Gratitude Never Grows Old

This post may seem a bit of a departure from the type typically seen here but for the season of the year we find ourselves in, I always find it good for the soul to reflect on just what thankfulness and gratitude really mean. Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers primarily for her ability to address something with perfect ease. This is no exception. 

Gratitude Never Grows Old

by Anne Lamott

Many years ago, I wrote that gratitude, not understanding, is the key to joy and equanimity. I think this holds up. Understanding has not proven to be all that useful very often. But gratitude, thankfulness, that sense of having been helped, saved, seen, enriched by life, a good person, a lucky break is magic.

When we feel it, or even walk with it for part of every day, gratitude is a magnetic energy that draws people to us, because it is the most wonderful and attractive emotions. When you are with someone who has developed the habit of gratitude, you SO want what they have. They are not grasping for more. They are savoring, shaking their heads slightly with the quietest wonder. Gratitude contains a heightened and amazed realization of how much goodness is marbled into our strange and sometimes hard, annoying lives. This catches us by surprise as if we are children, and a sudden breeze is playing with our spirits, as if with paper planes, lifting us, restoring our sense of buoyancy, where before there was the opposite — the worried, the trudge, endless calculations and scheming, numbness.

Gratitude tugs on our sleeves and says, “Wake up!” Look around at the kindness that surrounds us, the love we are being shown, the hope that now makes sense. Emily Dickinson wrote that “hope inspires the good to reveal itself,” and we can be taken aback by a sense of amazement at how much someone has shared with us, or even sacrificed, for us, for cranky, secretive, mealy-mouthed you, and me.

Wow, you think: what’s the catch? No catch. No other shoe to drop. God only has one shoe. However, if you want to hold on to this warm feeling, you have to give it away, by passing it along to others. If you want to have grateful loving feelings, which is what heaven is like, you need to do loving things and help others experience life’s capacity for goodness and maybe even grace. This generous person or these people, these new circumstances, this fortune, helps us feel blessed, helps us experience life as meaningful instead of random, hopeful instead of fraught. We get to feel deeply touched, instead of armored, alive again.

Appreciation blooms in our heart, in our being, in the same lives with which we have had so many justified quibbles and complaints. I mean, don’t even get me started, right?

It’s a simple cloth coat resurrection nearly every time. Someone gave us kindness or a mitzvah, like you might offer someone a meal or a glass of cool water. And this opens our hearts, makes us want to share instead of hoard or protect. Feeling stingy makes us small, clenched, dark. Feeling that we have been blessed makes us feel expansive and light. It makes us generous. We make a little gasp of surprised appreciation when we feel grateful to someone, and this gives us more breath, which connects us back to life, where we now have plenty to share. Who knew? And this is why we were born: to live, to give, to receive, awaken, expand.

From the entire Commonweal family, we wish you a happy day of gratitude spent with those you love and adore. And please know how grateful we are for you and all that you do to support professional live theatre in Lanesboro. 
Wanna share in even more to be thankful for? Please join us for a performance of
It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play opening this Friday, November 23 at 7:30. We guarantee it will give you a new lease on your own life. 
GET TICKETS —> Performance Dates & Times.
Thanks for reading, Happy Thanksgiving and I’ll see you at the theatre—Jeremy. 

Things To Do…Commonweal’s Fall Favorites

Some Of Our Favorite Things About Fall

Okay, I am ready to admit it as I begrudgingly pull out my sweaters and scarves. Summer 2018 (boy, do I love summer) has officially passed as the crisp, frosty mornings are upon us. More than any of the other three seasons, fall brings to mind things to do in the great outdoors and/or indoors. Mainly because one can still spend a decent amount of time outside without the threat of frostbite. And so, I give you a quick list of fall things to do from some of your favorite Commonwealers.

Thomas White (Production Manager): I love fall food. Honeycrisp apples, hot drinks on cold nights. Soup season!

Lauren Schulke (Apprentice Company): Hiking right when the leaves are falling!

Ben Gorman (Actor; Marketing Associate): Read and share autumnal / Halloween / horror / wistful-seasonal stories. By candlelight. Maybe with a fire going.

Josiah Laubenstein (Actor; Marketing Associate): Sit down to a cup of coffee and a slice of pumpkin pie.

Adrienne Sweeney (Actress; External Communications Director): I love to rake all the leaves into a huge pile and then have my dog Lucy run through them.

Hal Cropp (Actor; Executive Director): Take a fall hike through the leaves (but only if the Packers are not on TV).

Rachel Kuhnle (Actress; Administration Director): My favorite thing to do in October is going to haunted houses. I always try to go to Valley Fair in October when sections of the park are turned into haunted houses.

Philip Muehe (Actor; Director; Marketing Associate): Corn mazes and apple orchard adventures!

