Students from Long Beach State’s Theater Arts Department will be performing “Mud,” Sept. 13, a production that explores themes of extreme poverty and hope.
The California Repertory Company, as part of CSULB’s Theater Arts Department, will start off its 31st season with “Mud” as part of the Celebrando Fornés Festival, an event that celebrates the work and life of María Irene Fornés who passed away in October 2018.
“Mud” explores rural poverty and the never-ending search for self-betterment through the eyes of the main female lead, Mae (Kimberly English). The production follows Mae’s efforts to escape her toxic environment and the men who rely on her, such as her brother-like companion Lloyd (Riky Garcia) and love interest Henry (Aaron Allen)
“We read several plays, and we came upon [“Mud”],” said director B.J. Dodge. “Because like it or not, women aspiring to something beyond their position—their condition—is very timely.”
Audience members will watch Mae strives for things such as an education and respect from her fellow characters, throughout the 17 scenes in “Mud.”
“These actors are young and so they have extraordinary energy, they have youth,” Dodge said. “Yet they have the experience of want, of lack of resource. As all of the students on this campus do.”
According to Dodge, the student actors resonate with the play’s themes of striving for a better life and are interpreting “Mud” through the lenses of their youth.
“What they bring to this project is beyond what I could imagine,” Dodge said. “I’m having a really great time.”
Kimberly English, a junior theater performance major, plays Mae in “Mud.” According to English, she carries the entire performance on her shoulders, not just as Mae but as the only female in the play.
“[Mae]’s just a symbol for all the women who are in the conditions like she is living in,” English said. “I think it’s congruent to what is happening now, unfortunately, and it’s still happening now.”
English shared how much pressure students are under to give the audience a good show and honor Fornés’ work.
“I hope that the audience can get a taste of what these complicated relationships are like under these extraordinary circumstances that some people can unfortunately relate to,” English said.
“Mud” will be showing at the Players Theater from Sept. 13 through Sept. 29. Tickets start at $23 for general admission and $18 for students and faculty and staff.