Also rare is her work with the Arabian Shakespeare Festival. Officially founded in January 2013, but dating back to 2010, the Santa Clara company is involved in a pilot program with the United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain. “In 2012, I went with two other actors to workshop Shakespeare with Arabic women,” LeBlanc explains. “It was life changing.”. Introducing the female students to theater principles was groundbreaking and, not unpredictably, Shakespeare’s thematic material tore up the terrain. A “Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” scene, where a daughter is dragged before a father and told she must marry his groom of choice, caused the actors to “laugh until our bellies ached, then cry,” Le Blanc recalls. “A student from a progressive country would say, ‘That used to happen, but it doesn’t anymore.’ Next to her, a woman would sob, rendered speechless by her different circumstance. The play will never be the same for me.”.
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Lustig noted that last year the transition to the Paramount Theatre sparked another form of magic when the Mt. Eden Women’s Ensemble decided to spread a little cheer backstage before the performance. “All of a sudden, we hear these beautiful holiday carols floating down the corridors and up the staircase while we’re getting ready,” he said. “It was so beautiful. Of course, my professional dancers loved it because they’ve chosen such hardship to make a career as a dancer. It’s just so heartwarming to have these young people participate and soak up all the atmosphere, and in some cases create some of their own.”.
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