For the ancient Greeks, live theater mirrored the realities of everyday life, since the average Greek was followed at all times by 12 people in masks that commented on their produce selections at the supermarket. Revel in the joys of stagecraft with today’s Groupon: for $20, you get a 2011–2012 season subscription to Youngstown State University Theater's shows (a $40 value). Subscription secures a seat at the theater’s eight productions between September and May. All productions raise the curtains for multiple performances at 7:30 p.m. and all but the year-end dance ensemble include at least one 3 p.m. performance.
The Youngstown University Theater treats spectacle-seeking audiences to scholarly thespians bringing musicals, tragedies, and dramedies to the kind of vibrant life that will have most mad scientists cackling with glee. The 2011–2012 season's two centerpieces are A Streetcar Named Desire and Medea, both timeless explorations of human nature, disintegrating familial bonds, and quirky names. But the company also raises the profile on lesser-known works such as Neil LaBute's Reasons to be Pretty—a paradoxical love story about the impossible expectations of love—and Lawrence Fishburne's intense, gritty Riff Raff. At the other end of the emotional spectrum is The 1940s Radio Hour, a delightful all-ages affair that hearkens back to a bygone era of big bands, live radio broadcasts from the Algonquin, and FDR's famous fireside raves. The schedule also includes two one-act operas and a performance by the YSU Dance Ensemble.