The Guthrie Theater Announces 2021-22 Season
The Guthrie Theater today announced its 2021–2022 Season, including the national tour of the critically acclaimed What the Constitution Means to Me by famed writer Heidi Schreck; a world-premiere adaptation of A Christmas Carol by Lavina Jadhwani, featuring all-new creative design; Lorraine Hansberry’s heralded A Raisin in the Sun; William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, directed by former Artistic Director Joe Dowling in his first return to the Guthrie; Kate Hamill’s world-premiere adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, commissioned by the Guthrie; Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Sweat; and a seventh title to be announced. For up-to-date information about the season, ticketing, and health and safety plans, visit guthrietheater.org.
As previously announced, the Guthrie will reopen its doors to the public on July 8, 2021, and welcome guests to enjoy its public spaces and riverfront views as it marks 15 years in the historic Minneapolis Mill District this summer. In-person performances will resume on the Wurtele Thrust Stage and McGuire Proscenium Stage this fall, while programming in the Dowling Studio will remain paused until fall 2022 as the organization continues to rebuild.
“I’m pleased that our upcoming season will continue the Guthrie’s longstanding tradition of offering an eclectic slate of classic and new plays that, through their ambitions, share an interest in big themes and dynamic storytelling,” said Artistic Director Joseph Haj. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to respond to the losses and challenges of the past year through theater, allowing us to both experience joy and entertainment while grappling with matters of great significance together. My hope is that this season will celebrate all that the theater is meant to be while extending hope and healing to everyone in our community.”
The season begins with the national tour of the 2019 Tony-nominated Best Play and Pulitzer Prize finalist What the Constitution Means to Me, running September 30 through October 24 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage. Playwright Heidi Schreck’s boundary-breaking play breathes new life into our Constitution and imagines how it will shape the next generation of Americans. The New York Times hailed What the Constitution Means to Me as “not just the best play to open on Broadway, but also the most important.”
Fifteen-year-old Heidi earned her college tuition by winning Constitutional debate competitions across the U.S. In this hilarious, hopeful and achingly human new play, she resurrects her teenage self in order to trace the profound relationship between four generations of women and the founding document that shaped their lives.
Schreck’s timely and galvanizing play, directed by Oliver Butler, became a sensation off-Broadway in New York before transferring to Broadway where it received two Tony Award nominations among countless other accolades. Broadway and TV star Cassie Beck will launch the tour in the role of Heidi. Additional casting will be announced at a later date.
In November, the Guthrie will make a triumphant return to the Wurtele Thrust Stage with a world-premiere adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, directed by Joseph Haj. After reviewing dozens of scripts, Haj chose a fresh-yet-faithful take on the novella by Chicago-based adapter and director Lavina Jadhwani, who made her Guthrie directorial debut with As You Like Itin 2019. Her adaptation succeeds versions at the Guthrie by the late Barbara Field, from 1975 to 2009, and Crispin Whittell, from 2010 to 2019.
For the first time since 2010, the Guthrie will also invest in a new physical production of the family favorite, including scenic, costume, prop, lighting and sound designs. Complete with ghosts, a nimble ensemble, music and merriment, the production will take advantage of the theatricality on the thrust stage to deliver Dickens’ timeless story. Previews are slated to begin November 6, 2021, and performances continue through December 27.
The Guthrie’s five-play subscription season begins on the McGuire Proscenium Stage with Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, an essential American play directed by Austene Van and set to run January 8 through February 13, 2022. An acclaimed theater professional and co-founder of New Dawn Theatre Company, Van has performed and directed throughout the Twin Cities, including recent onstage appearances in Steel Magnolias, Familiar and Disgraced at the Guthrie.
In his 1951 poem Harlem, Langston Hughes asked, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” Hansberry answered with a theatrical masterpiece that broke down racial barriers onstage even as it examined the reality of racial barriers offstage.
Inspired in part by Hansberry’s own family’s experience in Chicago in the 1930s, the play follows the three-generation Younger family as they grapple with different definitions of the American dream and how to achieve it. When the matriarch, Lena, buys a home in an all-white neighborhood, the Youngers are greeted by thinly veiled racism and financial pitfalls that threaten to pull the family apart and push their dreams out of reach.
In 2009, the Guthrie presented a Penumbra Theatre/Arizona Theatre Company/Cleveland Play House production of A Raisin in the Sun, directed by Lou Bellamy on the McGuire Proscenium Stage.
A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway in 1959 and, for the first time, featured an all-Black principal cast, a Black playwright and a Black director. It was nominated for four Tony Awards, and Hansberry was the first Black woman to be produced on Broadway and the first Black playwright to win a New York Film Critics Circle Award. An important voice of her generation whose work was dedicated to promoting racial and sexual equality, Hansberry’s career was cut short when she died of pancreatic cancer at age 34.
Next on the Wurtele Thrust Stage, the Guthrie is thrilled to welcome back former Artistic Director Joe Dowling to direct The Tempest, one of Shakespeare’s final and most heartfelt works, playing February 26 through April 16, 2022. In this parable of reconciliation — often considered to be the Bard’s farewell to the stage — Prospera, the former Duchess of Milan, has spent many embittered years stranded on an island after being usurped by her ruthless brother, Antonio. Her only comforts are her daughter, Miranda, and her own magical powers, which Prospera uses to conjure a storm that brings several shipwreck survivors ashore, Antonio included. But when her intricate revenge plot puts Miranda’s future at risk, Prospera is caught between her desire to reclaim her rightful rule and her unwavering love for her daughter.
