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Casner Fire started by someone trying to clear brush from their property

 July 28, 2022 at 1:43 PM PDT

S1: How the Karsner fire started and what's ahead for fire season.
S2: This was somebody who was trying to clear their property. They were trying to do the right thing.
S1: I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen CAVANAUGH. This is KPBS Midday Edition. The monkeypox vaccine is in short supply. A look at what health officials are urging you to do.
S3: I was not vaccinated for smallpox , but people who are older than me were vaccinated so that a global decrease in that immunity has allowed monkeypox to spread from person to person.
S1: Chief Justice Tani can tell soccer away is leaving the bench. So what's next ? And a preview of a midsummer Night's Dream at the Old Globe. That's ahead on Midday Edition. The Karsner fire continues to burn this morning east of Ramona , but Cal Fire says it has stopped the forward rate of spread of the 180 acre fire and it's about 35% contained. Cal Fire Captain Thomas Schuetz joins me now with details. Welcome to you.
S2: Thanks for having me.
S2: So anybody who's headed out to Julian , going through Ramona would have traveled along Highway 78. It's right there just north of Highway 78 , in the footprint of the Witch Creek Fire from 27. But pretty , pretty roll out there. And fortunately , far , far away from the the real center point of Ramona , where we do have a very large population.
S1: And yesterday , there were evacuation orders in the area.
S2: Yesterday afternoon , the evacuation orders moved to warnings. So we were able to get folks back in their homes. And now the warnings have been reduced. We still have fire resources out there , so we still haven't completely cleared out of the way. It's still a little bit dangerous. And we're asking folks to be heads up for our resources out there. But it is great to have folks back in their homes and to be able to pull out all those evacuation warnings.
S1: You've had fire crews out there from all over the region fighting this fire. Give us a sense of the resources that have been deployed to achieve this level of containment overnight.
S2: Yeah , certainly. You know , we went to peak staffing in early June. And what that means for us is we're sending a ton of resources for these initial responses. Some of them end up being a little tiny spot fire the size of a campfire , and some of them end up growing big quickly. But we want to get all resources headed that way. Yesterday , right off the bat , we had about 75 firefighters , ten engines , bulldozers , hand crews , aircraft , both retardant dropping planes and helicopters. And then once once our crews got on scene , they realized they were going to need extra help. We called in extra aircraft from out of county coming in from Riverside. We added extra hand crews , we added extra fire engines. And really just trying to stop this fire when small , obviously , as it gets bigger , it gets exponentially harder to control.
S2: For us is when everything's still kind of drying out. It hasn't hit that critical fuel moisture , especially with the brush. But we're going to be there probably within the next month or so. And what that means is from now through December , we're going to be in peak fire season , that conditions are going to continue to get worse for us. And as we start to see these weather events wind up with these fuels that are dry being out in these areas , our role is going to get harder and harder to stop these fires. So a lot of folks think , okay , summer's kind of petering to an end. The kids are going back to school. That's not the case with fire season. Fire season for us here in San Diego County is really just ramping up and it's going to continue to get worse until we get that good solid rain , which we usually don't get until late November or December if we do at all.
S2: We say we have a year round fire season because we've seen some significant fire activity in December and January. You know , there's no time of year where we're really immune to it. We just become so dependent on the weather events and what's coming what's coming down the way. You know , yesterday the weather was relatively mild for this time of year. Had the winds been stronger , had they been pushing out of the east , had we had hotter , drier conditions with relative humidity in the single digits or teens , we might have seen a different story and we might have still been out there actively trying to stop this fire.
S2: We have our Cal Fire law enforcement officers go out and investigate every fire. That becomes a major incident. And this was somebody who was trying to clear their property. They were trying to do the right thing. And unfortunately , it was warm yesterday and it was enough to really take off on them and and reach a point where they weren't able to stop it themselves. And it's unfortunate. You know , we want people to clear defensible space. We want them to continue doing their part. But it's hard to find that balance of doing it safely. And we asked that people clear before 10 a.m. that they don't do it on hot or dry or windy days and that they're really just being cautious. And in everything they do , these these fires are pretty unforgiving this time of year. And even the most seasoned folks out in the backcountry areas can , can can make a small mistake that ends up becoming a major problem for themselves and for their community.
