Guthrie Theater records
Scope and Content Note
The collection contains play production material for every production staged, including promptbooks, lighting plans, stage plans and layouts, dressing room assignments, notes kept by the stage manager during rehearsals, and rehearsal schedules; correspondence, largely of the managing director and his aides, information on members of the theater company, including biographical sketches, résumés, and photos;equity files; purchase orders; office memos; scrapbook of clippings concerning theater productions and affairs; and programs, brochures, flyers, and news releases produced for the theater and The Other Place, its experimental outgrowth.
- Creation: 1957-
Language of Materials
Language of Materials
Restrictions on Access
Access to unpublished documents is restricted; permission to view and reproduce material is allowed only with permission of the Guthrie Theater. Please contact the archivist for details.
Restrictions on Use
The Guthrie Theater retains copyright to materials in the collection
The idea of the theater began in 1959 during a series of conversations among Tyrone Guthrie and two colleagues, Oliver Rea and Peter Zeisler, who were disenchanted with Broadway. They wanted to create a theater with a resident acting company that would perform the classics. In Minneapolis/St. Paul a steering committee was formed to bring theater to the Twin Cities. The T.B. Walker Foundation donated the land behind the Walker Art Center for a building and contributed $400,000 for construction. The steering committee agreed to raise at least $900,000 from the community. The new theater was completed in 1963, planned by architect Ralph Rapson with a 1,441-seat thrust stage designed by Tanya Moiseiwitsch. The Guthrie Theater opened on May 7, 1963 with a production of Hamlet, directed by Sir Tyrone Guthrie, the theater's founder.
Sir Tyrone Guthrie was the Artistic Director from 1963 through 1966 and thereafter returned to direct each year until 1969. In 1966 Guthrie's protégé, actor/director Douglas Campbell, took over as Artistic Director. Michael Langham was Artistic Director from 1971 to 1977. He was a respected colleague of Tyrone Guthrie and came to the Guthrie after 12 years as Artistic Director of Canada's Stratford Festival Theatre. In 1977 the Guthrie Board appointed their first American Artistic Director, Alvin Epstein, who had worked as an actor and director primarily at the Yale Repertory Theatre. In 1980, an international search for Epstein's successor resulted in the appointment of Liviu Ciulei, former Artistic Director of the Bulandra Theatre in Romania.
After Ciulei's resignation in 1985, the Board concluded that the next Artistic Director should be the single head of the organization and they wanted an Artistic Director committed to a resident acting company, to the classical repertory, and with a vision for the Guthrie as a leader in American Theater. Ciulei's former Associate Artistic Director Garland Wright was selected as the sixth Artistic Director of the Guthrie Theater. In 1995, Joe Dowling, internationally-known director who was affiliated with Ireland's the Abbey Theatre, was named Artistic Director. During his 20 year tenure, the longest of any artistic director, Dowling oversaw the Guthrie’s move into its current space on the iconic Mississippi riverfront and the theater’s 50th anniversary in 2013. Joseph Haj is the Guthrie’s eighth and current artistic director (as well as a former actor on the Guthrie stage himself), and his appointment heralds yet another new era of artistic excellence and innovation.
In 1968 the Guthrie began presenting work on smaller stages, a tradition that has continued and evolved through the years. From 1968 to 1971 productions were staged at the 500-seat Crawford-Livingston Theater in St. Paul. In addition, the Guthrie presented three seasons (1968-71) at The Other Place, a 200-seat theater just two blocks away from the mainstage. The Other Place was an alternative theater that experimented with new plays and methods of production.
When The Other Place was torn down for urban renewal, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a grant for another theater -- Guthrie 2, located on Washington Avenue near the University of Minnesota. This space helped the Guthrie fulfill its responsibility to the ongoing development of its artists and to the American theater. The Guthrie 2 program continued until 1978. Garland Wright was also committed to the idea of a second performing space, and created the Guthrie Laboratory located at 700 North First Street in the Minneapolis Warehouse District. The Laboratory was established to provide a facility to explore and develop new work and performance techniques with the purpose of enhancing the actors' skills.
In the 21st century the Guthrie envisioned a new multistage theater center on the banks of the Mississippi River. The building was designed by Jean Nouvel and opened in 2005. The complex includes three stages: a traditional thrust stage for the classics, a proscenium stage for more intimate performances, and a studio theater for developing relevant, contemporary productions.
A more complete history of the Guthrie Theater is available from their Web site at: http://www.guthrietheater.org/act_II/history.htm
Approx. 580 Linear Feet (568 boxes: 366 record cartons, 48 poster storage boxes, 26 DVD trays, 128 oversized boxes, 1 card file, 1 book tray, 1 shovel)
Collection includes play production material for every production staged, including promptbooks; correspondence; information on members of the theater company, including biographical sketches, résumés, and photos; lighting plans, stage plans and layouts, dressing room assignments, notes kept by the stage manager during rehearsals, and rehearsal schedules; equity files; purchase orders; office memos; scrapbook of clippings concerning theater productions and affairs; and programs, brochures, flyers, and news releases produced for the theater and The Other Place, its experimental outgrowth.
The collection is organized in nine series:
- Production Materials
- Costume Bibles
- Scenic Designs
- Public Relations
- Administrative Files
- Education and Community Programs
- Audio-Visual Materials
Mezzanine, AV Room, High Bay
Initial donation was in 1966. Materials are added to the collection on a regular basis.
Additions to the collection are made annually.
The collection was initally processed by Inez Waltman Bergquist in 1984. Barbara Bezat has processed production materials as they arrive; other collection series have not been processed in detail since 1984.
The original finding aid was written by Leslie Czechowski in 2004. In 2015, the Performing Arts Archives received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to reprocess the entirety of the collection, and bring it up to 21st century standards. Processing work and finding aid updates were supervised by Hannah O'Neill, 2015-2016.
- Finding Aid for the Guthrie Theater Records
- Inez Waltman Bergquist, Barbara Bezat, Leslie Czechowski.
- 1984; updated 2004.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- In 2015, the Performing Arts Archives was awarded a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to fully process legacy materials and new accruals, and bring the entire collection up to 21st-century standards.