This week, Jared Bowen reviews some of the best new theater in Boston and gives us a taste of what's in store for ArtWeek, a 10-day arts festival across Massachusetts featuring works by artists such as photographer Erik Jacobs of "Boston #StandsWithImmigrants" and artist Julia Vogl of "Pathways to Freedom."
"Boston #StandsWithImmigrants," a photography exhibition by Erik Jacobs on view at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute through May 31
Across Boston, the faces of immigrants are being projected onto the city landscape. The project, titled "Boston #StandsWithImmigrants," is the brainchild of photographer Erik Jacobs. Responding to the 2017 travel ban, Jacobs creates a counter-narrative to the immigration crackdown by projecting the faces of both prominent and unknown immigrants who have had an impact on their communities. "I think the way this project is most effective is that it puts a more human face on a contentious conversation," says Jacobs. "My hope is that when people see the projections and maybe get to know a little bit about the story of the person in the projection, they have more of a personal perspective to put on a debate which is very polarizing."
"Pathways to Freedom," on view at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Boston Common through May 2
Commissioned by the Jewish Arts Collaborative, "Pathways to Freedom" is a large-scale public art project on view at the base of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Boston Common. Drawing from an estimated 1,800 conversations artist Julia Vogl initiated in the greater Boston area about freedom and immigration, she transforms her findings into patterned disks, creating a kaleidoscopic mural of responses. In addition to the installation on the Boston Common, visitors can follow a link to listen to 44 conversations about people's immigrant experiences. “I've tried to create a project that is open to all voices and all opinions," says Vogl. "I hope that the project is really a platform for more of that discussion. ... I love for people who think differently than me to take part and be part of this conversation."
"Anna Christie," presented by Lyric Stage Company through May 6
The Lyric Stage Company stages one of Eugene O'Neill earliest plays. In "Anna Christie," the title character reunites with her father, a coal barge captain, after 20 years of hardship and abuse. When a sailor washes up on their ship, Christie falls in love with him despite her father's wishes. Directed by Scott Edmiston, Jared describes this fresh take on the Pulitzer-winning play as "finely rendered classic American theater built on grit and realism."
"Top Girls," presented by Huntington Theatre Company through May 20
The Huntington Theatre Company stages "Top Girls," Caryl Churchill's groundbreaking story of feminism and empowerment. When career woman Marlene is hired for an executive position over a male colleague at her London employment agency, she decides to host a lavish dinner party with a group of famous historical women. Figures such as Pope Joan, Isabella Bird, and Lady Nijo celebrate Marlene's success while also acknowledging the struggles and sacrifices that got them where they are. Jared describes "Top Girls" as "euphoric and delerious," while also addressing the reality of the challenges women have faced throughout history straight through today.