"I remember watching people turn off Dale Street and come down Iglehart toward the theater one afternoon, and I started counting," Bellamy recalls. "It had never occurred to me to think about male-female. And I'd see one, two, three women...a man...one woman, two women...a man...and it became obvious that women were making men come to the theater. Oh yeah, these guys are in there with Walkmen on, listening to the ball game." This casual demographic survey, combined with the arrival of a crop of exciting female playwrights, led Bellamy and Co. to turn from a kind of macho haven into something decidedly more coed.
As for Dowling, he's working with Louise Erdrich to adapt some of her novels for the stage. He says that he expects the Guthrie to be able to stage more women's work if its proposed new building is approved. The Guthrie is in the middle of a massive fundraising campaign to erect a proposed Mississippi River complex, with a 1,100-seat thrust stage, a 700-seat proscenium, and a 250-seat studio. If the new location gets the green light, by 2005 the theater will indeed have more opportunities to present female playwrights--and even fewer excuses not to.