Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Financial and Artistic Disaster of The Guthrie's Dry White (Male) Season - Parabasis:

In other words, the Guthrie's new, huge complex and three separate spaces necessitated more conservative, less adventuresome work. This stood in stark contrast to the promises that Dowling made to the theatrical and funding community while he was actually campaigning for the new space, in which he regularly stated that the new space would allow the Guthrie room to more adventurous and diverse work. In fact, as Anne Bogart's "Conversations with Anne" reveals, major industry figures like Ben Cameron and Oskar Eustis specifically held up the Guthrie as an example of a company that was doing new building right, as a way of doing better, more interesting, more diverse work.

So given that box office was apparently such a major part of the Guthrie's considerations, it's worth looking at how the Dry White Male Season worked out for them. And it turns out it was basically a disaster. Over the course of 2012/2013 season, the Guthrie went from having a surplus to a close to half a million dollar deficit, and much of the blame can be laid directly at the unpopular, criticaly unloved trilogy of Christopher Hampton plays that Dowling went out on such a limb to produce, and which played at around 50% capacity for their runs.

If we drew the same lessons from this that theaters always draw from "underperforming" plays by Black playwrights, The Guthrie would never do a play by a British white male writer ever again. Call me crazy, but I doubt that's what's going to happen here.