Photo Essay By Venus Zarris
Outside of the city limits there lies a dramatic destination that not only delivers outstanding theater to its audiences, but creates it in a setting that is as unique as it is lovely. First Folio Theatre, the brainchild of David Rice and Alison Vesely, has been staging the works of Shakespeare as well as other playwrights since 1997. Their choice of the historic Mayslake Peabody Estate provides a picture perfect outdoor venue and two elegant indoor stages. This exceptional location makes a remarkable home for this gifted theater company. Rice and Vesely’s passion for theater is evident by their award-winning productions, influenced and enhanced by the extraordinary atmosphere that this singular location provides.
Fireflies speckle the estate as darkness approaches. It is not uncommon to glance up at dusk and see not only birds but BATS flying overhead. While attending their recent outstanding outdoor production of Macbeth, two bats flew over just as the phrase “supernatural soliciting” was being spoken by Macbeth! Another appeared during the witches’ unholy conjuring. This raises the questions, how do Rice and Vesely make these creatures of the night appear so perfectly on cue and do they have to pay them scale?
Do yourself a favor and make the trip out to this splendid setting for dramatic delights. You would be hard pressed to find more consistently entertaining theater, produced by more talented and genuinely charming people, in a more resplendently atmospheric location.
First Folio Theatre can be found at the Mayslake Peabody Estate Forest Preserve, 31st Street near Route 83 in Oakbrook, Illinois. (630) 986-8067 First Folio Theatre
Opening in September at First Folio Theatre:
Mayslake Peabody Estate images by Venus Zarris