Winter's tales

By LIZA WEISSTUCH  |  December 29, 2008

At the Boston Center for the Arts, wordsmiths take the spotlight in a new show developed by Company One (www.companyone.org). Dubbed an "artistic revolution" and authored by the cast, ARTICULATION (January 9-24) follows a squad of local poets as they mine their own imaginations. Like foot soldiers armed with language skills, the young bards confront life, love, youth, religion, and art. Sounds like a progressive battle cry with a hip-hop rhythm.

Also at the BCA, Zeitgeist Stage Company (www.zeitgeiststage.com) presents the New England premiere of Robert Farquhar's BAD JAZZ (January 30–February 21), a portrait of artists as young actors. The play within this play investigates the lines that blur between reality and theater and the risks people take for art as a director pushes his young thespians to a ruthless degree. But as an instructive figure, he's nothing compared to Miss Moffat, the Welsh schoolteacher who works with an illiterate bully and turns him into a star student in Emlyn Williams's THE CORN IS GREEN (January 9–February 8). Former honcho Nicholas Martin returns to the Huntington Theatre Company (www.huntingtontheatre.org) to direct Tony winner Kate Burton, who also played the role under his direction at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. She follows a long line of megawatt actresses who have tackled the role (Ethel Barrymore, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn), but she may be the first to play opposite her son (Morgan Ritchie).

Playwright Paul Rudnick has a few things to teach about gay life in THE NEW CENTURY (January 15–February 14). SpeakEasy Stage Company (www.speakeasystage.com) presents this set of four short plays in which the individual dramas of a Jewish mother of three gay children, an aging queen who's a magnet for young men, and a Midwestern craftswoman and competitive cake-decorator eventually intersect.

Here we go again with the family drama. A few troupes are reviving classic clans from the last century. At Providence's Trinity Repertory Company (www.trinityrep.com), 50 years after its Broadway debut, the Younger clan battles over what to do with life-insurance money in Lorraine Hansberry's landmark African-American drama A RAISIN IN THE SUN (January 30–March 8). The Lyric offers Tennessee Williams's Pulitzer-winning sultry southern valentine, CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (February 13–March 14), with artistic director Spiro Veloudos in the role of Big Daddy. And New Rep revives Sam Shepard's FOOL FOR LOVE (March 14–April 5), about siblings stuck in a Mojave hotel room, in its Downstage space.

As part of a Zinn Fest sponsored by Suffolk University (www.suffolk.edu) and Boston Playwrights' Theatre (www.bu.edu/bpt), Howard Zinn's first play, DAUGHTERS OF VENUS, will be staged at Suffolk's C. Walsh Theatre (January 22-24) and at BPT (January 29-February 15). The A People's History of the United States scribe brings us into the home to witness the emotional distance between blood relatives. But perhaps the season's most scathing display of family togetherness will happen at the ART, where Samuel Beckett's ENDGAME plays out (February 14–March 15). The bleak existential comedy revolves around a chair-bound blind man who keeps his parents in trash cans.

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