Classic sci-fi; an interpretation of a Tony Award-winning musical; a story of faith and friendship; and New Yorkers struggling with drug abuse, AIDS and homosexuality are all part of a new collaborative season by Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf Performing Arts program and the College of Liberal Arts. The partnership between NTID and the College of Liberal Arts is a long-term collaboration in which strong backgrounds in performance, acting, directing, dance and music converge to create stunning theatrical productions.
The productions present a wide array of cultural, political and social issues. The 2020-2021 season includes:
SOMNIUM, conceived and directed by guest director Omen Sade, Oct. 16-18, 1510 Lab Theatre, Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall. This piece is inspired by the world of classic sci-fi and tells the story of a team of “slumber-nauts” who trek through the hilarious and dangerous badlands of our collective “Dream Scape.” The production uses live music, projection art and physical theatrical techniques such as mime, object manipulation and cinematic theater.
In the Heights, directed by Luane Davis-Haggerty, Nov. 13-15, Robert F. Panara Theatre, LBJ Hall. With music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and based on the book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, this production tells the universal story of a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind. In the Heights won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical.
THIS, written by deaf playwright Raymond Luczak and directed by Fred Beam, Feb. 26-28, 2021, in 1510 Lab Theatre. Curtis Higgs, a talented dancer cursed with low self-esteem, meets Dwight, a charismatic and funny hard-of-hearing dancer who is incredible onstage, yet exploitative of his friends offstage. It is through the hunger of wanting to be an unmistakable star like Dwight that Curtis learns the true value of friendship and gains faith in himself.
Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, directed by Andy Head, April 16-18, 2021, in Panara Theatre. It’s the 1980s. President Reagan sits in the White House while the AIDS crisis rages on. Caught in the middle are a Valium-addicted Mormon, her closeted lawyer husband, and two men ripped apart by an AIDS diagnosis. This is a story about fighting for survival, love, politics and God. In 1993, Angels in America, written by Tony Kushner, won the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
All four productions are planned to be fully accessible for deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing audiences, whether using captions, American Sign Language in the performance, interpreters or a combination. Angels in America is not appropriate for children under 12.
Tickets for performances in Panara Theatre—$5 for students, senior citizens and children under age 12; $10 for RIT faculty/staff/alumni; and $12 for the public—will be available through rittickets.com, by phone at 585-475-4121 or at the door two hours prior to curtain time. Performances in the 1510 Lab Theatre are free. Tickets will be released on Eventbrite.
For more information, go to the Performing Arts theatre program webpage.