Variety spices the first week in the 23rd anniversary season of CSU Summer Arts, with dance, photography, poetry, gospel music and theater in the spotlight at California State University, Fresno beginning Sunday, June 29.

CSU Summer Arts presents classes taught by master teachers across a broad spectrum of the arts. The teachers also are featured in numerous public events in Fresno, most of them at Fresno State, which has hosted the series the past 10 years.

New York’s Urban Bush Women is the kick-off event at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 29, in the John Wright Theatre on campus. Since 1984, the troupe has performed throughout the United States and abroad, encouraging cultural activity as part of community life.

Another Week 1 highlight is Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company paying tribute to Fresno icon William Saroyan during the 100th anniversary of the celebrated author, playwright and song writer’s birth. The performance at 7 p.m. July 5, also in the Wright Theatre, incorporates readings from short stories and plays, film clips and music, to illuminate the various facets of Saryoan’s work.

The first week’s other CSU Summer Arts public events feature:

  • Award-winning photographer Nevada Wier, who will present an illustrated lecture at 7 p.m. Monday, June 30, at the Fresno Art Museum. She specializes in photographing cultures in remote corners of the world.
  • Slam poets Taylor Mali and Sonya Renee, who will perform at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 1, in the Wahlberg Recital Hall in the Music Building on campus. Mali appeared in the film, “Slam Nation,” and on HBO’s “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry.” Renee is the most recognizable female in the world of slam poetry.
  • Slam poet Jack McCarthy, who will present Summer Arts and Fresno poets in competition at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 3, at the Fresno Art Museum at 7 p.m.
  • Gospel singer and composer James Hall, who will headline a concert at 7 p.m. Friday, July 4, in the Music Building Concert Hall at Fresno State. He is the founder and director of New York’s gospel singing ensemble, Worship & Praise, and a major influence in contemporary gospel music.

Tickets for all events may be ordered by calling the CSU Summer Arts Box Office at 559.278.5109 and online at
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