May News for FOW (2019)

The news you have been waiting for!  Front of House sign-up for Ushers and ticket takers is now open on Volunteer Local. Front of House training will be offered Tuesday, June 11th, 6:30 p.m. and Wednesday, June 12th, 1:30 p.m. in the Robert A. DuFresne Performing Arts Center (PAC) Each session will last about one hour. There will probably be another scheduled after the season has begun. Front of House Team Chairs, Gretchen Erwin and Sharon Grossardt, encourage people to attend to see the changes in the WSU Robert A. DuFresne Performing Arts Center. We encourage pre-registration but, it is not required. \The usher meeting room will once again be on first floor.  Volunteers are also needed for Front Porch Events and Will Run.

Hurrah! Remodeled lobby and restrooms!  A doubled in size women’s restroom is now on the left side of the box office; the men’s restroom is on the right!

Congratulations to GRSF for receiving a President’s Community Partner Award  GRSF was recently recognized at the Minnesota Campus Compact President’s Ward luncheon as a community partner to Winona State University. Artistic Director Doug Scholz-Carlson and Managing Director Aaron Young were presented with the President’s civic Engagement 2019 Community Partner Award at a celebration in St. Paul.GRSF was recognized for its bond with the university, the programs it has integrated with WSU and for bringing thousands of people to campus every summer.   (Winona Post, May 12 2019)

FOW already at work!  Team leaders are busy planning season activity. Several FOW helped by volunteering for events with GRSF Partner organizations, the Rochester Chorale Arts Ensemble and Winona’s Hurry Back Production. Other FOW have assisted with mailings and sorting costumes. FOW are now distributing GRSF print brochures throughout the region, providing transportation for arriving company members and graciously providing early housing for company members before the east Lake Apartment Activities.  Thank you everyone!

Welcome to our new House and Company Managers!
House Manager Abby Schmidt will be working with our Front of House Team Leaders to provide usher training and help FOW continue providing excellent patron service. Company Manager Shelby Reddig assists the GRSF company throughout their time in Winona and will work with move in/move, transportation and hospitality team leaders and teams.

Important Pre-Season Dates
Now – June                 Brochure  & poster distribution (Distribution)
May 12                        Company members arrive (Transportation, Early Housing)
May 13                        Front of House sign up opens (Front of House)
May 23                        East Lake Apartment Move in (Move In)
June 11. 6:30 p.m.     Front of House Training, PAC (Ushers, Ticket Takers)
June 12 1:30 p.m.      Front of House Training, PAC, (Ushers, Ticket Takers)
June 6-27                    Tech week meals June 16, 18,19, 21-23, 30 & July 2-3 (Hospitality

Questions: Contact your team leader ( or Mary Alice Anderson, FOW Steering Committee chair:



Do you recognize these costumes?

Teams of Friends of Will Volunteers helped the GRSF costume shop crew by sorting and identifying  the many hundreds of coats, dresses, shirts, gowns, pants, vests  and much more.   Can you find Puck’s coat, a  Taming of the Shrew jacket, or one of Falstaff’s costumes?  Thank you to everyone who helped.  Your work is greatly appreciated by the costume shop people.

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Welcome to Season 16 & Calendar Dates

Welcome to Season 16 of the Great River Shakespeare Festival.   On behalf of the Friends of Will Volunteer Steering Committee, thank you for your support of the Festival.   Everyone – the GRSF staff and company, the GRSF Board of Directors, and FOW team leaders – sincerely appreciates your contributions to the Festival. Collectively, the Friends of Will gave over 4000 hours of volunteer time in 2018. Details are under the FOW Annual Reports tab. Thank you, also, to FOW who have been helping behind the scenes as ushers with the Rochester Chorale Arts Ensembles and Hurry Back productions, our partner organizations during recent months.

Season 16 officially begins June 25. Meanwhile, here are some beginning team activity dates for your calendar.

Now – June       Brochure  & poster distribution (Distribution)
May 12              Company members arrive (Transportation, Early Housing)
May 13              Front of House sign up opens (Front of House)
May 23              East Lake Apartment Move in (Move In)
June 6-27          Tech week meals June 16, 18,19, 21-23, 30 & July 2-3 (Hospitality)
June 25-28        Macbeth and Cymbeline preview performances (Front of House)
June 29-July 1   Opening weekend (Front of House

January 2019 Events and Updates

An exciting new project and invitation for the Friends of Will to attend to a special meeting
GRSF is launching a “community engaged” project to be produced by Lonnie Alcaraz, our lighting designer. He has worked for several years with a theater company that creates plays from stories of people in different communities. We are seeking to create a play in Winona from stories gathered from people who live, work, and/or a play here adapted through the lens of Shakespeare’s canon. Ultimately, this play will be presented as one of the productions in the festival (2020 or 2021) It will be an adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s works involving these stories and being performed both by professional actors and community members. As part of a January 12-13 planning weekend there are two meetings for volunteers; we hope that you can make one of them.

