By Betti Battocleti
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?”
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.