(JULY 28- AUG 1)


AUG 3 – SEPT 1


By Carlyle Brown      Directed by Ron OJ Parson

“What you gonna do? Change the world with a play?” – The African Company Presents Richard III

Forty years before the Civil War, a little know war took place in Manhattan, NY. This war was battled not on a field, but on a stage by a group of Black actors performing the words of a dead White poet.

When the sun rises, these actors put on masks, playing the parts of maids and waiters that society has cast them in. But when the sun goes down, this groups of artists finds their voice along with their feelings as they discover themselves in Shakespeare’s poetry. And they are not alone, their production of RICHARD III performs with such artistry and passion it attracts white and black audiences alike, is critically acclaimed, and has the theatre filled to overflowing six days a week. That is, until a prominent white company rents the theatre next door to open their own production of Richard – and is determined to shut down the African company’s show at any cost. It is a behind the scenes story like no other – funny, uncompromising and uniquely American.





JULY 28 – SEPTEMBER 1, 2018

Thurs-Sat at 8pm  |  Sun at 7pm | Plus special Wednesday, August 29 at 8pm

PREVIEWS July 28, July 29, August 1, August 2(Community Appreciation night, free admission)

OPENING NIGHT Friday, August 3th at 8pm


General admission $32 | Seniors $27 | Students $15 | Children under 12 & dogs free
Previews: $10

Questions: Call our Box office (708) 300-9396


167 Forest Avenue
Oak Park IL 60301

Only 25 minutes from downtown Chicago!




Ron OJ Parson (Director) hails from Buffalo, New York and is a graduate of the The University of Michigan’s professional theatre program. He is a resident artist at Court Theatre, former co-founder and artistic director of Onyx Theatre. Recent Directing credits include Gem of the Ocean, by August Wilson, at Court Theatre,  Sunset Baby by Dominique Morisseau, Timeline Theatre, The Who & The Whatby Ayad Akhtar (Victory Gardens Theater); Seven Guitars by August Wilson, The Mountaintop by Katori Hall, and Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett (Court Theatre); Detroit 67 by Dominic Morisseau (Northlight Theatre); A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (TimeLine Theatre, associate artist). Other Chicagoland theatres Ron has worked with include Black Ensemble Theatre, eta, Congo Square Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Writers Theatre (associate artist), Victory Gardens, Teatro Vista (associate artist), Chicago Dramatists, Urban Theatre Company, Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago Theatre Company, and City Lit Theatre. Regional theatres Ron OJ has worked with include Virginia Stage Company, Portland Stage, Studio Theatre, Studio Arena Theatre, Roundabout Theatre, Mechanic Theatre, Center Stage Baltimore, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Milwaukee Rep, St. Louis Black Rep, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, Geva Theatre, Signature Theatre (New York), Alliance Theatre, South Coast Rep, and Pasadena Playhouse. In Canada, Ron directed the world premiere of Palmer Park by Joanna McClelland Glass at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Ron is a proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and SDC.


Johnny Lee Davenport (Papa Shakespeare) returns to OPFT where he was scene in 1992 as Mephistopheles in Dr. Faustus, and Oberon in OPFT’s 1994 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Other area credits include Thurgood, The Whipping Man, and A House with No Walls(New Repertory Theatre );The Unbleached American (Stoneham Theatre); It’s A Wonderful Life, A Radio Play (Wheelock Family Theatre); Water by the Spoonful and Broke-ology/Elliot Norton Award, Best Actor (The Lyric Stage Company); Driving Miss Daisy and Master Harold…and the Boys (Gloucester Stage Company); and Invisible Man/Helen Hayes Award, Best Ensemble (Studio Theatre Washington, D.C. and The Huntington Theatre Company). Mr. Davenport has played more than 50 roles in 24 of Shakespeare’s plays including Richard III (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company); Pericles(Actors’ Shakespeare Project); and Richard II (Shakespeare & Company). Film credits include Ted, The Fugitive, U.S. Marshals, and Ascendants. He was named Best Actor in Boston Magazine (2011). johnnyleedavenport.com

Velma Austin (Sarah) Velma last appeared at Congo Square in Hobo King and Brother’s of the Dusk. Velma has appeared at The Artistic Home in the production of Trouble In Mind, at The Seattle Repertory Theatre as Birdie in the production of Birdie Blue and multiple Chicago Theatre’s including, The Goodman, Victory Garden’s Bio Theater and The Steppenwolf. Some of her grand productions include Intimate Apparel, Denmark, Joe Turner’s Come And Gone, God’s Trombones, Un-Spoken Prayers, Bourbon At The Boarder, Waiting To Be Invited, The Sovereign State of Boogedy, The Sutherland, and Root Causes to name a few. You may have also seen Velma at the St, Louis, Madison and Milwaukee Repertory Theatre’s. Her TV credits include Chicago Fire and most recently Empire. n film she can be seen in Losing Isaiah with Halle Berry and Jessica Lange and Light It Up with Usher and Vanessa Williams.

Velma’s awards include a Jeff Award for Best Actress in a Revue of The Color Museum; A Woodie Award for Outstanding Supporting Access in Screened In Porch; Black Theatre Alliance award for best Actress in Intermit Apparel; and most recently, she was nominated for a Special Recognition Outstanding Award for your performance in Court Martial at Fort Devens. When not on stage, Velma enjoys traveling and cooking. First giving thanks to God, Velma would also take this time to say thanks to her husband and son Jeffery and JP for their continued support.

