Commonweal co-founder to lead Great River Shakespeare Festival


The Winona-based Great River Shakespeare Festival announced today that Commonweal Theater co-founder Eric Bunge will become its new Managing Director July 18th.

Bunge (pictured left) replaces Jeff Stevenson who has resigned from his position as GRSF General Manager effective August 31st. Stevenson has been GM at GRSF since May 2006.

The overlap allows Bunge to come in mid-season and learn the day-to-day running of the festival with Stevenson still at the helm.

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Bunge co-founded the Commonweal Theater in Lanesboro in southeastern Minnesota in 1988.

The theater is credited as being central to the town's resurgence as a cultural and tourist center. Bunge led the Commonweal until 2010, a period marked by an aggressive fundraising campaign to keep the company stong, and to build a new theater which opened in 2007.

The Commonweal board asked Bunge to resign in December last year as it refocused its mission under the leadership of Hal Cropp.

The GRSF is clearly looking to Bunge to help take the Festival into a new phase. In a release today Producing Director Paul Barnes is quoted as saying: "It's rare to find someone of Eric's theatre management background and experience outside a major metropolitan area. I look forward to working with Eric in the coming years as the Festival deepens its roots in Winona and throughout the region."