Commonweal Theatre Company

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Commonweal Theatre

The Commonweal Theatre Company is a professional theatre company in Lanesboro, Minnesota, United States. Established in 1989 by Eric Bunge, Scott Olson and Scott Putman, the company's season runs April to December and comprises five plays chosen from among classic, contemporary, and emerging playwrights. Due to the Scandinavian influence in southeast Minnesota, the Commonweal produces the works of Henrik Ibsen annually, and remains the only theatre company in North America with such a commitment.[1]

Company structure[edit]

The Commonweal is an artist-run company, with a "Resident Ensemble" of members living in the Lanesboro area. This group provides the day-to-day artistic and operational needs of the company as artist/administrators. The company also employs Seasonal Company members, college interns, and, since 2008, an Apprentice Company.


The Commonweal Theatre was founded in 1989 by Eric Lorentz Bunge, Scott Olson, and Scott Putman at the request of the Lanesboro Art Council. The first season of the company was eleven weeks long and employed ten artists who presented Crimes of the Heart and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.[2]

In 1991 the company launched its student matinee program, and in 1992 began its high school conservatory program, a two-week, intensive immersion in theatre training for area high school students. In 1993, the company moved to a rotating repertory season schedule. By 1994 the production season extended to December.[3]

In 1997 in association with Winona State University, the theatre added an Elderhostel program.

In 2008 the company added the first ever Apprentice Company, bringing five young professional theatre artists to the Lanesboro area to act, direct, and become more familiar with the company's structure.

Currently Hal Cropp serves as the company's Executive Director and Adrienne Sweeney serves as Assistant Artistic Director.

New Theatre[edit]

The 200-seat Commonweal Theatre opened in July 2007, located on Lanesboro’s main street. The exterior façade, created by Minnesota artist Karl Unnasch, recreates three Lanesboro shop fronts. 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 Theater.

Ibsen Festival[edit]

The Commonweal is the only theatre in North America annually producing the works of Henrik Ibsen. Since 1998, the company has opened each season with an Ibsen play and celebrates this tradition with The Ibsen Festival. The festival includes Scandinavian art, food, music, culture and theatre. Every other year, the company tours an Ibsen production throughout the region.[4]

2016 season[edit]

The League of Youth by Henrik Ibsen; adapted for the Commonweal by Jeffrey Hatcher -- Souvenir by Stephen Temperley -- The Three Musketeers by Ken Ludwig -- Pride's Crossing by Tina Howe -- A Christmas Carol adapted by the Commonweal from the Charles Dickens novel


  1. ^ Whisner, Amanda (2007). Impossible Dreams: A Commonweal Commemorative Book.
  2. ^ Commonweal Website, History. Accessed 9.24.08
  3. ^ Commonweal Website, History. Accessed 9.24.08
  4. ^ Commonweal Theatre Website, Ibsen. Accessed 9.24.08

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°43′21.7″N 91°58′36″W / 43.722694°N 91.97667°W / 43.722694; -91.97667