Preparing for the Storm – PICT UnCommon Pleas Takes on “The Tempest”

PICT Uncommon PleasFor me, UnCommon Pleas is the most unique and entertaining event that anyone with an interest in theater or law could attend.  My name is Hayley Haldeman, and I am Co-Chair of this year’s PICT UnCommon Pleas event and Chair of the Allegheny County Bar Association’s Arts & Law Committee.

In the Fall of 2013, Judge Maurice Cohill (who will be making a repeat appearance on this year’s UnCommon Pleas bench!) and members of the PICT Board approached the Arts & Law Committee about a “night of legal theatrics.”  To be frank, I was curious – but a little uncertain. Even though the D.C. Shakespeare Theater does a similar event every year, with sitting justices from the United States Supreme Court, I wasn’t exactly sure how this would “play” out.  However, last year’s PICT UnCommon Pleas was a night unlike any other.  Starring Dennis Unkovic and Audrey Russo as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, respectively, four prominent Pittsburgh attorneys wowed an audience of 170 people and a panel of federal and state judges.  The event raised over $40,000 for PICT.

Former Governor Tom Corbett prepares for his role as Prospero in this year's PICT UnCommon Pleas

Former Governor Tom Corbett prepares for his role as Prospero in this year’s PICT UnCommon Pleas

This year promises to be even better.  We return to the Duquesne Club for a cocktail dinner and three course meal (though this year features an open bar — which I’m sure will be a popular addition!).  The Tempest is an interesting choice of one of Shakespeare’s lesser known works, but one of my new favorites.  I was thrilled to hear about our all-star cast:  former Governor Tom Corbett, Highmark Health’s Dan Onorato, and Helen Hanna Casey. I was lucky enough to sit in a rehearsal with the two leads.  Both had a natural talent for Shakespeare, and I was wowed by their performance.

Helen Hanna Casey (Ariel) and Dan Onorato (Caliban) brush up on their Shakespeare.

Helen Hanna Casey (Ariel) and Dan Onorato (Caliban) brush up on their Shakespeare.

I’ve also really enjoyed rounding up our cast of advocates, which includes my friend Joe Williams, chair of the Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division; Reed Smith appellate all-star Paige Forester; the Chief of the Public Defenders’ Office Elliott Howsie, and Assistant United States Attorney Donovan Cocas (who I learned has one of the most interesting backgrounds ever, including a professional boxing career in Mexico and an editorial position on the Harvard Law Review).

I’m really looking forward to this year’s PICT UnCommon Pleas.  I can’t think of any other event that is both entertaining and interesting, but also supports such a great cause.  In addition to a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Allegheny County Bar Foundation, this year’s UnCommon Pleas will ensure that children across the region are introduced to Shakespeare.  Proceeds will fund the tickets and bus rides for hundreds of local high school students to attend PICT’s production of The Tempest later this year, along with other performances.  


– Hayley Haldeman, UnCommon Pleas Co-Chair