S1: While 180 acres is a big fire. It seems like in the last couple of years , Cal Fire and other local fire agencies have really been able to stop large fires in the region before they start burning just out of control. While we're seeing wildfire after wildfire burning in northern California.
S2: You know , we've seen these devastating fires. We saw it in oh three and oh seven. And we've continued to see some very large fires since then. But we haven't seen that major destructive fire behavior like we've seen in Northern California. We've been very fortunate. I think part of it is luck. And we have to we have to point that out that it's it's not all just based on our actions or the public's actions sometimes that we're not getting the starts in the areas where it would be able to really take off and become a problem. In the north , these fires , especially in the areas where they have timber that's just been devastated by beetle kill and a lot of areas that are incredibly dry , we don't see so much of that out here. We have a lot of areas that are ready to burn. We have a lot of dead brush , a lot of dead grass , but we've been able to throw a lot of resources at it. And the resources , I think , is the the second part of it. We have we have folks out in the backcountry areas who are certainly doing their part to clear on their properties. But we also have a lot of resources that we're able to throw on these fires right away , whereas some of the more rural parts of the state don't have that many ground resources close by to really stop these fires. And Ramona's a perfect example. We have five stations in Ramona. We have our Ramona air attack base right there in town. We have nine helicopters staffed up in the county , so a lot of extra resources that other folks don't have. We're able to throw on these fires and try to stop them right away here in San Diego County.
S1: I've been speaking with Cal Fire Captain Thomas Chute saying captain should stay safe out there. And thank you.
S2: Thanks for the support.
S1: And San Diego County fire crews continue to actively stop the Karsner fire east of Ramona. Firefighters elsewhere in the state are making gains on the Oak Fire burning near Yosemite National Park. Families there are reckoning with the devastation. California's largest fire of the year so far has consumed nearly 19,000 acres and forced thousands to flee from KBR in Fresno. Joshua Yeager has more.
S4: The Oak Fire exploded in a matter of hours Friday , burning at an intensity and pace that local crews said they had never seen before. Flames chewed through dozens of structures. Among them , Heather and Aaron Martinez's home in the small mountain community of Jersey Del. Over the weekend , the couple learned everything they own had been reduced to ash. It was gut wrenching is beyond gut wrenching. I wept for the land. I wept for all the animals and everything I everything I see. I see it right now. There's this whole , whole mountainside still smoldering , but it's still filled with lots of life and lots of life that needs help. When the fire broke out last week , the couple was out shopping and were sad , said Heather. Martinez says they didn't have a chance to grab the meticulously packed go bags they kept ready in case of an emergency like this one.
S5: All the preparedness in the world did not help us.
S4: Jersey Dale is surrounded by beetle killed and drought weakened trees. The fire moved so fast through the community that no one could save the couple's pets. An emergency worker checking in on the property discovered their month old kitten severely burned in the rubble. He rushed the kitten to the vet , but it didn't survive. The couple fears their other cats also.
S5: Perished , knowing that the rest of them probably met the same feat.
S4: Nevertheless , their resolve to stay in the mountain community , they've called home for 24 years. I'm going to spend the rest of my life up here. I'll give my life to this mountain , to this community , to this area. Fire officials say charred forest land left behind by the 2018 Ferguson fire is helping to curb the fire's growth for now. But if the blaze makes a run around the fire scar , crews fear the explosive growth that produce smoke plumes visible from outer space could return. I'm Joshua Yeager in Mariposa.
S6: The Biden administration is planning to follow the lead of the World Health Organization in declaring the spread of monkeypox a health emergency. But people in San Diego who do not already have an appointment for a vaccination against the disease may have to wait several months for another chance. Appointments for all 800 doses being administered today and tomorrow and county clinics were snapped up by Monday. The vaccine used to both protect against monkeypox and ease its symptoms is in short supply across the nation. The number of confirmed and suspected cases in San Diego remains low , but without vaccine. Health authorities are urging the public to take preventative measures. Joining me is Dr. Cameron Kaiser , San Diego County Deputy Public Health Officer. Dr. Kaiser , welcome to the program.
S2: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
S2: It's just that it's not typically made about quantities at all requiring. On top of that , the vaccine is only made by one company to begin with. Although there is an older vaccine available , it's a little bit rougher on. People prefer to stick with this one if we can.
