A Commonweal Debut

Twin Cities director Peter Moore is making his directorial debut at the Commonweal with Holmes and Watson. So Peter, what has your first experience with us been like?

I can summarize my experience in Lanesboro in one word: who knew? (Yes, I know that’s two words, so sue me. Remember, there are only three kinds of people in the world: Those who get math and those who don’t). Who knew there was this talented, committed theatre company in such such a small town? Who knew that the theatre building was so lovely, intimate and well-equipped? Who knew that the town boasted such great places to eat (including The Pastry Shoppe, which may well be one of the very best restaurants in the state)? Who knew that the tiny little corner grocery store carried such a wide variety of healthy foods and sold their very own delicious chocolate chip cookies at the counter to boot? Who knew, in other words, what a charming delightful place this is to come live and work?

Peter Moore directs our 31st Season opener, Holmes and Watson by Jeffrey Hatcher.

Well, probably all of you knew, but I sure didn’t. My pervious experience with Lanesboro was limited to a visit 25 years ago to go biking, and while that was certainly enjoyable, it wasn’t particularly memorable; in fact, my most vivid recollection is seeing a baby rattlesnake slither quietly off the bike path as I approached. The theater was there, but I didn’t see a show, and I remember almost nothing about the food, although I do seem to recall thinking the breakfast at Mrs. B’s was pretty good.

Directing Holmes and Watson at the Commonweal has been an unmitigated pleasure. From the actors, to the designers, to the crew, to the staff, everyone has been wonderful to work with. Maybe that’s because the actors, the designers, the crew, and the staff are all pretty much the same people — nobody does just one thing here — but whatever the reason, it creates a terrifically creative and supportive artistic environment. The company is made up of a talented and very dedicated group of theatre professionals, all of whom are smart, kind, and a delight to work with. The locals I’ve encountered have been unfailingly pleasant, and even the weather, dark and cold as it is in any part of Minnesota during winter, has provided a certain calm and quiet. Coming out of rehearsal at 10pm on a February night to find the streets utterly deserted and peaceful is a unique and not at all unpleasant sensation.

In short, I would happily return to Lanesboro, and the Commonweal, anytime. Except on Mondays and Tuesdays — the Pastry Shoppe is closed.

Peter, it has been a pleasure to have you here! Be sure to see his work as director for Holmes and Watson, which opens this weekend, join us! For Tickets —-> Performance Calendar

New Roles Off Stage

By Elizabeth Dunn

A new year at the Commonweal always brings new changes. Working for a non-profit theatre organization usually means you get to work in many different areas creatively and administratively. Since 2015, I have been a video editor/producer, assistant to the company manager, designed props, worked as a box officer, and much more. This year being no exception, I found myself in a new position: last fall I took on the role of the Development Manager for the company.

A former apprentice, Elizabeth Dunn now serves as Development Manager and Assistant to the Executive Director

First thoughts? I was apprehensive. My primary focus had been on videos and marketing up until then. The extent of my knowledge of the development world was “uh…those are the people that do fundraising”, and it didn’t go much further than that.  Fortunately, I’ve had a huge support system behind me. Barb DeCramer, who has served on our Board of Directors since 2010, has over twelve years of experience in the Development field. Being able to utilize Barb’s knowledge and have her guidance has been indispensable. The Commonweal also gifted me with development courses up at St. Thomas University in Minneapolis, along with the guidance of another development consulting guru and friend to the Company: Dana Gillespie. I am grateful for the investment Hal Cropp and Adrienne Sweeney have taken in me with these supporting resources. It’ll still be a bit of bumpy road ahead, but I feel equipped with the tools to help manage our development office.

