We Give Thanks

We say it at the end of every performance at the Commonweal. At the end of a season, those performances number in the hundreds. From the bottom of our hearts, we say “thank you.” At this time of year when we break to give thanks, you, our patrons are on the list of things that we are incredibly grateful for. You are the reason why we do what we do. Without your love and support, an upcoming thirtieth birthday celebration all next year would not be possible.

Today, I want to share with you the thoughts from Hal Cropp, Commonweal Executive Director, when he accepted the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Excellence Award last month. This award is yet another thing that we are grateful for at this time of year because of the recognition it provides. I smile widely every time I see the glass sculpture that accompanies the recognition! I hope you do, too.

To read Hal’s thoughts, please click the link below.

2017 Minnesota Nonprofit Award Acceptance

Happy Thanksgiving. See you at the theatre,


Famous Ghostwritten Books

My basic belief about the making of stories is that they pretty much make themselves. The job of the writer is to give them a place to grow. Stories are found things, like fossils in the ground. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible.—Stephen King

Our current production of Ghost-Writer raises many questions, as all great mysteries do, the most important being, “where do stories come from?” And with many great plays, that question is not directly answered. Another question raised regards the author’s voice and the idea that a novel can be in an author’s voice yet not be from the author’s hand. That said, I’ve found some interesting facts and information about the realm of ghostwriting from Derek Lewis, a business writer based in Baton Rouge, LA. As a ghostwriter himself, Derek helps business professionals write their next great business book. In case you’re new to the concept, in true ghostwriting, the author authors the book; the ghostwriter translates their thoughts into words. Put another way: the author can write the book without the ghostwriter, but the ghostwriter cannot write the book without the author.

For instance, did you know that the following authors utilized the services of a ghostwriter?

  • Alexandre Dumas in The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Michael Crichton in Latitudes (finished posthumously)
  • Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond
  • R. L. Stine, author of the children’s series Goosebumps
  • Tom Clancy
  • Robert Ludlum
  • James Patterson
  • Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve
  • Hilary Clinton in Living History, acknowledging Maryanne Vollers
  • Sarah Palin, U.S. presidential candidate and governor of Alaska, in Going Rogue, with Lynn Vincent
  • Ronald Reagan in his autobiography An American Life
  • General Norman Schwarzkopf in It Doesn’t Take a Hero, “with Peter Petre”

Here are some of the more famous business authors who wrote their books with ghostwriters:

  • Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People with Ken Shelton
  • Jack Welch in Jack: Straight From the Gut, “with John Byrne”
  • Lee Iaccoca in Iaccoca, “with William Novak”
  • Donald Trump in The Art of the Deal, “with Tony Schwartz”
  • Howard Schultz in Onward, “with Joanne Gordon”
  • John Maxwell in fifty books with Charlie Wetzel
  • Richard Branson in Losing My Virginity, acknowledging Edward Whitley
  • Andy Grove, chairman of Intel, in Only the Paranoid Survive, “with Catherine Fredman”
  • Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness (inspiring the film with Will Smith), “with Quincy Troupe”
  • Meg Whitman in The Power of Many “with Joan O’C. Hamilton”
  • Dave Longaberger in Longaberger: An American Success Story, acknowledging Robert L. Shook
  • Sam Walton in Made in America, “with John Huey”

And then here are some surprising ghostwriting pieces of trivia (and gossip):

  • It’s not proven, but many academics accept it as fact that the Bard of Avon used a ghostwriter. Yes, even Shakespeare couldn’t keep up with Shakespeare’s genius.
  • Mozart ghostwrote music for other composers early in his career for wealthy patrons who wanted to give the impression they were gifted composers.
  • There is a strong suspicion that President Ulysses S. Grant’s autobiography was ghostwritten by none than his longtime friend, Mark Twain.
  • Despite a libel suit disputing the fact, JFK’s Profiles in Courage was likely a product of his close collaboration with Ted Sorensen.

A million thanks for the generosity of Derek Lewis for his willingness to allow me to share this information. If you’re curious about Derek and what he does in the realm of business thought leadership books, check out his website by clicking here.

Ghost-Writer at the Commonweal has just four more performances on the calendar and you can reserve your choice right here on the website.

See you at the theatre…Jeremy

A Mission Recognized

by Jeremy van Meter

It is not often that we within the Commonweal Theatre Company publicly “toot our own horn.” We are happy, for the most part, to let the quality of our work speak for us. Today is not that day. Today we have officially announced that the Commonweal is the recipient of the 2017 Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and Propel Nonprofits Award for Excellence. Woo-Hoo, indeed!

Presented each year since 1987, the Mission and Excellence Awards recognize and honor the contributions of Minnesota nonprofits in the areas of Innovation, Advocacy, Anti-Racism, Responsive Philanthropy and Excellence (for large and small organizations). All nominees met a rigorous standard of evaluation in a wide range of areas, including board governance, financial management, civic engagement and, of course, artistic excellence. The Commonweal is the winner of the award in the category of small organizations and is, in fact, the first professional theatre in the history of the awards to ever receive that distinction from the council. As we sit on the cusp of a 30th birthday in 2018, this award comes at a very appropriate time in the life of the theatre and reaffirms our mission of providing live, professional theatre of the highest quality possible and to enrich the common good while doing so.

Commonweal Executive Director, along with Development Director Scott Dixon and members of the Commonweal Board of Directors will accept the award this Friday night, October 13 as part of MCN’s Annual Conference at the RiverCentre in St. Paul. In speaking with Hal about the award he said, “We are deeply honored to receive this award which recognizes not only the fine work that the professional artists of the Commonweal have put onstage for nearly 30 years but also the administrative excellence that the company has brought to serving our mission.”

The award comes with a modest cash prize, a one-of-a-kind glass sculpture and a professionally produced video highlighting the company, who we are and what we do best. This video is ours to use as we see fit in the promotion of the company and the ideals to which we strive. As with all accolades that we receive, we are fully aware that we could not do what we do without the support and love of the people who join us for performances and quickly become a part of the “family.” We share this award with you and look forward to celebrating with each and every one of you in the coming months and years as the fruits of this award ripen.