Local theater legend and performing arts alumnus receives lifetime award

Dan Pessano

Dan Pessano is among four who will be honored by the Fresno County Office of Education Foundation in 2018 for a lifetime of educational contributions. The FCOE Honors Gala was held on Sept. 15 at the Fresno City College Old Administration Building.

In 1973, Pessano graduated from Fresno State with a Master of Arts in Theatre Arts. The same year, while working as a teacher at Clovis Unified School District, he and several others founded a small troupe called the Good Company Players. They began performing as a summer dinner theatre in Fresno’s Hilton Hotel.

In reflecting on this period, he described an emotional and life-changing time.

“We are doing our 45th season as Good Company Players, so the memories of 1973 have been vivid,” said Pessano. “The same day I turned in my bound MA to the grad office for acceptance, June 4th, my dad died. June 26 was the first performance of Good Company Players, so there are lots of feelings. I know my dad would have liked the show.”

Dan Pessano in the 1973 performance of "Forum I" at the Fresno Hilton.
Dan Pessano in the 1973 performance of “Forum I” at the Fresno Hilton. (Photos courtesy of Good Company Players)

Roger Rocka and the Good Company Players formed a partnership in 1978, which resulted in establishing the Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater and created a permanent home for Good Company.

Several years later, Pessano and the Good Company Players opened 2nd Space Theatre, which Pessano says has allowed for a greater range of performances.

According to the Good Company Players website, the two theaters have mounted over 450 productions since they first began.

When asked about his time in the Fresno State Theatre Arts program, Pessano said, “The most important things I got out of my time at Fresno State are lifelong friends, an inspiring professor in Dr. Janet Loring, who continues to inspire, and the importance of expectations.”

Even after a lifetime of entertaining valley residents, Pessano is still working hard.

“As far as the future, I’m a next 10 minutes man. I keep my head down and a step at a time, especially as I become an historical monument.”

~ For more on the Good Company Players, click here.

~ For more information on the FCOE Honors Gala, click here

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Fresno State College of Arts and Humanities Communication Specialist

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