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Arts This Week: Emerson Colonial Theatre Announcement, 'Chinese Dreams,' 'Mark Dion'

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A rendering of the new Emerson Colonial Theatre.
Courtesy of Elkus Manfredi Architects
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171102_jared_arts_debrief.mp3

This week, Jared provides an update on the status of the Emerson Colonial Theatre and reviews two new exhibitions in Boston.

Emerson Colonial Theatre will officially re-open with the pre-Broadway production of "Moulin Rouge! The Musical"

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A rendering of the promenade inside the Emerson Colonial Theatre.
Courtesy of Elkus Manfredi Architects

The Emerson Colonial Theatre will re-open in the Summer of 2018 with a pre-Broadway production of "Moulin Rouge! The Musical" based on the 2001 film by Baz Luhrmann. The play will be directed by Tony nominee Alex Timbers, with a book by Tony Award winner John Logan.

“The spirit of the stage show is very much the spirit of the movie," said Logan. "A gloriously romantic, excessive, emotional experience."

The announcement was made Wednesday by Emerson College in conjunction with Ambassador Theatre Group, who has entered into a long-term lease agreement with the college to operate the theater. Millions of dollars have been invested in renovations to the theater, which once debuted such seminal Broadway shows as 'Anything Goes," "Oklahoma!," and "Porgy and Bess." ATG says it hopes to continue the tradition of the using the Colonial to host Broadway-bound shows.

For Logan, it's a rite of passage to launch a major Broadway musical with an out-of-town tryout.

"It's like what every kid who grows up wanting to be a playwright dreams about," said Logan. "It's a bit of, like, Bunker Hill for us. Are we going to win the battle? Are we going to lose the battle? But it's a battle you want to be in one time in your life at least."

"Chinese Dreams," on view in the Bakalar & Paine Galleries at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design through Dec. 2

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"Shadow - 3" by Hai Bo.
Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery

At the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, a new exhibition examines the impact of the Cultural Revolution in China, a decade-long crusade by Chairman Mao Zedong that resulted in the country being stripped of much of its literature, history and religion.

The multimedia exhibition "Chinese Dreams" features eight contemporary artists who were all shaped by the Cultural Revolution, each offering their take on Chinese history, culture and memory from what remains.

“I was very much into drawings, looking at art, looking at whatever kind of art that I had," said Fred Liang, a professor at MassArt whose work is featured in this exhibition. His family left China when he was 12 to escape the ravages of the Cultural Revolution.

"To find my way back to that, it’s kind of like trying to reclaim that kind of history," he said.

 Nevertheless, as Jared observes, "Chinese Dreams wakes us up to a generation refusing to be defined by absence."

"Mark Dion: Misadventures of a 21st-Century Naturalist," on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art / Boston through Dec. 31

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"Cabinet of Marine Debris" by Mark Dion
Courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

In the first U.S. survey of his work, “Mark Dion: Misadventures of a 21st-Century Naturalist” explores 30 years of the art and inquiries of artist Mark Dion. With work that intersects art, nature and the scientific method, Dion offers commentary on what he calls "our suicidal relationship with the natural world."

“A lot of the projects that I've done are looking at sites that have been disrupted, where those recent things and ancient things are mixed together," said Dion, who hopes his works inspires viewers to appreciate our place in the world and our relationship with nature. "I want them to feel like history is a kind of continuity, and not just that history's something that happened to someone else a long time ago."

"In his searing way, Dion expresses how unnatural the natural world has become," Jared said. 

What shows would you like to see at the Emerson Colonial Theatre? Tell Jared about it on Facebook or Twitter

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