PSF’s Educational WillPower Tour returns to the road on its 20th anniversary

Center Valley, PA – Celebrating 20 years of touring Shakespeare to schools, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s annual WillPower Tour returns to the road and the stage—engaging and entertaining middle- and high-school students across Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Witches, ghosts, prophecies, and curses plague a Scottish king in William Shakespeare’s brilliant tragedy Macbeth. The production will tour to schools October 9 through November 22.

“The Linny Fowler WillPower Tour,” says Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy, “is named in honor of philanthropist Linny Fowler, who so believed in the power of the arts and education for young people that she provided an endowment to support the program. Nearly 200,000 students have been the beneficiaries.”

The tour is also made possible by generous support from Harry C. Trexler Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Century Fund, and many other funding partners. Thanks to this support, PSF has presented free performances of the tour to every high school and middle school in the Allentown School District in recent years.

The centerpiece of PSF’s educational programming, the WillPower Tour has served 185 schools in New Jersey, Delaware, and 41 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

The tour meets state education standards and includes a professionally directed 85-minute production complete with sets and costumes, professional actors delivering compelling performances and quality curriculum, a classroom study guide specifically tailored to Macbeth, and a post-show discussion with the cast after the performance. “Additionally, professional actor/teachers work directly with students in workshops designed to turn on young minds to the power of language, unlock the potency of Shakespeare’s text, and illuminate performance fundamentals,” says Mulcahy.

Education is one of PSF’s core values. Festival founder Fr. Jerry Schubert, OSFS, believed Shakespeare to be the essence and pinnacle of theatre artistry and a profound celebration of humanity for all ages. The WillPower Tour is infused with this spirit of learning and artistry, set in motion by Fr. Schubert and further championed by Mulcahy, who also heads the DeSales University acting program.

“For some students, WillPower is their introduction to Shakespeare. For some, it nurtures and reinforces an existing interest in the world’s greatest dramatic literature,” says Mulcahy. “For all, WillPower will provide knowledge and deepen understanding, giving students an opportunity to really get to know Shakespeare by directly experiencing a fully professional production.”

Matt Pfeiffer, award winning Philadelphia director and PSF veteran actor/director of 21 years, will return to direct Macbeth. His credits include the Arden Theatre, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre, Delaware Theatre Company, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Villanova University, and many others. He is a twelve-time Barrymore nominee and winner for his direction of The Whale and The Invisible Hand both with Theatre Exile. He’s also a recipient of the F. Otto Haas Award and a graduate of DeSales University.

The cast will include recent DeSales University theatre graduates and recent Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival actors MJ Bird, Dane McMichael, Bo Sayre, and Jhalil-Marquis Younger. They will be joined by Festival returners and newcomers Iman Aaliyah, Dante Green, Amanda Lahoz, and Ben Natan.

The artistic team includes costume designs by Janus Stefanowicz; set design by Steve TenEyck; and sound design by William Neal. The Stage Manager is Claire Taylor.

PSF’s WillPower Tour is part of Shakespeare in American Communities, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. PSF is one of 40 professional theatre companies across the nation selected to perform a Shakespeare play with a professional team of actors for middle-and high-schools and conduct related educational activities for students.

To book the WillPower Tour, school representatives may contact Director of Education, Anelise Diaz at 610.282.WILL (9455), ext. 9, or anelise.diaz@pashakespeare.org. (Availability is limited.)

Media Representatives: For more information, photos and/or interview opportunities, please contact Tina.slak@pashakespeare.org at 610.282.9455, ext.

The professional theatre company at DeSales University, PSF features acclaimed actors from Broadway, television, and film, winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, and other major theatre awards, from New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and around the country.

2020 Season: soon to be announced. Visit pashakespeare.org.

About Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy, is the only professional Equity theatre of its scope and scale within a 50-mile radius. PSF is one of only a handful of theatres on the continent producing Shakespeare, musicals, classics, and contemporary plays, all of which can all be seen in rep and in multiple spaces within a few visits in a single summer season. Similarly, PSF was among just a handful of theatres on the continent in recent summers to produce three Shakespeare plays in a single summer season.  A patron would have to travel seven to nine hours from PSF to find a comparable range of offerings at a single theatre within a few weeks’ time.

The Festival’s award-winning company of many world-class artists includes Broadway, film, and television veterans, and winners and nominees of the Tony, Emmy, Obie, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, Hayes, Lortel, and Barrymore awards. A leading Shakespeare theatre with a national reputation for excellence, PSF has received coverage in The Washington Post, NPR, American Theatre Magazine, Playbill.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and in recent seasons The New York Times has identified PSF as one of the leading summer theatre festivals in the nation. “A world-class theater experience on a par with the top Bard fests,” is how one New York Drama Desk reviewer characterized PSF.

Founded in 1992 and the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, PSF’s mission is to enrich, inspire, engage, and entertain the widest possible audience through first-rate productions of classical and contemporary plays, with a core commitment to Shakespeare and other master dramatists, and through an array of education and mentorship programs. A not-for-profit theatre, PSF receives significant support from its host, DeSales University, from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. With 150 performances of seven productions, the Festival attracts patrons each summer from 30+ states. In 28 years, PSF has offered 175 total productions (74 Shakespeare), and entertained 900,000+ patrons from 50 states, now averaging 34,000-40,000 in attendance each summer season, plus another 13,000 students each year through its WillPower Tour. PSF is a multi-year recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts: Shakespeare in American Communities, and is a constituent of Theatre Communications Group, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and the Shakespeare Theatre Association. In 2013, leaders of the world’s premier Shakespeare theatres gathered at PSF as the Festival hosted the international STA Conference.

The Festival’s vision is for world-class work.

PATRICK MULCAHY (Producing Artistic Director, PSF) Since assuming leadership in 2003, Mulcahy has led PSF’s surge in artistic excellence, financial stability, and national recognition. Accomplishments include first-ever grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, attracting a multitude of award-winning artists including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Barrymore, and Emmy awards, a doubling of annual attendance, a successful campaign to double the Festival’s endowment, and the expansion of the number of Actors’ Equity contracts per season. He led the strategic planning process that led to PSF’s Vision 2030, a commitment to world-class professional theatre, and coverage in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Washington Post. As a professional director, actor, and fight director, credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, television and radio. Mr. Mulcahy has acted with many industry luminaries including Don Cheadle, Angela Bassett, Cynthia Nixon, and Tony Shaloub at the New York Shakespeare Festival, The Roundabout Theatre, Hartford Stage, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, and the Walnut Street Theatre.  He served as fight director for A Few Good Men on Broadway, and multiple Off-Broadway productions starring Marcia Gay Harden, John Mahoney, Patrick Dempsey, and John Savage. He directed Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga in The Real Thing, and, for PSF, directed The Winter’s Tale, Henry IV, Part 1, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Shakespeare in Love. Also Head of Acting at DeSales, Patrick holds degrees in acting and directing from Syracuse University.