The Guthrie Theater is furloughing most of its full-time staff for a week during January, a theater official confirmed Tuesday. The Guthrie has about 120 full-time employees, a figure that swells when productions are up on its three stages.
The theater's employees have had forced time off "a couple of times" since the Guthrie moved into its new riverfront complex in June 2006, said Trish Santini, director of external relations.
She said the latest furloughs vary by department and last for a week. Some staffers are taking additional time off through vacation — "up to three weeks, if they have it" — while others will cycle in to work in the building, which is "dark" for the month. There are no shows at the Guthrie, and the theater is closed to the public this month.
"But there's still work being done here," Santini said. "The organization has not done a complete shutdown."
January is a traditionally a slow time in theater, but not always at the Guthrie. Last January, the theater had three overlapping productions — "Long Day's Journey Into Night," "The Servant of Two Masters" and "As You Like It."
The latest furloughs come in the wake of the news that the Guthrie ended its latest fiscal year with a deficit of nearly $438,000. That figure is on top of a cut of $1.1 million in expenses that the theater undertook during the year.
"We make choices throughout the course of the year as we continue to manage the budget," Santini said.
The Guthrie, whose current annual budget is $24 million, is completing necessary repairs and updates to its facility while the building is closed, she said.
"We've been operating basically 24/7 since we opened [the new building]," Santini said. "We haven't had any significant dark time that would allow us to do the work we need to do."
She said that the theater is replacing the houselights operating system, cleaning carpets and refinishing the floors of the lobby of the Dowling Studio.
While the furloughs save the theater money — Santini would not say how much — expenses are also increasing because of the upgrades.
The Guthrie will reopen to the public on Feb. 4, when rehearsals begin for "Othello." The next play that will open at the Guthrie is an import. Kneehigh Theatre's "Tristan & Yseult" opens Feb. 13.