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A Midsummer Day's Serendipity. - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
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A Midsummer Day's Serendipity.
The bankruptcy bar of upstate New York is fairly small, compared to a lot of other practice areas, and the regulars know each other pretty well. I'm one of the few who regularly circulates in both my current home town of Buffalo (head office of the Western District of New York) and my original base of Rochester (known, unofficially but realistically, as the "Eastern District of the Western District").  There are official and unofficial differences between standards of practice at both ends of the territory, which I've been aware of since taking on my first major Buffalo case in 1986, and this morning I got to witness a Rochester dressing-down of a Buffalo practitioner (nobody I knew) who wasn't familiar with them.  But this post is all about things in the ROC, both legal and theatrical.

This morning's dressing-downer trustee started by calling the calendar- of both clients and their lawyers. One lawyer name mentioned was that of Pete, a Rochester lawyer (and not the one who drew the trustee's wrath), who I've known for most of my time in practice there. He had a case on the calendar ahead of me, but just the mention of his name jogged the memory of my own client.... who had forgotten that he is still owed money from a BK filed in 2003- a case to which Pete, years later, was assigned to liquidate as Chapter 7 trustee.  He's no longer active in that role, but just by being there, he helped my client make a more complete record for the case.

That was enough coincidence for one day, but not enough to mention in a post. This, however, is.

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I vaguely remembered that, years ago, Pete helped Rochester form its own version of Shakespeare in the Park, a staple of many cities' summertime experiences.  I have memories of Joe Papp performances in New York City's Central Park in law school days, but Eleanor, Em and I have been most familiar with the long-standing troupe, originally sponsored by UB's theatre department, which for 30-ish years has done two shows a summer in Buffalo's own Olmstead park.  They've never shied from experimentation- doing an all-female Macbeth a few years back- but I'm not sure that Professor Elkin and Company have ever tried something as innovative as what Rochester's group is doing this week and into next:

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" returns to Rochester this week as the summer presentation by the Rochester Shakespeare Players. The production starts Saturday, July 5, in Highland Park Bowl, and runs for 11 performances through Saturday, July 19 — each night, except for Monday and Thursday. Admission is free and all performances are at 8 p.m.


...

Though it's more than five centuries old, director Luane Davis Haggerty finds "A Midsummer Night's Dream" still "very relatable in its depiction of the different stages of love and its complications. Shakespeare is also comparing love to magic — the feeling you get when you meet someone who takes your breath away — and I don't think there's anyone who can't relate to that."

Haggerty describes this "Midsummer Night's Dream" production as "history-making." A senior lecturer in the theater department at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Haggerty is directing the play with a double cast of hearing and deaf actors — 33 people in all. Each role is played by a voicing actor, who has a signing (American Sign Language) actor assigned to him or her. So there are two languages in use onstage simultaneously: Shakespeare's, and American Sign Language.

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And this has to do with bankruptcy, what?

Haggerty calls this hearing-deaf double-casting "history-making," and according to Shakespeare Players president Peter Scribner, no Shakespeare company in North America has ever attempted it before. Professional theaters would find the costs of hiring two casts prohibitively expensive; a volunteering community theater group like the Shakespeare Players can attempt it.

Even more to the point, Rochester has a great resource in the theater department of NTID, whose productions have been nationally recognized for their imagination and excellence. The set and lighting designers for "A Midsummer Night's Dream" are both deaf, and this Highland Park production gives many talented deaf actors a rare chance to perform outside NTID productions.

Yeah, that would be the same Pete. With a capital P which stands for proud. Our daughter just graduated from RIT, and while she had limited NTID interaction, all of her animation screenings were signed, and it's an honor to see the Bard brought into yet another language and his reach extended.

I doubt we will get a chance to see Oberon and Titania- my busy week continues, and we've got tickets for Sara Bareilles closer to home a week from tomorrow night- but I tip my cap to this company for making this amazing effort a midsummer night's reality.

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Comments
glenmarshall From: glenmarshall Date: July 9th, 2014 01:25 am (UTC) (Link)
If you venture across the border to Stratford, there is a worthy production of Midsummer Night's Dream there. It does some gender-bending, e.g., Oberon and Titania are played be a pair of male actors who swap roles for each performance. Titania in drag is precious. And, wait, there's more...

While you're at it, the productions of Lear and Mother Courage are also excellent.
plantmom From: plantmom Date: July 9th, 2014 05:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Duely noted, as Ray and I would say. One of the things I find interesting about this thing is that, in Shakespeare's day, all the parts were played by men, It was only later that actual females played female parts.
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