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Commonweal Theatre Company

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Theater

Mission: The Commonweal is a non-profit, professional theatre company dedicated to enriching the common good through actor-based story telling that is both transcendent and relevant. Committed to the values of collaboration, community, diversity, learning and artistic integrity, the Commonweal works to make live theatre accessible to as many as possible.

Geographic areas served: Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Illinois

Programs: Professional theatre productions.

Community Stories

26 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Karen D.8

Donor

Rating: 5

The Commonweal is nothing short of amazing in so many ways - delightful professional theatre that never disappoints, an acting company that treats every person in the audience like family, varied and challenging repertoire season after season, AND this all happens in the small town of Lanesboro, Minnesota! We are so very fortunate to live close enough to enjoy it all, production after production!!

David & Karen Danielson

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

A premier professional theatre company that touches lives every day through extraordinary performances that tell stories - touch lives and encourage thoughtful dialogue. Their approach to entertainment is a one-of-a-kind experience that shouldn't be missed. It's interactive, filled with wonder and always delights!

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Commonweal chooses intelligent and relevant theater and then does consistently excellent performances. I travel from La Crosse, WI knowing that solid theater awaits and is well worth the drive. It helps that Lanesboro MN has nice restaurants and lodging as well as great bicycle trails, a very nice art gallery, and the Root River flowing through.

1 dhenna

Donor

Rating: 5

The Commonweal Theatre has a resident ensemble – artists, like me, who have made a long-term commitment to stay with the company, and in my case that’s been 21 years. We contribute to the community as taxpayers, shoppers, volunteers, area board members, and local voters. We develop friendships with many audience members and come to think of them as family. Most importantly for me -- and one reason why I'm a sustaining donor -- the Commonweal allows us to spend a life in the theatre and have a stable family life as well, away from the typical stresses faced by most freelancers who must travel from job to job, always anxious about where to find their next paychecks. All this is possible because of the company’s artist-administrator model, giving us a steady income as we balance both artistic and administrative duties to make our small nonprofit -- now in its 31st season -- thrive. It’s an unusual model and one I think could help other small theatres succeed.

1

Advisor

Rating: 5

The Commonweal Theatre is a non-profit organization that truly radiates its mission: a professional theatre run by a committed group of artist-administrators who have dedicated their lives to weaving the fabric of the arts in the southeastern Minnesota region, making Lanesboro both a tourist destination as well as a vibrant community.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I visit Lanesboro occasionally and as part of my trip I make sure to see a show at the Commonweal Theatre. I'm never disappointed.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Every year for the past 20 years we are season ticket holders to this theatre. It is a great organization presenting quality professional theatre in the small town of Lanesboro. We also appreciate the training they do for newly graduated theatre students that provides them a deep understanding of the theatre business.
When we see a play here it always first class performance in an intimate setting.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

My wife and I have been attending the Commonweal for many years. As we got to know the actors and feel closer to the Theatre as a community, we also saw the importance of supporting them at a higher level. I recently joined the Board of Directors as a way to deepen my involvement. What an amazing group of people, doing wonderful and relatable work.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

For a live theatre to thrive in 2019 it must remain vibrant and relevant--to do it in a town of 750 in rural Minnesota it has to be something more; it must be substantial, nimble, and above all it must maintain an excellence of both performance and service. The Commonweal's 30 year history of thriving in the heart of Bluff Country speaks for itself, but their propensity for programming work that consistently challenges and delights must be pointed out. At a time when more and more theatres are programming to the lowest common denominator it's refreshing to see a company trusting their audience to go on a journey with them. That they have earned that trust and continue to foster it is a rare occurrence in American Theatre, and one that must be applauded.

1 Wendy M.8

Board Member

Rating: 5

Bravo to the Commonweal Theatre! I have not only been impressed with the artistry of this theatre company, but with their efforts to intentionally ground themselves in a philosophy that seeks to enrich the common good through dramatic storytelling - stretching our minds, fostering inquiry, building relationships, bringing JOY - up close and personal! I have always left the Commonweal Theatre with a grateful heart.

That is why I have chosen to serve on the Commonweal Theatre’s Board of Directors. If we, as a community of people, believe in the importance of this work, we need to work to support and sustain the efforts of the artists as they dig deep and wide to build and produce programming that will affect our lives personally and collectively.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Commonweal is a wonderful way to experience live, professional theatre in our quaint, historic town of Lanesboro! You will be engaged in the passion the actors have for their work on stage. You will leave enlightened and maybe with a new perspective from their performances.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Always a great evening of theater. Love the Commonweal!

