Professional Equity Theater Company, Education, Free Events and more

The Great River Shakespeare Festival (GRSF) is a nonprofit, professional Equity theatre company in Winona, MN, dedicated to dynamic productions of Shakespeare’s plays, extensive education and community outreach programs, and comprehensive theatre training.


The premier place to experience Shakespeare’s stories as our own.


To create dynamic, clearly spoken productions of Shakespeare’s plays, which enrich people’s lives.

To accomplish our mission, we:

  • Engage and sustain a highly skilled company of theatre professionals including Equity Actors.
  • Seek and treasure patrons and partners who value and support the Festival’s commitment to bringing Shakespeare to the people and making artistic excellenceaffordable.
  • Contribute to the region’s vitality and prosperity.
  • Provide educational opportunities for learners of all ages and backgrounds.
  • Stage plays by other playwrights and encourage artistic events of high quality.
  • Explore Shakespeare’s language and themes in order to engage people of all ages and backgrounds in conversation relevant to their lives, community, and world.


In all we do, we are passionately committed to:

  • Respect, empathy, and compassion
  • Excellence, authenticity, and innovation
  • Outreach and education
  • Accessibility and affordability
  • Honesty, responsibility, and accountability
  • Diversity and inclusiveness
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The Great River Shakespeare Festival produces thoughtful, articulate, engaging productions of Shakespeare’s plays, and contributes substantially to the cultural, social, and economic life of Winona, the midwest, and the United States.

Great River Shakespeare Festival

Production History

Season 1: 2004

The Winter’s Tale ~ A Midsummer Night’s Dream ~ Apprentice/Intern ProductionAs You Like It

Season 2: 2005

Much Ado About Nothing ~ Richard III ~ Apprentice/Intern Production: Twelfth Night, or What You Will

Season 3: 2006

Twelfth Night, or What You Will~ Romeo and Juliet ~ Apprentice/Intern Production: Cymbeline

Season 4: 2007

As You Like It ~ Macbeth ~ Apprentice/Intern Production: Julius Caesar

Season 5: 2008

The Merchant of Venice ~ The Taming of the Shrew ~ Apprentice/Intern Production: Pericles

Season 6: 2009

Love’s Labour’s Lost ~ The Tempest ~ Apprentice/Intern Production: Hamlet

Season 7: 2010

Othello ~ The Comedy of Errors ~ The Daly News ~ Apprentice/Intern Production: Titus Andronicus ~ SYA: Henry V

Season 8: 2011

A Midsummer Night’s Dream ~ King Henry IV, Part I ~ The Fantasticks ~ Apprentice/Intern Production: King Lear ~ SYA: A Winter’s Tale

Season 9: 2012

The Two Gentlemen of Verona ~ King Lear The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) ~ Apprentice/Intern Production: All’s Well that Ends Well ~ SYA: As You Like It

Season 10: 2013

Twelfth Night, or What You Will King Henry V ~ Apprentice/Intern Production: Macbeth ~ SYA/D: Romeo and Juliet ~ Shakes in Schools: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Season 11: 2014

Hamlet ~ The Merry Wives of Windsor Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead ~ Apprentice/Intern Production: Troilus and Cressida ~ SYA/D: The Tempest ~ Shakes in Schools: Julius Caesar

Season 12: 2015

Much Ado About Nothing ~ Romeo and Juliet ~ The Glass Menagerie ~ Apprentice/Intern Production: King John ~ SYA/D: Macbeth ~ Shakes in Schools: Twelfth Night

Season 13: 2016

As You Like It (page)~ Julius Caesar (page)~ Georama: A Mississippi River Musical (page)~Apprentice/Intern Production: Coriolanus ~ SYA/SYD: The Comedy of Errors ~ Shakes in Schools: The Winter’s Tale

Season 14: 2017

The Comedy of Errors ~ Richard III ~ Shipwrecked! An Entertainment-The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont ~ An Iliad ~Apprentice/Intern Production: TBA ~ SYA/SYD: TBA ~ Shakes in Schools: TBA

Visit our Flickr page to see photos from our past productions and events.

Visit our YouTube page for all our videos.


Fran Edstrom, Interim Chair

Winona Post (retired)

David Marshall, Vice Chair

Professor Emeritus, University of North Dakota

Mary Bergin, Treasurer 

Vice President, Knitcraft Corporation
Winona, MN

Kathleen Peterson, Secretary

Arts Administrator, Winona State University

Tedd Morgan, Past Board Chair

President, Thern, Inc.


Hamid Akbari

Dean of College of Business, Winona State University

Mary Alice Anderson

Retired: Media Specialist for Winona Public Schools

Roderick Baker

Sr. Lean Specialist, Winona Health

Candace Gordon

Realtor, Broker, Exit Realty

Margaret Shaw Johnson

Retired: District Court Judge

Directors (Continued)

Larry Jost

Retired: Partner, Quarles and Brady, LLP (retired)

Ann Merchlewitz

Executive Vice President and General Counsel, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota

Jeanne Skattum

Rochester Repertory Theater

Mike Slaggie

President, Slaggie Capital Group

LeRoy Telstad

General Manager and Vice President, Coca Cola, Winona

Jim Vrchota

Commercial Ag Banker, Merchants National Bank

Seasonal Staff

Click here to see headshots/bios of our 2016 Seasonal Company Members!

