Guthrie Theater Archives
410 cubic feet
Mezzanine, AV Room, High Bay
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.
Minnesota Libraries. Performing Arts Archives, Manuscripts
Access and Use
Initial donation was in 1966. Materials are added to the collection on
a regular basis.
Access to unpublished documents is restricted; permission to view and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.
The Guthrie Theater retains copyright to materials in the
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.
This finding aid was written by Leslie Czechowski, 2004.
Guthrie Theater Archives (PA 3), Performing Arts Archives, University
of Minnesota Libraries, Minneapolis.
The collection is organized in six series:
- Series 1. Production Materials
- Series 2. Audio-Visual Materials
- Series 3. Publications
- Series 4. Reviews and General Information
- Series. 5. Administrative Files
- Series 6. Company Files
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.
Artistic Directors. 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.
Garland Wright was selected as the sixth Artistic Director of the Guthrie
Theater. Joe Dowling, internationally-known director who was affiliated with
Ireland's the Abbey Theatre, was named Artistic Director in 1995.
Smaller theater spaces. 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 is building a new multistage theater
center on the banks of the Mississippi River designed by Jean Nouvel and
scheduled to open in 2005. The complex will include three stages: a classic
thrust stage for the classics, a proscenium stage for the more intimate
classics, and a studio theater for developing the classics of tomorrow.
A more complete history of the Guthrie Theater is available from their
Web site at: http://www.guthrietheater.org/act_II/history.htm
Collection 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.
Historical Society has materials in their collection that relate to
the Guthrie Theater.
The Guthrie Theater maintains a chronological
of productions on their Web site.
An unpublished finding aid with detailed lists of contents is
available in the archives.
- This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog
of the University of Minnesota Libraries. Researchers desiring materials about
related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these
Theater -- Archives
- Theater -- Production and
direction -- Minnesota -- Minneapolis -- History -- Sources
- Theater -- Minnesota --
Minneapolis. -- History -- Sources
Summary of Collection
Series 1. Production Materials
Prompt books and other production materials,
1963 - [ongoing]
Note These materials include prompt books, technical information,
photos, artistic directions that go into the actual production of the play.
They are for Mainstage, Guthrie Lab, and tour productions and for St. Paul
& T.O.P. productions from 1967-1970.
May include prompt book, cast lists, performance reports, music,
rehearsal schedules, scene breakdowns, technical notes, script, costume
sketches, ground plan, etc.
Filed by season
Costume bibles, 1963 - [ongoing]
Note These include original costume designs, swatches of fabric, and
other materials relating to costumes.
Arranged by season
Scenic designs, 1963-1980
Note Designs for each show may range from one sheet to multiple
sheets and may include ground plans, detail drawings, blueprints, elevations,
shop drawings, etc.
Includes plans for the Crawford Livingston Theatre, St. Paul,
Series 2. Audio-Visual Materials
Reel-to-reel audio tapes, 1963-1970
((ca. 75 tapes))
Note Includes interviews, lectures, speeches, symposiums, etc.
Includes Sir Tyrone Guthrie's profile by the National
Educational Television Network.
Includes "Backstage at the Guthrie Theatre," 1963: discussions
with leading actors, directors, & designers including Zoe Caldwell, Lee
Richardson, Tyrone Guthrie, Jessica Tandy, Tanya Moiseiwitsch, and Hume Cronyn.
Production reel-to-reel audio tapes, 1965-1978, 1983
Note Arranged alphabetically by play title.
Audio cassette tapes, 1973-1984 (?), 1989-1990
Note Includes a wide variety of content: interviews (some from radio
and television), production tapes, rehearsal tapes.
Videocassette tapes, 1976-1992, undated
Note Includes production tapes, workshops, publicity tapes, tapes
from television shows, etc.
Also includes printouts of interviews of noted actors,
directors, stagehands, architect Ralph Rapson, etc. for the video, "Onstage! 25
Years at the Guthrie," KTCA-TV (no date).
Tyrone Guthrie films, 1973, no date
Note "Arturo Ui" and "Becket" among others
Photographs and negatives, 1963-1975
Note Includes portraits, head shots, production photos, etc.
Production slides, 1975-1981
Series 3. Publications
Publications, 1961 - [ongoing]
( (19 boxes))
Note Includes press packets, duplicate programs, study guides,
photographs, posters, and an assortment of publications. Arranged
Programs, 1963 - [ongoing]
Note Arranged by calendar year
Series 4. Reviews and General Information
Note Arranged chronologically
General information, 1963-1994
Note Contains unbound scrapbook pages that include clippings about
Series 5. Administrative Files
Equity and non-Equity contracts, 1960-1967
Note Contains correspondence and contracts between Guthrie Theater
and members of Minnesota Theatre Company chiefly pertaining to matters of
compensation. Most of these materials are restricted; correspondence and other
material contained in these files which does not discuss salary terms may be
consulted. Curator may make this material available on request.
General correspondence from the front office,
Note Subjects include: general information, employment and employment
requests, insurance, arrangements for guests and tours, box office and budgets,
financial reports, community and educational programs, and correspondence with
Filed by calendar year
Note Filed by year.
Note Filed by year.
Series 6. Company Files, ca. 1963-1967
Note Contains folders of information about members of the Minnesota
Theatre Company including biographical sketches or career resumes, photos,
correspondence, and other information. See also Administrative Files that
contain restricted records about company members.