posted March 8, 2004

GPS to Feature Actor John O'Neal

The Hope College Great Performance Series will feature actor John O'Neal on Tuesday-Wednesday, March 23-24, at 8 p.m. at the Knickerbocker Theatre.

The program, "Don't Start Me to Talking Or I'll Tell You Everything I Know: Sayings from the Life and Writings of Junebug Jabbo Jones," focuses on a character created by O'Neal.

O'Neal describes the character as coming from a long line of African storytellers. "Wherever and whenever oppressed people have taken stock of their situations and begun to consider what to do about it, Junebug or somebody like him may be found nearby," he has said.

O'Neal's work has brought him endless praise and awards, including the 2002 Ford Foundation's Leadership for a Changing World award, which included a substantial grant to continue work on his Color Line Project.

"The subtlety and strength of Mr. O'Neal's performance are something to behold," reviewed "The New Yorker." "He is a very funny man and he is a great actor."

Actor, writer, director and a leader in Black Theater, O'Neal has been a national figure since founding the Free Southern Theater company in 1965.

He is a leading advocate of the view that politics and art can support one another. His work has been part of the civil rights movement in the United States, and continues to impact audiences today.

"O'Neal is the real thing: an extraordinarily gifted actor who puts his considerable artistry to work in communicating the essential aspects of our shared humanity," wrote "The Seattle Times."

The "Los Angeles Herald-Examiner" put it more simply: "There is magic to his art."

While on Hope College's campus, O'Neal will lead several workshops for acting students, meet with students in Encounter with the Arts class, and have meals with students.

Tickets for the performances are $14 for regular adult admission, $12 for senior citizens, and $5 for children 18 and under. Tickets will be on sale on Thursday-Friday, March 18-19, and Monday-Wednesday, March 22-24, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the theatre lobby box office in the DeWitt Center. The box office can be called at (616) 395-7890.

The DeWitt Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street. The Knickerbocker Theatre is located in downtown Holland at 86 E. 8th St.