The Commonweal Theatre Company announces its 20th annual Ibsen Festival, taking place April 21 to 23 in downtown Lanesboro.

Named for Henrik Ibsen, the acclaimed “Father of Modern Drama,” the festival is a celebration of Scandinavian theater, visual art, music and dance, centered amidst the opening of Commonweal’s annual Ibsen production.

This yearly gathering of artists and craftsmen was honored in 2008 by the Norwegian government, which awarded the Commonweal Theatre one of only four inaugural International Ibsen Scholarships in recognition of its ongoing commitment to producing the works of Ibsen, one of the world’s premiere playwrights.

The company has decided that the 2017 festival will be its last.

Highlighting the final festival is the opening of a world-premiere adaptation of Ibsen’s final play, “When We Dead Awaken” on Saturday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m.

The action of the play follows sculptor Arnold Rubek who seems to have it all in life, yet his career and spirits have fallen into mediocrity. When a chance encounter with his muse ignites passions he has long stifled, art and life play out their conflict as Rubek searches for the man he once was.

The Commonweal season opener is the last in a series of Ibsen adaptations written by Minnesota playwright Jeffrey Hatcher. The role of Arnold Rubek will be played by Commonweal executive director Hal Cropp.

The company welcomes back the return of Minnesota theater artist Craig Johnson as the director of the piece.

“I’m really excited,” said Johnson, “to be a part of the premiere of Jeffrey Hatcher’s new adaptation of ‘When We Dead Awaken,’ especially since this closes Commonweal’s grand cycle of staging Ibsen’s masterworks. Jeffrey has done a tremendous job taking an obscure and, at times mystifying script, and breathing new life into it: lifting and clarifying its themes, and infusing his own characteristic wit and crackle to this tale of lost love and redemption.”

Along with Cropp, the cast includes Commonweal resident ensemble members Elizabeth Dunn, Eric Lee, Adrienne Sweeney and apprentice Megan Hanks. Stage manager Bailey Otto, with the help of Commonweal production manager and lighting designer Thomas White, leads the production team, which includes Kit Mayer in sets, Steph Mueller in costumes, Matt Vichlach in sound and Philip Muehe in props.

The production of “When We Dead Awaken” runs through June 17.

More on Ibsen Festival

The Ibsen Festival offers events and presentations throughout the weekend to allow guests to experience Norwegian culture in a variety of ways. With 2017 being the final installment of the festival, the approach is more retrospective in nature.

The typical keynote lecture on Saturday is being replaced with a panel discussion, which will include Margaret “Peggy” Hanson, Liz Bucheit and Hal Cropp. Hanson was an early developer of the festival and will speak about Norse Vinter Fest, the precursor of the Ibsen Festival. Bucheit is owner of Crown Trout Jewelers in Lanesboro and was also in the early planning stages of the festival.

Joining the festival on Saturday April 22, at 6 p.m., is Minnesota-based sculptor Nicholas Legeros. He will give an artist chat he has entitled “Sculpting a Life” in which he will describe his approach to his form of artwork with a special focus on the lure of the muse. This event will take place in the Commonweal events hall. In conjunction, pieces from the collection of Legeros’ work will be on display throughout the entire weekend.

Two performance pieces highlight the festival weekend. Along with the opening night performance, five Commonweal ensemble members will present “The Last Two Minutes of the Complete Works of Henrik Ibsen.” From the mind of the Chicago-based Neo-Futurists, the piece is fast-paced and silly, yet at times a quite serious journey through the final moments of each of the works from Norway’s greatest playwright. This piece will be performed onsite at the Commonweal at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday.

For more details, including information about schedules, tickets and other Commonweal programs, visit or call the box office at 800-657-7025.