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Commonweal is a gem of a theatre located in beautiful bluff country.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I've been attending Commonweal performances since 2002 and am amazed to find this company of extraordinary artists in this quaint little town.
They bring the plays of Henrik Ibsen to life! So much more enjoyable than high school English class lead me to believe possible. An Enemy of the People is my favorite Ibsen play performance so far.
The comedies have the audiences chortling and smiling all evening. Ah the joy of Little Shop of Horrors, The Odd Couple, and Harvey, just to name a few.
The dramas keep you 'in the moment'; who can forget the memorable To Kill A Mockingbird?
This season was our first opportunity to be Season Pass members (the perks of retirement - enough free time to attend all the shows) and we plan to do it again in 2014! Bravo Commonweal Theatre troupe, I love you all!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Every experience at the Commonweal touches my heart and changes me for the better. A talented group of professional artists who treat everyone who walks through their doors like family. An absolute gem in a beautiful hamlet.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

"Greater Tuna!" From the newspaper note sounded like a decent diversion for an evening in this sleepy rural and culturally-remote area, so we attended our first Commonweal performance. Hooked like a ravenous trout on a well-presented caddis fly! How could this level of theatre be happening in a town that in our youth was famous mainly for the Friday cattle auction (still going, by the way), and a tiny cinema where we sometimes necked in the 50's? Since that evening in the 90's we have rarely missed a performance. During that short period of time, we've seen the Commonweal grow from a tiny cadre of actors performing in a tiny converted movie theatre to become the prime cultural force in Southeast Minnesota and a prime example of what a dedicated group of true professionals can do. In our wildest dreams we would never have expected such a cultural transformation in our area, and we are gratified to have been able to be a part of that.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

We moved to Lanesboro about six years ago, in large part due to the arts community in town, including the Commomweal Theatre.The quality of the shows performed are quite amazing, especially considering its location in a smaller community, and compare quite favorably with any live performances we ever saw while living in the St.Paul/Minneapolis area. There are quite a variety of productions from The Odd Couple, Rainmaker and Wait Until Dark to plays written by Ibsen, including Peer Gynt, all wonderfully done and well received by the audiences. Something unique about the company is how all the core actors also have other responsibilities within the company such as fundraising, box office, and administrative duties which make them more well rounded and more marketable. They also include the interns in this process, giving them a great education. All of the actors are very engaging and accessible and very visible in the community.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

I moved to the Lanesboro area about ten years ago and have volunteered for and attended many performances of our Commonweal Theater since then.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The year was 1994. My life was consumed with difficult challenges ranging from personal to financial. My confidence level was low and not likely to improve. This professional acting company drifted into town like a soothing breeze. How I became aware of their arrival and why I dared tip toe into their world I do not know. I only know that in many ways the experience I had...participating in an educational collaboration between professional and local residents...in some ways saved me. The actors welcomed me, taught me and encouraged me. With my self esteem steadied I was able to move forward again. I have been a faithful patron of the Company since then. I continue to take strength from the work they do. The entire Company always makes me feel I am an important part of who they are and what they do. Now in this time of twitter, tweets and text messages, human communication and comprehension is, in my opinion, devolving. There is nothing inherently wrong with communicating in this manner. But we are losing something. When and where in society today do we find quiet time to embellish to expand the mind’s eye to savor a story and find the message and so much more deep within its context? I reside outside a delightful but very small town in a rural area in Minnesota. My work week is consumed with travel to and from work and with work related tasks. There is little time to do anything more. With my formative college years behind me there are fewer and fewer opportunities for me to balance my life with the rich experience of developing stories and flushing out important themes in an effort to deepen the understanding of the shared human experience. Thank goodness in the year “Twenty-ten” in rural Lanesboro, Minnesota there is this goldmine known as the Commonweal Theatre Company. It is there I continue to take refuge. It is there I can count on the sensitive, wise professional actors to consistently deliver that which I have lost. The chance to lose myself in stories of human strength and frailty. The chance to hear the intonation of the actors’ words and observe the manner of their body language and to let my mind fill in the details around them on the stage. The chance to experience the full tapestry of what might be boiled down to a “tweet.”

