For generations the theater has benefitted from those with an appreciation for the fine arts. Pat Grogg has continued this tradition of generosity through a gift to the Illinois Shakespeare Festival.
Grogg, professor emerita in the Department of Management and Quantitative Methods, made the gift to celebrate a milestone birthday and support a festival that she sees as a gem of the community. A longtime fan of theater, Grogg has seen more than 100 productions of Shakespeare at the festival in the last 36 years.
Her gift will bring veteran actor Lindsay Smiling ’99 to the festival in the roles of the Duke in The Comedy of Errors, Macduff in Macbeth, and the Grandfather Clock in Failure: A Love Story. Smiling has performed across the nation with companies such as the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Pennsylvania Shakespeare, Syracuse Stage, Pittsburgh Public, and Milwaukee Rep.
“There’s nothing that I have enjoyed more in our town than the Shakespeare Festival,” Grogg said. “The gift is a great way to observe a significant birthday with old friends and new friends.”
Grogg’s love of Shakespeare stems from high school literature classes when all students were required to read plays such as Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, and Julius Caesar. Yet Grogg has noticed that changing curriculums leave fewer students with the opportunity to experience Shakespeare.
“Many people are experiencing these plays for the first time,” Grogg said. “The Shakespeare Festival creates a bridge between what is brand new and what is timeless.”
Grogg has served as president of Friends of the Arts and also on the campaign committee for the Theatre at Ewing. Though she has given her time to the arts in the past, this year will be a first for Grogg as she will appear as a townsperson in The Comedy of Errors, as part of a one-time, walk-on role. The onstage appearance is the festival’s way of showing appreciation for Grogg’s generosity and leadership.
“Bloomington-Normal has felt like an artistic home from the moment I arrived,” said Kevin Rich, artistic director for the festival. “I was immediately struck by how supportive of the festival the audience is. Pat is taking this support to the next level.”
Dick Folse, managing director of the festival, agreed with the sentiment.
“Pat is already generous with time and support,” Folse said. “News of the gift made me smile because it is a landmark gift that is very much in the forefront of the season.”
Grogg’s generosity will increase the high caliber of entertainment that has become the hallmark of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival and ensure that new generations experience the plays that have made such a significant impact on her life.
To find out more about how your gift can benefit the Illinois Shakespeare Festival and other artistic endeavors at Illinois State University, please contact Brian Gawor at (309)438-7735 or bjgawor@IllinoisState.edu.