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Commonweal Theatre Company announces 14th annual Ibsen Festival

Fri, Mar 25th, 2011
Posted in Arts & Culture

The Commonweal Theatre Company announces its 14th Annual Ibsen Festival April 15-17, 2011, in downtown Lanesboro. Named for the acclaimed "Father of Modern Drama," the Festival is a celebration of Scandinavian theatre, visual art, music and dance, centered around the opening of Commonweal's annual Ibsen production. This yearly gathering of artists and craftsmen was honored in 2008 by the Norwegian Government, who awarded the Commonweal Theatre one of only four inaugural International Ibsen Scholarships in recognition of its ongoing commitment to producing the works of one of the world's premiere playwrights.

The highlight of the Festival is the opening of Commonweal Theatre's annual Ibsen production with performances Friday, April 15th and Saturday, April 16th at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, April 17th at 1:30 pm. This year, the theatre will present An Enemy of the People, one of Ibsen's most politically-charged plays, written in 1882 and first produced by the Commonweal in 2001. Newly discovered health springs offer prosperity to a small town, until a local doctor realizes the waters are dangerously polluted. How far will a community go to turn a blind eye when the truth will bring about their personal ruin? Commonweal's 2011 production is directed by resident artist Scott Dixon and features a cast of David Coral, Laura Depta, David Hennessey, Irene ErkenBrack, Arthur Moss, Stan Peal, Tim Sailer, and Jerome Yorke.

The script for An Enemy of the People has been adapted by Minnesota playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, whose credits include Compleat Female Stage Beauty, Scotland Road and Three Viewings, and adaptations of Jean Anouilh's To Fool the Eye and Henry James' Turn of the Screw, also produced by the Commonweal Theatre in 2006 and 2010 respectively. This is the second Ibsen adaptation created for the Commonweal by Mr. Hatcher as part of a series of new versions of Ibsen's plays developed for the American stage, beginning with last season's John Gabriel Borkman and slated to continue through 2014 with new imaginings of The Pillars of Society, A Doll's House, and Brand. Mr. Hatcher will be in attendance at the Ibsen Festival to sign copies of his adaptation and participate in a panel discussion with Commonweal's interim executive director Hal Cropp and director Scott Dixon.

The Ibsen Festival offers events and presentations throughout the weekend to satisfy a variety of interests. Guests may attend lectures, film presentations, musical concerts, and artist displays. The Commonweal is proud to welcome Professor Richard Hornby, theatre critic for the Hudson Review and Chair of the Theater Department at the University of California at Riverside, as keynote speaker. Professor Hornby is an internationally recognized expert in dramatic literature and has written extensively on Ibsen's "middle" or social plays - of which An Enemy of the People is the most well-known.

Building on the themes of An Enemy of the People, the Commonweal Theatre will be partnering with Lanesboro Local, Lanesboro Arts Center and Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center to add an environmental angle to many of the festival offerings. Events officially begin Friday evening, April 15, at The Commonweal Theatre at 6:45 with an art reception. At 7:30 pm, festival-goers can choose between attending the final preview performance of An Enemy of the People onstage at The Commonweal, or a screening at the St. Mane Theatre of Larkin McPhee's documentary, Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story, sponsored by the Lanesboro Arts Center and Lanesboro Local and featuring a post-screening discussion led by sustainable agriculture specialist Loni Kemp.

Saturday, April 16, offers an entire day and night's worth of activities, beginning with a spring luncheon and bake sale at the Sons of Norway Heimbygda Lodge on Parkway Avenue near Lanesboro's Sylvan Park. Throughout the day, there will be artisan demonstrations at Lanesboro Local Marketplace and the Lanesboro Arts Center, as well as an interactive tour of our local trail and waterways led by Eagle Bluff naturalist and interpretive guide Emily Hughes.

The Commonweal Theatre will host several events in its building, including Professor Hornby's lecture, a discussion with Darby Nelson, President of Conservation Minnesota, and an improvisational jazz concert inspired by the themes of environmental awareness and stewardship. All weekend, Scandinavian cuisine will be served at Kari's Scandinavian Restaurant, Pedal Pushers Café, and Old Village Hall and visitors to The Commonweal may view the three-dimensional art exhibit, ―To Be A Poet is To See: Ibsen in Our Time throughout the run of An Enemy of the People.

A complete schedule of Festival events is available by calling 1-800-657-7025 or going online to The Commonweal is a non-profit professional theatre with year-round main stage and educational programming located at 208 Parkway Avenue North in historic downtown Lanesboro. For more information about the 2011 Ibsen Festival, contact Adrienne Sweeney at 507-467-2905 x208 or

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