Apprentice Program


Having the opportunity to produce a capstone project of our choice from the ground up was very unique. That process was one of the most valuable and rewarding educational experiences I’ve ever had.”

—Mike Swan
2014 apprentice

The Commonweal Theatre Company offers exciting, demanding and rewarding apprenticeships intended to help young theatre artists transition into the professional world. For approximately eleven months, each apprentice is immersed in the workings of our producing, professional theatre company.

Best suited for those who have either completed undergraduate coursework or have commensurate experience, our apprenticeship is an experiential learning program based on the traditional mentor/apprentice relationship. The apprenticeship also affords regular classroom opportunities and culminates in a production on the main stage of the Commonweal.

Professional Opportunities

Apprentices David Wasserman (l.) and Gary Danciu (r.) in Charley's Aunt (2105)Since 1989, our professional company has been performing year-round in rural, southeastern Minnesota as both artists and administrators. For the past 10 seasons, we have been delighted to include the Apprentice Company in our collaborations both onstage and behind-the-scenes.

Apprentices are cast in mainstage productions and are assigned designing, assistant directing and/or stage managing duties. Administratively, apprentices work alongside company members on the Marketing, Development and Production teams. Because of this rare organizational model, Commonweal apprentices experience the full scope of running a theatre company. This work thoroughly prepares them for life as theatre artists in a way unlike most other artistic apprenticeships.

Commonweal’s apprenticeship culminates in a final capstone production, chosen by the apprentices. Previous productions include:

The 2011 Apprentice Capstone production of MetamorphosesPrivate Eyes by Steven Dietz (2009)
Death and the Ploughman
by Johannes von Saaz (2010)
Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman (2011)
The Metal Children by Adam Rapp (2012)
Miss Julie by August Strindberg (2013)
Tigers Be Still by Kim Rosenstock (2014)
Mary’s Wedding by Stephen Massicotte (2015)
Scotland Road by Jeffrey Hatcher (2016)
I Am My Own Wife by Doug Wright (2017)
Salt-Water Moon by David French (2018)

2016 apprentice Abbie Cathcart prepares for Steel Magnolias (2017)

Taking a year’s worth of acting classes would cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars elsewhere. That plus professional credits, free housing and a stipend definitely makes this apprenticeship worth it!”

—Abbie Cathcart
2016 apprentice



Commonweal apprentices take part in rich, challenging classes that help them continue to hone their skills and grow as artists. Classes focus on movement, vocal or scene study work, and employ techniques like Meisner, Grotowski and Linklater, among others. They are taught by members of Commonweal’s Resident Company and occasional visiting guest artists.

Resident company and apprentices often share classworkOur Resident Company is made up of artists from all over the country representing decades of combined professional experience, many with graduate degrees. Along with group classes, each apprentice is matched with a Resident Mentor to guide them through their time at Commonweal.




A typical single room at the Artists' Residence.Apprentices receive a weekly stipend and housing in Commonweal’s purpose-built Artists’ Residence. Fully furnished and located only three blocks from the theater, housing in the Residence includes all utilities, laundry facilities, internet and cable TV.




Life in Lanesboro

On the regional state bike trailCommonweal Theatre Company is located in the bustling little town of Lanesboro, Minnesota. Although it is small, there is lots to do! In their free time, Commonweal staff often get together to tube down the Root River, have dinner parties, or grab a beer at the local pub. They get to know other young people in town, like the artists at Lanesboro Arts and the naturalists at nearby Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center. Rochester and Winona, MN, as well as Decorah, IA, are each within an hour’s drive and have lots of fun offerings. It’s easy to “get out of Dodge” for a bit to go see movies, take hikes and go out to eat.

Minneapolis skylineThe Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul boast a vibrant art scene and are only two hours away. Many past apprentices have relocated there, greatly benefitting from the professional exposure and connections made at Commonweal.


The opportunity to work with nationally-known theatre artists is a huge perk. Celebrated playwrights like Alan Bailey, Mark Brown and Michael Bigelow Dixon visit the Commonweal to direct and see their work. Twin Cities playwright & screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher collaborated with Commonweal to produce many adaptations of Ibsen’s plays.

A group of Commonwealers, including apprentices, outdoors in LanesboroWe are first and foremost a community of artists, and that community spans the theatre world. The Commonweal Apprentice Program is your gateway to a career in professional theatre.


How to Apply

Fill out form linked below (opens a new browser tab). Then please upload a headshot, current résumé and a 500 word statement of purpose speaking to your perspective on your life in the theatre. Links for each are provided on the form page. We audition apprentices at UPTA, TCUA and in Lanesboro by appointment. Decisions will be made by the third week of March for that year’s incoming class.

Commonweal Apprentice Application 2020-21 and 2021-22: CLICK HERE.

For more information, contact Executive Director Hal Cropp: at (507) 467-2905 x203.