Art Blooms This Spring

One day, this winter will be over. While that may seem far off now as the snow continues to fall, we are already looking ahead to the spring. We’re thrilled to announce the launch of a variety of spring programming. Associate Artistic Director Adrienne Sweeney has all of the details for you!

By Adrienne Sweeney

As Michael Scott from The Office would say:

“OKAY! It’s happening!”

I am thrilled to announce the official launch of our long-awaited second play series, Wealhouse, with Bakersfield Mist by Stephen Sachs. Even more exciting to me—I get to perform this two-person show with my hubby, Hal Cropp! I play Maude, a woman who believes she has purchased a painting by the famed abstract artist Jackson Pollock. She calls in an art critic to verify the work. Needless to say, sparks fly. Based on a true story, it’s a funny, saucy play about the nature of art and authenticity. I just can’t wait to jump into a role that is so very different from what I typically do here at the Commonweal.

Bakersfield Mist by Stephen Sachs
Adrienne and Hal star in Bakersfield Mist in March.

You might remember, Wealhouse was set to launch in 2017, but was postponed due to the challenges attending Scott Dixon’s cancer diagnosis. Wealhouse is a passion for many of us here at the Commonweal, but particularly for Scott, who championed the opportunity to engage our audiences in bold new ways. When I read Bakersfield Mist I knew this was just such a show. It really got me thinking…what is art? How can you tell? Who gets to decide? With a play that arouses these types of questions, it was a no-brainer that we would collaborate with our local experts, Lanesboro Arts, to offer a two-weekend celebration of creativity—Spring Into Art.

Not your typical art festival, Spring Into Art will be highly interactive, giving you the chance to create your own work at an art-making crawl. There’ll be a raucous “Canvas Clash” during which regional artists will compete in a multi-round, speed-painting art “battle” with works being created right before your eyes and you as the judge. The award-winning bio-pic Pollock will be screened both weekends. Panel discussions with curators and arts educators will address the questions above and more. And of course, there will be theatre! Not only will Wealhouse launch with Bakersfield Mist, but the Commonweal Apprentice Company will produce their capstone project—in a word by Lauren Yee.

The Spring Into Art Festival will take place March 21st – 24th, and March 28th-31st, 2019

You might be asking yourself—if the apprentice show is on the mainstage, where will Bakersfield Mist be performed? Another component of a Wealhouse production is that it will encourage us to explore a variety of performance spaces. In this case, Bakersfield Mist will find us back in our old home, next door—the St. Mane Theatre!

As we kick off our fourth decade of producing professional live theatre here in Lanesboro, I am delighted to be a part of this celebration of what makes Lanesboro truly unique—art! I hope you’ll join us as we explore new horizons.

We hope you can join us for this new festival, especially for our two theatrical offerings, Bakersfield Mist and in a word. See you in Lanesboro, soon! For Tickets –> Performance Calendar 

(Please be advised, both productions contain adult language and themes.) 

Passion Drives Us

Every year our apprentices come together and select a play they are passionate about to produce from the ground up. Everything from the marketing to all of the design elements are created by them. It’s a culmination of their time with us, and all they have learned from this past season. This year’s class has selected Lauren Yee’s gripping play in a word. We asked the members of this year’s apprentice class why they picked the play, and what about it speaks to them.

By Ian Sutherland

Gabriel Peñaloza-Hernandez, Brandon Cayetano, Lauren Schulke, and I have been working on the Apprentice Capstone Project since this last June. This project is the culmination of our year in Lanesboro, presenting us with an opportunity to put our new learned ideas into practice. We will use all the knowledge we have gained this year from both observing the Commonweal’s many administrative teams, and experiencing first hand how productions are planned and executed.

When the four of us had all finally assembled as a team last summer, we were tasked by the company with finding a script to produce using our combined talents. We spent quite a while going back and forth over scripts, finally landing on in a word by Lauren Yee, a script that all four of us are excited and passionate about. In the show, Fiona and her husband Guy come to terms with the loss of their son Tristan, while the words they use to describe their situation start to morph and change meaning. Brandon says that: “…it’s a show all about language and how people may interpret it differently.” Though the show centers on a heavy subject, it is not without playful moments, as Lauren notes: “…in a word made me smile and laugh while still telling an important story.”

The 2018-2019 Apprentice Company

in a word also presents us with some significant challenges. The play does not always follow an easy timeline, and the location of scenes varies wildly. As Gabriel observes: “We the storytellers must make sure that the audience comes along with our story or else they might lose vital information.” The responsibility will fall to us and our director and fellow Commonweal Company Member, Rachel Kuhnle, to bring the audience into the story and help them experience it fully.

Most challenging will be the simple fact that all four apprentices are taking on multiple roles in the process of producing the show. Lauren is one of the show’s three actors and taking on set and props design; Brandon is acting, costume designing, and overseeing our budget; Gabriel is stage managing and designing; and I am acting, sound designing, and overseeing the marketing for the show.
Though this show demands a huge amount of work from us, we are ecstatic to be putting on in a word, a show we have grown to love passionately.  We hope to see you there at the show in March!

It has been a joy for us to watch this class learn and grow this past season. Be sure to catch a performance of in a word when it begins on March 15th! For Tickets –> Performance Calendar 

A Milestone Season of Professional Live Theatre

30th Season Milestones

by David Hennessey

Scott and Stela read Love Letters to start
A notable year. Then others joined hearts
’Neath Salt-Water Moon.
Thereafter, we soon
Met three unsung women who learned to chart

Faraway stars: staring up at the night
We bathed, awestruck, in swirling points of light!
A fun change of pace
Brought the cut-throat chase
Of kids seeking spelling trophies. The sight,

In Clean House, of messes we can’t control—
Including sickness that will not let go—
Taught us gently how
To live in the now.
After years of writing, with heart and soul,

His masterful Dracula, Scotty thrilled
As we staged it with full suspense and chills.
Standing ovations,
Public sensation!
He basked in the glow of visions fulfilled.

When the day finally came he had to leave,
We celebrated him more than we grieved.
We dedicated
Our last show slated
To A Wonderful Life the heavens retrieved.

That Dracula script? It’s now winging high
In our lobby, soaring to Silent Sky.

Click any image below to view the full photo.

And what a season it has been! Your love and support have guided this company to the end of our 30th year producing professional live theatre in Lanesboro. This year, we logged a record number of season pass holders, welcomed well over 1,500 first time patrons, surpassed our fall donation campaign efforts and saw more than 21,000 people walk through the doors and take a seat in the theatre. On that strength and with renewed spirit and energy, we forge ahead to 2019 and our 31st season. Thank you for a fabulous year — if you like us, talk about us and we look forward to sharing more compelling stories with you next year. 

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the theatre—Jeremy.