New Roles Off Stage

By Elizabeth Dunn

A new year at the Commonweal always brings new changes. Working for a non-profit theatre organization usually means you get to work in many different areas creatively and administratively. Since 2015, I have been a video editor/producer, assistant to the company manager, designed props, worked as a box officer, and much more. This year being no exception, I found myself in a new position: last fall I took on the role of the Development Manager for the company.

Commonweal ensemble member Elizabeth Dunn
A former apprentice, Elizabeth Dunn now serves as Development Manager and Assistant to the Executive Director

First thoughts? I was apprehensive. My primary focus had been on videos and marketing up until then. The extent of my knowledge of the development world was “uh…those are the people that do fundraising,” and it didn’t go much further than that. Fortunately, I’ve had a huge support system behind me. Barb DeCramer, who has served on our Board of Directors since 2010, has over twelve years of experience in the Development field. Being able to utilize Barb’s knowledge and have her guidance has been indispensable. The Commonweal also gifted me with development courses up at St. Thomas University in Minneapolis, along with the guidance of another development consulting guru and friend to the Company: Dana Gillespie. I am grateful for the investment Hal Cropp and Adrienne Sweeney have made in me with these supporting resources. It’ll still be a bit of bumpy road ahead, but I feel equipped with the tools to help manage our development office.

And one of our latest development endeavors is already upon us! Over the past thirty years, the Commonweal has accomplished some pretty amazing things in: we’ve launched 25 world premieres, hosted the works of Henrik Ibsen for two decades, engaged more than 430,000 audience members, and so much more. All this was made possible because of YOU! The generous and passionate support of our patrons has sustained us through the early years, given us strength to grow, and gives us confidence as we look towards the future. And now, we invite you to help us reach the next level. The Opening Day Giving Campaign celebrates the start of Commonweal’s 2019 season.

Thanks to the work of our Board of Directors, the first $10,000 in donations—between now and April 13th—will be matched, doubling your gift! Please help us launch our 31st season by donating to our 2019 Opening Day Giving Campaign today. Here’s to you and our next 30 years together!

We are all so thankful for Elizabeth’s willingness to step up to the plate. That’s how we work around here! Be sure to see her work in both Holmes and Watson and Boeing, Boeing this season! Join us! For Tickets —-> Performance Calendar

Tackling the Unknown

Hey everyone, Philip here! As a former apprentice, this is one of my favorite times of the year at the Commonweal. It’s always such a pleasure to watch each apprentice class rise to the challenge and produce a fantastic capstone. This year’s capstone of Lauren Yee’s in a word is right around the corner! We asked this year’s class what it has been like so far to design their first professional show.

Gabriel (Stage Manager/Lighting Design):

Gabe hangs and focuses a lighting instrument for in a word
Gabe works his lighting magic

Working as both the stage manager and the lighting designer has been a journey with ups and downs. As a stage manager, the work begins before the rehearsal process. During the process, my time is filled with reports, tracking sheets, and blocking. As a lighting designer, I would normally only see the play once blocking is completed. But because I have been in rehearsals since the beginning, it is easy for me to start picturing how each of the scenes are going to look under light. It also gives me a chance to get a head start on lighting work by asking Rachel questions, and bouncing ideas off of her. Though our upcoming tech week will be busy , watching all of our elements come together will be the best part of this journey!

Brandon (Acting/Costume Design/Props Assistant)

2018-19 Apprentice Brandon Cayetano searches costume storage
Brandon searches through costume storage

I’ve been keeping busy designing and acting in this show! My role in the show has the most costume changes, so being in charge of costuming really helps me track my costumes throughout the show. On a typical day of rehearsal, I will work on costumes in the morning—searching for outfits in the costume shop, or researching different looks—and then I’ll head into rehearsals for the afternoon and evening. I was nervous when I first started designing, but after having Ian and Lauren try on their costumes for the first time, those nerves turned into excitement! I cannot wait for everyone to see both my performance and my costume design!

Ian (Acting/Sound Design):

Ian edits the soundscape for in a word
Ian fine tunes his sound design

Designing and acting simultaneously has very distinct advantages. For one, I have been present for almost every rehearsal, and have been able to keep a very helpful conversation going with our director about how we both imagine the aural environment of the play. In addition, if a thought comes up in rehearsal for either one of us, we are able to immediately propose it and discuss it. In this way, my thoughts on the design have changed vastly from my original inclinations in very beneficial and imaginative ways. The downside, however, is that I sometimes feel that my brain gets caught up shifting between thinking as the sound designer and thinking as the actor. It is not uncommon to find me staring into space during rehearsal, most likely listening to some of the transition music in my head. I’m excited for you all to hear it!

Lauren (Acting/Scenic Design/Props Design):

2018-19 Apprentice Lauren Schulke at work on the set for in a word
Lauren putting on the final touches

Working on in a word really has been something. I’ve worked on projects with friends in the past, but nothing from start to finish. It has been an absolute joy to work on an amazing piece of theater with some wonderful new friends! Seeing something through—from deciding on a show, marketing it, rehearsing it, and finally opening it—is something I’m enormously happy to be a part of. This process is one of the more difficult things I’ve done in my life. It’s not just the time and the workload, but it’s the wearing of many hats, and knowing when to put one on and take another off. It is so difficult to be on stage as an actor and not focus on the props that I see are missing or what still needs to be built on stage. But this process is also so exciting and the show really feels like ours!

Keep going, you’re almost there! We look forward to seeing all of their hard work come to fruition when performances start March 15th. Join us! For Tickets —-> Performance Calendar

Please be Advised: This production contains adult language and themes