Live Theater Returns to RIT with “Angels in America: Millennium Approaches”

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The productions of the Rochester Institute of Technology and its National Technical Institute for the Deaf have been available to people who are deaf and hard of hearing for decades.

But this weekend’s production of Angels in America: Approaching the Millennium at Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall will provide even more accessibility for blind and visually impaired spectators.

Tactile replicas of the set design and five costumes, as well as Braille and large print program books and Braille information boards, will be available in the lobby prior to the shows so customers can touch and feel the textures , the shapes and sizes of the elements. A special stage visit will be offered before Saturday morning.

The set model is 3D printed by Kurt Stoskopf, director of NTID’s 3D graphics technology program, and costume pieces are provided by costume designer Amanda Doherty.

“We want to make sure that our productions are as accessible as possible so that all members of the community can enjoy them,” said Jill Bradbury, chair of the performing arts department of RIT’s NTID, which offers the production with the RIT Liberal College. Arts.

Over 50 students are involved in the production, whether on stage or behind the scenes with set design, costumes, lighting and sound.

“This is a bilingual production, which means everything will be spoken in English and signed,” said Andy Head, who produces the play. “We have a mixed cast of 24 deaf, hard of hearing and hearing actors. There will also be subtitles projected on stage throughout the performance. “

This is the first major production with live audiences at RIT’s Robert F. Panara Theater since the start of the pandemic. Safety precautions remain: Members of the public must show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination, masks must be worn indoors, and the theater, which will only be filled to 50% of its capacity, will be cleaned after each performance.

In 1993, Angels in America, written by playwright Tony Kushner, won the Tony Award for Best Play and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Set in 1985, it features a Mormon addicted to Valium, her lawyer husband in the closet and two men torn apart by a diagnosis of AIDS.

“The play is a pretty ambitious choice for a college production, especially for a school without a major in drama,” Head said. “The size, scope and content are difficult in many ways. “

Due to the strong language, sexual content, and physical violence, the play is not intended for those under the age of 17. “However, this is widely regarded as one of the best plays ever written by an American playwright, so we felt it provided a unique opportunity for our students to engage in acting,” Head said. “It was really a cultural phenomenon when it opened on Broadway.”

The performances, which include two 10-minute intermissions, are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Robert F. Panara Theater at Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall.

Tickets cost $ 5 for students; $ 10 for RIT professors, staff and alumni; and $ 12 for others. Tickets can be ordered online, by phone at 585-475-4121, or at the door two hours before show time.

For those unable to attend, the recorded and captioned performances will be shown online at a later date.


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