Artistic director Joe Dowling announced the Guthrie Theater’s 2009-2010 season today. And, as is usually the case when a new Guthrie season is unveiled, next year's offerings will contain a curious mix of the familiar, the fresh, and the downright fusty.
Dowling began by offering assurances that although the Guthrie, like every other institution in town, is being impacted by the recession, there is no plan to scale back programming to save money. “We will serve this community with a full program of plays,” Dowling insisted—and so they will.
The lineup for the Wurtele Thrust stage makes a certain kind of recessionary sense in that it leans heavily on the tried and true. The season’s mainstage offerings will be:
The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde (last mounted in 1999)
Macbeth, by William Shakespeare (last mounted in 1994, with Falcoln Crest ’s Robert Foxworth as Macbeth)
M. Butterfly, by David Henry Hwang (last seen on Broadway in 1990)
She Stoops to Conquer, by Oliver Goldsmith (last mounted in 1997)
A somewhat more inspired lineup of plays will grace the McGuire Proscenium Stage. They are:
Ella, by Jeffrey Hatcher (yes, it’s about the life of Ella Fitzgerald)
Faith Healer, by Brian Friel (in honor of Friel’s 80th birthday, Dowling himself will play the lead role of the faith healer.)
Dollhouse, by Rebecca Gilman (a play based loosely on the characters in Henrik Ibsen’s masterwork)
A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams (Stella!)
Brief Encounter, by Emma Rice (adapted from the 1945 movie screenplay by Noel Coward)
Special event: As part of the Guthrie’s WorldStage program, a film screening of the National Theatre of London’s production of Phédre, by Racine, starring Helen Mirren. Two nights only.
Several local theaters will mount productions in the Dowling Studio, along with some other interesting fare. The Dowling will see:
Super Monkey, by local director Jon Ferguson
The Stuart Pimsler Dance and Theater Company will showcase an as-yet-unnamed performance piece based on the poetry of Leonard Cohen (who in concert at the Orpheum May 3).
Northern Lights/Southern Cross, by Kevin Kling. (Interact Theater will do Kevin Kling’s in collaboration with the Tutti Ensemble of Adelaide, Australia, where Kling vacationed some years ago and was given a didgeridoo.)
Theater Mu will do Yellow Face, by David Henry Hwang (because one David Henry Hwang play in a season isn’t enough)
Coward’s Women, a Producing House production featuring the songs and women of Noel Coward, sung by Erin Schwab and Maud Hixson.
The Guthrie/U of M BFA Actor Training Program Showcase (a showcase of young talent coming out of the university this year).
Singled Out: a festival of emerging local artists that will lean heavily on audience favorites from the 2010 Fringe festival.
The Guthrie will also be collaborating with the Walker Art Center for the first time in production of Irish playwright Enda Walsh's The Walworth Farce, by Ireland's Druid Theater, which will be presented at the Walker.
And yes, you'll get your annual production of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, but with an all-new Scrooge. Ray Burke, who has played Scrooge for the past five years, will be in Brian Friel's Faith Healer .
Any thoughts from the playgoing public on next year’s Guthrie lineup? Don’t be shy.