The 2021-22 Fresno State University Theatre season features four Fresno premieres, the annual Contemporary Dance Ensemble concert and a 25th-anniversary production of a Broadway classic. The lineup offers a diverse range of work from both seasoned and young,up-and-coming playwrights.

The season begins with the darkly humorous feminist thriller “Man of God” written by Anna Ouyang Moench. Next up is “This Is Our Youth” by Kenneth Lonergan, recently ranked one of the 25 best plays of the last 25 years by The New York Times. The pulsating documentary theatre piece “Wilderness” by Seth Bockley and Anne Hamburger will round out the fall semester.

The spring semester kicks off with the return of the always riveting Contemporary Dance Ensemble’s spring concert, followed by Luis Alfaro’s “Electricidad,” a Latinx adaptation of Sophocles’ “Electra. The season concludes with Jonathan Larson’s seminal work, “Rent,” celebrating its 25th anniversary.

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Oct. 1-9: “Man of God” by Anna Ouyang Moench, directed by Thomas-Whit Ellis
During a mission trip to Thailand, four girls discover that their pastor has hidden a camera in their hotel bathroom. Samantha is personally wounded that the pastor would do this to her. Jen is worried about how this might affect her college applications. Kyung-Hwa thinks everyone needs to have lower expectations for men. And Mimi’s out for blood, as usual. Their collective rage and disillusionment fuel increasingly violent revenge fantasies amidst the sex-tourism scene of Bangkok. “Man of God is a feminist thriller about that moment when girls realize the male gaze has been watching all along — and they decide they’re going to do something about it. (A Fresno premiere.)

Oct. 29-Nov. 6: “This is Our Youth” by Kenneth Lonergan, directed by Brad Myers
In meticulous, hilarious and agonizing detail, “This is Our Youth” follows 48 hours of three very lost young souls in the big city at the dawn of the Reagan era. They are Warren Straub, a dejected 19-year old who steals $15,000 from his abusive lingerie-tycoon father; Dennis Ziegler, the charismatic, domineering, drug-dealing friend who helps him put the money to good use; and Jessica Goldman, the anxiously insightful young woman Warren yearns for. Funny, painful and compassionate, “This is Our Youth” is a living snapshot of the moment between adolescence and adulthood. (A Fresno premiere.)

Dec. 3-11: “Wildernessby Seth Bockley and Anne Hamburger, directed by Kathleen McKinley “Wilderness is a pulsating documentary theatre piece that speaks to the collective search for connection and hope as families survive the extraordinary pressures and complexities that accompany coming of age in 21st-century America. Anchored by six real families’ stories, the narratives explore mental health, addiction and gender and sexual identity issues. In “Wilderness,” adolescents stand at the brink of emotional chaos, lost in social stigma, insecurity, aggression and anger. Parents risk losing their children forever. Thoughts race. Emotions fire. Isolation intensifies. One question emerges: How do we persevere when we feel most alone in the world? (A Fresno premiere.)

Feb 18-26: “Contemporary Dance Ensemble,” artistic director Kenneth Balint
This annual contemporary dance concert highlights contemporary classics, creative innovation and collaborations between students and faculty. This year, the concert celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Contemporary Dance Ensemble at Fresno State.

March 25-April 2: “Electricidad” by Luis Alfaro, directed by Gina Sandi-Diaz
In the years following the murder of her father by her mother, Electricidad is committed to vengeance. To get it, she’ll need her brother, Orestes, to return from Las Vegas and help her finish the job. Transporting Sophocles’ “Electra” to the Los Angeles barrios, Luis Alfaro investigates violence, loss and redemption through the lens of this age-old tragedy. (A Fresno premiere.)

May 6-14: “Rent” by Jonathan Larson, directed by J. Daniel Herring
Based loosely on Puccini’s “La Boheme,” Jonathan Larson’s “Rent” follows a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. The physical and emotional complications of the disease pervade the lives of Roger, Mimi, Tom and Angel. Maureen deals with her chronic infidelity through performance art. Her partner Joanne wonders if their relationship is worth the trouble. Benny has sold out his Bohemian ideals in exchange for a hefty income and is on the outs with his former friends. Mark, an aspiring filmmaker, feels like an outsider to life in general. How these young bohemians negotiate their dreams, loves and conflicts provides the narrative thread to this groundbreaking musical. (25th anniversary production.)

University Theatre will follow all Fresno State COVID-19 protocols, and will require masks for all audience members regardless of vaccination status.


(Story by Miguel A. Gastelum)