At the beginning of the year, Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro was in a good place -- they’d sold tickets to a record number of season pass holders, were in the black financially, and had begun work on a lineup of woman-centered shows.

Now, all that has changed. On Thursday, the company announced that their 2020 season would be canceled.

“In times of great crisis, the arts have always healed us,” an email to Commonweal Theatre attendees read. “Currently, we find ourselves in the midst of one of the most trying situations this country has experienced: the confluence of a global pandemic, severe economic distress, and devastating racial turmoil. Under different circumstances, we might find relief in gathering together, being reminded of our common humanity, and moving forward with a renewed commitment to enriching the common good.”

Related: Commonweal has two shows in the works

But all is not lost.

“Although not producing shows as we typically would, the last few months have seen our resident ensemble hard at work: creating alternative artistic programming, maintaining our facilities, crafting plans for the future, and laying out a new path to financial stability,” the company wrote.

About a month ago, Commonweal announced their production of "Root River Anthology" by Catherine Glynn.

The theater worked with Lanesboro Arts and Audacious Raw Theater to co-produce the show, set in a fictional Minnesota town along the Root River that is devastated by a flood. A remaining phone booth allows the living to communicate with the dead.

The performance is available for download at

Related: Commonweal now owns residence hall for guest artists

Brandt Roberts in "The Art of the Entertainer" (contributed photo, Commonweal Theatre)
Brandt Roberts in "The Art of the Entertainer" (contributed photo, Commonweal Theatre)

A recorded one-man show by Brandt Roberts called “Art of the Entertainer" has been pushed back to July, and will stream from the website.

And in August, members of the Commonweal ensemble will present “My Eyes to Ask Again,” a “wordless movement piece” performed outdoors while social distancing.

More than half of the theater’s revenue comes from ticket sales, so while the online performances are free, Commonweal has put out a call for donations through the website.

The company hopes to meet again, and possibly put out an abbreviated fall/winter season, before the end of the calendar year.

Related: Commonweal's "The Fox" performances cancelled