CSULB University Players Take on William Shakespeare in a Production Of ‘Gentlemen Reduced’

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Gentlemen Reduced, adapted from The Two Gentlemen of Verona University Players at California State University, Long Beach, present: Gentlemen Reduced, adapted from The Two Gentlemen of Verona by William Shakespeare, March 4th through March 12th. Directed by visionary guest artist, John Farmanesh-Bocca, the production uses an updated setting, visceral choreography and the music of U2 to put an energetic new spin on the classic play.

Farmanesh-Bocca recognizes the play’s lasting appeal: “After we are all dead and gone they will still be doing Shakespeare’s plays. They are always relevant because each one does an amazing job of presenting the human condition in all its many beautiful, strange, ugly and miraculous facets and incarnations. For me, Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona at its core is about love and wholesomeness that can’t be maintained. People have an idealized version of love, whether it is going off to college or finding your first adult love, whatever it is we imagine it will be like, it ends up being different. With new relationships, at first we can get away with resembling that movie-like romance, then life, relationships and individuals start to unravel. How these characters cope and navigate their way is at once entertaining, terrifying, sorrowful and hilarious, like life itself.”

The guest director usually works with his company Not Man Apart – Physical Theatre Ensemble to update and reimagine classical works to find the heart of the piece for modern audiences. Gentlemen Reduced will reference urban decay and the blighted landscape of industrial zones like Detroit or Flint, Michigan to create an inner-city playground. The music of U2 perfectly mirrors this design. Farmanesh-Bocca enthuses: “U2’s music is by a bunch of kids who grew up in Dublin at a really rough time (religious warfare, military state etc.). Bono’s lyrics and poeticism are eerily perfect for Shakespeare and are deeply felt by the performers… it is a perfect catalog of work to highlight the characters’ emotional ride.” Above all, he thinks, the show “will inspire fun and make the audience reflect on love and friendship.”

Farmanesh-Bocca trained at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts before serving as Directing Fellow at The Juilliard School’s Drama Division (2003-2005). He now serves as guest faculty at NYU – TSOA’s Classical Studio. New York directing credits include: Woyzeck, Closer, and Fortinbras (Lincoln Center). On the West Coast, John is Artistic Director of both Shakespeare Santa Monica and the Big Sur Theatre Lab, and is also an Artist-in-Residence for both Pacific Repertory Theatre and the Carmel Shakespeare Festival where he has performed in well over half the Shakespearean canon.

Gentlemen Reduced opens Friday, March 4th, and runs for eight performances, closing on Saturday, March 12th.  Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m. with one Saturday matinee at 2:00 p.m. on March 12th. This production is in the Studio Theatre on the CSULB South Campus, accessible via both East and West Campus Drive. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $12 for seniors and students (with valid ID). For tickets and information, please call (562) 985-5526 or visit www.csulb.edu/depts/theatre .

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