The death of improv teacher Josephine Forsberg (Oct. 4, Chicago Tribune) recalls her association with Village Classics, the original 1960s-era Shakespeare Festival in Oak Park.

Lee Henry was the director of those productions at Field playground, and Josephine and Ed Udovich were the producers. Many, many village luminaries, including village presidents, business leaders, and active socialites of the day are listed in the press releases of local papers as sponsors and benefactors.

For several seasons the theater produced Shakespeare on the hill, which was at that time heavily wooded, a perfect environment for battle scenes and liaisons, at the north end of Field playground.

The shows included Midsummer Night’s Dream, Taming of the Shrew, and Richard III. Distinguished professional actors with national reputations, including Val Bettin, Tom Elrod, Angel Casey and Robert Kidd were joined by numerous Oak Parkers in supporting roles, including Cliff Osborne, James McClure, and me.

Page 1 of section 4 of the Tribune provides a detailed obituary.

When Lily Ruth Hanson retired as head of the Oak Park Recreation Department, the funding for the Shakespeare theater was cancelled, as was much of the support for the arts. A Shakespeare theater was reborn decades later by private individuals as Festival Theatre.

Forsberg herself devoted herself to teaching improvisation.

Les Golden
Oak Park

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