Actor Mark Rylance, in rehearsal for "Nice Fish" at the Guthrie Theater. /Joel Koyama
Mark Rylance, an EGOT waiting to happen, is returning to work at the Guthrie Theater.
The Guthrie and Cambridge, Mass.'s American Repertory Theatre (ART) have commissioned Rylance and theater maker Peter Reder to embark on a massive project: "Steel," a look at labor relations and industry between the Civil War and World War I. The commission will cover the first two plays in what is envisioned as a six-play cycle, inspired by Rylance's discovery of the story of Gilded Age industrialists Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie.
An Oscar winner (for "Bridge of Spies"), three-time Tony winner (most recently for "Twelfth Night") and Emmy nominee (for "Wolf Hall"), Rylance has a long relationship with the Guthrie, where he has appeared in "Peer Gynt," "Twelfth Night" (which also happens to be on stage there now), "Measure for Measure" and the Guthrie-commissioned "Nice Fish," which the Milwaukee native wrote with the late Minnesota playwright Louis Jenkins. At the Guthrie, "Nice Fish" was co-directed by Rylance and his wife, Claire von Kampen. She will direct "Steel."
“It’s a story worthy of Shakespeare,” said Rylance in a speech at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library Music Hall in 2017. “This story is essential to American culture. It shaped where we are now.”
Further evidence of that lasting impact is provided by "Sweat," which the Guthrie will produce this summer. The Lynn Nottage play, a Pulitzer Prize winner, examines those displaced by Pennsylvania's faltering steel industry.
The tentative plan is for Rylance to play Frick, now most famous for the Frick Collection art museum in Manhattan, and for workshop productions to take place later this year at both the Guthrie and ART.