The 20th Anniversary of The Linny Fowler WillPower Tour
In fall of 2000, the first WillPower Tour took a full production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to 25 schools performing for 7,500 students within the tri-state area. Father Gerard J. Schubert, founder of PSF and Producing Artistic Director at the time, stated the tour “is geared toward bringing Shakespeare directly to the students by visiting their schools,” putting in action the mission to enrich, inspire, engage, and entertain the widest possible audience.
The Linny Fowler WillPower Tour is named for philanthropists Marlene “Linny” and Beall Fowler who generously established an endowment, funding a portion of the expenses each year. Linny Fowler was an active and beloved member of the PSF Board for more than a decade. A major supporter of education and the arts in our community, she advocated for the Extended School Partnership PSF conducts each year with Northeast Middle School in Bethlehem. The ESP Program prepares students for the touring performance, through creative and engaging exercises designed to illuminate the plot, characters, and theme of the play.
The WillPower Tour brings Shakespeare’s plays to life and makes them accessible to students. Students encounter Shakespeare’s works in the high school classroom, often Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, and Hamlet. The WillPower Tour illuminates Shakespeare’s works and aims to turn on young minds to the power of language. Four workshops accompany the performance giving students the opportunity to tackle Shakespearean text and connect with the plays on a deeper, more intimate level. Students enjoy working directly with PSF teaching artists and have expressed how the workshops helped them . One student stated, “The performance I saw today was amazing and it changed the way I see Shakespeare. I hope to see more plays like this in the future.” Another expressed, “seeing the play rather than reading helped provide visuals of how the play goes and the plot. I understand it more to see what is happening than read and try to translate from Shakespearean English.”
Since its start in 2000, WillPower has toured 41 counties out of 67 in Pennsylvania, 187 schools and has reached more than 208,000 students in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.
20 Years of Taking Shakespeare on the Road
2000-WillPower Tour’s first production (Romeo & Juliet)
2001- PSF newly christens The Linny Fowler WillPower Tour in honor of Linny’s enduring support
2007- WillPower earns its first of many National Endowment for the Arts grants, allowing a number of schools to receive the tour for free or at a discount
2008- record breaking attendance of 15,500 (Much Ado About Nothing)
2010- WillPower reaches 19 counties in PA with Hamlet