Matty Robinson (William Brown) Matty Robinson is an artistic associate with OPFT and VERY excited to share this production with you. You last seen him last in BoHo’s production of Cyrano (Raguneau), OPFT’s Love Spats (Lysander), OPFT’s Play and a Pint, I and You (Anthony) the world premiere play A Dickens Carol (Chapman) and The Taming of the Shrew (Grumio). Matty is a proud Illinois State University alum and a man of many hats. You can find him most Friday nights in Pimprov as Prince Mida$, doing improv around Chicago with The Moonsharks, or performing stand-up around the city. @Mattydor11

Ariel Richardson (Anne) is honored to be making her Oak Park debut. Ariel is from Dallas Texas and received her BFA-Acting from Oklahoma City University. Her recent theatre credits include An Octoroon at Definition Theatre company, Southern Gothic at Windy City Playhouse, and Twelfth Night at Montana Shakespeare in the Parks. Her TV credits include FOX’s Empire and Showtimes The Chi (Terry). Special shout out to the fabulous Ron OJ, the cast and crew, Stewart Talent, and my family!

Brandon Greenhouse (James Hewlett) is elated to be working with The Oak Park Festival Theatre for the first time. Other Chicago credits include Not About NightingalesRed Velvet, and Direct From Death Row: The Scottstboro Boys (Raven Theatre, Jeff Award: Best Ensemble), Red Velvet (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre),The Matchmaker and The Little Foxes (Goodman Theatre), HAIR (American Theatre Company), Intimate Apparel (Eclipse Theatre Company), and Softly Blue (MPAACT). Regional credits include Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and Two Gentlemen of Verona (American Players Theatre).  He holds a B.F.A. from Santa Fe University of Art and Design and an M.F.A. in Acting from Northern Illinois University.

Jack Hickey (Stephen Price) is delighted to return to the Festival Stage,where he just completed playing the role of Martin Vanderhof in You Can’t Take It With You. Last season Jack was seen as King Duncan and the Porter in Macbeth, and mighty Mullasheg, The King of Fez, in The Fair Maid of the West. With the Festival over the years Jack has been privileged to play roles such as  Col. Pickering in Pygmalion, Gremio in The Taming of the Shrew, Sheriff Heck Tate in To Kill A Mockingbird, King Claudius in Hamlet, Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night, Charlie in Seascape. He was nominated for an Equity Jeff Award playing Michael in Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me. Additionally, he played Henry Drummond in Inherit the Wind, Falstaff in The History of King Henry the Fourth, Fluellen in Henry V, Teddy in Faith Healer, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the title role in Cyrano de Bergerac.

Jack has served as Artistic Director of the Company for the past 15 years, where he has acted in or directed over 25 productions, Jack will now serve as Artistic Director Emeritus of Oak Park Festival Theatre where he hopes to help continue the growth of this extraordinary company.

Jack is also a company member of ShawChicago, where he has been seen in Jeeves in Bloom, The Devil’s DiscipleMisalliance, Jeeves Intervenes, Heartbreak House, Don Juan in Hell,You Never Can Tell, Geneva, Major Barbara,  Pygmalion, Widower’s Houses, Mrs. Warren’s Profession,  Man and Superman, St. Joan, Androcles and the Lion, Candida, The Philanderer, The Doctor’s Dilemma, The Apple Cart, and John Bull’s Other Island. Jack is a founding member of The Chicago Shakespeare Project now celebrating its 23 Season where he has been seen in Coriolanus, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Julius Caesar. He has been seen with The Backroom Shakespeare Project playing in The Tempest, Cymbeline, Titus Andronicus. TV credits include Chicago Med and Unsolved Mysteries. He was in two commercials with Michael Jordan and appeared briefly (uncredited) in Continental Divide with John Belushi. Thanks to his wife Torry Hickey for her unfailing support.


Joel Ottenheimer (Constable) Joel is delighted to be making his Chicago stage debut with Oak Park this summer!  Before Chicago, he spent five years working in Baltimore and Washington DC where Regional credits included: As You Like It (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Amadeus (Baltimore Center Stage), Titus Andronicus (Chesapeake Shakespeare Company), Sense and Sensibility, Two Gentlemen of Verona, A Tale of Two Cities (Annapolis Shakespeare Company), and She Stoops to Conquer (Pallas Theatre Collective.)  Film/TV credits include: Made in America (Rocket Media), American Titans (History Channel), and House of Cards (Netflix).  Joel is currently receiving his MFA in acting from Northern Illinois University in nearby DeKalb.

Takesha Mishe Kizart (u/s Sarah/Anne) Is her excited to have her debut season with Oak Park Festival Theatre. Select theatre credits include Intimate Apparel (Lincoln Center Theater), Stellaluna (Northbrook Theatre), Kingdom (Broken Nose Theatre), Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery (Pegasus Theatre), Sister Africa (Athenaeum Theatre), The Faculty Lounge (Oil Lamp Theatre), Alegrías y Lágrimas (Gorilla Tango Theatre), and The Armadillo/Iguana Bacterial Unification (Arc Theatre). A versatile Classical, Jazz, Soul, and Pop Vocal Soloist, she has also appeared to critical acclaim with The Metropolitan Opera of NY, Sydney Opera House, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Frankfurt Opera, National Theatre Tokyo, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Kimmel Center, Winspear Opera House, Aspen Music Festival, Palais des Festivals Cannes, and many more. www.TakeshaMesheKizart.com

Micheal Angelo Smith (u/s Hewlett/Brown) is thrilled to work with Oak Park Festival Theatre for the first time. Other Chicago credits include: As You Like It (First Folio Theatre), Titus Andronicus  (The Backroom Shakespeare Project), Fable-ous (Lifeline Theatre), Good Night, Fred Rogers (The Neighborhood), and Ivanov (One Year Chekhov). He is also a proud Artistic Associate at Barrel of Monkeys. Micheal has received his BFA at the University of Idaho.





Oak Park Festival Theatre is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, charitable organization. Donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

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