Oak Park Festival Theatre (OPFT) triumphantly returns to its beloved Austin Gardens outdoor performance space this summer to present 21 in-person performances of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” OPFT Artistic Director Barbara Zahora* directs Shakespeare's final masterpiece of shipwreck, romance and magic. Preview performances are July 15 & 16; press opening is July 17. Performances run through Aug. 21. Show times on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays begin at 8 p.m. and Sunday performances start at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at www.oakparkfestival.com.
What do hurricanes, magic, mayhem, love, revenge, and monsters all have in common? They are facets of “The Tempest’s” fast-moving plot which leaves audiences breathless and cheering for more of its wry comedy. The play also explores nuanced concepts of colonialism, power struggles, and redemption. Magical creatures abound on a spectacular stage set providing entertaining for the whole family to
As one of the few Chicago-area outdoor theatrical companies, OPFT and the cast and crew of “The Tempest” are thrilled to return to in-person performances. The organization has been working for more than a year to visualize and create a spectacular event for summer 2021 that also provides safety for all its participants.
Artistic Director Barbara Zahora says, “Even though we chose this play long before coronavirus and the murder of George Floyd changed our world so significantly, its themes of exile, injustice, the struggle for power, self-discovery and healing are all particularly resonant after the last year. As people start to come out of their homes and find a new normal post-pandemic, we hope this will be particularly meaningful for those seeing it for the first time.”
The cast for “The Tempest” includes Jeannie Affelder (Antonia), OPFT artistic associate Belinda Bremner (Gonzalo), Dakotah Brown (Master of Ship/Francisco/Juno), Tony Buzzuto (Sebastian), Noelle Klyce (Alonsa), Bernell Lassai (Ariel/Ceres), Orion Seth Lay-Sleeper (Stephano), OPFT artistic associates Matt Gall* (Caliban) and Savanna Rae (Trinculo), Deanalis Resto (Miranda), OPFT artistic associate Kevin Theis* (Prospero), Emma Sipora Tyler (Boatswain/Adrian/Iris) and Austyn Williamson (Ferdinand).
Zahora (director/Oak Park Festival Theatre Artistic Director) joined the OPFT staff as interim artistic director in 2018, and at the beginning of 2019 became the permanent artistic director for the company. She directed OPFT’s 2019’s “Elizabeth Rex” as well as their acclaimed 2017 production of “Macbeth.” Other Chicago directing credits include “Hollow/Wave” (Silk Road Rising); “Shrewish” (Artemisia Theatre); “Candida,” “Hay Fever,” “Misalliance” and “Private Lives” (ShawChicago); and several productions with The Shakespeare Project of Chicago, where she served as associate artistic director for eight years. Her favorite acting credits at OPFT include Penny in “You Can’t Take It With You” and Maggie in “Dancing at Lughnasa.” Additional acting credits include American Players Theatre, Writers’ Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater,Goodman Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, and Shakespeare Project of Chicago. TV and film credits include “Chicago Fire” and “Operator.” Zahora is currently the co-head of Acting at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College for the Performing Arts (CCPA).
The rest of the design team includes Ryan Fox (Scenic Design), Rachel Sypniewski (Costume Design), Liz Cooper (Lighting Design), and George Zahora (Sound Design/Original Music). Original vocal music and musical direction is by Jennifer Mitchell, intimacy and violence design is by Mark Lancaster, and movement direction is by Erica Bittner. Stage stage manager is Wallace Craig.
Oak Park Festival Theatre presents William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” July 15-Aug. 21. Preview performances are July 15 & 16. Press opening is July 17. All performances begin at 8 p.m. except Sundays, which begin at 7 p.m. Seating begins one hour prior to showtime. Patrons can bring their own seating/blankets, and lawn chairs are available to rent for $5.
Tickets are $15 for previews (July 15-16) and $35 for all other performances (Seniors: $25; Students $15; Children 12 and under Free). Seating is general admission. Tickets are on sale now. For tickets or more information visit oakparkfestival.com.
COVID-19 social distancing protocols will be in effect and facemasks are required when not seated with your group. Due to current COVID restrictions, no food or drink will be permitted in the venue at any time. These guidelines will be updated with guidance from the CDC, the Village of Oak Park, and the Actors’ Equity Association. Street and garage parking is available adjacent to the park on Forest Ave and Marion St. In the event of inclement weather, OPFT has partnered with shelter areas surrounding Austin Gardens. For more information visit www.oakparkfestival.com.
About Oak Park Festival Theatre
Oak Park Festival Theatre is Oak Park’s premiere Equity theater, and the oldest professional outdoor classical theatre in the Midwest. Since 1975, Oak Park Festival Theatre has produced more than 100 plays for thousands of theater-lovers, and is best known for summer outdoor shows performed under a canopy of stars in the idyllic Austin Gardens park. It is the mission of OPFT to explore our shared humanity by telling stories that stand the test of time. By looking to our past and re-imagining the familiar, OPFT endeavors to hold a mirror up to the times in which we live, bringing us all a little closer.
Oak Park Festival Theatre is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit, charitable organization. Donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. For more information about Oak Park Festival Theatre visit www.oakparkfestival.com.
Oak Park Festival Theatre is supported by the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, the Park District of Oak Park, The Oak Park Area Arts Council, and many generous donors. Additionally, we are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency and the National Endowment for the Arts. Special thanks to our local partners the Wednesday Journal, the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, and the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce.
* Denotes Member of Actors Equity Association