Alumni featured on cover of American Theatre
Posted on February 9th, 2017
Exciting news follows CSULB Theatre Arts alumnus Raymond Lee. He has been cast in a new HBO series written by Alan Ball, creator of Six Feet Under and True Blood. He was cast alongside Sosie Bacon, Daniel Zovatto and Jerrika Hinton in this untitled “tragicomic meditation” series about a husband and wife who build a family by adopting children from Vietnam, Somalia and Colombia before having their own child. Lee will play Duc, an ambitious life coach who masks a painful past he has not faced.
Raymond Lee is also featured on the cover of American Theatre’s February 2017 issue. Vietgone was published in the magazine along with an interview with Qui Nguyen, the playwright. In 2015, Lee originated the role of Quang in the world premiere at South Coast Repertory Theatre, before following the production to the Manhattan Theatre Club for its New York premiere.
CSULB Theatre Arts Kicks off Spring Semester with She Kills Monsters
Posted on Feburary 6th, 2017
A YOUNG WOMAN’S ACTION-PACKED JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY
LONG BEACH, CA, January 2017 – California State University Long Beach (CSULB) Theatre Arts presents She Kills Monsters, written by Qui Nguyen, and directed by Amanda McRaven with movement by Julie Granata Hunicutt. This hyper-theatrical comedy playing February 17 to February 26 at the Studio Theatre kicks off an eclectic season of shows at CSULB.
She Kills Monsters tells the story of Agnes, a young woman who finds a notebook written by Tilly, her recently deceased younger sister. Age kept the two sisters apart in life, but after Tilly’s sudden death Agnes leaps into the fantastical world of Dungeons & Dragons in a desperate attempt to understand the sister she barely knew. Agnes stumbles into a journey of revelatory self-discovery, but as she dives deeper into her sister’s domain, the lines between reality and game begin to blur, clashing with family expectations and putting Agnes’s real-world relationships at risk. Agnes must decide what is most important – the memories of her family, or the possibilities of her own future.
Click here to read the full press release.
Click here to buy tickets.
"Caged Birds: Cal Rep/University Players, Spring 2017"
Posted on January 25th, 2017
“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill/of things unknown but longed for still/and his tune is heard on the distant hill/for the caged bird sings of freedom.” Poet Maya Angelou
This Spring Season for Cal Rep and University Players is a dynamic, eclectic range of plays. From the hyper-theatrical, stylized world of Qui Nguyen’s She Kills Monsters to the gritty realism of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s Good Boys and True. From the brightly colorful world of Kirsten Childs’ Bubbly Black Girl Sheds her Chameleon Skin to the stark, sterile world of Ingmar Bergman’s Nora, adapted from Ibsen’s A Doll’s House by Frederick J. Marker. From established writers like Ibsen and Bergman, to the emerging voices of African-American writer Kirsten Childs, Vietnamese-American playwright Qui Nguyen, and Broadway/TV writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. This diversity of productions represents the spectrum of what we do here in CSULB’s Theatre Arts Department: we challenge our students with a range of aesthetics, approaches and texts; and we expose our audiences to a wide array of work – contemporary and classic, musicals and dramas, stylized and naturalistic.
More specifically, these four pieces all share very specific, common threads: they are all stories of young people, similar in age to the students on our campus; they are all portraits of one central character in crisis; three of the four focus on stories of young women and their struggles within the restrictions of society; and they are all stories of characters fighting oppression and feeling marginalized. Overall, the four main characters of these plays are trapped; they are all the caged birds in Maya Angelou’s poem – struggling to find themselves and “sing of freedom.”
Great works of art ask great questions. The four plays this spring season all ask the same question: Who do we become when society won’t accept who we are? This central conflict in the plays is a deeply moving drama – and even more urgent now in a divided America, where the day after the presidential inauguration millions of people march worldwide as an act of resistance and protest. Each of these plays are about characters resisting forces that still confront us: racism, sexism, homophobia and issues of class.
I am thrilled to see all of you this Spring at our Cal Rep/University Players shows – and watch the journey of these characters, each struggling to break out of their cage, sing of freedom and fly.
Click here to read an article about CSULB Theatre Arts' Spring Season, published in the Daily 49er.
