by GRSF’s Lee Gundersheimer and Doug Scholz-Carlson
Lee: Have you ever GRSFed? We are celebrating our 11th season in Winona, but have you ever been to the festival?
Doug: As we visit and talk to groups all over town — industries, faith-based groups, folks out shopping — we are finding that almost 70 percent of Winonans have not attended the Great River Shakespeare Festival yet. Even though thousands visit the festival each year from around the region and across the nation, some people right down the street, or working right alongside you, have not. This is not so hard to understand; we are busy, it is summer, there are many cultural and recreational opportunities, or maybe your first experience with Shakespeare was trying to read it off the page (which is challenging even for us). But over and over we hear some interesting comments that we want to address.
Lee: So like those wonderful lists on Facebook of best kitten pics, or Dave Letterman’s Top Ten, here are the top 10 reasons this is your year to GRSF! It’s time to come to the festival!
10. If you support the Shakespeare Festival, you support a healthier Winona. GRSF brings serious money, attracts thousands of visitors to town each summer, and helps almost all businesses profit. Buying tickets is the easiest way to ensure our city grows!
9. It is actually a great deal of fun! Don’t take our word for it — ask Mark Anderson — one of our reluctant attendees (now great supporter): “You couldn’t have dragged me to a play before, but now I look forward to each season. It is sometimes challenging, but always well worth seeing!”
8. It’s a wonderful place to gather and see friends and family. Our lobby and the outside green are abuzz each night as the community gathers and celebrates a great secret: Winonans love each other and love that most everybody knows everybody else.
7. Art makes you feel better! This is not Mary Poppins’ spoonful of sugar science. Study after study shows that experiencing music, dance, art, and theater enriches your life in actual scientifically calculable ways. Think of it as exercise for the brain. (See studies of the effects on the firing of neurons.)
6. It is right in your backyard. For the entire Minnesota-Wisconsin-Iowa region this is a day trip. We hope you will come on over and experience world-class theater in your own hometown or region.
5. Golden rings. (Sorry couldn’t resist. Nice to see you are still with us.) Number five is that we give you a festival of choices. If you want to hear just music, we offer that free. If you want good food, come have dinner with our local food vendors on the green. If you like to laugh, we have comedies. If you want a modern play, we have that. If you want arguably the best play ever written — we have that too. What’s not to like?
4. We will help you by giving you a way to cheat. Those of us (that would be everybody) who aren’t familiar with the plays will be happy to hear at a half-hour before each show we will give you a 10-minute booster shot of information about the play; we call these pre-play conversations. We also have conversation handouts for all (think baseball line-up cards) to carry with you and use to figure out who in the heck is talking to whom.
3. Stepping out of your comfort zone is good for you! Take the challenge. Shakespeare does require you to focus, but the rewards are huge. Poetry is well worth hearing, and you won’t sweat as much as biking up Garvin Heights Road.
2. We have made it as affordable as ever. We have $10 Tuesdays, student rush tickets, tickets to check out from local libraries, and new this year, Prelude Pricing. If you are new to the festival (subject to availability, so hurry) you get “two for one” tickets if you come to our box office. This is your year. Come see what all the fuss is about for only a few dollars!
1. You will see the finest theater around, the strongest company of actors and artists (many of whom either live or have been here for a decade) and you will make memories that will last a lifetime. Don’t take our word for it. Ask Peter Flick: “I still live in Winona because GRSF is here each season!”
Doug: See you at the theater and let us know you are GRSFing for the first time.
(Prelude Pricing is subject to availability and only at the box office for first-time visitors. Not available for $10 performances).