A Unique Company
Our Mission: To enrich the common good through actor based story telling which is both transcendent and relevant.
Since 1989, the professional artists of the Commonweal have brought to life soulful stories told with honesty and creativity. Located in the heart of southeast Minnesota’s bluff country, Lanesboro (pop. 750) is home to the company’s theatre in its historic downtown.
The heart of the Commonweal’s programming is the mainstage season. This balanced yet challenging repertory is traditionally comprised of five plays with more than 180 performances, chosen from among the world’s finest classic, contemporary, and emerging playwrights. Because Lanesboro is located amidst a high concentration of Norwegian-American families, the Commonweal produced the works of Henrik Ibsen for 20 consecutive years, culminating in 2017 with a production of Ibsen’s final play, When We Dead Awaken. The Commonweal also has an active new play development program, and has produced more than two dozen world premieres in its history. The company boasts a distinctive organizational model with resident ensemble members (who have come from all over the country to make their home in the Lanesboro area) fulfilling the day-to-day artistic and operational needs of the company as artist/administrators.
A New Home
In July 2007, the $3.5 million Commonweal facility opened to widespread acclaim. While offering patrons a welcoming, intimate experience in a 200-seat house, the exterior façade recreates three charming Lanesboro shop fronts, and the interior design focuses on the natural beauty and history of the region with barn doors acting as bathroom stalls, stone walls mirroring the surrounding bluffs, concrete floors reflecting the building’s prior life as a cheese factory, and seats reclaimed from the original Guthrie Theatre.
Focus on Education
The Commonweal Theatre maintains that each artist is most fully realized when engaged simultaneously in creating, teaching, and learning. Every year, we reach more than 4,000 students of all ages through year-round educational outreach. Commonweal artists teach master classes at regional colleges and universities, offer student matinees and pre-show workshops for middle and high school students, and provide week-long Road Scholar programs to life-long learners (sponsored by Winona State University). Commonweal’s apprenticeship program immerses new and recent graduates in the artistic and administrative operation of a professional theatre company.