Save the Very Special Date! (4/23/17)

Save the Very Special Date! 

GRSF is hosting a party to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday and to honor the Friends of Will. The celebration will be at Island City Brewing Company, downtown Winona Sunday, April 23, 3:00 – 6:00 pm.
Details available later!

Remembering Karen Fawcett (Jan. 2017)

Karen Fawcett, one of the founders of the Friends of Will and passionate GRSF supporter died unexpectedly January 7.  The following text is from a tribute to Karen in the Winona Daily News, January 29, 2017.

When the Great River Shakespeare Festival opened in 2004, Karen was instrumental in turning the passive experience of watching a play into community activity for a growing group of dedicated volunteers.  She and Kathleen Peterson started with a group of 15 volunteers, called themselves Friends of Will, and offered their services to the fledgling theater company to do whatever might need to be done. Within a year, their ranks grew to more than 300 volunteers, and the Friends of Will have been an integral part of the festival ever since.

In a letter to the editor published in 2004, Karen spoke how welcoming visitors to our community enriches all our lives: “Even though we are the local hosts, we are more so the guests of these visitors to Winona,” she said. “As guests, we are welcomed into their lives and perspectives, given expanded understandings of our humanity and graciously invited to see the world with new eyes.” “We who are leaders won’t have to worry that we’ll have to be around forever,” Karen said of the Friends. “This is not a project that will be owned by a few.”  The complete article covers Karen’s many other contributions to Winona,  Influence in many lives. 

Thank you, Karen, for leading the way.

Thank you FOW, Parking space needed (Nov. 2017)

Do you have a covered parking space to loan?

GRSF is in need of covered parking over the winter for a van and a
pick-up truck. The van has to be able to be moved for use in February by
actors coming for education programs in the schools. The pick-up is not
needed until spring. If anyone has such a facility, please contact Emily
at the GRSF office, 474-7900 or

Thank you, Friends of Will!

Thank you, Friends of Will, for supporting the Great River Shakespeare Festival in so many ways during the 2016 season. Over 200 FOW generously gave over 3000 hours of time to help the Festival.    Your generosity and time are sincerely appreciated.

Our largest group of volunteers, Front of House FOW, alone contributed 1200 hours of support. The generous hospitality team members who provided many much enjoyed meals to hungry company members during tech week follow their hourly contribution.   The transportation team made 30 trips to and from area airports before and during the season to bring help company members get to Winona.   Other FOW provided housing, inventoried and delivered housing supplies to company apartments, distributed information, helped with mailings, created the 6th annual Callithump raffle quilt and helped with organizing FOW volunteer activities of Will.  Learn what YOU did!   (FOW Annual Report, Season 13)

Getting Ready for Season 14

A small group of FOW helped GRSF prepare materials for a mailing this November. If you would like to help GRSF with off-season work such as mailings please contact Mary Alice Anderson, Friends of Will Steering Committee Chair,

Visit the Friends of Will online newsletter throughout the winter and spring to check for news and updates that may be posted.

End of Season Volunteer Needs (2016)


FOH Volunteers Needed

July 22 update: There are several remaining Front of House openings for Ushers, Ticket Takers and Quilt Raffle Ticket Sellers.
Visit to sign-up for additional volunteer positions.    

FOH volunteers are able to see the play if space is available. Email House Manager Samantha Heaver if you would like to be on an on-call list if there are last-minute cancellations.

Photo: FOW Margaret Kiihne visits with a raffle ticket buyer at a performance.

NEW! The season 13 MOVE OUT date is August 2.   Move out team members or other FOW who would like to help Company member bins be moved from East Lake to the Warehouse should contact Team Chair, Tom Hoffmann.

Use the link below to learn how to check your Front of House schedule
Volunteer Local Tips

Shakespeare Sewn With Love Winona Post, July 13, 2017.

Will Run.  Over 100 runners participated in the 3rd annual Will Run.   Thank you to the Friends of Will volunteers Leslie Albers, Shirley and Rick Twaddle, Tom Hoffman, Daryl Lanz who helped and Will Run chair, Dee Cipov.