The cast of She Kills Monsters in rehearsal. Photo credit: Jose Oliver De Castro
Chicago Opera Theatre Features Lighting Design from CSULB Faculty
Posted on January 31st, 2017
Head of Design and Lighting Design Faculty David Jacques will be designing lights for Chicago Opera Theatre’s world-premiere production of the new opera The Invention of Morel, opening February 18th. Jacques previously designed COT’s productions of Therese Raquin and The Fall of the House of Usher. The Invention of Morel is an adaptation of La invención de Morel, a 1940 novel by the influential Argentine author, Adolfo Bioy Casares. The production runs through February 26, 2017; click here for more information.
Jacques also designed lights for Utah Opera's production of Man of La Mancha, which closed January 29th.
The cast of Utah Opera's Man of La Mancha
CSULB Theatre Students and Faculty Gather to Pledge for a Better Future with
The Ghost Light Project
Posted on January 20th, 2017
CSULB's theatre department, led by Alexandra Billings, joined a national coalition of theaters to launch THE GHOSTLIGHT PROJECT, a celebration and affirmation of the power of theatre to spark change whilst honoring human diversity.
On Thursday Jan. 20th the theatre department gathered in "a collective, simultaneous action, together creating light for times ahead" to pledge help for the marginalized by telling their stories, and to keep them safe. The gathering of students, faculty, and staff used cellphones, candles and flashlights to illuminate their hope for a better future and sang "Give a Little Bit" by SuperTramp during the ceremony to dedicate the Theatre Arts Department as a place for peace, hope, diversity, and inclusion.
The Ghost Light Project was inspired by the tradition of leaving an illuminated "ghost light" in a darkened theater. Artists and communities across the country made the pledge to stand for and protect the values of inclusion, participation, and compassion for everyone-regardless of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis)ability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
With this light we dedicate our theater as a beacon to all those in the darkness
This light will shine to spread our belief in goodness truth and love
Click here to read an article about the action on CSULB's webpage.
Jaye Austin Williams, History/Literature & Criticism/Performance
- November 2016: Dr. Jaye Austin Williams is visiting director at Chapman University this fall, directing Intimate Apparel by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage. Set in 1905 New York City during the burgeoning of the textile industry, Nottage underscores the oft-untold stories of Black women (and men) who were laboring hard, and against a great deal of violent pushback, to enter the industrial project in the United States. Click here for tickets and event information.
Andrea Caban, Voice and Speech
Professor Andrea Caban has toured her solo play The Voice Bank, originally workshopped and produced in the Theatre Arts Department in October of 2015, to various places including Penn State’s Art and Design Research Incubator, UC Santa Cruz’s Department of Biological and Physical Sciences and Chicago’s Greenhouse Theater Solo Celebration in conjunction with the Voice and Speech Trainer’s Association Conference. The Voice Bank tells the story of one woman who defies her ALS diagnosis to fight for the privilege to keep speaking. Caban plays both herself and Terry, a woman with an indomitable spirit and a passion for performance, as they manage Terry’s progressing symptoms through voice and accent training. With every performance, Caban partners with local chapters of the ALS Association to raise awareness for the disease and the research around it.
David Jacques, Lighting Design
- January 2017: The fourth edition of Jacques' lighting design textbook Introduction to the Musical Art of Stage Lighting Design was published and is available on Amazon.
- November 2016: Jacques designed lights for Ainadamar by Osvaldo Golijov at the Bing Theater at USC, running November 16 - 20.
- October 2016: The English National Opera featured Jacques' lighting design in their production of Tosca at The Coliseum in the West End of London; Click here for more information.
Jeff Janisheski, Department Chair
- December 2016: Jeff was featured in Inside CSULB, the university's online magazine. Click here to read the article.
- June 2016: My essay on actor training was published by TCG: Audience (R)Evolutions: Dispatches from the Field, edited by Caridad Svich, preface by Bill Rauch.
- My introduction to Stephen Sewell's play, The Olympians, was published by NoPassport Press.
Nancy Jo Smith, Costume Design
- October/November 2016: I have an art piece "Kakemono" in an exhibit of the International Shibori Symposium at Centro de las Artes de San Agustin in Oaxaca, MX.
- October 2016: Showed wall art and garments at Bellagio Art Gallery in Asheville, NC
Sarah Underwood Saviano, Performance
- November 2016: Sarah is performing in The Odyssey Theatre's production of A Taste of Honey. Click here for an interview with Sarah and co-star Kestrel Leah on LA Talk Radio's In Our Times with Dr. Cheryl Lubin.