Students who follow their passion and spend time putting in the work can find themselves excelling across scholastic disciplines and receiving recognition from multiple places. For Theatre Arts student Lia Christine Dewey, the accolades keep coming as her final semester at Fresno State nears completion.
Recently, in her first attempt writing as a theatre critic, Dewey found herself at the top of the region and one of four finalists who will compete at the national level at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. She will get the opportunity to work with journalists from national media outlets such as The Washington Post and National Public Radio. Just days later Dewey found out she was chosen to represent the Theatre Arts department as a Dean’s Medalist nominee — and shortly after that, she committed to attend Ohio State where she plans to get her master’s degree in theatre performance history and theory.
“Simply put, Lia Dewey is one of the most well-rounded theatre majors I’ve ever encountered. She bridges the arts and the humanities. She has a very bright future,” said Dr. Melissa Gibson, Fresno State Theatre Arts.
A theatre arts major and German minor, Dewey has served the Theatre Arts department as an actor, stage manager, and dramaturg across ten productions and has also worked extensively with theatre companies around the greater Fresno area, such as StageWorks Fresno and Good Company Players.
“Lia is very personable and outgoing, funny and down-to-earth. She is an all-around theatre person as well, being a successful actor in our program, but also engaging in design, stage management, and dramaturgy in the department,” said Melissa Gibson. “She has participated not only in Theatre Department shows; she has also designed, stage managed and acted in shows for the local community such as Stageworks Fresno, Good Company Players, The New Ensemble, and the Fresno Soap Company.”
She has represented Fresno State at many national conferences and this year, became the regional winner at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival’s Institute of Theatre Journalism and Advocacy. She is also a member of the College of Arts and Humanities Honors Cohort.
“As a student in my class, Lia caught my attention immediately because of her
sharpness and curiosity,” said Dr. Gina Sandi-Diaz. “Lia has various academic interests. She is passionate about theatre, particularly Brecht’s epic theatre; she is also interested in Latinxtheatre and performance, particularly how it tackles intersected notions of identity as it speaks to race, gender and class.”
Theatre has been a passion of mine since I was in the fifth grade and started performing in musical theatre. Theatre functioned as the perfect outlet for the crazy child I was, and it continues to be an outlet for expression as I navigate my life as a queer, Latina woman. Throughout my time at Fresno State, I have had the opportunity to serve the Theatre Arts department in a variety of capacities, from actor to stage manager to dramaturg. As an undergraduate, I have participated in ten productions on campus and dozens more throughout the greater Fresno community, with organizations such as Good Company Players and Stageworks Fresno. My favorite productions with the University Theatre have been “Tar Beach” with J. Daniel Herring and “Lydia” with Dr. Gina Sandi-Diaz; through both of these productions, I have learned new and important sides of myself, particularly my passion for storytelling and my interest in dramaturgy. These shows helped me recognize my interests and determine my goals after I graduate from Fresno State.
In addition to my contributions to productions on campus, I have also had the opportunity to serve as a member of the board for our student-run Experimental Theatre Company, to tour with our Theatre for Young Audiences troupe twice, to become a member of the College of Arts and Humanities Honors Cohort, and to represent Fresno State at the United States Institute of Technical Theatre in 2018 and the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) in 2016, 2017, and 2019. At this year’s KCACTF, I was fortunate enough to become the regional winner for the Institute of Theatre Journalism and Advocacy, the first Fresno State student to do so since the 80s. With this honor, I am eligible to travel to the Kennedy Center for the national festival.
In my tenure at Fresno State, I have discovered that my interests in theatre are multifarious. I love to perform on stage, I love to analyze dramatic works, I love to be an advocate for arts exposure and education—and I am indebted to Fresno State for providing an environment in which I could discover this about myself. After graduation, I plan to attend graduate school and earn my MA—and eventually my PhD—in theatre and performance studies. So far, I have been accepted to the University of Kansas and The Ohio State University, where I have been nominated for a full fellowship. I owe my professors and mentors at Fresno State a great deal of gratitude. Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage”, I only hope I can play my role dutifully and with the passion I have learned to cultivate.