S2: This one cannot be used for that as well. The older smallpox vaccine that some people may be familiar with , but one where it actually caused a lesion on your arm that can be used as well. But as I say , that one sometimes has a risk of being a little bit more difficult for people to handle , or as this modern vaccine is much more straightforward to administer.
S2: This is a certainly a question we want to run by our federal partners. But I think that the best upshot of this , it calls attention to it and the community's words for the fact that hopefully it gets people to think about ways they can better protect themselves.
S6: You referenced the older smallpox vaccine. And if someone is of the generation who received a smallpox vaccine as a child or a traveler years ago.
S2: There's a theory that since we're dealing with a population more smallpox vaccination is now unusual. This has made it more easy for monkeypox to spread. There could be something to that. And someone who received their smallpox vaccination years ago. I received one as a child myself because I'm an Air Force brat and we were overseas. They may have some residual level of protection. However , it's important to note that vaccination is decades. In the past , it can wane like any other form of immunity and the 2003 monkeypox outbreak in the United States. Because we've had outbreaks before. Several people came down with monkeypox during that time period , had themselves vaccinated decades prior because it's entirely possible that their level of ability went into was affected by other health concerns they had. And also because of monkeypox viruses exactly like the smallpox virus. Even if you were one of the people like me who received it , if your smallpox vaccine was more than three years ago and you're one of our at risk groups that you should consider getting vaccinated.
S6: The county is taking into consideration risk factors , as you said , as it prioritizes the use of the limited amount of the vaccine.
S2: We want them to be vigilant. We don't want to be stigmatizing dating one. The LGBT community is far from being monolithic and there's nothing inherently gay , if you'll pardon the expression about monkeypox. There have been unfortunate cases even on the pediatric population , but we have to call it where we see it. And where we're seeing it primarily is in this population. Prolonged close skin to skin contact is where the big risk is. Ask your partners about recent illnesses or rashes and different close contact if they're currently or have been recently ill. And if you're sick yourself , please stay home from events and avoid intimate contact and get evaluated by your medical provider.
S2: You can do it. There's also been situations where contaminated bedding or clothing have also been responsible for the spread. And keep in mind that our 2003 outbreak was not primarily along this population , but still out of number of cases. So even though this is where we're seeing it right now , we want this population to be vigilant. We also want people to realize this is far from a disease that can only affect that community.
S6: How many confirmed. And. Probable cases of the disease. Does San Diego have ? Now.
S2: As of our most recent update , the county has detected 20 cases of monkeypox in San Diego County. Now , as always , this includes probable cases yet to be confirmed , although it would be highly unusual to get a result for this type of virus that is not monkeypox.
S2: We can help them with that process and do so in a way which is confidential. Contact tracing during COVID 19 looks a lot different than contact tracing with students , and we've done sexually transmitted disease contact tracing literally for decades because making sure that your partners are treated or protected is the best way to prevent spread the community. And the same thing applies here. But we also have to make sure we have a renewed sensitivity about the population it's impacting and knowing that STDs can be very stigmatizing no matter what population happens to have. By working with that , we can get a better idea of how it's spreading in the community. It's still very early days. We don't have a clear idea of exactly where this is going to go , but we know the population that we're seeing it in , how we're making those outreach attempts to them directly to try to reduce their risk.
S2: We received over 2200 doses of vaccine from the state so far. Now no arguments that the amount of vaccine available is not enough. That said , I also want to point out that the supply crunch with the vaccine is not the narrowest state's fault. There is a national supply shortage just generally , and unfortunately it's going to be a while before that changes. But I can say to the community unequivocally that all the doses that we got , you're going to get and that's a promise.
S2: We want them to be aware of the risks that it might pose to them or others around them. Make sure that they ask their partners about any recent illnesses or rashes that they may have and a further contact if they have been recently or currently ill. And if they happen to be sick themselves , please stay home and stay away from these events because we want to make sure that we're containing the spread.
S6: I've been speaking with Dr. Cameron Kaiser San Diego County Deputy Public Health Officer. Dr. Kaiser , thank you so much.
S2: My pleasure.
