The World-Renowned Guthrie Theater

Minnesota has an amazing arts community that is known around the country. Last week we visited the Old Log Theater in Excelsior, Minnesota. This week, let’s take a peek behind the curtain at the Guthrie Theater in downtown Minneapolis.

Photo-Jeremy Noble
Photo-Jeremy Noble

Now celebrating its 50th season, the Guthrie was founded in 1963 as a regional theater by Sir Tyrone Guthrie, Oliver Rhea and Peter Zeisler. It was designed to be a place to perform the classics away from the pressures of Broadway.

The initial building, located on Vineland Place as part of the Walker Art Museum, was designed by Ralph RGuthrie Theater demolishedapson and built in 1963. In 2002, the Walker Museum revealed plans to expand, so the Guthrie Theater built a new building along the Mississippi River. Designed by Jean Nouvel, the 285,000 square foot building houses three theaters and includes a 178-foot cantilevered bridge (called The Endless Bridge) that extends approximately twelve stories toward the river. The outside walls of the building contain panels that display photos of past plays.

New_Guthrie_riverviewThe new theater also holds a sustainable seafood restaurant (Sea Change), the Level Five Cafe (casual pre-show dining) and a coffee bar. There are two conference rooms and five meeting rooms that are available for events. Spacious lobbies allow birds-eye views of the Mississippi River. There are even several areas at the top of the building for weddings, although available weekends are scarce.

Current shows include Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in repertory with The Taming of the Shrew. Plays starting in April include Nice Fish and The Primrose Path; in May, An Illiad; in June, Clybourne Park; and in July, Pride and Prejudice.

The Guthrie also emphasizes education, and invites the public to workshops like How’d They Do That? where visitors can learn about the inspiration for the set, details about rehearsals, and costume facts. There is a cost to these workshops and registration is required.

There are classes to learn about voiceovers, introduction to acting, script analysis, tap dancing, presentation skills, and camps for kids. Check out the Guthrie Calendar for details. There are also informative backstage tours where you can visit the stages, tour the scene shop and costume shop, and explore the rehearsal rooms, as well as self-guided audio tours and a virtual tour.

Over two decades ago, the Guthrie Theater built a 6,000 square foot warehouse for experimental theater, a place for unique works, a laboratory for creativity and out-of-the-box drama. Located in  the North Loop neighborhood of downtown, The Lab Theater hosts independent productions such as live theater and music concerts, and full-scale productions by Theater Latté Da and The Moving Company.

On June 22, 2013, the Guthrie will hold a once-in-a-lifetime event called Fête 50 to Guthrie 50thcelebrate their first fifty years. Tickets are pricey but it’s guaranteed to be a fabulous event. There will also be a free Community Day on Sunday, June 23 (10:00am-4:00pm) with a 5K run, ongoing classes, workshops and tours, and a Q&A with Artistic Director Joe Dowling. Definitely worth checking out!

The Guthrie Theater has a reputation for world class theater that welcomes the public to explore, learn and enjoy not just excellent theater but an atmosphere of wonder, fun and excitement. It is truly a unique theater experience for the whole family.

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