~ By Miguel Gastelum, communications specialist for University Theatre

University Theatre will close the 2017-18 theatre season with “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams. The production is directed by Kathleen McKinley and runs May 4 through 12 in the John Wright Theatre of the Speech Arts building on the campus of Fresno State.

Set against the sultry and seductive backdrop of 1940s New Orleans’ famed French Quarter, “A Streetcar Named Desire” explores the unraveling world of Blanche DuBois. After having lost the family plantation, Blanche arrives unexpectedly at the home of her sister Stella and her unrefined husband, Stanley Kowalski.

Clinging to the last vestiges of southern gentility and her own fragile sanity, Blanche hopes to find solace and refuge from the reality caused by her romantic illusions. But within the volatile Kowalski household, her nostalgia soon gives way to a more savage reality, one in which envy, passion and betrayal collide – with devastating consequences.

Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning drama ranks as one of the greatest masterpieces of 20th-century theatre. The work has had a significant cultural impact and has been adapted for television, film, opera and ballet.

Several critically acclaimed, award-winning actors have stepped into the shoes of Williams’ infamous characters including Marlon Brando, Jessica Lange, Alec Baldwin, Vivien Leigh, Diane Lane, John Goodman, Blythe Danner, John C. Riley and Jessica Tandy.

The University Theatre cast includes Sara Adam, Hunter Aro, Alyssa Benitez, Hannah Berry, Kat Campos, Lauren Folland, Jimmy Haynie, Nolan Henson, Quincy Maxwell, Reshma Meister, Sabrina Sierra, James F. Smith, Jalen Stewart and Andrew Trevino.

Due to adult language and situations, “A Streetcar Named Desire” is intended for mature audiences only.

Lineup for the 2018-19 season

All five of next year’s theatrical productions are new to Fresno stages. The 2018-19 season will kick off with “The Wolves” a new play by Sarah DeLappe, Sept. 28 through Oct. 6. Kathleen McKinley will direct the production. A finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, it takes a fly-on-the-wall look at a girls’ high school soccer team as they go through their warm-ups. 

The season continues with “Just Like Us,” written by Karen Zacarías, running Oct. 26 through Nov. 3. The production will be directed by Latinx Theatre professor, Dr. Gina Sandí-Díaz.

Based on Helen Thorpe’s bestselling book, this documentary-style play follows four Latina teenage girls in Denver — two of whom are documented and two who are not — through young adulthood. Their close-knit friendships begin to unravel when immigration status dictates the girls’ opportunities or lack thereof.

When a political firestorm arises, each girl’s future becomes increasingly complicated. “Just Like Us” poses difficult, yet essential questions about what makes us American. 

Just in time for the holiday season, Brad Myers will direct “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley,” written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, running Dec. 7 through 15. In this winning and witty sequel to Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” the bookish middle child of the Bennet family finally has her day. 

The spring 2019 semester will begin with the Contemporary Dance Ensemble, a high-energy and passionate contemporary dance performance, Feb. 15 through 23. Artistic Director Kenneth Balint brings in guest artists and choreographers to work alongside dance students to present a dance experience unlike any other.

J. Daniel Herring will direct Lanford Wilson’s “Book of Days,” running March 22 through 30. When murder roars through a small Missouri town, Ruth Hoch begins her own quest to find truth and honesty amid small town jealousies, religion, greed and lies. This tornado of a play propels you through its events like a page-turning mystery. 

The 2018/2019 will come to a close with “The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess” by Geroge Gershwin, Dubose and Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin. The production will be directed by Thomas-Whit Ellis and will run May 3 through 11.

Set in the 1930s in an African-American Charleston neighborhood known as Catfish Row, “Porgy and Bess” centers on the tragic love story of the crippled beggar Porgy and beautiful Bess, who longs to turn away from her former life as a prostitute and cocaine addict. 

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.