S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen CAVANAUGH. California's Supreme Court will look a little different at the start of the new year , following news that Chief Justice Torney can tell Saikawa will not seek another term. The Justice announced her retirement on Wednesday , bringing an end to a 32 year career of legal service in the state. Ken Till Sakowin was the first person of Filipino heritage to sit on the state Supreme Court and the second woman to serve as chief justice. Joining me now with more on the outgoing justice's career is legal analyst Dan Eaton , partner in the San Diego firm of Seltzer Kaplan McMahon Invités. Dan , welcome back to the program.
S2: Thank you. Good to be with you , Jay.
S2: She was up for re-election or reconfirmation for a new 12 year term. So , yeah , this was a surprise.
S1: Just as Ken Till Sarkozy's tenure as chief justice saw her arriving during the Great Recession and leave during the COVID pandemic.
S2: In particular , in 2014 , she issued a ruling that upheld the use of traffic cameras in prosecuting those who run red lights. That wasn't hearsay. In 2018 , in a case that directly touches on my area of employment law. She issued a ruling for unanimous court in Dynamax , which is a ruling that imposed the ABC test for when someone is or can properly be classified as an independent contractor rather than an employee. A Of course. A Relatively the hiring entity has relatively little control. A B that the person works outside of the usual course of the hiring entity's business. And C , the person works in a generally recognized trade , occupation or business. That , of course , eventually led soon thereafter the state legislature and that San Diego , California Assemblywoman Lorena Salas to make that state law a state statute and so forth. But she also , of course , Chief Justice County Circuit Way has also had a tremendous effect on the administration of justice in the state of California. She has pushed very hard for equal access to justice. And in 2017 , she wrote a letter to then Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the secretary of Department of Homeland Security , John Kelly , asking them not to have ICE agents , immigration agents , quote , stalk of California state courthouses , close quote , for the purposes of enforcing the nation's immigration laws. And obviously , she has been pivotal in the judicial response with respect to courthouses in the wake of this ongoing pandemic.
S1: You know , she's broken barriers in her distinguished career.
S2: She became a judge barely just a little over six years out of law school. She graduated from law school in 1984 and she was appointed to the municipal court bench by then Governor Deukmejian in 1990. She has served at every single level of the California judicial system , and she has , as I said , focused very hard with respect to access to justice. She has focused very hard in focusing the court system on the terrible scourge of domestic violence. And she has done an incredible job of leading the court system through ups and downs of budget cuts and budget funding with respect to the the judicial system , to ensure that the courthouse doors remained open , whether actually or increasingly the pandemic virtually I spent my own contact with the California Supreme Court was very indirect when I served , along with the incredible Heather Rosing , who runs a client , each firm here in San Diego , or the Rules Revision Commission , which did the first overhaul of the rules professional conduct that applied to California attorneys for the first time in about 30 years or so. Chief Justice Curtailed Socket. We at her court ultimately approved most of our recommendation. She has left a tremendous mark , in short , on the administration of justice , both in her rulings and on the way she has administered her court very , very effectively and with surprisingly little to.
S1: Third and can't tell Sack Away is only 63.
S2: This is not the end of her service. You talked about her legal service for the last 32 years. Her actual legal service to the state goes beyond that because she has always held government positions , starting when she was an assistant district attorney in Sacramento shortly after graduating from law school. So she has been in public service for a very , very long time. What the only thing she really has said is that it's time to pass the torch to a new generation. But she's relatively young. There's a lot of life left in her , and I expect that she is going to continue to make tremendous contributions in whatever endeavor she chooses to follow in the years ahead.
S2: As Chief Justice County Circuit we pointed out , the governor has an incredibly broad bench , if you'll pardon the expression , from which to choose the next chief justice , starting with those who are currently sitting on the court. I understand that fully five of the seven seats on the California Supreme Court will be on the ballot. And the way we choose justices here in our state as far as confirmation is that it's a yes or no vote. We don't have contested elections as they do in Wisconsin and North Carolina , while the U.S. Supreme Court gets a lot of the attention. The fact is that the work of the California Supreme Court has a more direct effect on Californians and San Diego on a daily basis.
S1: I've been speaking with San Diego legal analyst Dan Eaton. Dan , thank you so much for joining us.
S2: Good to be with you.
S6: UC San Diego students have a lot at stake in the housing crisis. There's an acute shortage of homes both on and off campus. But some see an opportunity in University City , just east of UCSD. The city's planning department is preparing to update the neighborhood zoning to allow for more density. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says many students have a lot to say about those plans but are frustrated with a system that seems designed to exclude them.