  • Saturday, January 12, 6 p.m., Acoustic Cafe
  • Sunday, January 13, 1 p.m., Acoustic Cafe

CONTACT.   RSVP directly to Managing Director Aaron Young if you can make one of these meetings (and which one).     (507) 474-9372 |

See and touch the GRSF costumes up close – and help GRSF

Costumes are now in storage at the new GRSF office, 121 East Third. Help is needed to help organize and eventually photo and catalog the many beautiful dresses, military apparel, shoes and more. There will be two phases. 

  • Phase 1. De-cluttering the racks and organizing clothing by type/size/color.
  • 3 – 5 volunteers are needed to help about for 3-4 hours.
  • February 28 10:00 am and Tentatively Friday, March 1, 10:00 am
  • Phase 2. Cataloging and further sorting. Dates TBA

CONTACT. If you would like to help please contact Eileen Moller, Marketing and Sales Director     507.474.9376, or


On behalf of all of the staff at GRSF, I cannot express deeply enough the gratitude I feel for all of your kind service to this organization. This year, in addition to filling tasks associated with an extra week of performances (not to mention the addition of Wednesday evenings), you also helped us move our offices down the block, turning a day I’d been dreading into one filled with fun and friendship. Our offices light up each time one of you stops in for a visit (and you’re welcome any time). To spend your precious time in support of the community is commendable work, and I hope that you feel great joy in this New Year. There’s lots to come, so get plenty of rest and take your vitamins. See you soon! Aaron Young

FOW contributed more than 4000 hours of volunteer support to GRSF throughout 2018.  Your work is sincerely appreciated by the Friends of Will Team Leaders, GRSF Staff, GRSF Company Members and the GRSF Board of Directors.    Mary Alice Anderson, FOW Chair and GRSF Board Complete report and slide show: FOW Newsletter / Blog

Collaborating Behind the Scenes and Off Season Volunteer Opportunities

GRSF and the Friends of Will collaborated with other arts organization this past fall by helping at the Rochester Choral Arts Ensemble fall concert held in Winona and at a Hurry Back Production concert.

Rochester Choral Arts Ensemble /GRSF concert Closest Distance, Sunday, May 5
Hurry Back Highway 61 Concert Series  Saturdays. February 9, April 7, May 18

CONTACT. Front of House Team members who would like to be on the contact list to help with these collaborative events should contact Sharon Grossardt, Front of House Team Co-Chair. 

Visit the FOW Newsletter / Blog for updates throughout the winter and spring.



Front of House Needs you! Hire an Apprentice & a lovely Thank You Note (2018)

There are several Front of House positions for the remaining performances. These include general main stage and Black Box ushering and ticket taking, helping with concessions,  and ushering or ticket taking for the  Shakespeare for Young Actors, Designers and Film Marker  presentations Sunday Evening, July 29.  See  Volunteer Local for specifics.

Need help around your House?  The Hire an Apprentice program  helps the apprentices — and they will help you!  Erwin and Damien did a great job getting rid of dead branches and doing a little inside cleaning. Erwin_Damien - 1.jpg

A beautiful thank you note from  Actor Melissa Maxwell.

Dear Friends of Will,  Just wanted to take a moment to THANK YOU !!! for all the wonderful things you do, from the airport runs to the delicious tech meals and so much more in between.  Words cannot really express my gratitude for all that you do on our behalf.  Most of all, I am thankful to have met you and to have the opportunity to get to know you.  That is a real treat indeed. Many thanks, Melissa Maxwell Thank you note image

Great review of GRSF in Minneapolis area press

Need help around your home?

Hire an Apprentice

Need help with a project, yard work or an odd job? The GRSF Apprentices are here to help! Email Company Manager, Victoria Esquibell at or call her at 817-975-2514 with a job description, amount of people needed, payment, and contact info. The GRSF Apprentices will receive this information and contact you directly!

Victoria Esquibell | Company Management

Front of House

There are several remaining Front of House volunteer openings for the last part of July and early August.   Please register through  Volunteer Local.

You may check your volunteer status at any time directly with Volunteer Local.

Early July Notes

It’s high season for GRSF! As we head into week 3 there are several remaining volunteer opportunities.

July 12Front of House training for new ushers, concession workers and ticket takers who did not attend the June training sessions.  Returning Front of House volunteers are also welcome to attend. There are a few new things you will need to know.

There are several Front of House positions open for the remainder of July-August 5.  Registration for July 12 Training and Front of House shifts

If you need to change or cancel a shift within 24 hours of your shift please contact Sharon Grossardt or Gretchen Erwin, Front of House team leaders.

The Friends of Will team leaders and GRSF staff are very appreciative all the Friends do for the Festival. You stepped up to help and expanded season with tech week meals, transportation, early housing, Will Run, and as the face of the festival for patrons.

You want won’t to miss A Festival of THE PEOPLE on p. 19 of the season program. It’s a lovely tribute to the Friends of Will.

This early July news, photos, links and more FOW notes are always available at GRSF.WORDPRESS.COM