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lillFriday, August 23, 2019

The Julie Taymor Foundation has announced that Lillian White is one of two recipients of a 2019-2020 Julie Taymor World Theater Fellowship.  While an Oberlin student, Lillian spent four years volunteering as an Assistant or Associate Director with ODAG.  As a Taymor Fellow, Lillian will spend a year exploring physical theater and festival and documentary performance in the Andean and Patagonian regions of Peru, Chile and Argentina.  The announcement of her award can be found on the Fellowship website; more information about the Fellowship, with an informative video, is also provided there.

Incidently, Julie Taymor herself graduated from Oberlin College, where Phyllis Gorfain served as her academic advisor and one of her teachers.

oac logoWednesday, May 15, 2019

Phyllis Gorfain received her 2019 Governor's Award for Arts Administration in a celebration at the Columbus Athenaeum.

Here is a video, showing her part of the ceremony.


You can also access the video directly on YouTube.

Shown near the end of the video is this picture of some who traveled to Columbus for the ceremony. It was taken by Mary Lee Orr, a resident of Kendal at Oberlin who also was in attendance.


From left to right are Gene Scott,* Patrick Janson,* Martin Louis,* Lara Mielcarek,^ Diane Kendig,† Phyllis Gorfain, Galina and Christopher Fredrickson,* Brian Butler* and Jennifer Pepinger.

"As you from crimes would pardoned be," Prospero's Epilogue from The Tempest heard in the video, was performed by Brian Butler* at an ODAG performance in June 2014.


*Alumni actors of ODAG, now at home as returned citizens!

^ODAG volunteer director who has initiated a theatre program in a women's prison in Cleveland.

†ODAG volunteer, writer and poet from Canton who spearheaded the nomination of Phyllis Gorfain for the Governor's award.

posterSunday, March 21, 2019

Anticipating performances of The Merchant of Venice in early May, Kendal at Oberlin is hosting a panel discussion about ODAG on April 1. Here is the poster advertising the event. The public is invited!

On another recent occasion Phyllis Gorfain has also spoken, in an English class at Wellington High School, about ODAG and how Shakepeare relates to incarcerated men.




Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Phyll 2COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Arts Council announced today that Phyllis Gorfain, Founder and Artistic Director of Oberlin Drama at Grafton, is receiving the 2019 Governor’s Award for Arts Administration.  The Arts Administration award is for an “individual who has shown sustained, impactful, and visionary leadership of an arts organization.” The award will be presented at a luncheon on May 15 in Columbus.

More information about the award and recipients in other categories is available at the Ohio Arts Council website.

Photo by Dale Preston

News stories about this award may be found in the PUBLIC PRESS section of this website.

Thanks to all of you who have supported ODAG for many years!

Friday, November 18, 2016

coverAVON, Ohio - In recognition of her work with ODAG, the Elyria YWCA nominated Phyllis Gorfain as one of the 2016 Women of Achievement. The nominees were presented at an award luncheon in Avon, Ohio, attended by hundreds of Lorain County community leaders. Her citation in the program was as follows:


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

SignLEAVITTSBURG, Ohio - ODAG has once again made history! Today the troupe traveled to Trumbull Correctional Institution and successfully performed And Yet We'll Speak for over 60 men residing in the Level One "Camp" at Trumbull. The group of 19 Grafton men traveled further together than such a large group has been transported, to perform their own original drama in another correctional facilitiy. ODRC supplied three vans and drivers to carry the actors for the all-day trip, along with costumes, props, curtain frame and curtain, set pieces, and security personnel, for the 70-mile journey to present a show also attended by the deputy warden at Trumbull as well as numerous other officials at our host institution. The response from the audience was greatly appreciative, and several of the actors greeted old friends who had either left Grafton for Trumbull, or who were still at Trumbull, where some of the ODAG actors had previously resided. In the post-play discussion, the very attentive audience commented on the deep thoughtfulness of the scenes and said they enjoyed the humor. Everyone felt the excursion was the latest in a series of frontiers that ODAG has passed as its mission and audiences expand.

Monday, May 23, 2016

OBERLIN, Ohio - Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov was greatly moved by a performance of "And Yet We'll Speak." Today, in his address to the 2016 graduating class, he saluted the achievements of student directors of the play. Here is a video clip of excerpts of his speech.

