Guthrie Theater plans for a 3-play season


Like most organizations in town, the Guthrie has had to change plans and strategize in order to survive.

The iconic Minneapolis theater had originally hoped to reopen in the fall with an adjusted $25 million budget (down from $31 million). There would have been nine productions slotted for a compressed, but still full, season. 

Well, that is not happening.

“Earlier this week our finance committee of the board reviewed and approved a budget for this more modest season,” states Guthrie artistic director Joseph Haj via a news release. “That budget projects total income of $12.6M, a budget 60% smaller than the one that was passed just eight weeks ago.” 

That means the theater is moving to a three-play, thrust-only season running from March through August of 2021. Staff will also be finding out this week whether or not they still have jobs, as the company restructures in the wake of the latest adjustments. 

“This three-play season as outlined allows us to keep some core operations intact; it gives our audiences a long runway to consider returning, and gives the organization the chance to be nimble should we be able to open earlier,” says Haj. “It reduces, though doesn’t eliminate, our financial risks.... That said, we understand even a March 2021 opening could be optimistic and should we not be able to open in March we will adjust accordingly.”

So, what are the three plays planned? Two are Private Lives, a romantic comedy about a divorced couple who run into each other on their honeymoons, and Sweat, Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer-winning drama about blue-collar life working at a factory in a small town.

The third production has yet to be determined. (Maybe it’s time for a summer production of the theater’s beloved A Christmas Carol?)

“I’m reminded that the Guthrie’s first season was four shows, May - September of 1963, and from those four shows we grew,” says Haj. “We will grow again and we will thrive again. But, for a time, we will necessarily be a much smaller version of ourselves.“