Guthrie Theater :
The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota
is a nationally acclaimed venue. The theatre is
a unique venue for staging plays and is the result
of Sir Tyrone Guthrie's desire for a new kind
of theater that would provide an atmosphere which
would encourage the production of great works
of literature and cultivate actors' talents away
from the more commercial environment of Broadway.
The theatre is near completion of its new replacement
theatre that will be located along the Mississippi
River in downtown Minneapolis.
The new Guthrie Theatre is set to be complete in
June 2006 and is the design work of architect Jean
Nouvel. It is a 255,000 square foot facility that
replicates the theater's signature thrust stage
and includes a new 1,100-seat auditorium, 700-seat
proscenium stage, 250-seat studio theater, new classrooms
and food service.
Even with the brand new digs, the
Guthrie Theatre oozes of history and tradition.
Along with the Guthrie's innovative production
philosophy, the theater itself gained a lot of
attention by the unique style. Original architect
Ralph Rapson, created a thrust irregularly-shaped
stage that had 7 sides and took up 1120 square
feet. The original theater seated 1,441 people
with seating that radiates outward and upward
and balconies that hang over the space just under
ceiling-hung acoustical panels that carry the
asymmetrical theme all the way to the top of the
In 1980, A world-class director,
designer and architect, Liviu Ciulei redesigned
the stage. The acting platform was modified so
its size, shape and height were adjustable, thereby
allowing stage designers greater freedom. He also
installed interchangeable floor panels that allowed
the stage surface to be redefined and reshaped
for each production. Ciulei adjusted the stage
to be more rectangular, and he opened up the backstage
in order to create greater depth.
In 1993, the Guthrie received another
long-awaited facelift. The renovation was a $3.5
million project and included better acoustics,
new wheelchair accessible seating, improved shielding
of theater lighting, flexibility for "flying"
props, general refurbishing and the re-upholstery
of the seats. Lobby renovations included an expanded
women's restroom, redesigned food and beverage
outlets, a lobby expansion which added eight feet
and a new energy-efficient glass curtain wall.
Within the theater there are now 1,298 seats surrounding
the stage in a 180 degree arc. None of the theatres
renovations ever compromised Guthrie’s original
goals of an intimate venue. In the theatre, no
seat is more than 15 rows or 52 feet away from
the stage; comparably, the distance from a pitcher's
mound to home plate is over 60 feet.
The original Guthrie Theater opened
on May 7, 1963 with a production of Hamlet directed
by Sir Tyrone Guthrie, the theater's founder.
Since it’s opening, the Guthrie has performed
such great works as Henry V, The House of Atreus,
Oedipus the King, A Streetcar Named Desire, The
Taming of the Shrew, The Marriage of Figaro and
A Midsummer Night's Dream. Joe Dowling, the Guthrie's
current and seventh Artistic Director, holds the
attendance record for his production of Shakespeare's
A Midsummer Night's Dream. In 1982 The Guthrie
Theater received a Tony Award for its outstanding
contribution to the American Theater.
While the Guthrie Theater's mission
and artistic excellence have remained constant,
much has changed over the past four decades. The
theater opened with 22,000 season ticket holders
and after many years of ups and downs, it is at
a new high of 32,000 subscribers. What began as
a summer season of four productions supported
by a minimal staff is now a complex organization
employing more than 900 people per year.
Forever growing and changing as
the community that founded it changes, the Guthrie
Theater is a living organization reflecting the
culture and human spirit of its audiences. The
Theater is truly devoted to a traditional classical
repertoire that will continue in its new theatre.
The new theatre is sure to draw even more patrons
and will be a known hot spot in Minneapolis.