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  • Writer's pictureTeam Acacia

CHICAGO READER: Taking the Drama and Dance Outdoors

By Kerry Reid

June 23, 2022

Now heading into their 47th season, Oak Park Festival Theatre has been producing Shakespeare (and sometimes other writers) in downtown Oak Park’s Austin Gardens for most of their history. After a disastrous fire in their offices last fall, which destroyed much of their archival material and tech equipment, the company has rallied and will be back with The Winter’s Tale starting July 12. (The company’s productions are ticketed, with prices ranging from free for kids under 12 to $38 for adults.)

Unlike the other companies and producers I spoke to, OPFT has the advantage of being in one spot the whole summer, rather than having to load up and move around week to week. But as artistic director Barbara Zahora points out, other outdoor productions “use semi-private or private property to work with so they can leave some things in place from night to night throughout a production run.” For OPFT’s public park setting, the outdoor stage stays up all season, “but everything else, every night, we set up and strike.”

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