Like several of Shakespeare’s late plays, The Tempest shines a spotlight on the relationships between parents and their children as well as on justice and forgiveness. The Guthrie produced The Tempest in 1970 (directed by Philip Minor), 1981 (directed by Liviu Ciulei) and 1991 (directed by Jennifer Tipton). The last show Dowling directed at the Guthrie was the 2015 production of Juno and the Paycock on the McGuire Proscenium Stage.
A yet-to-be announced show on the McGuire Proscenium Stage will open in April 2022, followed by Kate Hamill’s playful twist on Emma, a world-premiere adaptation of the Jane Austen classic that was commissioned by the Guthrie and will play on the Wurtele Thrust Stage. Meredith McDonough, best known to Guthrie audiences for her work on the 2018 production of Noises Off, returns to direct the adaptation, which runs June 18 through August 21, 2022. It was slated to premiere during the 2019–2020 Season but was canceled during rehearsals due to the pandemic.
Set against the backdrop of Regency England with hints of 21st-century feminism, Hamill’s adaptation of Austen’s masterwork is a sparkling, 100-minute romp. The play’s heroine, Emma Woodhouse, prides herself on being a matchmaker with an impeccable track record, much to the chagrin of her dear friend Mr. Knightley. Her latest scheme revolves around the sweet Harriet Smith, whom Emma advises to reject a perfectly good marriage proposal in favor of another eligible bachelor. However, her best-laid plans are turned upside down by unpredictable displays of affection, unexpected rivals and Emma’s sudden realization that true love may have been under her nose all along. With screwball comedy and surprises aplenty, this fresh, fast-paced adaptation interprets the classic with delightfully unconventional flair.
Hamill has become one of the most prolific adapters of classic literature for the American stage. Since her inventive and sprightly adaptation of Sense and Sensibility debuted off-Broadway in 2014, she has adapted Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park, Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and others. In 2017, she was named The Wall Street Journal’s Playwright of the Year. In 2016, the Guthrie produced Hamill’s adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.
The final play of the Guthrie’s return season will be Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Sweat, playing July 16 through August 21, 2022, on the McGuire Proscenium Stage. A director will be announced at a later date. Following a 2019 partnership with The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit that brought the play to three communities in Greater Minnesota, the acclaimed drama was scheduled to close the Guthrie’s 2019–2020 Season but was also canceled.
Sweat bookends the George W. Bush administration, opening with a scene in 2008 and flashing back to 2000, just before Bush’s first election. Set in the blue-collar town of Reading, Pennsylvania, generations of hardworking folks, many of whom work at Olstead’s factory, down cold beers together after hours. But the post-Y2K economy is changing, NAFTA is a new reality and rumors fly about layoffs. Promotions and pride inevitably collide, forming cracks in decades-old friendships that crumble when the factory breaks with the union. From the politically charged opening scene to its electrifying conclusion, Sweat boldly confronts issues of race, immigration, deindustrialization and the ever-slipping grip on middle-class life.
Nottage is the first, and remains the only, woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice (Sweatin 2017 and Ruined in 2009). Her plays have been produced widely in the U.S. and throughout the world. She wrote the book for the world-premiere musical adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd’s novel The Secret Life of Bees, with music by Duncan Sheik and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead, as well as the book for the upcoming musical MJ, featuring the music of pop icon Michael Jackson, which is slated to begin on Broadway in December 2021. Her opera adaptation of her play Intimate Apparel, composed by Ricky Ian Gordon, is scheduled to premiere at Lincoln Center Theater in January 2022.
The Guthrie produced Nottage’s Intimate Apparel in 2005 and the world premiere of Floyd’s, a Guthrie commission, during summer 2019. Floyd’s, now titled Clyde’s, begins performances at Second Stage Theater this fall. Although Clyde’s is not a companion piece to Sweat, the two plays share a character and the location of Reading, Pennsylvania, where Nottage spent years interviewing residents.
The Guthrie Theater’s 2021–2022 Season sponsors include the Minnesota State Arts Board, WEM 2000 Foundation of The Dorsey & Whitney Foundation, Target, The Shubert Foundation and U.S. Bank. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
Five plays will be available as part of the 2021–2022 Season subscription series: The Tempestand Emma on the Wurtele Thrust Stage and A Raisin in the Sun, Sweat and a TBA show on the McGuire Proscenium Stage. New season subscriptions go on sale August 3, 2021.
Single tickets for What the Constitution Means to Me go on sale August 17, 2021. Single tickets for A Christmas Carol go on sale September 7, 2021. Single tickets for all remaining shows go on sale September 21, 2021.
Single ticket prices for all shows, excluding A Christmas Carol, range from $15 to $80. Tickets for A Christmas Carol range from $15 to $134. Discounts are available for students, seniors and children. To purchase a season subscription, call the Season Ticket Office at 612.225.6238 or 1.877.997.3276 (toll-free) or visit guthrietheater.org.
The Guthrie Theater acknowledges that it resides on the traditional land of the Dakota People and honors with gratitude the land itself and the people who have stewarded it throughout the generations, including the Ojibwe and other Indigenous nations.
The GUTHRIE THEATER (Joseph Haj, Artistic Director) is an American center for theater performance in Minneapolis, Minnesota, dedicated to producing a mix of classic and contemporary plays and cultivating the next generation of theater artists. Under Haj’s leadership, the Guthrie is guided by four core values: Artistic Excellence; Community; Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; and Fiscal Responsibility. Since its founding in 1963, the theater has continued to set a national standard for excellence in the field and serve the people of Minnesota as a vital cultural resource. The Guthrie houses three state-of-the-art stages, production facilities, classrooms, restaurants and dramatic public spaces. guthrietheater.org