GRSF hires Melissa Maxwell as co-associate artistic director


Great River Shakespeare Festival (GRSF) recently announced the hiring of company member Melissa Maxwell as a year-round co-associate artistic director. The festival made the announcement on Sunday, June 28, as part of its first #GRSFEverywhere virtual event.

For those present at the “Great Speeches” performance on Sunday, June 28, there was an additional surprise on top of hearing monologues from some of GRSF’s most popular actors.

Maxwell has been part of the GRSF acting company for the past three seasons. She has played the imposing and foreboding Queen Margaret in “Richard III,” the Abbess in “The Comedy of Errors,” as magnificent Queen Elizabeth and the Nurse in “Shakespeare in Love,” the Countess in “All’s Well That Ends Well,” 16 characters in “No Child...” and The Queen in “Cymbeline.”

In addition to her commanding presence on the stage, Maxwell has also been pivotal in many of the artistic discussions and decisions behind the scenes, and has often served as a trusted consultant. Upon joining the GRSF company in 2017, Maxwell quickly became ingrained in the life of the Winona community: engaging in dialogues, writing letters, and phoning friends of the festival in the off-season. Her recent appearance at the Guthrie Theatre in “Steel Magnolias” was met with visits from festival fans at nearly every performance.

As a co-associate artistic director, Maxwell will participate in play selection, casting and other hiring decisions, and company training.

Great River Shakespeare Festival is a nonprofit, professional equity theater company in Winona whose mission is to enrich people’s lives by creating dynamic, clearly understood productions of Shakespeare and other playwrights who celebrate the spoken word. Programs include an annual play festival, extensive education and community outreach programs, and comprehensive theater training. Its summer season has become a staple in the Winona arts scene since its inception 16 years ago. GRSF’s 17th season in 2021 will feature “The Tempest,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” “Great Expectations,” and “Every Brilliant Thing.” For more information visit


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