20 Years of Ibsen
The Commonweal’s Ibsen expertise is one of the region’s best kept secrets.”
—Michael Bigelow Dixon, Literary Manager, Guthrie Theater, 2004
In 1998, the Commonweal mounted a production of Ghosts, embarking on a 20-year journey with renowned Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. Each year thereafter, culminating in 2017, the Commonweal produced one of Ibsen’s plays among the year’s repertoire; some plays were mounted more than once, but in all 14 titles were fully staged. Given the significant population claiming Norwegian heritage in our region, Ibsen was a natural fit for our company and indeed for Lanesboro and the surrounding area. An entire Norwegian Festival sprang up alongside the productions and Commonweal played host to the Festival for many of those years, though events took place all over town and across the region.
Our Final Ibsen Festival, April 21-23, 2017
The 2017 Festival featured a retrospective on the many years of Ibsen festivals, a sculptor and his works, free food and coffee, an aquavit tasting, and two pieces of theatre, including the world premiere of Minnesota playwright and screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of Ibsen’s final play, When We Dead Awaken. We hope you didn’t miss the final Festival! After 20 years of producing his works, we’re going to give Henrik a well-deserved rest. Given his plays’ stature in the theatrical canon, we will surely mount more Ibsen plays in the future, but our annual commitment ends along with the Festival. Skål!
With only two performances—and only during the Festival—we presented a special production of The Last Two Minutes of the Complete Works of Henrik Ibsen by Greg Allen, a send-up of—well, exactly what the title says! It was a wacky smash-up of sketch comedy, raucous spoof and soul-searching drama as we blazed through the final moments of his entire body of work in one go!
Here’s a video produced in 2012 about the Festival and our production of Pillars of Society:
International Ibsen Scholarship & Award
In 2008 the Commonweal Theatre Company was awarded one of the first International Ibsen Scholarships for our commitment to the works of Henrik Ibsen. In addition to a monetary award, Executive Director Hal Cropp and Ibsen Festival Coordinator Adrienne Sweeney traveled to Norway as guests of the Norwegian government to receive the award and participate in the biennial Ibsen Festival and Conference.
In conjunction with the Ibsen Scholarships, the Norwegian Parliament annually bestows the International Ibsen Award to honor an individual, organization or institution for exceptional achievements defined within the spirit of Ibsen’s work. Seminal theatre director Peter Brook was the recipient of the 2008 International Ibsen Award. Commonweal Executive Director Hal Cropp was nominated in 2009.