Yearning for Home: Betti Battocleti Returns to Lanesboro

By Betti Battocleti

Commonweal Theatre Companiy Guest Actress Betti Battoclettii
Betti Battocleti graces our stage once again this season!

I am a big city girl… well, woman. I grew up in a city. I moved to another city for college. I have lived and worked in cities my entire life. But the first time I drove down that big hill and saw the unexpected town of Lanesboro spread out before me like Brigadoon, I knew that I was in for something new.

I was cast to play Clariee in Steel Magnolias. I didn’t know anyone but was immediately accepted as one of the Commonweal family. I am back again, drawn by the magic of Lanesboro, the people, the amazing bike trails, and the close community of artists that are the Commonweal Theatre.

On the Verge, the next play in Commonweal’s 31st season reminds me of my first season here in Lanesboro. I play Mary Baltimore, one of three Victorian female explorers who set off on a timeless trip. Like me, discovering a new place where one can easily forget what day of the week it is. And, along with the amazing artists that make up the Commonweal, we forge ahead to create future monumental moments for an audience of fellow explorers. A trichotomy of living in the moment, reminiscing about the past and discovering the future. Time travel! “What can one say?”

On the Verge officially opens on September 14th!

The ladies of On the Verge, in their discovery and exploration of the last “uncharted reaches of the world” find themselves in truly uncharted territory. As hearts and minds are opened, a yearning for their perfect place in the world grows.

It is a yearning that we all feel.  Are we living in the right place at the right time doing the right thing?  We are all searching for that place we can call home. Often, we leave it to explore other worlds only to come back like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Sometimes we stay where we are out of comfort or fear. Then there are those that search and search and search. All of us, on the verge at some point or another. At many points, many “clusters of light”. Do we explore them all or find a star to settle on? “Metaphysical speculation”.

So, this is my third season at the Commonweal. I keep coming back. Something about this beautiful town. Something about those bike rides through golden tunnels where the wind blows around you, not for you, not against you. And something about the hardest working artists I know who continue to care so much about providing the best theater, the best experience and a place we all can call home, even if for a couple of hours.  

Betti’s work onstage is not to be missed! See her the rest of the season in both On the Verge and Sanders Family Christmas! For Tickets —> Performance Calendar

An Epic Homecoming

By Megan K. Pence

Megan K. Pence
Director & former company member Megan K. Pence

After my first year of grad school in the hot swampy weather of Florida, I was thrilled for a chance to return to the Commonweal and direct An Iliad. Wealhouse has been a twinkle in our eye for many years, and I was honored to play a small part of its inaugural season. Getting to come home to my Commonweal family for three whole weeks during a glorious Lanesboro summer was a wonderful gift, and one of the best working “vacations” I’ve ever had. An Iliad opened this past Sunday to a sold-out crowd, and is an incredible performance which I am so excited to share!

Though less popular than its companion The Odyssey, you may recall The Iliad as one of those long, complicated tales with a million pages and about as many characters that you were forced to read in high school or Western Civilization 101. In this adaptation by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, these Greek battles no longer feel ancient, irrelevant or overly long as the audience is transported to the shores of Troy in a mere 105 minutes. Through both poetry and contemporary language, we are fighting alongside Achilles and Hector, and the human price of war becomes very real. 

An Iliad by Lisa Peterson and Denis O'Hare
Resident Ensemble member Ben Gorman stars as The Poet

While this show tackles huge themes – war, fate, pride, honor, love – what excites me about this piece is the exploration of storytelling. One man (Ben Gorman) embodies not only The Poet, but also a dozen other characters. The Poet is doomed to tell this tale, each time hoping it may be his last. As an audience, we are left to wonder how our own stories help us make sense of the world and of ourselves. 

And oh, how Ben Gorman tells this story! While I love directing shows with many actors, there is something truly special about the collaboration and partnership of a one-person show. We learned how to trust one another, developed our own shared language, and ultimately became each other’s Muse. This truly is a tour de force performance that you will not want to miss.

Don’t miss out on this unique and compelling evening of theatre! See both Megan and Ben’s work in the epic one-man play, An Iliad. For Tickets —> Performance Calendar

An Inside Look at a Double Show Day

By Lizzy Andretta

In my three seasons performing at the Commonweal, I’ve never had to take on the task of performing in two shows that are running at the same time – until now. While I knew that doing these two shows would be very trying, I looked forward to being a part of two very fun pieces of theatre that I knew would help me grow. Here’s what a typical two show day looks like for me:

9:00am

I start my day bright and early! After I drink my morning tea, I run whatever errands I need to do. Then I try to get a little bit of time in at the gym, because staying fit is very important given all the running and jumping I do in both shows.

Lizzy heading out for the day
Lizzy heading out for the day

11:00am

Because we operate under an artist administrator model, not only do we perform/direct/design our shows, but we also have to run the place! Before the show starts, I usually try and get some admin work done at my desk. Sometimes it’s a tough balance to achieve, but doggy snuggles with Lucy always help!

Lizzy Andretta with Lucy, at work
Lucy helping Lizzy get some admin work done!

12:00pm

Then I go downstairs and sign in for Boeing Boeing. I try to get there earlier as I need as much time as possible to construct Gabriella’s Brigitte Bardot coif and put on a few layers of makeup, as well as doing a light physical and heavy vocal warm-up (both Molly and Gabriella, for all their differences, are both very loud opinionated ladies).

Lizzy prepares in the dressing room
Lizzy prepares in the dressing room

1:30pm

It’s show time! Boeing Boeing takes off for flight as I get to run around as the smart and dramatic Gabriella! It’s a fun, but very physical show. So by the end we are all quite tired. But that’s only one show for the day done!

Lizzy in makeup as Gabriella in Boeing Boeing
Lizzy in makeup as Gabriella in Boeing Boeing

4:00pm

Once Boeing ends, I go home and take a quick shower to remove the spray and product from my hair and have dinner before I’m called in for Peter and the Starcatcher. Since I wear my hair naturally, I can afford to come in a little closer to my call time.

6:30pm

Once in for Peter, I spend a lot more time doing heavy stretches (none of which I actually do in the show, but I like doing them to help my body get as limber as possible) and warming up my voice for the singing.

Lizzy Andretta stretching before Peter and the Starcatcher
Lizzy Andretta stretching before Peter and the Starcatcher

7:30pm

Show #2 officially starts! Peter and the Starcatcher is so much fun. I play Molly, the titular Starcatcher in training. With such a large cast, and so many moving parts, this show is an incredible adventure to go on!

8:30pm

At intermission it’s time to get into my mermaid outfit! Why? Well…you’ll just have to see the show to find out! It’s a pretty glamorous sight to behold backstage.

Lizzy in her mermaid costume for Peter and the Starcatcher
Lizzy in her mermaid costume

10:00pm

The show is done, which means my busy day is also over! After such a marathon, I go straight home, satisfied with a good day’s work. Plus there’s a matinee tomorrow to rest up for! Thanks for coming with me on this long, but fun, Saturday. We’ll see you at the Commonweal very soon!

Have you seen Lizzy in both productions yet? Make your plans now to join us for both Boeing Boeing, and Peter and the Starcatcher this summer! For Tickets —> Performance Calendar