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

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.