Molly Risso believed in the magic of theatre, and as Artistic Director of the Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival, she built a strong theatre department at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
With her creation of the Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival, she brought to Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Durant theatre professionals, student training for a professional career in the arts and educational opportunities for a growing community through a children's theatre workshop. Much like Shakespeareans, from all walks of life, a bigger audience was one of her goals. Children's Theatre Workshops were essential to changing that. Risso said, "A long time ago, I learned from Paul Baker at the Dallas Theatre Center that 'a little child shall lead them' is a good philosophy for theatre as well as theology."
Molly believed people needed to learn to appreciate good theatre while they were children, whether they were going to be in the audience or participating in the play. The validity of her belief is evident. Hundreds of children have been in the Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival. After all these years, community members are still returning, many with their own children.
Even today, as Molly's dream lives on, the Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival is one of the top summer theatre festivals in America. It has made Durant and Southeastern Oklahoma State University a destination for tourists, professional and aspiring actors and theatre artisans who, together, continue to make magic!
Dr. Molly Risso
Today, Riley Risso Coker keeps the dream alive as OSF's Producing Director.
Producing Director of Oklahoma Shakespeare Festival, Director of Theatre and coordinator of dance for theatre at Southeastern. Professor Coker has immersed herself in theatre arts, earning a BA in Theatre from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and an MFA in Acting from California State University. She has also served the Oklahoma Shakespeare Festival as Educational director, Production Stage Manager, Choreographer, Administrative Assistant and Director.
OSF MISSION AND VAULES
The purpose for the organization and formation of this corporation, is set forth below:
1. To produce an annual summer theatre festival for the professional
training of students and members of the community, and the general cultural and social benefit of the area.
2. To produce other activities along with the theatre activities themselves, such as workshops, lectures, displays, etc. in related areas of the arts and humanities.
3. To operate the necessary support services through the year to insure completion of the two goals stated above.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION STATEMENT
The Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival prioritizes equity and inclusion in an effort to create an atmosphere where all people feel welcome, safe, and valued.
The Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival seeks to collaborate with all artists in an environment where they can expect respect, safety, and the ability to show up authentically.
For OSF this means not tolerating discrimination or harassment of any kind, including discrimination and harassment based on grounds that include age, sex (including pregnancy and breast feeding), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, family status, race, color, ancestry, citizenship, ethnic origin, place of origin, creed, religion, political affiliation, record of offences, or
disability. OSF will not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment in their hiring practices, rehearsals, living arrangements, or company meetings from paid employees, volunteers, or audience members.
To OSF, Equity means recognizing that not everyone starts at the same place, addressing inequities in access and opportunity, and allowing for full and fair participation. Inclusion means honoring and accepting the gifts, backgrounds, experiences, and wisdom that every individual brings with them, so that every stakeholder feels valued by OSF. Our stakeholders are staff, artists, board members, donors, audiences, and community members.
The Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival recognizes that we sit on Native land. The area our buildings reside on is the traditional homelands of the people of the Kiikaapoi, Osage, Tawakoni, Wichita, O-ga- xpa, and Choctaw nations. We acknowledge and respect Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories.