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Guthrie Theater

About Guthrie Theater :

The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota is a nationally acclaimed The Guthrie Theatre 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.

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The Guthrie Theatre 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 theater.

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.

 

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