Information, reviews, and miscellaneous shorts focusing on professional, nonprofit theater—from a Southeast Minnesota perspective.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ibsen Festival Starts Tonight

Siobhan Bremer and Adrienne Sweeney in The Commonweal's production of John Gabriel Borkman. Photo and set design by Nayna Ramey

The Commonweal and Lanesboro begin their 13th annual celebration of Henrik Ibsen and all things Scandinavian tonight. The celebration includes food, art, music, and and the world premiere production of Jeffery Hatcher’s adaptation of John Gabriel Borkman.

Borkman finishes its week of preview performances tonight, and it opens Saturday night. Its title character has sequestered himself in the upstairs of his house after serving jail time for a money scam that he engineered while president of a bank. While the banking scandal is in the backdrop, the play is a love story of sorts that centers on the psychological tug of war between three emotionally damaged people: Borkman, his wife, and her twin sister.

The cast features Hal Cropp as Borkman and Adrienne Sweeney and Siobhan Bremer as the twin sisters. Stella Burdt, Sarah Hawkins, Tim Sailer, Laura Depta and David Henssey round out the cast.

Weekend Highlights:


7:30 pm Diane Jarvi. Scandinavian, folk, and world music
Presented by the Lanesboro Arts Center, Diane Jarvi is a singer, songwriter, guitarist and kantele player (Finnish folk harp.) Known in Finland as Minnesotan Satakieli—The Minnesota Nightingale—Jarvi is a versatile performer of Scandinavian, folk and world music. $12 – St. Mane Theatre

7:30 p.m. John Gabriel Borkman
Final preview performance
$15 – The Commonweal


10:00 a.m. Professor Simon Williams. Coming to Terms With The Industrial Revolution.
Williams is Chair of the Department of Theater and Dance at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His talk will illuminate the themes of Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman in the aftermath of America’s own recent banking scandals.

1:00 p.m. Henry (Hank) Shea. Confronting the Temptations of Greed, Power and Money in Our Society.
Shea is a Fellow at the University of St. Thomas Law School’s Halloran Center for Ethical Leadership.

3:00 p.m. Panel discussion: Ibsen For a Contemporary Audience
former Guthrie Resident Director Risa Brainin (Director of this production of John Gabriel Borkman)
playwright Jeffrey Hatcher (author of this new adaptation of John Gabriel Borkman.)
Commonweal Theatre’s design team.

7:30 p.m. John Gabriel Borkman
Opening performance
$25 – The Commonweal

Many more events are planned. Download the Ibsen Festival Schedule of Events here.

The Commonweal has prepared this video to offer some perspective on John Gabriel Borkman. It offers thoughts on the play from playwritht Jeffery Hatcher, Director Risa Brainin, and Commonweal Artistic Director Hal Cropp:

For Ibesn Fest information go to
Visit the Commonweal for schedules and tickets: Commonweal Theatre

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