An African-American man stands on a chair behind a table and gives a speech. Two women and a man listen to him. Behind him the text of the Declaration of Independence is projected, with the words "All Men Are Equal" superimposed.
Jobari Parker-Namdar, Rayshun LaMarr Purefoy, Ashley D. Buster and Nova Y. Payton in the Ford’s Theatre production of Freedom’s Song: Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, directed by Jeff Calhoun. Photo by Scott Suchman.

A Commitment to Local Actors

2 min read

When Ford’s patrons sit in our historic theatre they become part of our unique history.  Nearly 50 years ago, Ford’s Theatre Society founder Frankie Hewitt decided that Ford’s would pay homage to Lincoln’s love of the performing arts by presenting live theatre that celebrates the American experience. Today, that mission continues and is strengthened by our commitment to local actors.

In the last 4 seasons, 93 percent of our actors were based in the Washington, D.C., area. This season, that figure has increased to 99 percent!

Showcasing members of the local acting community gives our audiences an opportunity to watch their favorite actors take on new and interesting challenges, see familiar faces in some of their favorite shows and feel a greater connection to our work. We are building a relationship between the artists, the theatre and the community at large.

Casting local actors who work together frequently adds to the richness of the work onstage and contributes to a deeper, more meaningful relationship between the local theatregoers and the actors. Ford’s Theatre Associate Artist and local actor Stephen F. Schmidt opens up about how our dedication to hiring local which, “allows [him] to do what [he] loves, and that is no small thing.” He feels that being from here creates a “shared experience” between him and the audience.

In the video below, Stephen and fellow local actors Ashley Buster, Kevin McAllister, Kimberly Schraf and Craig Wallace talk about what the Ford’s commitment to casting locally means to them. We are grateful to be able to continue to showcase their talents.

Thank you to our donors and patrons for making our commitment to local artists possible!

Alysse Bortolotto is Lead Digital Content Manger at Ford’s Theatre.

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Alysse Bortolotto is Lead Digital Content Manger at Ford’s Theatre.

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