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  Thursday January 29th, 2015    

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Surprise! Three plays! (11/06/2013)
By Sarah Squires

Photo by Sarah Squires
     Local painter Julia Crozier unveiled a new painting for GRSF during the Stakeholders’ Meeting Monday.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern!

Some wait for June's heat before sticking Shakespeare swag through their lapels; others perk up in spring to Great River theater dreams. But many in the Winona region spend all year on the edge of their seats, and they gathered Monday during the Great River Shakespeare Festival (GRSF) Stakeholders' Meeting to hear details of the upcoming season revealed.

The event included big news for Shakespeare lovers: the festival will offer a third play in 2014 — Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead; a new spring music festival in 2015 will set the stage for a summer of full of arts events; and the new Great River Artist Collaborative Initiative will highlight a partnership between GRSF and arts organizations, including two local artists, over the course of the coming season.

This season, along with Tom Stoppard's comedy that explores the minor characters in Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the festival will stage Shakespeare's most famous — and some say perfect — tragedy, Hamlet, while keeping audiences roaring with a comedy, The Merry Wives of Windsor. The apprentice play will bring Shakespeare's tragic war piece Troilus and Cressida to the stage.

Julia Crozier will be the featured artist for the coming season as part of the collaborative initiative, attendees learned. Crozier was chosen as a representative from a long list of professional visual artists in the Winona region, and she unveiled a special painting Monday that will be used for festival posters.

GRSF Managing Director Lee Gundersheimer said Crozier's painting, which was shown unfinished at the gathering, represents the festival's new slogan for the season. "We finally decided that what makes this festival truly wonderful is the feeling you get when you leave," he said, adding that festivalgoers leave dreamily, as if walking on air. The slogan, "Get Carried Away," and the painting, said Gundersheimer, capture that feeling.

Crozier will work with other local artists to help design posters and other print material for the festival. She said her work on the special festival painting helps show the feeling of euphoria and joy generated by the riverside festival. The painting will be auctioned during the 2014 GRSF season.

Ted Haaland, who oversees the GRSF Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest, will represent the prolific writers and poets of the area. He recited a sonnet he had written for the Stakeholders' Meeting.

As GRSF enters its second decade, it has maintained a balanced budget two years in a row, thanks to the generous support of individuals, businesses, and organizations, said Gundersheimer. Season 10 netted a profit of approximately $30,000 for a total season revenue of $848,000, and Gundersheimer told stakeholders that this season's budget will top $900,000.

Not only does Season 10 promise unparalleled performances and unique new partnerships, but some of the best work produced by the festival, Gundersheimer said. "The staff and I will build the brightest and most exciting festival you've ever seen," he said. "We are truly Minnesota's arts destination. How exciting is that?" A roar of applause provided an answer.



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