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Summer’s coming - PLAYtime! (04/27/2011)
By Paul Barnes
In two very short weeks most of the GRSF 2011 Season company will arrive in Winona, ready to dig into the work of producing this summer’s Festival. The center of our labor will be productions of Shakespeare’s magical, romantic comedy of young love, A Midsummer Night’s Dream; his hilarious, moving, and magnificent history play, King Henry IV, Part 1 (which will introduce GRSF audiences to Shakespeare’s great comic creation, Sir John Falstaff), and Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt’s classic American musical, The Fantasticks, which is adapted from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This year’s GRSF Technical Theatre and Administrative Interns will join with our Apprentice Actor Training Program members to grapple with King Lear, and our Shakespeare for Young Actors students will perform an abridged version of The Winter’s Tale. As is usually the case, the company itself will be comprised of faces that are familiar and many newcomers who will get to experience the pleasures, beauty, and welcoming heart of Winona, our host city. Preview performances begin June 22nd, and we’ll run for six very quick weeks, through July 31.

Although I think I set some new record for the longest “chat” by the Festival’s Producing Director at our recent, very well attended Season Preview at Signature’s Event Center, surprisingly enough, there were a number of key Festival components I neglected to mention. Our WOW (Will’s Opening Weekend) committee is lining up a series of receptions, parties, and picnics that will take place over opening weekend, June 24 - 26 and are selling the traditional WOW buttons to help underwrite those celebrations; this Friday and Saturday the St. Croix Menswear sale takes place at Signatures, with proceeds from the sale benefitting the Festival; plans are underway for our “sneak preview” appearance at the Alexander Mansion Bed and Breakfast as part of the Winona County Historical Society “Chocolate, Shakespeare, and Champagne” June benefit; Dee Cipov and several volunteer hosts from the community are hard at work putting together our third round of post-performance “AfterWill” parties in several private homes and, for the first time, Dahl Toyota is once again loaning a vehicle for GRSF to “wrap” and schedule for appearances at numerous places throughout the season). And our friends at Theatre du Mississippi are finalizing the Concerts on the Green schedule and lining up funding to insure that those free concerts will take place.

And as many of you are well aware, our “Setting the Stage” Campaign for Organizational Growth and Longevity is underway. We’re seeking three-year pledges, beginning at $150.00, which will help keep the Festival in Winona for years to come by, among other things, creating an operating reserve to offset our annual “starvation cycle.” As our nearly 100-member strong summer company arrives and the work begins, that cycle will quickly be upon us. If you’ve yet to make a pledge to the STS Campaign, the next few weeks will be an excellent, dare I say, crucial time to contribute. We’ll have the maximum number of expenses, the maximum number of people in residence to create the 2011 season, and, until our new productions open and begin their six-week run, a minimum trickle of income. These economic realities collide in May and June. As someone far wiser than I once wrote: “there’s no time like the present.”

I write this morning from Phoenix, Arizona, where I opened the third in a series of directing projects that have kept me on the road since January 10, and where I’ve enjoyed some distinctly non-winter Winter weather. I’ll head home to Oregon tomorrow, and after a week there, set out for Minnesota. Hard to believe it’s PLAYtime again - but there you have it: another year has passed in the blink of an eye and summer is just about here again.

For details about the plays, the concerts, the parties, the special events, and our “Setting the Stage” Campaign, visit www.grsf.org, call 507-474-7900, or stop by the GRSF downtown office at 79 E. Third Street.

See you soon!



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