And one of our latest development endeavors is already upon us! Over the past thirty years, the Commonweal has accomplished some pretty amazing things in: we’ve launched 25 world premieres, hosted the works of Henrik Ibsen for two decades, engaged more than 430,000 audience members, and so much more. All this was made possible because of YOU! The generous and passionate support of our patrons has sustained us through the early years, given us strength to grow, and gives us confidence as we look towards the future. And now, we invite you to help us reach the next level. The Opening Day Giving Campaign celebrates the start of Commonweal’s 2019 season.

Thanks to the work of our Board of Directors, the first $10,000 in donations – between now and April 13th – will be matched, doubling your gift! Please help us launch our 31st season by donating to our 2019 Opening Day Giving Campaign today. Here’s to you and our next 30 years together!

We are all so thankful for Elizabeth’s willingness to step up to the plate. That’s how we work around here! Be sure to see her work in both Holmes and Watson and Boeing, Boeing this season! Join us! For Tickets —-> Performance Calendar

Tackling the Unknown

Hey everyone, Philip here! As a former apprentice, this is one of my favorite times of the year at the Commonweal. It’s always such a pleasure to watch each apprentice class rise to the challenge, and produce a fantastic capstone. This year’s capstone of Lauren Yee’s in a word is right around the corner! We asked this year’s class what it has been like so far to design their first professional show.

Gabriel (Stage Manager/Lighting Design):

Gabriel working his lighting magic

Working as both the stage manager and the lighting designer has been a journey with ups and downs. As a stage manager, the work begins before the rehearsal process. During the process, my time is filled with reports, tracking sheets, and blocking. As a lighting designer, I would normally only see the play once blocking is completed. But because I have been in rehearsals since the beginning, it is easy for me to start picturing how each of the scenes are going to look under light. It also gives me a chance to get a head start on lighting work by asking Rachel questions, and bouncing ideas off of her. Though our upcoming tech week will be busy , watching all of our elements come together will be the best part of this journey!

Brandon (Acting/Costume Design/Props Assistant

Brandon has many options in hanging storage

I’ve been keeping busy designing and acting in this show! My role in the show has the most costume changes, so being in charge of costuming really helps me track my costumes throughout the show. On a typical day of rehearsal, I will work on costumes in the morning – searching for outfits in the costume shop, or researching different looks – and then I’ll head into rehearsals for the afternoon and evening. I was nervous when I first started designing, but after having Ian and Lauren try on their costumes for the first time, those nerves turned into excitement! I cannot wait for everyone to see both my performance and my costume design!

Ian (Acting/Sound Design):

Ian fine tunes his sound design

Designing and acting simultaneously has very distinct advantages. For one, I have been present for almost every rehearsal, and have been able to keep a very helpful conversation going with our director about how we both imagine the aural environment of the play. In addition, if a thought comes up in rehearsal for either one of us, we are able to immediately propose it and discuss it. In this way, my thoughts on the design have changed vastly from my original inclinations in very beneficial and imaginative ways.  The downside, however, is that I sometimes feel that my brain gets caught up shifting between thinking as the sound designer and thinking as the actor. It is not uncommon to find me staring into space during rehearsal, most likely listening to some of the transition music in my head. I’m excited for you all to hear it!

Lauren (Acting/Scenic Design/Props Design):

Lauren putting on the final touches

Working on in a word really has been something. I’ve worked on projects with friends in the past, but nothing from start to finish. It has been an absolute joy to work on an amazing piece of theater with some wonderful new friends! Seeing something through – from deciding on a show, marketing it, rehearsing it, and finally opening it – is something I’m enormously happy to be a part of. This process is one of the more difficult things I’ve done in my life. It’s not just the time and the workload, but it’s the wearing of many hats, and knowing when to put one on and take another off. It is so difficult to be on stage as an actor and not focus on the props that I see are missing or what still needs to be built on stage. But, this process is also so exciting and the show really feels like ours!

Keep going, you’re almost there! We look forward to seeing all of their hard work come to fruition when performances start March 15th. Join us! For Tickets —-> Performance Calendar

Please be Advised: This production contains adult language and themes