S4: Yeah , the ease of access is really good.
S7: Andrew Pala shows me around UCSD , his newest housing development for grad students. Just across the I-5 freeway from the main campus. The PhD candidate in Applied Ocean Science has lived here since 2019.
S4: It's really easy to get to campus and to get to food and things like that as well. And with the new trolley line opening , which has been wonderful , the blue line's been amazing to be able to get downtown.
S7: Student housing is in high demand and the waitlist keeps getting longer. And off campus , housing isn't any easier. Papalia says more students are being forced into longer and longer commutes to find housing they can afford. That's why he wants the City Planning Department to zone for as much high density housing and University City as possible.
S4: We need to find ways to be friendly with the climate and to reduce our emissions at the same time. High density housing , public transit , alternative transit modes achieve that.
S7: Papalia is the lone student representative on the University Community Planning Group , a volunteer body where the planning department does most of its outreach. He says the group and attendance at its meetings is dominated by homeowners like Linda Beresford , who had this to say at a meeting in March.
S5: Allowing transient UCSD.
S8: Students to have as much say as people who have invested here is not a true representation of residents desires.
S5: I think it's important for students to be able to have a saying we're not transient.
S7: Liliana Cortez is a junior at UCSD who's been organizing her classmates to get more engaged in the zoning debate. She says the stakes for students dealing with the housing shortage are high. A national survey recently found 17% of college students have been homeless in the past year and almost half of them face housing insecurity.
S5: We're talking about people searching people's couches. They might secure housing for three months , but where are they going to go after that ? These are problems that students have to face while , you know , having all their studies and all their extracurriculars. And they shouldn't have to do that.
S7: Cortez says it's hard work trying to get students more involved in the planning process. And there are structural barriers to participation. Students who live on campus aren't allowed to vote in planning group elections. And she says she's never seen the planning group do anything on campus.
S5: There's just not enough outreach to begin with for people to even know that they can get engaged. And when people are interested and they want to join these spaces , they are faced with that negativity.
S2: But students have a have a critical viewpoint and a role to play in the process.
S7: Andy Weise sits on the University Community Planning Group and runs the meetings focused on how much new housing should be allowed. He says he does his best to promote civility and active listening in meetings. And he says the folks who don't want students around will have to get used to them. Many students stick around after graduation , and even when they don't.
S2: People like them will be here. We know that and more of them will be here and their views represent what we can imagine to be the concerns of their peers to come.
S7: Still , Weise doesn't always agree with students. For example , he opposed a proposal to allow medium density townhomes in parts of South University City , where the current zoning allows only low density , detached homes. He fears that will displace existing residents.
S2: So to the extent that that that that proposal looked like a displacement proposal , I think it was ill considered.
S7: Cortez says South University City is a wealthy area and homeowners there are not at risk of displacement.
S5: It's not like we're tearing people's houses down , right ? We're just trying to make sure that there's enough space for everyone to live here.
S7: The city expects to have a draft of the new University City Community Plan sometime next year. Andrew Bohn , KPBS News.
S6: Joining me is KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen. And Andrew , welcome.
S7: Hi , Maureen. Thank you.
S7: There are six new stops in University City , so it's a huge opportunity for transit oriented development , which is the type of growth that the city has already declared many years ago it needs in order to solve two problems the housing shortage and the climate crisis by , you know , getting more people to live in walkable , dense , urban neighborhoods. The other big reason is there's just a long standing shortage of housing , both citywide and in particular in University City. This neighborhood is a major employment hub and it has a very severe housing jobs imbalance. There are about 90,000 jobs here , 27,000 homes. So for every home , there are three jobs. And all those people who can't live in that neighborhood have to live somewhere else. So the city wants to create more opportunities for people to live in the community where they work.
S7: In fact , almost all of it. This is where you have already many high rise buildings , office towers , apartment and condo towers. So they're looking at allow allowing a lot of high density housing , for example , around the UTC. You know , maybe a vision of making that more of a mixed use development rather than exclusively just a shopping destination. I touched on this briefly in the story there , but South University City is another area that is is drawn. A lot of focus and controversy in this process. This is the part of the neighborhood sandwiched between Rose Canyon and the S.R. 52 Freeway. It's currently exclusively zoned for single family homes , with the exception of a few commercial areas. And so the Planning Department had earlier proposed medium density townhomes , not across the entire neighborhood , but in some parts of it. And there was a real outcry from South University City homeowners so intense , in fact , that the planning department felt it had to just drop that from consideration in order to move on to some of the other priorities they have in this process.
