From Theatre Apprenticeship to Grad Student
by Abbie Cathcart
Every now and then, we are forced to bid farewell to someone who has become quite special to us. This season is one of those times as our dear friend and colleague Abbie Cathcart has chosen to move on from the Commonweal. If you’re a Commonweal regular, you’ve seen her in several roles over the past three years including Shelby Eatonton in Steel Magnolias, Kitty Verdun in Charley’s Aunt and Ragna Monson in The League of Youth. In this edition of Drama Unfolds, Abbie shares a short reflection on her Lanesboro chapter.
I am pleased to announce and am very excited to start graduate school work to earn a Masters of Fine Arts Degree in Acting from Michigan State University. As I prepare to leave Lanesboro and Commonweal, little things here and there keep reminding me of my first experiences at this theatre and the ways it has positively impacted my life. I joined Commonweal in 2015 as a member of the apprentice class for the season. I was 21, fresh out of undergrad and had zero professional experience under my belt. I was also pretty nervous. I remember the first show I saw at Commonweal, which was Woody Guthrie’s American Song. I was struck by the immense love and support that reverberated throughout the theater during that performance. From the cast onstage to the patrons who clapped, smiled and jumped to their feet to sing along to familiar favorites, I felt immediately at ease in this joyful environment. The next day, I had my first of many waffles at Spud Boy diner, then walked on the trails and introduced myself to the exceptional beauty of the Driftless Region.
I had initially only moved to Lanesboro for a job, but what I found once I got there was a delightful, unique gem of a community. Over the past three years, I have performed on Commonweal’s stage around 300 times and learned a lot in the process. I have grown to love my fellow resident company members like family, and believe they have shown me what it means to be a good human and artist. Taking this next step away from Commonweal to begin my graduate school career is very bittersweet. I am so thankful to my coworkers at Commonweal, our amazing patrons and the community at large for welcoming me and letting me collaborate with them for a few years.