‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ performed outdoors in RIT’s Infinity Quad

Part of College of Liberal Arts’ yearlong commemoration of Shakespeare’s death in 1616

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David Munnell

Actors in RIT’s outdoor production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In what is the first outdoor theatrical production in recent memory at Rochester Institute of Technology, 20 RIT students, staff and faculty members are performing William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday in RIT’s Infinity Quad.

This is the latest of RIT’s yearlong commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The English poet, playwright and actor wrote nearly 40 plays and more than 150 sonnets.

“Shakespeare’s work has had a great impact on Western culture,” said David Munnell, a visiting assistant professor in RIT’s Department of Performing Arts and Visual Culture and production manager for the play. “He invented so many words that we use today, and changed the way we look at human individuals – he got people to think about motivation and character. His stories inspired ballets and symphonies. His legacy spans through all culture and humanities.”

The performances are free and open to the public, and free popcorn will be available.

“The students are getting ready for their exams, so this is a great way to enjoy a nice evening and relax,” said Melanie Blood, the play’s director and an English and music professor at State University College at Geneseo.

“The play lends itself to an outdoor production because a large part of the plot takes place in a forest,” Blood said. “It seemed like a really fun and unique thing to do. We’re going to see a real sunset in Infinity Quad.”

Although a limited number of chairs will be there, audience members are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and blankets if possible. The performance will be canceled if it is raining; call 585-475-2063 for recorded information.

Friday's performance will be sign-language interpreted.

Blood and Munnell say the production is made possible with efforts from many people and departments at RIT, including the tech crew, Facilities Management Services and RIT’s Public Safety.

The cast is diverse and spans generations, with some parts played by undergraduates and another played by an assistant dean. Live music in the style of a 1920s jazz combo was composed for this performance by Oliver Haynes, a fourth-year computer programing major from Pittsford.

Also this week, “Signing Shakespeare” will be performed at 5 p.m. Thursday in the Dyer Art Gallery in Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall. American Sign Language poetry group Dangerous Signs will perform Shakespeare sonnets and scenes in spoken English and ASL.

Other RIT Celebrates Shakespeare events include:

  • September through December: RIT’s Cary Collection will curate an exhibition in The Wallace Center, “Shakespeare in Fine Press,” exploring how book artists and fine press printers have expressed Shakespeare’s works.
  • Nov. 10-13: “Love’s Fire,” directed by Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre David Munnell. Reimagines seven of Shakespeare’s immortal love sonnets as one-act plays by seven of the best playwrights in America. The plays and the sonnets that inspired them will be performed at the Lab Theatre in Lyndon Baines Hall, room 1510.
  • Nov. 18: Performing Artist Concert Series. “Such Sweet Thunder Suite,” by Duke Ellington performed by the New Energy Jazz Orchestra, conducted by Carl Atkins and Jon Kruger. Performance is at 8 p.m. in Ingle Auditorium.