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

Season 15 opens June 22 (2018)

There are many remaining Front of House openings starting early July. Positions are ushering, taking ticket, and working at the concession stand while the Apprentice actors are performing A Merchant of Venice. There are also openings to help with Will Run (July 15, early morning only) and a link to register for July 12 Front of House Training.  This training is suggested for those unable to attend the previous sessions. New Friends of Will are especially encouraged to attend.   Details:  FOH Training, Thursday, July 12, 1:30 – 2:45 pm, Room 224, WSU Performing Arts Center.

??? When am I working?    Select Volunteer Local to check your status; enter your email address.  A list of what you have volunteered for will arrive in your email.  StatusCheck
Download 2018 Front of House Guidelines for ushers and ticket takers


Thank you to 50 FOW who are helping with Tech Week meals, the 75 FOW who attended Front of House Training, and to FOW who helped in the costume shop.
What a wonderful group of volunteers!

Preview week and Shakespeare for Young Actors-1
Slide Show: Hospitality team members with happy, hungry GRSF Company members

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Preview Week, Shakespeare for Young Actors 1 (2018)

Preview Performances
Season 15 opens June 22 with a preview performance of Shakespeare in Love. Previews continue through June 28 and a wonderful opportunity for FOW to get an early start and spread the word to friends and family. All performances are Pay what you Will. More information.

Shakespeare for Young Actors  GRSF Managing Director   is asking the Friends of Will to help spread the word to friends and family that there is room in the Shakespeare for Young Actors 1 workshop.   SYA- 1 is for first-time Shakespeare students from those entering 7th grade through those who have recently graduated high school. The two-week program is July 17 – 29. Classes are Tuesdays – Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.   A final public presentation os Sunday, July 29, 7 p.m. Tuition is $350 with scholarship money available. Aaron said d his daughter took the class last year. Loved it. Students have a great time in class, they form great relationships, AND get unlimited free admission to the festival performances from the start of classes through the end of the festival.   The instructors this year are Benjamin Boucvalt and his wife Valerie. Both are excellent instructors who fully understand both the theater and the film industry and are expert in connecting kids with this art form and helping them learn more about themselves in the process. Registration and more information is available at



Help Build a Doublet a Day: June 2018 News

The GRSF company and staff are in high gear getting ready for an exciting season.  Friends of Will can help in many ways.

Help the costume shop build a doublet a day!

Costume shop supervisor Stephanie Jones said We can use all the help we can get this year. Starting Thursday, May 31. With 4 shows opening before the end of June, the needs are enormous! Things you may be asked to do . . .
– Hand sewing, snaps, buttons, and labels, trim.
– Alterations or sewing a costume if you are comfortable with a sewing machine
– Painting, jewelry making
Shop hours: 8:30 am – 6:00 pm. Tuesday – Saturday.  New  location: WSU Performing Arts Center, Room 124. Please park in the purple lot east of the Performing Arts Center. (Summer patron parking lot). Just drop by to offer your help Stephanie Jones, the shop supervisor will help you get started.

Tech Week Meals

Hops3Hospitality team chairs, Jim and Karin Worthley, along with assistance from Company Manager Victoria Esquibell have planned another series of delicious tech week meals. If you have not helped in the past but would like to help this season contact (Ph: 507-474-4360) for details about specific needs, amounts and dietary restrictions.

Shakespeare in Love
Sat, 6/9: 4:00-6:00 pm (Taco & Taco Salad bar)
Sun, 6/10: 4:00-6:00 pm (Pulled Pork sandwiches)
Tues, 6/12: 4:00-6:00 pm (Noodle, Rice, Grain Bowls)

Midsummer Night’s Dream
Thurs, 6/14: 4:00-6:00 pm (Taco &Taco Salad bar!
Friday 6/15: 4:00-6:00 pm (Baked Potato Bar & more)
Sat, 6/16: 4:00-6:00 pm (Picnic Time – Brats, etc.)

All’s Well That Ends Well
Tues, 6/19: 4:00-6:00 pm (Late Brunch)
Wed, 6/20: 4:00-6:00 pm (Noodle, Rice, Grain Bowls)
Thurs, 6/2: 4:00-6:00 pm (Pot Luck)

Usher and Ticket Taker Training

Thursday June 14 – 6:30 pm
OR Friday June 15 – 1:30 pm
WSU Performing Arts Center, Room 224

Training is highly recommended for new Front of House volunteers
or for or those Beccwho have not ushered during the past year. Others are encouraged to attend as there are some changes and new guidelines are in place.
Pre Registration
is appreciated!
Many Front of House positions are unfilled, especially in July.  Becca Borchardt, Front of House manager will provide training.

Exciting and new!

  • Banners and signs throughout the campus featuring the new logo
  • A satellite box office and gift shop with many new items at the Winona Visitor Center on Huff Street starting June 1. The downtown box office and Performing Arts Center box office before performances remains open. (PAC office open 90 minutes prior to performances.)
  • Pay what you will previews are June 22-28. Bring your friends; help spread the word. There are two preview performances for each show.
  • Music and food on the green before every performance
  • There are 23 dual performance times (performance in both the Dorothy Magnus Black Box Theater and Vivian Fusillo Main Stage Theater.)   This means more volunteer opportunities for Friends of Will. Front of House Volunteer openings
  • Be watching for some fun public advertising!