University Theatre season begins with ‘Hands Up: 7 Playwrights. 7 Testaments’



~ by Anthony Cody, Reprinted from (

Fresno State’s University Theatre opens the 2016-2017 season with “Hands Up: 7 Playwrights. 7 Testaments.” from Sept.30 through Oct. 8 (excluding Oct. 3). Daily show times are at 7:30 p.m. (with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee) in the Dennis and Cheryl Woods Theatre in the Speech Arts Building.

 The production, written by seven emerging African-American playwrights, explores the harsh complexities of the relationship between African-Americans and law enforcement. Told through a series of monologues and scenes, the voices continue the discussion on police violence within the African-American community.

Directed by professor of theatre arts Thomas-Whit Ellis, “Hands Up: 7 Playwrights. 7 Testaments.” is inspired by the events in Ferguson, Missouri, and the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, and features a cast of seven Fresno State theatre arts majors and students (Joshua Slack, Jalen Stewart, Arium Andrews, Nwachukwu Oputa, Deandre Jean-Pierre, James Mayberry and Ashlyn Davis).

“I was drawn to how the play addresses topics that are relevant to our society,” Ellis said, “but also the production serves an opportunity to elevate the dialogue related to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, as well as police brutality and the inability of blacks, the poor and people of color to mitigate policy and public opinion related to police and criminal justice issues which are radically biased against them. Regionally, there is a void in giving voice to these issues, and creating this space is critical in supporting our diverse student population, our campus and community.”

“Hands Up: 7 Playwrights. 7 Testaments.” is intended for mature audiences due to mature themes and strong language.

Tickets are $17 for adults; $15 for Fresno State faculty, staff, alumni and military; and $10 for students. Group rates, as well as season subscriptions are available. Box office hours are noon to 4 p.m. on weekdays and one hour before each performance.

Parking is free for shows on Friday through Sunday night. For shows on Tuesday through Thursday night, parking permits are required and can be purchased at dispensers in parking lots on campus.

For more information, contact the box office at 559.278.2216 or

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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