1

Donor

Rating: 5

The Commonweal Theater brings professional high quality theater to our doorstep. We thoroughly enjoy the theater and have supported it since it began in Lanesboro.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Our daughters cannot imagine a time without Commonweal. Since childhood they have seen countless performances, formed relationships with the acting company, participated in their educational programs...and in the process it awakened the artist within them. Commonweal's "drama that unfolds where the river bends" has not only enriched our family's life; it enriches and inspires the thriving art communities of the bluff country. Scott and Karen Bingham

1

Donor

Rating: 5

My wife and I have been a host family for several years for Asian high school and college students. The Commonweal Theatre Company's productions are a terrific resource as we introduce our beloved guests to art and culture in the US. They have connected with plays like The Rainmaker in ways I never could have foreseen and have been thrilled and inspired by being able to meet and talk to the very actors who take the stage. The Commonweal's devoted professionalism allows us to share our love of theatre with "our" students, and though the theatre itself resides in a small mid-western town, its influence reaches right across the Pacific.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Whether you are looking for a “date night” or a “family night out”, the Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro, MN has a terrific experience waiting for you! Mark and I came to Lanesboro to camp and ride the Root River Bike Trail. What we also discovered is a lively arts community. At the core of this community is the Commonweal Theatre. For over 20 years, this theatre company consistently stages productions that rival major theatre venues. The actors and production staff are passionate about their craft. The audience is frequently invited to participate in “talkbacks” and social gatherings following stage productions. The result is an excellence in live theatre that is consistently growing in stature, donors and record breaking audience attendance. The Commonweal not only focuses upon the current season’s productions, but also looks to grow the future through a variety of educational opportunities. Whether you are a youth looking for a “camp” experience, an actor or production crew member applying for an apprenticeship, or a life long learner seeking an elder hostel, the Commonweal is committed to growing future excellence. Sixteen years ago we came to Lanesboro to camp and bike the trails. We continued coming back, eventually building a home and a life that is greatly enriched by the Commonweal Theatre. The entire Commonweal Theatre community, staff, volunteers and donors, are successfully working to provide a memorable theatre experience for today’s audiences and for the audiences yet to come. You are invited to join us.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My husband and I first attended The Commonweal on a date. It was love at first sight (with the acting company! We were already married!) Although we had lived about 40 miles away for many years, and had visited Lanesboro for other activities, we had never made it to a performance. We were immediately impressed with the involvement of the company members in all facets of theatre operations. We have lived in much larger cities and have never seen the cast off stage, let alone in the box office. We soon learned that the Commonweal is unique in this model and is actually a pioneer of this approach (formally known as the "artist/administrator" model). As patrons, we can instantly feel a sense of pride and ownership in the cast. Acting at The Commonweal isn't just another gig for them... it is their home and their business. As the only professional acting company in the region, the Commonweal is impressive in the depth and breadth of plays it presents. We have been especially impressed at the opportunities given to apprentices and new works. In tight economic times, other professional companies are sticking with "proven winners" to encourage ticket sales. The Commonweal, however, stays true to it's mission with recent world premieres such as "Ice Maidens" and "Midnight Dreary", and apprentice company performances such as "Death and the Plowman" in addition to its well known classic and contemporary offerings. Finally, we have been impressed with the company members' involvement in their local community and beyond. Members can frequently be seen promoting and attending local benefits, festivals, and the occasional cookout on the main street! They give back in abundance promoting theatre to area schools and even to audience members in the form of after performance "Talk Backs" with the cast, and other educational offerings. With over 21,000 ticket sales this year (with a 200 seat theatre!), the Commonweal is most definitely a major cultural, educational, and economic force for the region, and one of the leading rural professional theatre companies in America. How they do all this and so much more on a relatively small budget (about $639,000 in 2009)is amazing. Their reach is thankfully wide due to their very evident passion and commitment to each and every patron. Each performance ends with a sincere wish to "be well, travel safely to where ever the road is taking you, and come back and see us often." We will.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

The impression one may receive of The Commonweal organization might seem like a fantasy when read by someone outside of the area; but in fact, it is all real. Our personal experience with Commonweal goes back to the mid-1990's. They have continuously provided high quality, enjoyable, challenging theatre experiences. We are also impressed with their additional projects - civic involvement, teaching theatre classes at area high schools and colleges, conducting an internationally recognized Ibsen Festival, hosting an Apprentice Company for aspiring artists, creating a live weekly summer radio show, etc. Now the reality part - all this takes place in a rural community of approximately 780 people in SE Minnesota. We will continue to support and enjoy this theatre company. Commonweal professionals brought great theatre to over 25,000 folks in 2009, and we are confident this will continue into the future.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

For many years I have frequented the Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro, MN. I am proud to support enterprises that are comprised of people who are driven to enhance other people’s lives by giving of themselves. The Commonweal Theatre does this in two ways: First through wholesome entertainment that enriches our understanding of our being, and secondly by transcending these traditions through an annual crop of eleven interns that will spend 11-months at the Commonweal. Learning not just acting, but the nuts and bolts of paying the bills, then go out into the world and replicate the Commonweal experience for others. My meager sponsorship of this wonderful organization allows me to vicariously enjoy the "good feeling" that comes with helping the Commonweal troupe in this endeavor. Dean H. Blegen