University Theatre opens ‘Passion Play: Part 1 & 2’

~ Article and design by Anthony Cody, reprinted from

Fresno State’s University Theatre will present “Passion Play: Part 1 & 2)” Dec. 2 through 10 (excluding Dec. 5) with daily show times at 7:30 p.m. and a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee at the John Wright Theatre in the Speech Arts Building on campus.

The production, written by Sarah Ruhl, is rooted in history and explores how two eras attempt to stage the passion of Christ. This darkly humorous, yet unsettling journey is filled with lust, whimsy and devotion within Elizabethan England and Nazi Germany, as both societies grapple balancing obedience and faith.

Directed by Ruth Griffin, the production is a behind-the-scenes play within a play, in which appearances are made by Queen Elizabeth I and Adolf Hitler (both portrayed by Fresno State theatre arts major Reshma Meister). Community members within both periods (portrayed by an ensemble cast of 15 Fresno State theatre arts majors and community members) earnestly, and sometimes failingly, stage the passion of Christ while simultaneously battling their own personal struggles.

“I was drawn to this work through the complexities of staging the passion of Christ within the context of history,” Griffin said. “The production is not intended to dispute Christian beliefs, but rather examine the dangerous role religion and depictions of power can play when wielded from the hands of an authoritarian government. Following our most recent presidential election, it is critical we continue to examine the roles in which government exerts itself.”

Tickets are $17 for adults; $15 for Fresno State faculty, staff, alumni and military; and $10 for students. Group rates and 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 nights. For shows on Tuesday through Thursday nights, 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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