The Illinois Shakespeare Festival (ISF) has selected Dan Matisa as the 2021 John Stevens Equity Actor. Each season, funds from the John Stevens Memorial Fund support bringing an Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) member to the Illinois Shakespeare Festival stage.
Upon the honor, Dan Matisa said, “I am flattered, honored, and very moved to be the John Stevens Equity Actor for the season. Thank you so much.”
Patrons will see Matisa on stage this summer as as Leontes / Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale and Lucio in Measure for Measure. This is Matisa’s first season with the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, though he has performed at Hudson Valley Shakespeare, Vermont Shakespeare, Nebraska Shakespeare, Shakespeare in Stonington, Tennessee Rep, Asolo Rep, American Stage, American Globe, and for over 10 seasons with Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre. Some of his favorite Shakespearean roles include Falstaff, Richard III, Shylock, Bottom, Dogberry, Jaques, and Malvolio. Matisa earned his M.F.A. from the Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training and his B.A. from Hofstra University. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre Arts at Bradley University.
The John Stevens Memorial Fund was established in 2003 in memory of John Stevens, who was a member of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival Society Board of Directors from 1984 until 2000 and served as the board’s president from 1997 to 2000. During his final year as president, the Festival finished construction on the new Ewing Theatre and took a significant step forward by issuing its first Actors’ Equity Association contract to a member of the ISF company. In addition to his excitement for the new facility, Stevens was elated to bring an Equity Actor to the ISF company, as it would enhance the quality of the Festival, which he always regarded as a gem in the community.
The John Stevens Memorial Fund was created to honor him and ensure that funding is available to help support future AEA actors. The fund is normally supported by the annual John Stevens Memorial Golf Outing. Due to coronavirus (COVID-19), the 2020 and 2021 golf outings were unable to occur.
Nancy Stevens is a long-standing member of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival Society Board and main organizer of the golf outing. John and Nancy first attended a Shakespeare play at Ewing Manor in 1979 and became season ticket holders and ardent supporters from that time forward. Nancy says that “the naming of an Equity Actor in the name of John N. Stevens is a fitting remembrance and a tribute to his life and love of people and the Festival.”
The 2021 acting company also includes the 2019 John Stevens Equity Actor, Chauncy Thomas.