Carrboro’s ArtsCenter stages August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean,” his 2003 play that is chronologically first in his “Century Cycle” (ten plays that address the African-American experience in each decade of the 20th century). Set in 1904 Pittsburgh, the plot centers on Aunt Ester, who claims to be 285 years old and a cleanser of souls. She tries to help a man absolve his guilt over causing another man’s death. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday (through May 18). $14-$16. 919-929-2787 or artscenterlive.org.
• Burning Coal Theatre in Raleigh hosts the She’s-a-Nelson production of Patrick Marber’s “Closer,” which follows the intertwining lives of two men and women over several years. Details at burningcoal.org.
• Chapel Hill’s Deep Dish Theater offers a new translation of the 1635 classic, “Life is a Dream,” by Pedro Calderon. The play concerns a prince imprisoned by his father for fear his son will overthrow him. The work explores free will and fate, dreams and reality. Details at deepdishtheater.org.