PICT UnCommon Pleas Finds Stars Among the Legal & Tech Communities

 Dennis Unkovic and Audrey Russo shine as the Macbeths.

JudgeCohillJr. and JudgeOlson

Judge Maurice B. Cohill Jr. and Judge Judith Ference Olson enjoy the arguments.

Who knew judges could be so funny?

Pittsburgh, PA – April 3, 2014. On Thursday, March 27, PICT Theatre and the Arts and Law Committee of the Allegheny County Bar hosted more than 150 guests at the Duquesne Club for the inaugural PICT UnCommon Pleas, a legal theatrical event featuring attorney Dennis Unkovic of Meyer, Unkovic and Scott LLP, and Pittsburgh Tech Council president Audrey Russo as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Federal and state judges Maurice B. Cohill Jr., Nora Barry Fischer, Jeffrey A. Manning, Judith Ference Olson, Christine A. Ward, and Dwayne R. Woodruff presided as advocates pleaded their cases for or against the Macbeths.

Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres were served in the Garden Patio and Founders Room, followed by dinner and entertainment in the Main Dining Room.

PICT Artistic and Executive Director Alan Stanford, who had coached the two leading actors in the weeks prior to the event, introduced the presentation of evidence while guests were seated to begin the salad course. The performance included PICT featured artists James FitzGerald as the narrator and Karen Baum serving as bailiff. The stars of the evening, however, were Dennis Unkovic and Audrey Russo, performing sections of Macbeth with an assist from the Weird Sisters, the three witches of Macbeth portrayed by Laura Ellsworth, Hayley Haldeman and Karen Moellenberg. James FitzGerald’s narration connected their portrayals to the matters of law.

Following dinner, the advocates began their arguments, each with humor and wit. Tony Dias of Jones Day, with the flair of a stand-up comedian began by defending Macbeth, stating that he was definitely not guilty by reason of insanity, driven mad by the Weird Sisters and by his own wife, Lady Macbeth. Rich Ejzak of Cohen & Grigsby argued for the innocence of Lady Macbeth, calling into question how the court was able to listen to the intimate conversations between husband and wife. Rebecca Ross Haywood of the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case against Lady Macbeth, firmly declaring that Lady Macbeth’s behavior clearly met all of the elements of conspiracy to murder. Chuck Moellenberg of Jones Day passionately argued against overturning the conviction of “Macdeath.” Throughout the advocates’ arguments, the judges asked questions and cracked jokes, and when it was time to deliberate, their humorous banter had the crowd laughing harder than ever.

PICT Board President and Jones Day attorney Chuck Moellenberg and his wife Karen Moellenberg, Arts & Law Committee President Thomas G. Donahue were event co-chairs, with Hayley Haldeman of Jones Day organizing the host committee and providing support to the co-chairs. Cathy Ginsberg served as event consultant.

All proceeds from the event support PICT’s commitment to making Shakespeare accessible to all, particularly youth.