The day when artists and audiences can breathe and exult together in the same room is getting ever closer. The Guthrie Theater, a flagship of the Twin Cities arts community, announced Tuesday a seven-play, in-person season that includes a Broadway tour, two world premiere adaptations, selections from its classic repertoire and the return of former artistic director Joe Dowling.
The 2021-22 roster brings back some shows that were postponed because of the shutdown, including its commission of Kate Hamill's feminist screwball adaptation of Jane Austen's "Emma" and Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning working-class drama, "Sweat." The theater will do other titles that speak to this moment in history, including a revival of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun."
"We wanted to come back robustly, and with a season that felt like the Guthrie season in terms of the scale and scope — getting big stories out onstage," artistic director Joseph Haj said. "From a curatorial standpoint, the theme we wrestled with is what are folks going to want to see? Do we want plays that square to the current moment or offer relief?"
The answer, apparently, is both.
The Guthrie opens its doors to the public on July 8. It launches its first play, the national tour of Heidi Schreck's buzzy "What the Constitution Means to Me," in late September. Schreck was nominated for a Tony for her Broadway performance in the play, about her teenage experience winning constitutional debates interlaced with her adult-self wrestling with contemporary issues.
Casting has not been announced for "Constitution," which again will be directed by Oliver Butler, co-artistic director of the Debate Society, which staged the 2019 Broadway production (Sept. 30-Oct. 24).
As previously announced, the Guthrie also will premiere a new adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" by Chicago-based adapter and director Lavina Jadhwani, who made her Guthrie directorial debut with "As You Like It" in 2019. Only the third full adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic for the Guthrie, Jadhwani's "Carol" follows versions by Barbara Field (1975-2009) and Crispin Whittell (2010-2019). It will have all new sets and design and will be directed by Haj (Nov. 6-Dec. 27).
"Raisin," about a Black family's fight for a middle-class life in a neighborhood that is historically white and hostile, will be staged by Austene Van, who was in "Steel Magnolias" at the Guthrie a few seasons back. There is an iconic picture of Hansberry on an outside theater wall. In 2009, the Guthrie coproduced a staging of the classic with Penumbra Theatre (Jan. 8-Feb. 13, 2022).
"It's time — and timely," Haj said.
Dowling, who led the theater for 20 years, including the $125 million Jean Nouvel-designed building on the Mississippi riverfront, will tackle "Tempest" (Feb. 26-April 16, 2022). The show has had memorable Guthrie productions from the likes of Liviu Ciulei (1981) and Jennifer Tipton (1991).
The Guthrie also is finalizing details on a yet-to-be announced show that will open in April 2022.
"It will be a play with music," Haj said.
The season closes with "Emma," staged by Meredith McDonough (June 18-Aug. 21, 2022). The Guthrie has traditionally staged a summertime crowd-pleasing musical, but not this season; "Emma" will be in that slot. "Emma" was in rehearsals when the pandemic hit.
The theater did not announce titles in its flexible space, the Dowling Studio, where productions will be paused while it continues to rebuild its staff and programming.
Single tickets for "What the Constitution Means to Me" go on sale Aug. 17. Single tickets for "A Christmas Carol," which range from $15-$134, go on sale Sept. 7, while single tickets for all remaining shows, which are from $15-$80, go on sale Sept. 21.
The Guthrie offers season ticket packages from $60-$360. Those go on sale Aug. 3; 612-225-6238 or 1-877-997-3276 or guthrietheater.org.
Rohan Preston • 612-673-4390