Year-Round Staff

Artistic Director

Doug Scholz-Carlson

Artistic Director

Managing Director

Aaron Young

(507) 474-7900

Production Manager

Joseph Millett

Production Manager


Kelley Olson

Director of Development

Valerie Williams

Education Director and Grants Writer

Marketing/Audience Services

Eileen Moeller

Marketing & Sales Manager


Connie Dretske

Director of Finance

Greg Bean and David Coral in For press inquiries, please contact:

Emily Kurash, Director of Marketing

Press Photos

Photos from all seasons can be found at Flickr.com/GRSF. To gain access to our press quality photos, please request the password by contacting Emily Kurash, Director of Marketing, at 507.474.9376 or emilyk@grsf.org. Once you have the password, click here to be redirected to the Press Photos page.

Press Release Archive


The reviews are in! Read what others are saying about GRSF:


http://www.talkinbroadway.com/page/regional/minn/minn474.html (7/8/16)

As You Like It is easily as frothy and giddy as anything Shakespeare wrote. Great River Shakespeare Festival’s production…takes each bauble and polishes it to a bright and merry shine, resulting in a celebration of love, forgiveness, and the virtue of living amid the glory of nature.”


http://www.talkinbroadway.com/page/regional/minn/minn473.html (7/8/16)

“In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare depicts the mayhem and unintended consequences that result when men take the law into their own hands in the name of principle. It is a stark and violent play, depicting stark and violent times, but with a message that no doubt had bearing in Shakespeare’s day, as it does in our own. Great River Shakespeare Festival has done excellent work with this production at a time when its message might serve us well.”


Work with us!

Young Performers needed for the 2017 Season

Join us on stage.

GRSF needs young men and women age 9 through 17 to perform in the professional company productions this summer.

  • Comedy of Errors – two young women who can sing and dance
  • Richard III – two young people to play the young princes
  • Shipwrecked! An Entertainment – 1 young person to serve as on stage help in rehearsal and performance.

Auditions are 5:30 pm on Friday, March 17 at Winona Senior High School. This is a commitment from May 9th  to July 30th. Download the the description for more information.

Equity and Non-Equity General Auditions

Equity and Non-Equity General Auditions

The Great River Shakespeare Festival completed 4 days of Equity/Non-Equity general auditions for the 2017 season and beyond in conjunction with Park Square Theatre’s general auditions in March, 2017. Auditioners could also opt to be considered for the 2017 Apprentice Actor Training Program.

Check back for updates about general auditions during the summer season in Winona and general auditions in Minneapolis/St. Paul in March of 2018.

Ana Marcu, Tarah Flanagan, Stephanie Lambourn, Rob Hancock, Jucoby Johnson, Mark Murphey and Caroline Amos in “As You Like It” (2016, dir. Doug Scholz-Carlson, photo Dan Norman)

About the Great River Shakespeare Festival

The Great River Shakespeare Festival (GRSF) in Winona, Minnesota is Minnesota’s largest professional Equity theater outside of the Twin Cities. A professional acting company of 16 actors plus 90 designers, directors, technicians, apprentices and other staff come from around the country to present four productions in repertory, education programs, concerts and other events over a 6 week summer season on the campus of Winona State University. Entering its 14th season, GRSF has gained a national reputation for clearly spoken, dynamic, accessible productions of Shakespeare’s plays as well as musicals and modern classics.

Equity contracts are under a letter of agreement (LOA) based on LORT D. Minimum Equity salary for 2017 is $679/wk.  The 2017 company will be 8 Equity, 6 non-Equity and 2 intern contracts. In addition, the Apprentice Actor Training Program will bring 14 early career professional actors from training programs across the country to study with the company. (GRSF.org/apprentice) Dates for the 2017 season are: first rehearsal May 9, first opening June 23, season closes July 30. All contracts include housing and require residence in Winona, Minnesota for the 12 weeks of the season.

Cory Allen in Henry V

The Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, Minnesota is the Minnesota’s largest professional Equity theater outside of the Twin Cities and has enjoyed unprecedented success since its 2004 inaugural season. Employing nearly 100 people at the peak of the season, GRSF presents its six-week long season of rotating repertory from late June to the end of July in the 400-seat mainstage theatre on campus at Winona State University.

In addition to its professional company and staff, GRSF offers internship and apprenticeships to aspiring theatre technicians, administrators, and actors, and annually recruits its interns and apprentices from college and university theatre training programs across the country. The intern/apprentice program experience culminates with performances of a studio theatre production of a play by Shakespeare.

 Corey Allen in “King Henry V” (2013)

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