Dynamic new works will take center stage at Cal State Long Beach in the upcoming fall semester theatre season. The California Repertory Company, a theatre company comprised of CSULB undergraduates, graduates, faculty and special guests, has been launched in a new direction.
Stories of resistance will be the central theme to the Cal Rep’s 29th season.
“Our name is California Repertory Company so we want all the plays we do to somehow address issues, themes and stories that are relevant to people in California and also to feature a lot of artists and playwrights from California,” said Jeff Janisheski, chair of the Theatre Arts Department.
The group is also trying to steer the direction of the company outside of a dominantly male cast and directing crew, with half of the fall semester’s productions being directed by women.
The first production of the fall will be “Alice’s Wonderland” on Sep. 23 with Professor Ezra LeBank, head of movement and assistant professor of theatre arts at CSULB, directing it.
The play is filled with high energy and acrobatics as actors portray Alice’s imagination in her journey to find herself while exploring Wonderland.
The second production, “Machinal” will hit stage on Oct. 14. The historical fictional play is a drama about the struggles and liberation of a young woman living in the 1920’s, directed by guest director Julianne Just.
Next up will be “WOKE!: A Revolutionary Cabaret,” a fiery protest piece which tackles today’s biggest social and political issues on Nov. 4.. The play is directed by former chair of the program, Joanne Gordon.
“It’s all about social change and our political climate. I’m really excited for it because I really think it’s going to say something important about our society right now,” said Jasmine Vang, a fourth year theatre major who will be featured in the play. “We just want our art to reflect on this activism that we have together and this hope we have for America and our society.”
The last production of the season will be “Polaroid Stories” on Nov. 18., directed by visiting director Eric Hoff. It brings together classical mythology and stories of poverty and addiction.
“I love the play. I’m scared because it’s a challenge, but it’s exactly what I need so I’m excited to get to work,” said Natalia Caraballo, fourth year theatre major who will be playing Eurydice in the play. “It combines Greek Mythology and those character’s stories with truthful stories from homeless and prostituted youth.”
“I think we’re generating a lot of excitement about the new direction of Cal Rep. I think we’re engaging the community of CSULB and of Long Beach more,” Janisheski said. “I think people are going to sense the excitement, they’re going to sense that something new is happening here and they are going to come.”
Actors practice for five weeks, four hours a day in order to prepare for opening night.
When choosing plays for the upcoming season faculty, staff and students wanted to shake things up and create a new identity as to what their theater company stood for and make politically important artwork.
“This particular season took a long time to craft because I really wanted to get the input of students, both undergraduate and graduate, faculty and staff. So we had many meetings for many months about what is the direction of where Cal. Rep is heading and what kinds of plays we wanted to do,” said Janisheski.
For more information on upcoming performances or to purchase tickets, visit csulb.edu/theatre or call 562-985-7891.