S6: The fact that UC San Diego students can't find housing seems to be poor. Planning on UCSD part.
S7: It's not totally asleep at the wheel. Those grad student dorms that we visited at the start of my story opened just a few years ago. The university is constructing a five building development on the southwestern edge of campus. That project was the subject of a lawsuit from an away and an uber wealthy , exclusive gated community just across the street. That lawsuit was settled last fall , but I think it kind of speaks to this irony that on the one side of campus , you have University City residents saying that student housing is UCSD problem , not ours. But then when UCSD actually tries to build more student housing , it gets sued from the folks on the other side of campus. So it's not an easy problem to solve.
S6: But UC San Diego keeps expanding and adding to the student population. And then it expects neighboring communities to change their zoning to help students find housing.
S7: Yeah , well , this is a debate that's going and a controversy that's going on around colleges and universities across California and around the country. UCSD is a public university. It's one of the top rated in the country , and its mission is to educate the next generation. We have a growing population and we have a growing need for opportunities at higher education , the pathway to the middle class. So , you know , it's it's not , I don't think , a workable solution to , say , just UCSD should stop growing. And the housing shortage in University City wasn't caused by the university. As I mentioned , it's a major employment hub and there would be high demand for housing in this neighborhood even if there were no university there.
S7: So I guess that's the idea behind the exclusion of students who live on campus from voting for that planning group. But the students themselves that I talked to don't see that as a legitimate or fair excuse.
S7: So if you have these planning groups that are not representative of the city in terms of race , ethnicity , class , age , etc. , how can you do better outreach to get the voices of those underrepresented groups ? They did a survey of University City residents in 2019 and 80% of the. Abundance were white while the neighborhood is 47% white , so not very representative of the neighborhood. The city then redid the survey in 2021. The students , many of whom I spoke to for this story , really hustled to get students to participate in that survey and fill it out and make their voices heard. And it actually works. The responses were much more representative of the community demographics as a whole. And what do you know ? The majority of the responses actually showed preference for the highest density options put forward. So I think that does complicate this narrative that , you know , nobody in Universities City wants density. The fact is , I think a lot of people there really do. And they see it as necessary for for the neighborhood's future and the city's future.
S6: I've been speaking with KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen. Andrew , thank you.
S7: My pleasure , Maureen.
S6: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Jade Heineman. Globe resident artist Patricia McGregor will be taking on the role of artistic director of New York Theater Workshop. But before she leaves , she's directing a midsummer Night's Dream to close the Globe's 2022 Summer Shakespeare Festival. KPBS arts reporter Beth ACCOMANDO spoke with McGregor about the Bard's popular and magical comedy.