FOW Helping Behind the Scenes

Tech Week Meals! Everyone is Happy. Thank you to the 40 GRSF hospital team members who kept company members were well fed during the hectic tech week rehearsals. Company members are always enjoy and appreciate the wonderful food; Friends of Will enjoy seeing them eat favorites such as the taco bar and turkey meals.   Team-Co chair Karin Worthley described ” a very nice connection between volunteers and the company.  The atmosphere is relaxed, happy and grateful. People who make food feel like they are feeding their guests.”  Thank you, Jim and Karin Worthley for creating another wonderful experience for so many.  It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

JohnBairdFun in the Costume GRSF costume shop. A small group of FOW helped with hand sewing and craft work in the costume shop throughout June. It’s a fun atmosphere! Sheila Cunningham said, “I love helping there; I’ve only missed one year of the 13 seasons.”

Photo: Crafts Artisan models a hat worn by Audrey in As You Like It.

Meet Samantha

House Manager Samantha Heaver graduated from WSU with a degree in Theater in 2013 and is a theatre instructor at the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts. She previously worked in the GRSF box office

Thank you, Hospitality team (2016)

The Friends of Will Hospitality Team has again wowed GRSF Company members with  delicious and very much appreciated tech week meals.  There are a few meals to go! If you would like to join the team please contact Karin and Jim Worthley, team chairs!

Front of House Openings ~   Hire an Apprentice to help with summer chores!
Usher Training Handout

Up, Up and Away! Get Carried away with the Callithump Raffle Quilt.


Season 13 is almost here! (2016)

Up, Up and Away!
Get carried away with the Season 13 quilt!

Quilt2016The colorful 2016 quilt echoes the season’s central motif as represented in a ceramic mosaic designed by Lanesboro artist Bebe Benson. A hot air balloon, the Mississippi River, and Minnesota bluffs featured in the art quilt’s center are crafted from costume fabrics. The 12 star blocks surrounding the center represent the first twelve GRSF seasons. The hand appliqued 13th center block represents Season 13. Each star block features most of the same costume fabrics used in the balloon or hills; star points are made from quilting cottons to add stability. The completed art quilt is 74’ X 74” and can be used as a wall hanging or on a bed. The quilt winner will be drawn at the July 26 Callithump fundraiser.  All Friends of Will are invited to help make this Friends of Will project another success.  You can help in many ways! All raffle ticket income goes towards the continuing success of GRSF.

  1. Buy a raffle ticket. A $5.00 ticket is an easy and affordable way to contribute to the Festival’s  Development Fund
  2. Get tickets to sell to your friends and family.  Pick up tickets at the GRSF office.
  3. Sell raffle tickets in the performance lobby and at Concerts on the Green. Description:  Shifts begin a half hour before performances Tuesday evening  – all matinees.  Friday and Saturday evening shifts begin at 6:30 during at COG and continue in the lobby before the performance.  All shifts continue through intermission.  Ticket sellers should pick up their tickets in the box office 15 minutes before their shift begins.  Select a shift using  Volunteer Local

Hire an Apprentice  The GRSF apprentice actors are available to help you with household and yard chores throughout the season.   Read more. 

Usher Training Handout

Volunteer Local Tips

There are still a few openings for Front of House volunteers.  Be sure to visit often throughout the season as there may be additional openings.
Want to check your Front of House volunteer status?   Visit Volunteer Local; select check your status and enter your email address.  A list of what you have volunteered for will arrive in your email. You may also cancel a shift online.

Thank you, Move in/Move out Team

Thank you to Tom Hoffmann and the Move in/Move Out team members who helped GRSF company members move into the East Lake Apartments after their short-term stays in WSU dorms or private homes.

