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Young actors perform -- and learn broader theater skills -- in Lanesboro

The Commonweal Theatre pays resident company members not only to act in plays, but also to perform the "day-to-day artistic and operational needs of the company as artists/administrators."
MinnPost photo by Steve Date
The Commonweal Theatre pays resident company members not only to act in plays, but also to perform the "day-to-day artistic and operational needs of the company as artists/administrators."

At a time when many small towns are struggling to stay alive, tiny Lanesboro has been able to find infusions of both money and vitality from the outside. Lanesboro has steadily gained a reputation over several decades as a tourist destination. The Root River Bike Trail, Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, restaurants, specialty shops, numerous bed & breakfasts, combined with the natural beauty of the river valley all make for a vibrant, attractive community. 

Participants learn all the jobs necessary to operate a professional theater company.
MinnPost photo by Steve Date
Participants learn all the jobs necessary to operate a professional theater company.

One of the main attractions in Lanesboro since 1989 has been the Commonweal Theatre. The Commonweal is a rare type of organization in a town of only 788 residents. It's a professional repertory theater company that pays resident company members not only to act in plays, but also to perform the "day-to-day artistic and operational needs of the company as artists/administrators." The Commonweal's apprenticeship program gives recent college graduates a unique opportunity to learn all of the jobs necessary to operate a professional theater company. Part of the company's mission is to "enrich the common good" by reaching out to area residents and involving itself in the community.

Today's Rural Minnesota video features five young people, all in their early- to mid-20s, during the recent run of "Little Shop of Horrors" at the Commonweal. Some of them are currently in the apprenticeship program, others have now moved up to resident company-member status. They come from small towns and big cities, but they share an appreciation for life in Lanesboro and the opportunities they've had, both in the theater and in a small town.

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Comments (2)

It appears that funding "frivolities" like good bike trails, enticing bed and breakfasts, historical sites, and theater do help a community prosper. (Note to all of those who want to raid the Legacy funds to fix the budget.)

I really appreciate the Commonweal for their innovative use of their employees. Good story Steve.