New Shakespeare Production Highlights LGBTQ Community

The production premieres Feb. 19 to the 27 and will be available to watch via ShowTix4U. (Miguel Gastelum/Department of Theatre and Dance)

The Department of Theatre and Dance’s new production “To Thine Own Self Be True: Gender, Sexuality, and the Bard,” will focus on issues surrounding the LGBTQ community.

The production consists of a group of Shakespeare stories that have been adapted to current times which explores modern day LGBTQ perspectives and works to confront gender stereotypes. 

It’s main goal is to honor Shakespeare while bringing light to current issues that should have more representation in the theatre arts industry, according to the cast. 

Some of these issues focus on same-sex couples, gender-reversals and non-binary issues from the viewpoints of Shakespeare’s famous characters such as Julius Caesar and Cleopatra along with much more. 

Cassidy LeClair, a junior majoring in theatre arts and acting, plays Emelia from Shakespeare’s “Othello” and Prince Hal from his “Henry IV” series in this modern-day production. 

“We take lots of standard stereotypes and change it all,” LeClair said. 

“Some people may be uncomfortable because in Shakespeare, a lot of scenes are man and woman, but not in our production.”

This is now the third production produced by the theatre department that hasn’t had a live audience due to COVID-19. 

“Darkside” and “Detroit ‘67” were the first productions to be produced during the pandemic.

LeClair rehearsed the entire show in her bedroom via Zoom while other castmates safely rehearsed their monologues alone on stage. 

When it was time to film the production in-person, LeClair said she felt uncomfortable performing alone on a dark stage with cameras rather than in front of a live audience. 

“It freaked me out because I have never done film. I’m used to being with people and [now when] I walk on stage, I’m the only person there and there’s 10 cameras pointed at me,” she said. 

The production was rehearsed and filmed while following Fresno State’s strict health and safety protocols. 

“We all filmed our monologues separately and were at least 20 feet apart from each other. We also wore masks as well as face shields,” said LeClair. 

The play is conceived and directed by Brad Myers, a professor of theatre at Fresno State and includes 28 student cast members. 

The public is able to purchase tickets online and watch from home through the ShowTix4U website. 

“To Thine Own Self Be True: Gender, Sexuality, and the Bard” will stream from Feb. 19 to Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. and at 2:00 p.m. on Feb. 21. 

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