Photo above: Theatre For Young Audiences performed at Valley Children’s Hospital.

~ By Miguel Gastelum, communications specialist for the Department of Theatre Arts

Each spring, Fresno State students enroll in a course to bring children’s theatre productions to elementary schools throughout the San Joaquin Valley.  Fresno State’s Theatre for Young Audiences touring company of student actors has been a tradition at Fresno State for more than 50 years, and has toured more than 40 schools and over 16,000 children in a single season.

On Thursday, March 15, Theatre for Young Audiences visited Valley Children’s Hospital for a special performance. Theatre for Young Audiences company members turned the Guild Hall into a performance space in a matter of 30 minutes and performed for a crowd of about 15 patients, with their parents and caretakers at their side.

Delighted smiles and laughs lit up the Guild Hall for nearly an hour as the young Fresno State actors performed their program for the enthusiastic children.

This year, Theatre for Young Audiences is presenting “Wondrous Tales of Old Japan” by David Furumoto, directed by J. Daniel Herring.

“Wondrous Tales of Old Japan” is a collection of amazing Japanese folk tales including worlds where ogres clash with heroes who are born from giant peaches, fishermen fall in love with dragon princesses and magical dogs reincarnate.

The tales include Momotaro: The Peach Boy, Urashimataro: The Enchanted Fisherman, Yuki Onna: The Snow Woman, and Hanasaka Jiji: The Old Man That Made the Trees Bloom. The play is presented in the style of Kabuki theatre, a traditional Japanese popular drama with singing and dancing performed in a highly stylized manner. A rich blend of music, dance, mime and spectacular staging and costuming.

The visit to Valley Children’s was made possible by a generous donation from Fresno State College of Arts and Humanities Dean Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval and his wife, Dr. Mariana Anagnostopoulos, through TYA’s Adopt-a-School program.

The Adopt-a-School program allows donors to make contributions to help reduce costs for the program, and can identify specific schools they wish to donate to help bring Theatre for Young Audiences to their community. The visit was coordinated through Valley Children’s Big Hearts for Little Hands program, which schedules visits from various groups throughout the valley.

“Wondrous Tales of Old Japan” will continue touring the valley through the end of the semester, but will have an on-campus engagement during Vintage Days.

There will be two free public performances, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, in the Dennis and Cheryl Woods Theatre in the Speech Arts Building. No tickets will be issued and admittance is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Photo below: Fresno State’s Theatre for Young Audiences performs for patients at Valley Children’s Hospital.

Fresno State's Theatre for Young Audiences performs for patients at Valley Children's