Brandt Roberts (Actor; Production Associate): Strolling through the woods on a crisp day.

Ian Sutherland (Apprentice Company): Watching horror movies/reading spooky stories/listening to horror podcasts.

Eric Lee (Actor; Marketing Associate): When the weather cools down, I can’t wait to start steeping my Lapsang Souchong! And if you’re not familiar, it’s a smoked black tea, and it’s like drinking a campfire in a cup. So if I’m around, and you think you smell something burning, hopefully, that’s just my tea!

Bailey Otto (Production Stage Manager): My favorite fall activity is listening to spooky podcasts while walking on the trail.

Jeremy van Meter (Actor; Communications Manager; Yours Truly): Finding a space for a solitary walk while listening to college football on the radio, yes, the radio. Go Hawkeyes!

There you have it. Some of the things we enjoy about the time of year we find ourselves in. One of the great things to do in Lanesboro right now is to take in one of the final six performances of Dracula: Prince of Blood.
Our world-premiere production from the desk of our own Scott Dixon must close Sunday, November 11. PURCHASE TICKETS —> November-December Calendar.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the theatre—Jeremy. 

Our Talented Aquatic Cast Member(s)

As we prepare to say farewell to The Clean House this weekend, we think it only fitting to hear from the smallest members of the cast whom we have lovingly named Pink and Floyd. The script necessitates having a “fighting fish” onstage and with the length of the run, it was determined that there should be two fish that would “tag-team” and role share performances. Rigorous auditions were held and the two aquatic thespians chosen have been top-notch all summer. And so, without further ado, a word from Pink and Floyd. 

A Role-Share Like None Other

PINK—As the cast gets ready to close The Clean House, I was asked to talk a little bit about my time here and the process.

Last spring I had no idea what my summer and fall would look like. I assumed that I would be sitting in a shallow bowl of water for a few more weeks until some kid, freshly bored from being out of school, demanded a fish to keep them company. At that point anything goes; maybe I’d live to a ripe old age of 3, maybe things would turn south very quickly. Kids are fickle that way.

FLOYD—When I saw the audition posting saying the Commonweal was looking for ‘Talented Aquatic Acrobats & Strong Swimmers,” I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have a cousin who was in a circus once, and my late great-grandfather was part of a magic act, so I’ve got a little bit of that show-business blood coursing through my veins. I did my best to showcase what I could do, swimming to the left, then back to the right, then diving down while twirling slightly. To be perfectly honest I hadn’t warmed up completely and the twirl was a little more strained than I would’ve liked, but in the end, I booked the gig!

Rehearsals were grueling. I wasn’t used to six hours of rehearsal a day. Quite frankly my attention span is probably more suited to 10 to 12 seconds of rehearsal. Luckily the role is a role-share with another fish so we were able to help pick each other’s energy up when one of us would begin to lag a little. This also helped ensure that I was able to attend a friend’s wedding over the summer on the North Shore.

PINK—Preparing for a performance was like nothing I had ever done before. My typical performance routine before coming to the Commonweal consisted of swimming an inch to my left, running into the side of a bowl, and then repeating the process by swimming to the right. Something cool about the Commonweal was from day one of rehearsals I had the fishbowl that you see on stage. That might not seem like a big deal, but trust me, when you do community productions of Finding Nemo on a shoestring budget, you’re not always afforded such luxuries. With all that room to swim, I was able to make some performance discoveries that I think really enhance the storytelling.

FLOYD—Before the show I like to swim a few laps, just to get limbered up. I spend a good deal of time up on the platform closer to the hot stage lights, so, as with all actors, staying hydrated is a huge key to my success. Even though I don’t have any “lines”, per-se, I still do a full vocal warm up, partly out of superstition. But once the show starts I try to stay as “in-the-moment” as possible; mostly because, as a fish, I don’t have much in the way of short term memory—for me, it’s all about listening and responding!

One very exciting thing about this process was the stunt work involved! A lot of shows will set up a tank in a spot on stage and simply leave it there, but for those who have seen the show, I’m sure you noticed the moment in act two where the actress who plays Ana carries me down the stairs and sets me down on the center table. Usually, that kind of action sequence is done with CGI, but Megan, our director, was insistent that the audience see the move take place. Every night I get to feel like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible!

PINK & FLOYD—As we wind down I just want to thank the Commonweal for allowing us this opportunity to shine. Not many places would’ve cast a completely unknown in such a central role, but they saw something in us and we’ll be forever grateful.

Your chance to see the fine work of Pink, Floyd and the other talented cast members is running short. As of this entry, The Clean House has just three performances remaining and must close on
Monday, Oct. 22.
GET TICKETS —> Performance Calendar
Thanks for reading (albeit tongue-in-cheek) and I’ll see you at the theatre—Jeremy.