A written transcript of his remarks follows.

"Congratulations, Class of 2016!

"This morning, I’m going to talk to you about carrying forward a vital element of your Oberlin education—the arts and arts education. My intent is to encourage you to use the enduring power of the arts and arts education to create positive change in our society and our world...

"Whether you studied in the college or the conservatory, almost all of you experienced the power of the arts in some form... Some of you played in one of our orchestras or ensembles... Others have worked to bring music and drama to inmates at nearby Grafton Correctional Institution.

"One of your classmates—working with an emerita Oberlin professor—produced and wrote a powerful play with the men at Grafton. That drama not only told the inmates’ personal stories but also changed the basis of the participants’ relationships from enmity and distrust to friendship and respect.

"During one scene, a father in prison realizes that his son does not understand the deeper meaning of a racially offensive term. As the father explains that meaning, we all understand that emotional distance can exist within all families, regardless of geography. In this way, this play, like all great art, can take a specific moment and turn it into universal truth. Those are just some of the ways the arts can enrich and change an individual’s life and our community in meaningful ways...

"So use your Oberlin education and the arts to connect cultures, connect communities, and connect us all to our shared humanity...

"Thank you."

Sunday, May 15, 2016

OBERLIN, Ohio - A smashing success is the only way to describe this spring’s “Staging ODAG” campaign to raise funds to purchase a portable modular stage and backdrop system for performances by the men of Oberlin Drama at Grafton.  The campaign included appeals to individual leadership donors and applications to charitable foundations; it concluded with a widespread crowdfunding effort.  A target of nearly $17,700 was set to cover the cost of the system, but due to the overwhelming generosity of supporters of the ODAG program over $24,600 was raised.  Within this, the response to the crowdfunding goal of $2,500 was more than $8,000.

stageThe basic stage system, along with some additional accessories that increase the flexible ways it can be used, were ordered and available in time to be used for the May performances of “And Yet We’ll Speak.”  In addition, the stage units have served as risers for performances by the new Oberlin Music at Grafton choral group.  The remaining funds have been put toward the general operating expenses of ODAG, to purchase such things as scripts, costumes, props, and set pieces for the shows.

A big THANK YOU to our supporters!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

PosterOBERLIN, Ohio - ODAG Founder and Artistic Director Phyllis Gorfain has been asked to give presentations about the ODAG program to a number of organizations. Recent or scheduled appearances are listed below:

November 17, 2015 Oberlin 19th Century Club
March 21, 2016 Oberlin Methodist Church Women's Group
April 4, 2016 Kendal at Oberlin (open to the public)
April 10, 2016 Hermit Club, Cleveland
May 22, 2016 Oberlin College 25th Class Reunion

Monday, November 2, 2015

nerc frontCLEVELAND, Ohio - For the first time in Ohio history, the ODAG men have left the Grafton Reintegration Center to present Othello for the general population at other prisons. On June 3, 2015 they visited the Grafton Correctional Institution, and on September 21, 2015 they performed at the Lorain Correctional Institution. At the invitation of regional prison administrators, ODAG actors presented Othello at the Northeast Reintegration Center (pictured here) on November 2, 2015. It is a state prison for women in Cleveland.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015; revised February 1, 2015

GRAFTON, Ohio - The staff of the Grafton Correctional Complex named Phyllis Gorfain, Founder and Artistic Director of Oberlin Drama at Grafton, as Volunteer of the Year at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet held Wednesday, January 28, in the Chapel of the Grafton Correctional Institution.

volunteerIn the award presentation, Programming Supervisor Cynthia Williams cited Phyllis's passion and commitment to the innovative program, and particularly noted the excellent volunteers and guests she has brought to support the men's work. Ms. Williams voiced appreciation for the contribution of the Oberlin College students, Oberlin and Lorain County Community College professors, Equity actors, professional directors, additional theatre practitioners, and other guests, including Oberlin alumni. Phyllis said she accepted the award on behalf of all those persons who have contributed so generously to the ODAG community.

In attendance were nearly 100 individuals associated with volunteer programs at Grafton, for a dinner prepared and served by residents.