The long and luxurious days of summer are even sweeter with a taste of provocative and engaging live theater. Winona’s Great River Shakespeare Festival embarks on its 16th season with a six-week slate of professionally produced classics and daring new work designed to challenge, entertain, and delight with warm-weather memories to last throughout the year.
With productions running in repertory over the course of the summer, with both daytime matinees and evening performances, Great River enables theater lovers to fill their dance cards with a pair of Shakespeare classics: the seldom-produced Cymbeline, which tells a beautiful story of radical forgiveness, and the bloody intensity of Macbeth. (With its witches, battles, and epic questions of conscience, the latter is perfect for anyone missing sword-clattering thrills after the series end of Game of Thrones).
Those who adore both comedies and the classics will flock to The Servant of Two Masters, a new production of the commedia dell’arte story of the scheming madcap Truffaldino, whose machinations reach a hilarious climax when he tries to serve two complete dinners to masters who are unaware of what’s going on. As one character rightly exclaims, “There is nothing normal about any of this!”
While the power of the classics endures, Great River Shakespeare Festival also continues its tradition of bringing newer works to its audiences to spark conversation in the hours and days after the curtain falls. The one-woman show No Child… by Nilaja Sun is a surefire conversation starter: through the lens of a 10th-grade teacher, this intimate and provocative show delves into the profound issues of our public education system with heart, humor, and insight.
The newest play on the Great River stage is one that is sure to have people talking. White Rabbit Red Rabbit by Nassim Soleimanpour has been a global sensation performed by famous actors including Whoopi Goldberg and Nathan Lane. In it, an actor walks onto the stage to open a sealed envelope and perform a play they’ve never read before; it’s a night full of surprises that’s never the same experience twice. What does this mean? Suffice to say that actor and audience are asked to keep a secret between them at the end of the night, and those who aren’t in the room miss out forever.
In keeping with a sense of fun and adventure, Great River Shakespeare is also taking its production of The Servant of Two Masters out of the theater and into community venues, including Rochester’s Forager Brewery and Pearl Street Brewery in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on select dates in July—with $25 performances that include a buffet dinner (not served by Truffaldino, who has enough on his plate).
One of the most vital and dynamic theaters in greater Minnesota, Great River Shakespeare’s full slate of offerings also include a wide range of reasonable and accessible ticket packages, from single plays to multiple-show passes, all available here. For additional information, call the ticket office at 507-474-7900, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.