Great River Shakespeare Festival postpones season 17 performances


Due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, limitations on the use of facilities at Winona State University, and out of an abundance of caution and concern for the Winona community, Great River Shakespeare Festival (GRSF) will be postponing its 17th season until 2021.

Because the theater-making process is so dependent on the presence of many workers who arrive from outside the community — and who arrive in the beginning of May to begin the build process — GRSF has announced that it cannot in good conscience put its company nor the community at risk for increasing the spread of COVID-19. Eileen Moeller, GRSF marketing and sales director, said, “As dedicated members of the Winona community, we feel at this time that it is our civic duty to limit the chances of more people being exposed to the virus.”

“We want to make it very clear that this is not a cancellation. We will mount the season planned for this summer in 2021. Our directors, designers, and technicians have been hard at work and planning since the fall, and we don’t intend to let that work go to waste,” said GRSF Managing Director Aaron Young. “This coming summer was on its way to being one of our strongest seasons yet, and while we are disappointed we won’t get to perform it in the timing we anticipated, we look forward to coming back next year — and coming back stronger.”

Festival organizers shared that they feel now, more than ever, it is important to survive and grow through this crisis. 

Associate Artistic Director Tarah Flanagan said, “Theaters have shuttered across the country, and many artists find themselves suddenly unemployed. It is essential that Great River Shakespeare Festival does not collapse.” By postponing this season, the festival can continue to be a place where artists can convene and practice their craft, an educational and artistic outlet for the community, and a home for a diverse array of artists.

At this time, GRSF is only postponing productions. The administrative team is currently strategizing ways to continue to offer education programs, as well as brainstorming distance learning and engagement opportunities for the whole community. Plans are also underway to consider possible ways to produce plays in the fall or winter.

Flanagan said, “Know that this is not a curtain call. This is only an intermission. And we will be back for the next act.” 

Artistic Director Doug Scholz-Carlson added, “We are saving your seat for you — and you won’t want to miss what comes next.”

All tickets purchased for the 2020 season will be transferred to the same day in the 2021 season. Ticket holders have all been sent individual emails with further instructions and options. Although staff are working from home per the governor’s stay-home order, patrons may still call 507-474-7900 with questions or email


Great River Shakespeare Festival is a nonprofit, professional equity theater company in Winona dedicated to dynamic productions of Shakespeare’s plays, extensive education and community outreach programs, and comprehensive theater training. Its production season has become a staple in the Winona arts scene since its inception 17 years ago. GRSF’s 17th season (2021) will feature “The Tempest,” “The Taming of the Shrew," “Great Expectations," and “Every Brilliant Thing.”


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