S8: Patricia , what do you think is the reason for the lasting appeal of Shakespeare's a midsummer Night's Dream ? I think it's a feast with something for everyone at the table. It's got delight and magic. And so when people think about midsummer , I think they first think about the fairies. And I think in a world that is full of everyday bills and drudgery , we all have a yearning for magic and delight in our world. So I think that's number one. Second , the theme of transformation. While there's many themes in the play , I think the idea of transformation , both literal and figurative in all ways , I think that's something that we're all seeking. The idea of can we transform and how the idea of the woods as a metaphor. In many ways , COVID is a word. We all have our different versions of a wood. What is this place that you go to seeking transformation that can be both terrifying and also full of discovery ? I think the mechanicals I often I've done the piece a few times now and my theme is always we are all mechanical. So I think it's also a love letter to theater , theater makers , both the foibles and the extraordinary gifts of theater , both for the practitioners and for the audience. Those are some of the things I think are wonderful. And also part of what I've always been drawn to and try to bring out in my productions is as much fun , as much clown , as much magic as there is. There's also really high stakes. The piece starts with the inciting incident , is a guy is coming in and saying , if my daughter doesn't bend to my will , I call upon death for her. And I think in a time where we're really examining everyone's rights and a more just world for everyone and the way in which that is under attack for women in particular , I think people are often surprised at how relevant the piece can be and how at the center of it , this young woman fighting for her autonomy and her voice and the bravery of Hermia in the center of this world win is the grounding that allows for the tree to bloom and the magic to happen. But at the center is that idea of what do you stand for ? And I think that central anchor of the piece allows for it to float and fly while still feeling like it's a full meal. Now , you brought up casting , and I have not yet had a chance to see the play , but it looks like you are not only doing colorblind casting , but also some gender bending casting. We are a people who see people. We see everything they have to offer , whether it's the color of their skin , their height , all of those things. I think that's part of the vocabulary offered. And I think there's been a tradition where certain people weren't perceived to be appropriate for certain roles. So I always like to say color conscious because to me I want to bring on two stages. The world that I see around me , in the world that I want to see around me. So I try to think of diversity in as many places as I can. Color race being one of them. A Jesus doesn't want his daughter to marry Lysander. He wants her to marry Demetrius. And you always have to ask your self why ? Why does Jesus. If they are , if I take the text to be real , that they are equally wealthy and , you know , equally prestigious in certain ways. In this one , we have a wonderful nonbinary actor , Bernadette , and they we have a long conversation and they were really interested in playing the role as a gender queer woman. And I think that , again , as we look at what's going on in the world and why someone in a Jesus's position who is attached to the patriarchy , who is attached to this old school , he literally calls upon the ancient privilege of Athens. So that's who Agassiz He is the defender of the ancient privilege of Athens. So I feel like Shakespeare has an invitation for us to make the play feel alive today and the idea of representation from the LGBTQ community and the way in which their search for justice , equality , marriage rights and the way in which those things are under attack right now with the edgiest is in the world. I thought it was a great opera. Unity to center love and not taking love and justice and choosing your own partner for granted. There's other places where there are shifts from what people might call a traditional casting. But the casting of Lysander is probably the central one , and I think it's. When I spoke with Barry about it , he said , that's going to bring it alive in a whole new way. And I think that's the point. I love Shakespeare , but I want Shakespeare to feel alive for new audiences and that I don't have to make the case for Shakespeare that in the right kind of production , with the right kind of company , the case will be made for itself of the relevance. And so that was one of the choices we decided to lean into. And you talked about the magic , and you have the magic of doing this play on the outdoor stage. But how are you enhancing that through the production design ? As I looked around San Diego , I always love the jacaranda is the moment the jacaranda is pop out. I showed some research of that to our designer David , and so he turned that into Wisteria. And so we have this beautiful cascading wisteria and then we emphasize it with music , with movement , and there's a variety of ways in which we uplift that magic. While also I always say , if you're doing it correctly in the language , you could strip all of that away and the language will be the song that leads you. And so I feel like we have David Reynoso , who did both costumes and scenic design. He really went into that kind of fantastical , magical world once we get into the woods. But I think that the true thing is allowing for the magic of the language to meet that visual plane. You brought up the mechanicals , which are always a favorite part of the play , and talk a little bit more about your approach to that and what their importance is to the play. I think that there's a world in which we sometimes take ourselves so seriously and the mechanicals are an opportunity to think about what it what is it for a group of people to come together for the first time and create this machine ? And there's both delight and foolishness in that. There's also an opportunity to let out what I call your inner clown. I have two young children , and their inner clown is alive all of the time , and they're willing to take risks and be full of hope and bravery and be devastated and be all of the things that I feel like the mechanicals are. So I just think it's an opportunity for that love letter to the form of theatre for an acknowledgement that theatre and storytelling can transform people can be an opportunity to either either kind of forget about your worries and or see some kind of mirror. Even if it's a funny mirror that's going to help you reflect on your present. And yeah , I go back to all the time. I think there's a great value in not taking ourselves too seriously. And I think while the stakes of the play are very serious and this is Hermia Lysander relationship , I think there's also great value in just letting some helium in a balloon and watching it float. And that's what the mechanicals are for me. Well , thank you very much for talking about this production of a midsummer Night's Dream. Thank you so much for your time.
S6: That was Beth ACCOMANDO speaking with director Patricia McGregor. A midsummer Night's Dream opens July 31st and runs through September 4th at the Lowell DAVIES Festival Theater.

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