Monday, March 29, 2010

Greetings from the Hinterlands

Contributed by Guest Blogger of the week, Jeff Riebe.


I'm writing you from way Off-Off-Broadway. Try half a country away in Minneapolis, MN. Talk about 'the boon docks.' This is where it all began for me. Everything, including the inspiration to attempt to tread the boards in New York. While I've returned to MN, New York yet beckons. I've come back, yes by choice, well kind of, to that very source. And I'm giving my time, as much as is possible anyway, with/at the Guthrie Theater (yes, it's still spelled it with an -er as opposed to an -re here in the hinterlands).

So I thought perhaps I'd start my week of blogging by sharing a bit of what it's like, from a quasi-outsiders perspective, to be in said business a half a country away. The thing that strikes me as most different are the professionals comprising the local community. Granted, it could vary greatly in another location and likely does, yet I'm inspired from getting to know those individuals I have. It sort of puts into perspective precisely why we do what we do. A thing we're likely to overlook or take for granted in NY. Speaking of, my new, well four years old, motto is to not take anything, nothing, for granted. Ever. As actors and professionals, I'm sure you know what I mean.

Anyway, back to topic: The Guthrie has long been a source of professional inspiration for me. Unequivocally the best theatre in this community, and a national/international stalwart. The building itself is exemplary of said greatness. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, it's comprised of three theatres; the Wurtele Thrust, the McGuire Proscenium and the Dowling Studio (in which I've also performed). Each space easily rivals spaces in New York and likely out-does many theatres across the country. A reminder of what we, as plebian actors, strive for.

The theatre has been host to many touring productions as well as hosting their own. Not-so-recently, a production af Tony Kushner's new opus "The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to the Universe: With a Key to the Scriptures" premiered. It was the first time the Guthrie had dedicated all three theatres to one playwright simultaneously. Kushner's canon was sampled throughout the complex: The Kushner Festival. A huge ego-boost to Mr.K, I imagine. (Like that's needed.)

Dedicated to Shakespeare, a least one, but often more, of his plays is valiently taken on here per season. As well, The Guthrie chooses to mount plays by other famous, for good reason, playwrights too. It's quite exemplary what they do.

It has far surpassed any expectations I may have had coming in. It's elevated them, to say the least. Oh, in case you were wondering, theatre is thriving away from NYC. Here, anyway.

Jeffrey C. Riebe


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