A Unique Company
To enrich the common good through actor based story telling which is both transcendent and relevant.”
—Commonweal Mission Statement
Since 1989, the professional artists of the Commonweal have brought to life soulful stories told with honesty and creativity. Located in the heart of southeast Minnesota’s bluff country, Lanesboro (pop. 750) is home to the company’s theatre in its historic downtown.
2021—our 33rd season of continuous operation—was a comeback year for the company. Not one ensemble member tested positive for COVID, and we had no reports of any audience member developing COVID as a result of attending one of our performances. We produced a full season of 5 mainstage shows, enhanced by your generosity, which allowed us to bring in outside seasonal artists to assist in the final two shows of our season. Our first three productions were achieved through the tireless efforts of our amazing ensemble.
The Year in Review report covers all the highlights. Just click the cover image to download and enjoy a copy (It’s a PDF file, best viewed in Adobe Acrobat Reader. Images are low-resolution to save file size; for a high-res printable version, call us).
2017 Minnesota Nonprofit Award for Excellence
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
We recognize and take seriously our role as a cultural institution that must be welcoming and accessible for all people.”
— Commonweal Theatre’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Statement
We aspire to be an anti-racist organization, which means we are committed to recognizing and combating racism on an individual, institutional, and systemic level. We actively seek opportunities to talk candidly about race and injustices.
As part of our anti-racism work, we have a renewed commitment to health and safety in the rehearsal room and our administrative work. See our Health and Safety in the Workplace Policy by clicking here.
We embrace identity-conscious casting, which is about acknowledging that we all have different bodies and different experiences that are present with us in the rehearsal room and in performance. The Commonweal may engage in what is historically called “non-traditional casting,” but we do not believe it is necessary to erase or obscure an actor’s identity in pursuing non-traditional casting and that to do that kind of erasure can be harmful.
We respect all gender identities and expressions and our restrooms are welcome to all.
Our Land Acknowledgement Statement
We, at the Commonweal Theatre, acknowledge that we work and gather on the ancestral lands of the Dakota Nation and other Indigenous peoples. We recognize these Nations as the original caretakers of this land and acknowledge the injustices committed against them. We strive to promote healing and inclusion through storytelling, which is fundamental to our mission.
As artists in our community we have a responsibility to create a welcoming, inclusive, and nurturing environment where visitors and community members can gather and explore big ideas through live theatre. Fostering such an environment begins with education and reflection. Our Land Acknowledgement is just one way the Commonweal exercises our commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
Thank you to the Minnesota Historical Society, Lanesboro Historical Society, Prairie Island Indian Community, Mississippi Valley Archeology Center and Mower County Historical Society for assisting in the research that led to the formation of our Land Acknowledgement.
More About Us
A Distinctively Organized Repertory Company
The heart of the Commonweal’s programming is the mainstage season. This balanced yet challenging repertory is traditionally comprised of five plays with more than 180 performances, chosen from among the world’s finest classic, contemporary, and emerging playwrights. Because Lanesboro is located amidst a high concentration of Norwegian-American families, the Commonweal produced the works of Henrik Ibsen for 20 consecutive years, culminating in 2017 with a production of Ibsen’s final play, When We Dead Awaken. The company boasts a distinctive organizational model with resident ensemble members (who have come from all over the country to make their home in the Lanesboro area) fulfilling the day-to-day artistic and operational needs of the company as artist/administrators.
Our Beautiful Home
In July 2007—to widespread acclaim—the new $3.5 million Commonweal facility opened next door to its original home. While offering patrons a welcoming, intimate experience in a 200-seat house, the exterior façade recreates three charming Lanesboro shop fronts, and the interior design focuses on the natural beauty and history of the region with barn doors acting as bathroom stalls, stone walls mirroring the surrounding bluffs, concrete floors reflecting the building’s prior life as a cheese factory, and seats reclaimed from the original Guthrie Theatre.
Focus on Education
The Commonweal Theatre maintains that each artist is most fully realized when engaged simultaneously in creating, teaching, and learning. Every year, we reach hundreds of students through educational outreach. We offer student matinees and pre-show workshops for middle and high school students. Commonweal’s apprenticeship program immerses new and recent graduates in the artistic and administrative operation of a professional theatre company.