A Return to the Commonweal

A Return to the Commonweal

A few weeks ago, Tim Sailer (apprentice class of 2010) returned to the Commonweal to serve as a member of the resident acting ensemble and the Assistant Director of Marketing. We chatted with Tim to hear what he’s been up to and what he’s looking forward to, now that he’s back in Lanesboro.

Tim Sailer with David Hennessey and Carl Lindberg in The Rainmaker (2009). Photo by Jason Underferth.

How did you get your start at the Commonweal?

I went to college in St. Paul, and during my senior year (2009), I attended the Twin City Unified Auditions. That’s when I met Hal Cropp and Scott Dixon. They were recruiting for the apprentice program and called me back to read for Jimmy in The Rainmaker. Not long after, I took a trip down to Lanesboro to see the first apprentice production (Steven Dietz’s Private Eyes) and fell in love with the town and the theatre. A couple months later, I graduated college and joined the second apprentice class. Playing Jimmy was one of my favorite roles to date.

As the apprenticeship was winding down, I became more interested in the marketing side of the administrative work. Adrienne Sweeney offered me a job as a marketing assistant in addition to being part of the resident acting ensemble, where I spent the next year and a half.

Tim Sailer at the American Shakespeare Center's Blackfriar's Theatre

As Cassius in Julius Caesar at the American Shakespeare Center. Photo by Tommy Thompson.

What have you been up to these past ten years?

In the summer of 2011, I moved to Houston, TX to get my MFA at the University of Houston’s Professional Actor Training Program. It was two years of honing technique, developing a process, and learning about the business. During my final year, I received a contract to work at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA. There, I spent five years with the company—performing in their resident and touring ensembles. I played more than 50 roles across 35 plays. Some favorites include Cassius in Julius Caesar, Jack in The Importance of Being Earnest, and Mirabell in The Way of the World.

Later, wanting to shake things up, I took a more nomadic actor life, accepting contracts all over the country. I spent a summer back in Houston with the Houston Shakespeare Festival, a couple summers with the Texas Shakespeare Festival, and an educational tour of Macbeth with the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Right before the pandemic hit, it seemed like I was going to set down roots in the Twin Cities, but that didn’t…pan out.

How was it that you ended back at the Commonweal?

Well, for one, I was offered a job! But even before that, I’d always felt this pull toward the Commonweal. The theatre and the town has a strong hold on me, which I hadn’t realized until recently.

I’ve learned that as much as I love acting, I don’t know that I love the hustle of acting, which is what most of the job is for so many artists. Most of my career has been following the work—bouncing from contract to contract with not much more than I can fit in the seats of a sedan. I’d been hoping for a long time that I could pivot to nestling in a more major market. But there were always logistical and financial hurdles in making that move.

Additionally, most of the acting contracts I’ve taken have been in smaller towns—destination theatres that are well outside of metro areas. I love that kind of work in those kinds of places. I feel strongly that all communities, no matter their size, deserve access to incredible storytelling by incredible artists.

With Laura Depta and Jerome Yorke in Picasso at the Lapin Agile (2010). Photo by Jason Underferth

What are you looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to acting on the stage again.

I’m looking forward to telling marvelous stories with this ensemble—both on and off the stage.

I’m looking forward to becoming a member of this community in one of my favorite places.

Tim will be back onstage at the Commonweal in our new adaptation of A Christmas Carol.