By Philip Muehe
September 1st I will leave the Commonweal and officially become the new Managing Director of the Rochester Repertory Theatre Company. It’s actually quite strange to say out loud to people. I have told many friends, family, and patrons about the news. While I have been met with nothing but support and well wishes, moving on from a place as special as this has been difficult in ways I didn’t anticipate.
As I sit down to write this blog post, I am reminded of how much my time at the Commonweal has changed me as an artist and person. My personal journey with the company—from patron at a student matinee, to summer intern, to apprentice, to company member—has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. After graduating, I knew I wanted to find a place where I could grow, to make mistakes, to challenge myself in new and exciting ways. As fate would have it, I found the Commonweal.
The first night of my apprenticeship, I unpacked my stuff and headed over to see our production of A Doll’s House. I sat in the front row, and was thrilled to watch it all unfold. The work onstage was extraordinary, and I was so proud and excited to finally be working here full time. David Hennessey, who played Dr. Rank, uttered “Thanks for the light” to Nora before his final exit. That line has always stuck with me. While my own exit from the Commonweal is hopefully not as final, I leave with the same magnitude: immensely thankful and deeply optimistic.
I’ve had some of the most difficult and rewarding artistic experiences of my life here in charming Lanesboro. Receiving my first professional directing gig, learning how to sound design, exploring my passion for marketing and developing new skills as a producer and arts manager unlocked new potential in me. One reason I am equipped enough to handle this new position is because of what I’ve learned here. My coworkers are more like my extended family. Through laughter, personal struggles and heartbreak I have come to lean on them and look to them for insight and a good venting session. I’ll also miss our incredible patrons, who have watched me grow as an actor and director; who waited with anxious hugs for me after a show; who supported us and kept us employed during a pandemic. They are the life of this theatre, and we are so lucky to have them in our corner.
The past five years have meant more than I can really put into words. The friendships, artistic opportunities and growth I was lucky enough to experience have paved the way for this new adventure. I will always look back fondly on my time here. The love and support I’ve felt from my coworkers and our patrons has meant the world. I feel very fortunate to have put so many smiles on your faces. But trust me when I say, you all have put so many more on mine. Until next time, thanks for the light.
All My Love,
Best of luck on this new adventure Philip! We will miss you, and don’t be a stranger!