As the season builds to its pre-summer climax, some of Boston’s biggest and best theater companies and venues have announced plans to collaborate on projects that will nurture blooming of some fresh voices.

Emerging America Festival

May 2-3, 14-16, throughout Boston and Cambridge

In May, the American Repertory Theatre the Huntington Theatre Company and the Institute for Contemporary Art present the Emerging America Festival, an event which will bring "some of the country’s most promising performers, writers, companies and directors to Boston," says a joint press release.

The festivities kick-off on May 2, when affiliated actors will parade for the A.R.T.’s cabaret/dance club/experimental venue, OBERON, home of "The Donkey Show," to the main stage of the Harvard Business Associations’ Mayfair celebration where, they will "perform in sideshows and dance parties all day long."

In a new media twist, podcasts and walking tours will be published on the festival Web site featuring the voices of "artists, leaders, [and] figureheads of Cambridge and Boston," as well as "short plays by Huntington Playwriting Fellows inspired by specific locations," and other content that celebrates "the neighborhoods and artists of each organizations community, past and present."

It’s the following weekend, however, May 14-16 that is the heart of the Emerging America Festival. A variety of new plays will be playing all day at night at OBERON, at the Boston Center for the Arts in the South End, and at the ICA on the Waterfront. Offerings vary widely from dramas to comedies to the more experimental. Scheduling and pricing can be found at the festival Web site. Between viewings, revelers can visit the Festival Tent outside OBERON, where they can grab quaff and mingle with festival artists and fellow audience members.

"Shirley, Vermont Festival"

October 15-Novemeber 20, Boston Center for the Arts

So Boston’s theater companies and audiences will have plenty to keep them busy during the first two weeks of the last month of Spring, but none will be so busy as the team at the Huntington, who amidst preparations for the launch of their next main stage drama, "Prelude to a Kiss," slated to run May 14-June 21, will also be planning a collaboration with smaller local groups, Speakeasy Stage Company, and Company One for the Fall.

Working together for the first time, come Fall, when thoughts turned to colored leaves, the trio of BCA neighbors will present three plays set in the fictional town of Shirley, Vermont from the pen of Amherst, Massachusetts native, Annie Baker.

The three plays, Circle Mirror Transformation, staged by the Huntington from October 15 — November 14, Body Awareness, staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company from October 22 — November 20, and The Aliens, staged by Company One, from October 29 — November 20, are the first by Baker, and have played at celebrated New York Venues to rave reviews.

Says Huntington Artistic Director, Peter DuBois in a press release, "Each of Annie’s plays stands on their own with their imagination and subtle humor, and seen together they form a striking portrait of Shirley, Vermont. The same is true for this festival; each company has their own identity and audience, but together they bring out the richness of the work being presented at the Calderwood."

"We are thrilled to team up with up the Huntington and Company One to introduce Boston theatregoers to the delightful denizens of Shirley, Vermont," adds SpeakEasy Stage Company Producing Artistic Director Paul Daigneault, "Both the partnership and the plays celebrate the importance and spirit of community."

Says Shawn LaCount, Artistic Director of Company One, "Annie Baker’s voice is one of the freshest and most exciting on the American stage today. Company One shares her commitment to establishing community and exploring the fragility of the simple moments that is everyday life."

Staggered scheduling allows ambitious viewers to see all three Shirley, Vermont plays in the same day. In conjunction with the festival, The Huntington will also present a staged reading of Baker’s fourth Shirley, Vermont play, "Nocturnia."

Subscribers to all three companies will receive discounts to all festival plays. Tickets to individual performances will go on sale through in August.

About The Author

Jason Rabin is a Blast contributing editor

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