~ By Miguel Gastelum, communications specialist for University Theatre

A refreshed version of the William Shakespeare classic, “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” will run Dec. 1 – 9 at the John Wright Theatre at Fresno State. The production receives an original and accessible concept by director Brad Myers, and is the third show of University Theatre’s 2017-18 season.

The story centers around best friends, Valentine and Proteus. After finishing school, Valentine is setting off to see the world, traveling to the fashionable court of the Duke of Milan.

Proteus wants to stay home because he is in love with his girlfriend, Julia, a fascination which he has kept from his parents for fear they will disapprove. Once Valentine arrives at the Milanese court, he immediately falls in love with Sylvia, the Dukes glamorous daughter.

Meanwhile, Proteuss parents feel he needs to become more worldly and insist that he join Valentine at the Dukes court. Both Julia and Proteus are heart-broken, but swear undying fidelity to each other until Proteus can return.

However, when Proteus arrives at the Milanese court, he too immediately becomes obsessed with the beautiful Sylvia. Proteus sets about to undermine the relationship of Valentine and Sylvia, seeking to win her for himself. Julia determines that she must be with Proteus, and disguises herself as a boy so that she can take the dangerous journey to the Court of Milan.

Along the way, we meet an array of high school teens, hip party guests, henchmen, outlaws, androgynous artistes, a quirky best friend, clownish servants. protective parents and a gang of unruly outlaws. 

“In our production of ‘Two Gents,’ one of Shakespeare’s earliest comedies is filtered through 1950s America,” Myers said of the upcoming production. “The story of the play, our streamlined version of the text and the updating of the setting all combine to make this production particularly accessible for newcomers to Shakespeare in performance.”  

The spring 2018 semester will kick off with the Contemporary Dance Ensemble, a high-energy and passionate contemporary dance performance, Feb. 16 through 24. Artistic Director Kenneth Balint brings in guest artists and choreographers to work alongside dance students to present a dance experience unlike any other.

The Theatre Arts department’s newest faculty member, Dr. Gina Sandí-Díaz, will make her University Theatre directorial debut with “Lydia,” a magical realist drama by Latino-American playwright Octavio Solis. It will run March 16 through 24. The play explores the experience of a Mexican-American family living on the Texas-Mexican border, trying to live out their own version of the American Dream amidst the aftermath of an accident that changes all of their lives.

The 2017-2018 season comes to a close with “A Streetcar Named Desire,” May 4 through 12, directed by Kathleen McKinley. The Pulitzer Prize-winning drama is written by Tennessee Williams, one of America’s most prolific playwrights.

The play centers around former schoolteacher Blanche DuBois as she leaves small-town Mississippi and moves to New Orleans with her sister, Stella, and husband, Stanley. Blanche’s flirtatious Southern-belle presence causes problems for Stella and Stanley, who already have a volatile relationship, leading to even greater conflict in the Kowalski household.

Tickets are $17 for adults; $15 for Fresno State faculty, staff, alumni and military; and $10 for students. Group rates are available for groups of 20 or more. 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 universitytheatre@csufresno.edu.