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Education, economic development and tourism (04/06/2011)
From: Tedd Morgan

My first experience with Shakespeare was in high school. I loved reading and literature, and I became an immediate fan. In college, I took courses devoted to studying Shakespeare’s works, and garnered an even deeper appreciation. I can remember the sense of awe I had as we peeled away layer after layer of meaning.

But it wasn’t until GRSF came to Winona that I saw my first Shakespeare play performed on stage. I was amazed at how the text came to life. In the theatre, especially in the hands of talented actors and directors, Shakespeare’s words took on a rich and vivid meaning. Everything was so much clearer in ways that it cannot be when it is only on the page.

In most seasons I go to see each GRSF performance at least two times. Each time I pick up on something I missed the previous time. It’s something this company knows, that each performance is unique, even though the goal is to deliver a rousing performance every time.

My family and I have experienced everything GRSF does for the community. From tourism, to education, to economic development, to great plays, GRSF has consistently delivered.

True to its mission, GRSF has helped spawn development of the arts, which has helped to grow our local economy, increase tourism, and improve our quality of life. I know this from being a business owner and seeing first hand what a difference GRSF has made in drawing people to the region, and attracting people to choose Winona as a place to live or visit. Each summer, I speak to friends, family, and colleagues from outside of Winona who make plans to visit around GRSF’s schedule. The Festival also provides a multitude of educational opportunities. My daughter worked at GRSF as a journeyman and my son was cast as one of the child actors. Not only did they enjoy their time with the festival, but it gave them a unique opportunity that most kids just don’t have.

All of these things are important and none of them would happen without the plays. In the end, the core of the festival is the experience of seeing a professional performance of some of the best plays ever written. I’m not an art critic, but others who are have indicated that these are some of the best productions of Shakespeare’s work they have ever seen. To have some of the best productions of some of the world’s best plays just 10 minutes away from my front door, that is pretty significant.

I know that what I pay for my tickets doesn’t begin to cover the cost of putting on these excellent productions. Even if the theatre was packed for every performance, the ticket revenue alone still would not be enough and keeping prices reasonably low is important to make it easier for more people to see these great performances. So those of us who enjoy the benefits of the festival need to do what we can to help keep GRSF alive. Which is why my wife Tracy and I made a contribution to the Setting the Stage Campaign on March 27, the day it was publicly announced. We want this Festival to be here this year, next year, and for many years to come. If you value education, economic development and tourism for the region, please join me in making a contribution. And if you value great art that helps us understand and relate to each other and our world, please help bring that art to your doorstep, by making a contribution today.  


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