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HISTORY TOPICS

Guthrie Theater

Tyrone Guthrie Theatre, 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis, 1966. Location no. MH5.9 MP3.1G p10This revolutionary theater was inspired by Sir Tyrone Guthrie, a world-famous director, who wanted to establish a regional theater in the United States devoted to innovation, like the theater he had established at Stratford, Ontario. Frank Whiting, director of the University of Minnesota Theater, introduced Guthrie to the Twin Cities, to Minnesota arts communities, and to "movers and shakers" whose pledged support persuaded Guthrie to locate his theater in Minneapolis. Ralph Rapson, then head of the University of Minnesota School of Architecture, noted for his designs as a leader in the modern movement, was selected as architect. Rapson's design was renowned for its many unique features devoted to the enhancement of innovation, and to enabling the integrated experience of drama, art, music, language, acoustics, movement, and dance within a beautiful space.

The theater is notable for its interior design as well, with an irregularly-angled thrust stage jutting out into the auditorium, and from the angles, seating radiates outward and upward, in a modified partial circle. Action takes place on all parts of the stage, and into the seating area, and actors make entrances and exits, not only from backstage, but also from the aisles, and from the highest points of the balcony.

The Guthrie Theater opened May 7, 1963, with a modern-dress production of "Hamlet," directed by Sir Tyrone Guthrie. In the year 2000, Rapson's celebrated architectural creation was threatened with destruction when the Walker Art Center announced plans to expand on land occupied by the theater. In 2001, the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota listed the Guthrie Theater as among the ten most endangered historic properties in Minnesota and in 2002 the National Trust for Historic Preservation put the Guthrie on its list of the most endangered historic properties in the United States.

GET STARTED WITH SECONDARY SOURCES:

  • "Architecture for the Stage: Tyrone Guthrie Theatre Designed by Ralph Rapson, AIA."
    In Design Quarterly, no. 58.
    MHS call number: NK1 .E9 no. 58.
  • Famous American Playhouses, 1900-1971, by William C. Young.
    Chicago: American Library Association, 1973.
    MHS call number: NA6830 .Y672.
  • Minnesota Theatre: From Old Fort Snelling to the Guthrie, by Frank M. Whiting.
    St. Paul, Minn.: Pogo Press, c1988.
    MHS call number: PN2275.M6 W54 1988.
  • A New Theatre, by Tyrone Guthrie.
    New York: McGraw-Hill, [1964].
    MHS call number: Reading Room PN2277.M62 G84.
  • Regional Theatre: The Revolutionary Stage, by Joseph W. Zeigler.
    Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press, [1973].
    MHS call number: PN2266 .Z4.
  • "Sir Tony and the American Dream," by James Lineberger.
    In Tulane Drama Review, vol. 10, pt. 3 (spring 1966): pp. 177-189.
    MHS call number: PN2277.M62 G848.

PRIMARY RESOURCES:

  • F.A. Bean Foundation Records.
    The Guthrie Theater received significant funding from the Bean Foundation.
    MHS call number: See the green Manuscripts Alpha Notebooks — filed alphabetically under F. A. Bean Foundation — for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 8 boxes, but not all relate to this topic), or use an electronic version of the inventory.
  • Bruce Goldstein Photography Collection.
    Collection contains the work of commercial photographer Bruce Goldstein whose studio was located in St. Paul, Minn. Bulk of the collection consists of his work for Twin Cities arts organizations and businesses, including the Guthrie Theater.
    MHS call number: III.32 (in the A-V Collection).
  • T.B. Walker Foundation Records.
    This manuscripts collection includes records of the Guthrie Theater Foundation.
    MHS call number: See the green Manuscripts Alpha Notebooks — filed alphabetically under T. B. Walker Foundation — for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 44 boxes, but not all relate to this topic), or use an electronic version of the inventory.
  • Trina Porte Papers.
    This manuscript collection includes information about her work as a stagehand at the Guthrie Theater.
    MHS call number: See the green Manuscripts Alpha Notebooks — filed alphabetically under Porte, Trina — for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 5 boxes, but not all relate to this topic), or use an electronic version of the inventory.
  • Guthrie Theater Publications
    • Annual Reports
      MHS call number: Serial 72 and Serial 73.
    • Newsletters
      MHS call number: Serial 520; PN2277.M62 G83; PN2277.M62 G843; PN2277.M62 G8432 (the newsletters changed names over time and each name change has a different call no.).
  • "Taping Our Times," produced jointly by the Minnesota Historical Society and KSTP-TV.
    Includes local news stories on the opening of the Guthrie Theater.
    MHS call number: Videotape no. 409 (in the A-V Collection; 1 35-minute videocassette).
  • Newspapers that may be useful for this topic:
    • Minneapolis Star-Tribune (an index for articles published after 1970 is located in the Hubbs Microfilm Room)
    • St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch (an index for articles published in 1967 or after is located in the Hubbs Microfilm Room)
  • Visual Resources Database subjects that may be useful for this topic:
  • Check the library catalog for other materials.