818 S 2nd Street
Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, 55415
Photo: Appraiser License: Public Domain
The Guthrie Theater, founded in 1963, is a center for theater performance, production, education, and professional training in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The concept of the theater was born in 1959 in a series of discussions between Sir Tyrone Guthrie, Oliver Rea and Peter Zeisler. Disenchanted with Broadway, they intended to form a theater with a resident acting company, to perform classic plays in rotating repertory, while maintaining the highest professional standards.
The Guthrie's design arose out of Ralph Rapson's work with the Walker Art Center, and concepts the Walker was considering for a small auditorium near their museum. The result was a theater designed by Rapson, that seated 1,441 people when it first opened its doors in 1963. Its irregularly-shaped stage, designed by Tanya Moiseiwitsch, had 7 sides and took up 1120 square feet (104 mē). Seating radiated outward and upward, and the ceiling was hung with acoustical panels that carried the asymmetrical theme to the top of the theater. The design concept encouraged the use of a minimal use of large set pieces. In 1974 the distinctive exterior screen, which had suffered from corrosion by the elements over the years, was removed. In 1980 Artistic Director Liviu Ciulei redesigned the stage. The stage itself was modified so that its size, shape and height was adjustable, and he opened up the back wall to create more depth.
In 2002 the National Trust for Historic Preservation put the old Guthrie building on its list of the most endangered historic properties in the United States in response to plans announced by the Walker Art Center to expand on the land occupied by the theater. However, demolition started in late 2006 beginning with the common area between the old Guthrie building and the Walker. The site has been turned into green space and an extension of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
In 2006, the Guthrie finished construction of a new $125 million theater building along the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. The design is the work of Jean Nouvel, along with the Minneapolis architectural firm Architectural Alliance and is a 285,000 square foot (26,500 mē) facility that houses three theater.
The first Guthrie production at the new location,The Great Gatsby (adapted for the stage by Simon Levy and directed by David Esbjornson), opened on July 15, 2006.
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