Front of House Scheduling, Hire an Apprentice (2016)

Hire an Apprentice

This summer we are so fortunate to have a very ambitious, talented group of Apprentices as part of our GRSF family! Similar to years past, there are a good handful of them that have made it to Winona on a shoe-string budget. In reinvigorating the Hire-an-Apprentice program, we hope that these ambassadors of the festival can go out into the community and earn some extra money for groceries, gas and maybe a little bit of fun while here in Winona. The rate of pay is $12.00 – $15.00 per hour. If you have any cleaning, yard work, or general labor that you’re looking for assistance with, please fill out this form and we will schedule an Apprentice to get it done! Thank you so much for your generosity. Note: Apprentices are only available to work on Mondays. However, Once they know the job they MAY be able to help anytime they have free hours. After your form is submitted Friends of Will Co-chair Terry Hawkings will match you and your request with an apprentice.  Click here Hire an Apprentice

Front of House Sign up

It’s the day you’ve all been waiting for: Usher Sign-Up for GRSF Season 13 is now available! Registration is live for all three professional productions As You Like ItJulius Caesar, and Georama, as well as the Front Porch Events and Apprentice/Intern Production of Coriolanus. We’re so grateful that our ushers share their time with us, and this season we want to make sure that all interested ushers get the opportunity to sign-up. Please only sign up for one or two shifts until May 25. After that, we’ll send another reminder to let you know it’s fine to sign up for more.

This year when you register with Volunteer Local, you’ll be asked to sign up for a training date. Usher training is mandatory this year, and all ushers must complete training prior to opening. Please contact Emily Kurash Emilyat with questions, or if you have a conflict with all the dates listed. Most importantly, stay tuned! There are additions that happen throughout the season, and we may have performances or events that get shifts added. Thank you so much for your time and effort, and we’ll see you in a few short weeks!
Emily Kurash, Director of Marketing

Costume Shop Needs Overcoats; Production would like a hardanger fiddle

The costume shop  is looking for classic men’s wool overcoats in neutral colors…grey, khaki, olive…maybe navy,  not black. They can be long or long car length.  They will also take all donations of overcoats, light overcoats, and trenchcoats.  Please bring to the GRSF office or contact Marci Franklin, GRSF  costume shop supervisor.    The Production team would like to borrow a hardanger fiddle to use in As You Like It.   Does anyone have one to loan?

Friends of Will Eau Claire

GRSF and the Friends of Will welcome our Eau Claire Friends. Chaired by GRSF fan Rozi Bejin, this new FOW group has organized several ways to support GRSF in Several Eau Claire Friends are working will work with hospitality team co-chairs Karin and Jim Worthley to help provide a meal to GFSF company members during tech week.   July 22 is the start of Eau Claire weekend at GRSF.   Eau Claire Friends Terre and Ken Sullivan have put together a bus trip to Winona for an afternoon of theatre and a Concert on the Green.   If you know people in the Eau Claire who may want to join the trip to Winona they can contact Terre or Ken @

The Shakespeare Quilts: A GRSF Tradition on display at MMAM

The Callithump raffle quilts made by Friends of Will and  displayed in the theatre lobby since 2011 will be on display at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum June 22- July 31.   All quilts feature fabric used in costumes and vary in theme and style. Designs for some were inspired by season artwork and posters. This season’s very colorful wall-hanging sized art quilt features the hills, the river and a hot air balloon created from costume fabrics. Raffle tickets available when the season opens.

Thank you, Julie!  Welcome new FOW

julieJulie Fassbender, interim company manager will be turning over the reins to Catie Osborn late May. We want to thank Julie for her preparation for getting the company ready for Season 13.  Catie Osborn will be the Company Manager May 24.

FOW is a great way to meet people and get involved with The Great River Shakespeare Festival. New Friends of Will are always welcome.   We want to welcome our ten new friends; several are new to Winona.

GRSF Friends of Will Steering Committee

The Steering Committee meets regularly throughout the year to prepare for the coming season. Many thanks to these incredible volunteers for their wonderful gifts of time and talents.

Mary Alice Anderson: Co-Chair
Terry Hawkings: Co-Chair, Special Projects
Dee Cipov & Tracy Morgan: Distribution
Jean Hayes: Volunteer Liaison
Tom Hoffmann: Move-In/Out
Rev. Jim Nelson: Team Chariot (Transportation)
Gretchen Erwin-Front of House
Karin & Jim Worthley: Hospitality
Marsha Yancy: Recording Secretary


Season 13 Company Members were welcomed to Winona and introduced at the annual Company Meeting.