cry You One (Mondo Bizarro)

February 21, 3 – 5 p.m.
Vision Disturbance (Maxwell) & Hospital (Los Angeles Poverty Department)

February 22, 3 – 5 p.m.
Spring Training (UNIVERSES) & Grand Parade of the 20th Century (Double Edge)

About ArtsEmerson

ArtsEmerson was established by Emerson College to program the beautifully restored 590-seat Paramount Mainstage; the versatile, intimate Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre (“The Jackie”), which can seat up to 150 people; the state-of-the-art 170-seat Bright Family Screening Room (all located within the new Paramount Center, a cornerstone in the revitalization of downtown Boston); and the beloved, historic 1,186-seat Cutler Majestic Theatre in the heart of the Theatre District, fully restored by Emerson in 2003. Under the leadership of Rob Orchard, ArtsEmerson gives Boston audiences a new level of cultural choice, bringing professional American and international work to its four distinct venues. In addition to its acclaimed theatre works, ArtsEmerson presents adventurous, independent and repertory films on weekends, and offers a diverse music program including cutting edge indie rock and world music. For more information, visit

About The Center for Theater Commons

The Center for the Theater Commons, under the direction of Polly Carl, came to Emerson in July 2012. The Commons is a field-wide collaboration of the new works sector in American theatre, hosting a broad-based effort to research and develop innovations in the artistic process, programming strategies, and audience engagement practices. The Commons operates the online journal Howlround, the live streaming channel #NewPlay TV, and the New Play Map; hosts field-wide convenings in the new play sector; and trains Commons Producers nationally to generate content and activity for the Commons.

About Emerson College

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, opposite the historic Boston Common and in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, Emerson College educates individuals who will solve problems and change the world through engaged leadership in communication and the arts, a mission informed by liberal learning. The College has 3,453 undergraduates and 837 graduate students from across the United States and 50 countries. Supported by state-of-the-art facilities and a renowned faculty, students participate in more than 80 student organizations and performance groups. Emerson is known for its study and internship programs in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., the Netherlands, London, China, and the Czech Republic. The College has an active network of 32,000 alumni who hold leadership positions in communication and the arts. For more information, visit

About The Public Theater’s UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL

Now in its ninth year, Under The Radar is an explosively diverse festival of new theater from around the world and the U.S. that spotlights artists ranging from emerging talents to masters in the field. The festival offers a crash course in theater that is exciting, independent, and experimental, created by some of the most dynamic artists working today. Created in 2005 by curator Mark Russell, Under The Radar began as a response to professional conversations regarding the lack of exchange between American ensemble theaters and their counterparts in regional theaters and the world of presenters. Since then, it has developed into a city-wide festival with an attendance of over 15,000, produced by The Public Theater. In its eight-year history, there have been 107 productions from 25 countries and the U.S., including Australia, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, France, Ireland, Mali, Mexico, The Netherlands, Russia and the UK.

Also Coming up at ArtsEmerson:

February 27—March 3, 2013, METAMORPHOSIS – Vesturport Theatre and Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Paramount Center Mainstage

March 22—24, 2013, EMERGENCY – Daniel Beaty, Cutler Majestic Theatre

April 3—7, 2013, NEVA – Guillermo Calderón, Jackie Liebergott Black Box, Paramount Center

April 17—21, 2013, TROJAN WOMEN – SITI Company, Paramount Center Mainstage

April 27—May 4, 2013, AN ILIAD – Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson, Paramount Center Mainstage

May 14—19, 2013, TAPPIN’ THRU LIFE: AN EVENING WITH MAURICE HINES, Cutler Majestic Theatre

A complete list of scheduled screenings in the Bright Family Screening Room is available at Film programming takes place weekends, from September to May.

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