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California Repertory Company Announces 2019 - 2020 Season


California Repertory Company announces productions for the 2019-2020 season.

Cal Rep's 31st season highlights stories of survival; survival as a team, a woman, a new college student, a pair of star-crossed lovers, a Chicano Angeleno; all told by CSULB students, faculty, and guest artists. Artistic Director Jeff Janisheski says, "We open our season with María Irene Fornés' seminal work Mud. Fornés is often referred to as the American theatre's Mother of the Avant-Garde."

This production of Mud will be part of the national Celebrando Fornés Festival promoting the life and legacy of this deeply influential playwright, including a panel discussion hosted by Cal Rep. The season continues with Lauren Yee's Hookman, a horror fairytale brought to life by the trauma of sexual assault. "Yee is one of the most important new voices in American playwriting today; her recent LA productions of Cambodian Rock Band and King of the Yees showcase her brilliance in telling family dramas in virtuosic and comedic ways", says Janisheski.

Following Hookman, Beth Lopes adapts Shakespeare's classic love story Romeo and Juliet into a new musical featuring music from Grammy Award-winning singer songwriter Brandi Carlile. "Romeo and Juliet: Hard Way Home perfectly encapsulates the heartbreak, longing, and unending hope of growing up," says director Beth Lopes. In November, faculty member Ezra LeBank and a company of CSULB students will present Move: The History of a Hand. "This new piece is a highly physical, immersive, devised theatre experience that explores the untapped power of the body, specifically our hands, and how we use these to interact with the world," says Professor LeBank.

Opening the spring semester is Suzan-Lori Parks' In the Blood, a bold retelling of The Scarlet Letter that was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. "In the Blood explores issues of stigma, homelessness, and exploitation that are intensely relevant for Los Angeles, with a homeless population of almost 60,000 people", says Janisheski. Dribbling through the semester is The Wolves by award-winning playwright Sarah DeLappe, which features a girls' soccer team exploring what it means to come of age as a collective. Ending Cal Rep's 2020 season is the Los Angeles theatrical classic, Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez. "Zoot Suit challenges us to revisit a troubled moment in our nation's history with music and dynamism", says Janisheski.

Cal Rep's 31st season celebrates classics and their adaptations - such as Mud, Romeo and Juliet: Hard Way Home, In the Blood and Zoot Suit - as well as contemporary comedies - such as Hookman and The Wolves. These stories of survival chosen for our Cal Rep season mirror our current dark times as a country - and like all great plays, they shine a light for a way forward. This season marks the third year of Cal Rep's Devising Democracy, a four-year project "to tackle the crucial issues facing our nation, devising is about creating a democratic space - in the rehearsal room and in our world," says Janisheski. Devising Democracy continues this year with Move: The History of a Hand after the success of WOKE! A Revolutionary Cabaret in 2017, The Dreamers: Aquí y Allá in 2018, and In the Penal Colony in 2019.

Cal Rep's season runs from September 12th, 2019 to May 10th, 2020 with 8 productions, over 80 performances and numerous opportunities for discussion with fellow audience members, experts, and community members.


Written by María Irene Fornés

September 12 - 29

Players Theater

An unflinching look at rural poverty and the quest for self-improvement against all odds.

Hopeful, hard-working Mae lives in bleak rural poverty, but she is going to school, and plans to better her life through the refined magic of reading and arithmetic. Lloyd, who lives with Mae, spends his time caring a little too much for the farm animals; he scorns to learn from a book, and treats Mae with angry disrespect. When Lloyd becomes ill, Mae goes searching for a diagnosis, and brings their simple, yet eloquent, neighbor Henry home with her, in order to help her read the difficult medical language. The ensuing love / hate triangle that brews between the three creates a toxic environment, and Mae determines that to break the ill-luck cycle of her life, she must escape the men who depend upon her. In Mud, Maria Irene Fornes has created a stark and uncompromising drama, in which a young woman puts her life on the line.


by Lauren Yee

Directed by Lisa Sanaye Dring

September 26 - October 6

Studio Theater

Slasher comedy about the emotional perils of college life. Oh, and a guy with a hook for a hand.

