Three Questions with… Patrick Mulcahy of PA Shakespeare Festival

patrick_mulcahy copy1. What is the PA Shakespeare Festival? How long has it been in existence? What performances are being featured this year?

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival is a fully professional theatre company at DeSales University. The Festival has a growing national and international reputation for excellence, and is one of only a handful of professional theatres on the continent with such a broad range of offerings that patrons can see within a few visits or a few weeks’ time.

Each summer, PSF produces a season of Shakespeare and other classics, contemporary plays, children’s theatre and Broadway musicals. PSF is summer home to nearly 200 artists from around the country, including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Emmy, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Jefferson, Hayes, and Barrymore awards. Every year 45,000-50,000 patrons attend PSF from 30+ states and 30+ counties in PA – 783,000 patrons from 50 states and many countries since 1992. Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival will celebrate its 25th anniversary season in 2016 with productions of Julius Caesar, West Side Story, The Taming of the Shrew, Blithe Spirit, and Love’s Labour’s Lost, plus two offerings for children and their families: The Little Mermaid and Shakespeare for Kids.

2. Tell us about the new Capital Campaign. What is the goal? When did it start and how much progress has been made so far? What will the funds be used for?

The Campaign for Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival will enable the Festival to fulfill its Vision 2030 for world-class theatre close to home and superior arts education available to the widest possible audience. The Campaign for Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival began in 2013 with the aim to raise $3.5 million to increase our annual operating dollars, add to the endowments that sustain and grow our programming, and fund equipment and technology upgrades to improve our productions. By two of the three measures of success, the campaign has already succeeded and is in the final stages of completing its fundraising. We have already raised $3.5 million toward our overall goal and are now seeking the last few gifts that will put the campaign atop its goals in each separate category of giving.

Treasures like PSF do not last of their own volition. Caring people taking meaningful action is what makes them last and thrive. The generosity of our campaign donors helps us make exquisite experiences and cultural treasures available to our community now and for generations to come.

3. What types of education-related activities does PA Shakespeare Festival do in the community, specifically in the City of Allentown?

Fully half of the 50,000 patrons PSF serves each year are students. The Linny Fowler WillPower Tour is the centerpiece of the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s educational programming. Now in its 17th year, WillPower has served more than 160,000 students and has a well-established reputation for excellence. The tour features a professionally directed 80-minute production of a Shakespeare play with sets and costumes. Trained and experienced actor/teachers deliver compelling performances and quality curriculum through workshops and other sessions with the students.

A major goal of WillPower is to “turn on” young minds to the power of language. WillPower is the only tour of its kind in Pennsylvania that features a company of this size and scope performing classical work. Nationally, WillPower has been selected for seven of the last nine years to participate in “Shakespeare in American Communities,” funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Last fall, PSF’s WillPower Tour served nearly 2,000 students in Lehigh County including Allentown Central Catholic High School, with William Allen High School and Roberto Clemente Charter School receiving free performances. Last season, PSF awarded more than $6,100 in tickets to its summer children’s productions thru the Free Will program to Lehigh County groups including Boys and Girls Club of Allentown, Lehigh Valley Child Care Center, Lincoln Leadership Academy, Boys and Girls Club – Turner Street, Camelot for Children and Camp Gan Israel Lehigh Valley. PSF’s new Where There’s a WILL, There’s a Way program seeks to deepen this kind of experience and provide WillPower attendees with access to the Festival’s summer productions.

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