"I want this season to make a statement about the theater I am leaving,” said Joe Dowling, who has led the Guthrie since 1995 -- the longest tenure of any artistic director in the theater's 50-plus-year history.
Tom Wallace, Star Tribune
Joe Dowling’s farewell defines Guthrie Theater's 2014-15 season
- Article by: Graydon Royce
- Star Tribune
- April 10, 2014 - 8:45 PM
Consider it a season of Joe Dowling’s greatest hits. The Guthrie Theater announced a 2014-15 lineup Thursday that is his farewell after what will be 20 years as artistic director.
“Putting together a last season, I want this season to make a statement about the theater I am leaving,” said Dowling, who steps down June 30, 2015. “It reflects the kind of work and scale that we have become well known for, for 20 years.”
There are no new works in the nine-show subscription season and no “presentations” — that is, shows produced by other companies, such as Penumbra Theatre’s “The Mountaintop,” now playing at the Guthrie.
“We are going to produce all the work ourselves,” said Dowling, noting that the costs of a couple of stagings will be shared with other American companies. “That was very deliberate.”
He will direct three shows, including two signature works.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” — “the most perfect play ever written,” he said — runs next Feb. 7-March 29 on the thrust stage. Dowling last directed an extravagant production in 2008. “Juno and the Paycock” by Sean O’Casey will play the proscenium stage May 23-June 28 next year. Dowling’s 1988 Broadway production of that play introduced him to American audiences.
“That play is part of my DNA at this stage,” he said, noting that his mentor, Tomàs MacAnna, directed a 1973 Guthrie production. “That was the first time I’d heard of the Guthrie Theater.”
The third show he will direct is Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” April 11-May 24, 2015. The Guthrie last staged it 40 years ago. “It felt essential to represent Arthur because we’ve done a number of his plays and he became a friend,” said Dowling, who has never directed the work. “That’s very special, personally.”
The thrust season opens with Wendy Wasserstein’s “The Heidi Chronicles,” for which she won the Pulitzer Prize, Sept. 13-Oct. 26. The 1988 play was Wasserstein’s statement on the changing role of women. “A Christmas Carol” runs Nov. 13-Dec. 28, followed by “Midsummer” and “The Crucible.”
In the summer of 2015, John Miller-Stephany will direct Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man,” June 20-Aug. 23, continuing a Guthrie tradition of summer musicals (“My Fair Lady” fills that slot this year).
On the proscenium stage, playwright and director Mary Zimmerman will mount her work “The White Snake,” based on a Chinese fable. The play, running Sept. 9-Oct. 19, had its start at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and comes to the Guthrie from the Goodman in Chicago.
“The Cocktail Hour,” by A.R. Gurney, runs Nov. 22-Jan. 4, and Anne Washburn’s off-Broadway hit “Mr. Burns, a post-electric play” will run March 31-May 10. The show, named one of the top 10 of 2013 by the New York Times, uses “The Simpsons” to explore a theory about one generation’s pop culture becoming another’s mythology.
“Juno and the Paycock” follows and the proscenium season concludes with “Stage Kiss” July 18-Aug. 30. Former Twin Cities director Casey Stangl returns to stage Sarah Ruhl’s story about actors who are former lovers and find themselves having to kiss during a scene.
The Guthrie also announced four productions for the studio theater. “A Steady Rain,” by Keith Huff, will run Oct. 14-Nov. 2. The New York-based Acting Company will bring in “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” and “Macbeth” Feb. 14-March 1, 2015. And Peter Rothstein will direct Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “Choir Boy” June 16-July 5.
Dowling said he will put pieces together for the 2015-16 season, but that the responsibility for that program rests with his successor. He will not offer advice from his perch in retirement. “No, no, no. Nobody wants the Ghost of Christmas Past looking over their shoulder,” he said. “I will influence the season but I will not finalize it.”
Information is at guthrietheater.org or 612-377-2224.
© 2015 Star Tribune