Theater of the Absurd

When the Shubert inched down Hennepin Avenue a year ago, Minneapolis politicos promised a bright future for the historic theater. They didn't mention stingy legislators, taxpayer bailouts, or the specter of the wrecking ball.

But, Cuthbert continues, the scope of the Shubert project is equivalent to the Guthrie's $26 million endowment campaign in the early 1990s--a campaign that proved "a challenge" even for the flagship of American regional theaters. And unlike the Guthrie, Cuthbert notes, Artspace can only offer a vision of what its theater might someday be. "It involves a leap, because they're not just moving into a better house or expanding a program. Funders will have to imagine something that doesn't currently exist."

The Artspace bunch nonetheless remains optimistic that the requisite cash will materialize. "We're going full steam ahead as if we're going to get the money from the Legislature," Holmes Nelson says. "It's not a slam-dunk, but we have faith in our ability to be creative."

Moir, meanwhile, says he hopes the leap of faith won't end in a hard landing. "I get over things," he says, recalling his 1998 prediction. "And it's okay if they don't listen to me. But any time you have a project that doesn't work financially, it's going to be hard to convince people to give more money to it. I'm rooting for them. I hope they prove me wrong."

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