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Silver Anniversary for the Commonweal Theatre

Fri, Jan 25th, 2013
Posted in Lanesboro Features

The ceiling of the Commonweal Theatre ticket booth area. Photo by Barb Jeffers

The Commonweal Theatre of Lanesboro, Minn. is celebrating its 25th season in 2013. Founded in 1989 by Eric Lorentz Bunge, by request of the Lanesboro Arts Council, the Commonweal Theatre has had huge success and has seen many changes. In its first year, the Commonweal presented forty total performances of two shows in the eleven week season which included Crimes of the Heart and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Commonweal Theatre’s budget its first year was $20,782 and has now risen to a budget of $750,000 according to its website, www.commonwealtheatre.org, which is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the Commonweal and its history. According to Jeremy van Meter, Marketing Assistant for the Commonweal Theatre, “The record number for patrons attending the theatre is at 22,440 times as of 2012,” which is an impressive number of viewings.

The Commonweal Theatre has seen other changes over the last 25 years. In 1997 the Commonweal Theatre started an Elderhostel program with Winona State University with the purpose of reaching out to life-long learners. In 1998 the company began the annual Ibsen Festival highlighting the works of Henrik Ibsen. Consequently, because of the theatre company’s dedication to the work of Henrik Ibsen, the Commonweal Theatre received an Ibsen Scholarship from the Norwegian Government in 2008.

An Artists Residence was added in 1998 which not only provides housing but also provided much needed space for a rehearsal room/classroom. Undoubtedly the biggest change through the Commonweals 25 years in existence has been the opening of the new Commonweal building in July 2007. These are just a few examples of the transformation of the Commonweal Theatre into what it has become today.

Perhaps the Commonweal says it best on www.commonwealtheatre.org when the website states “from simple beginnings the Commonweal has evolved into a major cultural, educational, and economic force for the region - one of the leading rural professional theatre companies in America” and area residents are lucky enough to have the Commonweal right at their fingertips.

Performers and attendees alike are looking forward to the coming season of the Commonweal Theatre Company. Jeremy van Meter states, “On behalf of the entire Commonweal Company, I can say that we are extremely excited to embark on our 25th Season.” Jeremy, who is a Resident Ensemble Member in addition to being the Marketing Assistant for the Commonweal, says, “The slate of productions on deck truly celebrate who we are as actors and artists and we are convinced that our audiences will appreciate both the stories and the performances within those stories.”

In 2013 there will be a special pre-season show entitled Miss Julie with performances from March 21 - 30, with an encore performance on Sunday, April 14. Written by August Strindberg, and translated/adapted by Ethan Bjelland, and performed by the Commonweal’s group of Apprentice Artists. Miss Julie is a story about class and love.

The 2013 season at the Commonweal Theatre promises to be another exciting one with performances of the following five shows:

A Doll’s House - April 11 - June 14, by Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Minnesota playwright Jeffrey Hatcher

A young wife is forced to make a stunning choice when a past misdeed threatens to destroy her perfect household.

Blithe Spirit - May 10 - September 7, by Noel Coward

When a séance in his home goes terribly awry, novelist Charles Condomine is caught between his naïve current wife and his jealous - and ghostly - first wife, who is determined he should join her in the afterlife!

Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure - June 21 - October 28, by Steven Dietz

Sherlock Holmes and Watson face off against arch-enemy, Professor Moriarty, in this story inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Memory of Water - September 13 - November 10, by Shelagh Stephenson

Three sisters return to their childhood home to celebrate their mother’s life, all the while searching for the secret to a happy future buried within the memories of their past.

The Last Night of Ballyhoo - November 15 - December 22, by Alfred Uhry

A charming romantic comedy about an Atlanta family during the 1939 holidays. Gone with the Wind premieres, rumors of war abound, but the real concern is who is taking whom to Ballyhoo - the social event of the season!

*All descriptions courtesy of www.commonwealtheatre.org

Being a non-profit organization, the Commonweal Theatre relies heavily on donations. Jeremy van Meter explains, “The average ticket revenue is $18.00, but in order to meet our budget by ticket sales alone, we would have to charge $55.00 per ticket.” But Jeremy says, “We will not price out our patrons in that way, which means donations are of vital importance in furthering our mission and keeping our doors open for as many people as possible while sustaining the Commonweal for the next 25 years.”

Be sure to see all of the upcoming shows at the Commonweal Theatre by purchasing a Season Pass for $99.00 each. Individual show tickets can be purchased at a price of $30.00 each for adults or $15.00 each for full-time students of any age. The Commonweal Theatre is located at 208 Parkway Avenue North in Lanesboro, Minn. Call the Commonweal Box office at (507) 467-2525 or (800) 657-7025 or email tickets@commonwealtheatre.org for ticket information. More about the Commonweal Theatre Company can be found at www.commonwealtheatre.org, facebook, twitter, CurtainUp!Blog, and YouTube.

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