GRSF Associate Director Doug Scholz-Carlson (left) and GRSF Managing Producer Eric Bunge broke some big news at the festival stakeholder meeting Monday.
Big announcements about the 2013 Great River Shakespeare Festival (GRSF) were made to a big crowd on Monday evening, during the annual GRSF Stakeholders Meeting, when attendees learned that “Twelfth Night” and “Henry V” will be staged at the summer festival during the 2013 season.
Some previous GRSF seasons have included three productions, including one play that strayed from the festival’s Shakespeare mission. Paring the offering back to two main stage plays for the 2013 festival is expected to help the organization return to its Shakespearen roots and to remain in the black. The 2012 season was GRSF's first to net a profit. The Apprentice play and Shakespeare For Young Actors will also be produced in 2013.
GRSF Associate Director Doug Scholz-Carlson, who will become the Artistic Director when Paul Barnes steps down in July, shared the news of the 2013 selections. Barnes will direct “Twelfth Night,” an announcement that drew excited applause during the event. James Edmondson, who directed 2012's "King Lear," will direct “Henry V.” The Apprentice play will be "Macbeth," directed by Rick Barbour. The Shakespeare for Young Actors selection has not been announced.
“This is the theater company that I’ve always wanted to be a part of,” said Scholz-Carlson, who added that he is humbled and honored to take over the role of GRSF Artistic Director. He explained to the audience that he had seen a Shakespeare production that Barnes directed before GRSF was begun, and had realized the nuanced beauty, the complex and expansive view of humanity, that could be found with a simple and straightforward version of a Shakespeare script. He was hooked, he said, and when Barnes announced the festival in Winona, Scholz-Carlson admitted he was determined to be a part of it.
“Along the way, I have done the art that I’m most proud of, out of anything in my career,” at GRSF, he said. In his time with the festival, Scholz-Carlson said, he can recall Barnes saying Winona has become the company’s artistic home. “The fact is, Winona has become our real home, too,” he said. It is an extraordinary community, he said, that has not only supported the festival, but become a part of it. This is a community willing and eager to engage in a lasting dialogue that explores what Shakespeare—and what humanity—is all about: justice, truth, honesty, faith and love, said Scholz-Carlson.
More festival fun is on the way, with a first-ever holiday party scheduled for December 12 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. There will be entertainment, and the 10th annual anniversary season passes will be on sale for holiday giving.
Managing Producer Eric Bungy said that there were many financial challenges as GRSF went into the 2012 season, adding that many goals were met or exceeded during the successful season. The 2012 festival brought in about $826,000 in cash with expenses of about $805,000, the first time in its history that the festival earned a profit. Its $1.6 million Setting the Stage campaign exceeded its goal, he reported, and the organization was able to purchase a downtown warehouse to be used as storage space. Extra storage space in the 16,000-square-foot building is being rented to other organizations, including Habitat for Humanity and Winona State University.