Freshman year at college is hard when your roommate is weird, you're feeling homesick, and a hook-handed serial killer is slashing girls' throats. But if Lexi can discover what really happened to her high school best friend on that car ride to the movies, everything will be okay. In this existential slasher comedy, Lexi and her friends learn what it means to grow up - and it's not pretty.

Romeo & Juliet: Hard Way Home

The Musical

By William Shakespeare

Featuring the music of Brandi Carlile

Directed by Beth Lopes

November 7 - November 16

University Theater

Romeo & Juliet: Hard Way Home is a reimagining of the classic love story for a new generation. Shakespeare's classic text infused with the music of Brandi Carlile's album, Bear Creek.

This production was inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet and singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile's award-winning album Bear Creek. This Romeo & Juliet exists in a dusty, isolated locale; the whistle of the passing train echoes the longing of our characters to find something greater than their small-town world. Whether it be to find love, purpose or themselves, our heroes and heroines are searching, and Bear Creek is their soundtrack. This Romeo & Juliet encapsulates the heartbreak, longing, and unending hope of growing up.

Move: The History of a Hand

Devised by The Ensemble

Directed by Ezra LeBank

November 21 - December 8

Studio Theater

A look at modern mobility devised by the company and CSULB's Head of Movement Ezra LeBank.

MOVE is a multi-year arts project to investigate the unexpected possibilities of our bodies in action, and to inspire our Long Beach community to move in creative and collaborative ways. In The History of a Hand, the company explores the cultural, scientific, and personal histories of our hands. The Hand is the most dexterous part of the body, and our most frequent tool to interact with the world. But what is a Hand capable of if used to its full potential? MOVE: The History of a Hand will take you on a journey to better understand your own body, and give you a new appreciation for the 27 bones, 48 nerves, and 123 ligaments that are just past your wrists.

In the Blood

By Suzan-Lori Parks

February 13 - February 23

Studio Theater

In this modern-day riff on The Scarlet Letter, Hester La Negrita, a homeless mother of five, lives with her kids on the tough streets of the inner city. Her eldest child is teaching her how to read and write, but the letter "A" is, so far, the only letter she knows.

While Hester's kids fill her life with joy amid the harsh world of poverty, the adults with whom she comes into contact only hold her back. This Pullitzer Prize Nominee forces us to question our perspective on homelessness, welfare, and who we ostracize from our society.


Directed by Bruce A. Lemon, Jr.

March 5 - March 14

University Theater

The Wolves

By Sarah DeLappe

Directed by Jessica Hanna

March 19 - March 27

Studio Theater

A group of teenage girls play soccer as The Wolves; we see them juggle balls and homework, young love and untimely tragedy, and ultimately navigate the treacherous territory that is adolescence.

Left quad. Right quad. Lunge. A girls indoor soccer team warms up. From the safety of their suburban stretch circle, the team navigates big questions and wages tiny battles with all the vim and vigor of a pack of adolescent warriors. This 2017 Pullitzer Prize Finalist for Drama is a portrait of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for nine American girls who just want to score some goals.

Zoot Suit

By Luis Valdez

Directed by Jonathan Muñoz Proulx

April 30 - May 10

Studio Theater

This classic play with music was developed by Luis Valdez and the Teatro Camposino, a native Los Angeles story that continues to break new ground.

The first play by a Mexican American to be produced on Broadway, Zoot Suit cracks open the depiction of Chicanos on stage, confronting race relations and power in the Los Angeles justice system. From the moment the myth-infused character El Pachuco burst onto the stage, cutting his way through the drop curtain with a switchblade, Luis Valdez spurred a revolution in Chicano American theater and revolutionized storytelling.

General Admission tickets are $23, tickets for students are $18, and for military and seniors (55 and older) are $20; go to, to buy tickets and find out more information. The University Theatre is attached to the north side of the Theatre Arts Building while the Studio Theatre and Players Theatre are inside the Theatre Arts Building on the CSULB South Campus, accessible via 7th Street and West Campus Drive.

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