Emerson Stage’s 2020–2021 Season

Our 2020–2021 season explores the question “What are you working to build?” We will feature stories of working to build new societies, both through kindness (Godspell) and force (The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui). Stories that work to build a new understanding of the ways we see our history (Men On Boats) and what each of our future inevitably holds (Everybody). We will be invited to see the hard work that goes into building a friendship, when your world seems to be against it (Corduroy), and building up the courage to face the end of the world (Marisol). Our 2021 NewFest New Works Festival will emphasize the excitement of building new stories in both content and style. And we will end the season celebrating one particular community that successfully worked to build change (9 to 5).

We look forward to building with you.

2020–2021 Season Titles & Information


By Jaclyn Backhaus
Co-Directed by Sarah Hickler and Maureen Shea
September 24–27, 2020
Greene Theater

About the Show
Ten explorers. Four boats. One Grand Canyon. Men On Boats is the true(ish) history of an 1869 expedition, when a one-armed captain and a crew of insane yet loyal volunteers set out to chart the course of the Colorado River. Performed by ten women, the gender role reversals built into the script shed a comic light on male bluster and bravado while they also beg the question, “What histories are we lacking?”


By Bertolt Brecht
Directed by Timothy Douglas
October 15–18, 2020
Robert J. Orchard Stage | Paramount Center

About the Show
Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui is an allegory for his country’s dark decades of fascism, and a timely reminder that history is an infinite loop. As various nations veer to the right, strongmen demand their populaces turn up to vote in sham elections; the threat of violence dissuades challengers, while leaders award themselves virtually unlimited tenure at the top. Ostensibly telling the story of a gangster, Arturo Ui, as he seizes control of the vegetable trade in Chicago and neighboring Cicero, Illinois, Brecht’s play satirizes the Nazis’ rise to power, while liberally borrowing from Shakespeare’s Richard III to highlight the resistibility of Ui’s rise, and on the society that permitted it.


Annual TYA Production
Based on the books by Don Freeman
Adapted for the stage by Barry Kornhauser
Music by Victor Zupanc
Directed by Jefferson Fietek
October 29–November 1, 2020
Semel Theater

About the Show
The beloved classic children’s book Corduroy comes to life in this very physical over-the-top comedy adventure. The story follows Corduroy throughout the department store in search of his missing button while pursued by an increasingly exasperated Night Watchman. Little Lisa, in the meantime, searches for a way to win over Mom so she can give the bear a loving home. Though Lisa’s heart is in the right place her attempts to be “helpful” often lead to more trouble! The tender, enduring story about longing, determination, and true friendship stirs up the stage with a rumpus of action, joy and pathos.


Conceived and originally directed by John-Michael Tebelak
Music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Guest Directed and Choreographed by TBA
Music Direction by Jonathan GoldbergNovember 19–22, 2020
Semel Theater

About the Show
This immensely successful rock opera needs little introduction, but when it was first produced on Broadway in 1971 it broke new ground in its stage treatment of the historical Jesus Christ. Based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew it deals with the last days of Jesus, and includes dramatized versions of several well-known parables, and yet it is something more—a spiritual experience, a demonstration of joy, and a celebration of the family of man.


By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed by Annie G. Levy
January 28–31, 2021
Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theater

About the Show
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is hailed by The New York Times as “one of this country’s most original and illuminating writers.” His Everybody is a modern riff on the 15th Century morality play Everyman follows “Everybody” they travel down a road toward life’s greatest mystery. Read the script.


By José Rivera
Guest Directed by Tatyana-Marie Carlo
February 18–21, 2021
Semel Theater

About the Show
The war in heaven spills over into New York City, reducing it to a smoldering urban wasteland where giant fires send noxious smoke to darken the skies, where the moon has not been seen in months, where the food has been turned to salt, and water no longer seeks its level. Marisol Perez, a young Latinx woman, finds herself in the middle of a nightmare journey into this new war zone taking place on the streets of New York. With the apocalypse well under way, the angels have traded in their wings for Uzis and wear leather motorcycle jackets and fatigues and the masses of homeless and displaced people join the angels in the war to save the universe.


By Rod Parker Playwriting Fellowship Awardee (to be selected in fall 2020)
Directed by Joe Antoun
March 11–14, 2021
Greene Theater

About the Show
The student winner of the 2020 Rod Parker Playwriting Award see their play taken from page to stage in this fully produced performance.


Works TBD in fall 2020
Directors TBD in fall 2020
March 16, 18, and 20, 2021
Semel Theater

About Readings and Shorts
A collection of short plays and readings written, directed, and performed by Emerson students.


Work TBD
Director TBD
March 25–28, 2021
Greene Theater

About NewFest New Play Workshop
Emerson Stage presents a workshop production of a new play in development by an established playwright.

9 TO 5

Music and lyrics by Dolly Parton
Book by Patricia Resnick
Based on the 20th Century Fox Picture
Directed by Diane DiCroce
Choreographed by TBA
Music Direction by Sariva Goetz
April 15–17, 2021
Cutler Majestic Theatre

About the Show
Based on the hit 1980 film, this musical adaptation follows three very different women—Violet, Judy, and Doralee—all employed by mega-company Consolidated. The trio are at the mercy of manipulative misogynist boss Franklin Hart Jr., who is better at sexually harassing his secretary than running a business. When they’ve finally had enough, they concoct a plan to kidnap Hart and hold him hostage in his own home while they get the ultimate revenge. But will their plot work? And can a team of secretaries really get ahead in the impenetrable boy’s club that is 9 to 5’s office hell?



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