Statement from Our Director

We stand in solidarity with the Black Community. We support your calls of justice for George Floyd and all victims of racial violence and terror.

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Working with a Ford’s Teaching Artist, students bring Lincoln’s words to life through a group performance.

Offered for grades 3-8, Ford’s Lincoln Oratory Festival enables students to experience the power of public speaking to communicate ideas and inspire others. Classrooms study speeches by Abraham Lincoln and work with a Ford’s Teaching Artist over a series of five classroom visits to stage performances of the speeches. Throughout the program, students expand their vocabulary, develop public-speaking skills and build confidence as they bring Lincoln’s historic words to life. The program culminates with students sharing their work on one of two festival days in February.

Participation in the festival program is via competitive application process. Space is limited. Each application is for ONE classroom only.

The application for classroom participation in the February 2021 program will open June 1, 2020. Deadline for application is August 28, 2020. Classrooms will be notified of acceptance by Monday, September 14, 2020.

“Thank you for the great experience of … get[ting us] on stage to get our jitters out and boost our confidence. You also boosted my speaking skills by not being afraid to be in front of a big crowd.”

- Brandon, Fifth Grader, Brent Elementary, 2016

Distance Learning Oratory Opportunity

Lincoln Online Oratory Project

For classes around the country and the world

Any class can participate. The first 10 classes to apply will get three free virtual visits with a Teaching Artist. Share and comment on one another’s speeches via YouTube.

Meet Our Teaching Artists

Ashley Buster

Ashley grew up just outside of Washington, D.C., in Silver Spring, MD. She earned a BA in Broadcasting Telecommunications and Mass Media and Theater from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, and is currently earning her MA in Educational Leadership and Supervision from Loyola University Maryland. After living in New York and singing for Royal Caribbean International, Ashley moved back to the D.C. area to continue her acting career here and has been seen at NextStop Theater, at Signature Theatre and in “Freedom’s Song” at Ford’s Theatre.

W. Ellington Felton

W. Ellington Felton is an Actor/Singer/Poet/Father, a native Washingtonian and product of DCPS School Without Walls. He studied Acting at Carnegie Mellon University Theatre Conservatory and returned to D.C. as a selected Company Member of Arena Stage's "Living Stage.” Using his theatrical training and improvisational skills developed as a full-time musician, Felton is able to introduce various facets of the arts through what he calls "EDUTAINMENT.” He is an artist committed to social change in the classroom and on the various stages he performs worldwide. He is the son of Hilton Felton Jr., musical director of the Ford's Theatre production of "Five Guys Named Moe.”

Heidi Fortune

Heidi Fortune is a professional actor and teaching artist. Heidi holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts and a MA in Arts Administration from Winthrop University. Heidi has worked as a teaching artist for over a decade, most recently at Boys & Girls Clubs in South Carolina. At Boys & Girls Clubs, Heidi worked with hundreds of children to produce more than 30 plays and 50 original student films. The program she created won many grants and awards, including a highly competitive National Endowment for the Arts grant and a national award from Comcast, Disney, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

James Johnson (J.J)

Johnson is a teaching artist and professional actor raised in Front Royal, VA, and holds a BFA in Theatre from Virginia Commonwealth University. Johnson has worked with Theater J, Arena Stage, Ford's Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Imagination Stage and the Kennedy Center, among others.

Chelsea Mayo

Chelsea Mayo, Teaching Artist Chelsea Mayo joined Ford's Theatre in 2019. Since moving to DC, she has taught theatre to students in grades K-12 through Shakespeare Theatre Company, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Lola's Laboratory, Del Ray Performing Arts Center, and Creative Kids. As an actor, Chelsea has performed at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington Stage Guild, Taffety Punk Theatre Company, Quotidian Theatre Company, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, and Prince George's Shakespeare in the Parks. Chelsea holds in B.A. in Theatre and French with a minor in Women's and Gender Studies from Vanderbilt University. This is Chelsea’s first year with Ford’s Theatre.

Khaleshia Thorpe-Price

Khaleshia Thorpe-Price has worked as an arts educator since 2000. She has facilitated residencies and workshops for children and adults for Wolf Trap, Arena Stage, Young Playwrights’ Theater, Young Audiences of Maryland, Folger Shakespeare Library, Shakespeare Theatre Company and M-NCPP. As an arts manager, she has coordinated workshops and residencies for thousands of students and educators in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. This is Khaleshia’s second year working with Ford’s Education Department.