Guthrie gab

Posted: April 7, 2011

A night at the theater shouldn’t just be for extra credit


by Brigid Kelly and Olivia Dorow Hovland

Talon Staff Writers

Two Talon staff members, Brigid Kelly and Olivia Dorow Hovland, had the opportunity to travel to the Guthrie Theater as part of an event sponsored by the Minnesota High School Press Association. It not only proved to be an entertaining day, but also an unforgettable experience with lasting impact. Could it be the same for you?

Brigid Kelly: Wow. Shakespeare. What a topic. We just saw The Winter’s Tale at the Guthrie Theater on February 16th. What did you think?

Olivia Dorow Hovland: I always get really overwhelmed by Shakespearean lingo so I wasn’t expecting to be as enthralled as I was. The play was set in the mid-twentieth century, which was a really great choice on the part of the production company because that time period has so much to offer. The costumes, mannerisms, and music all translated well from the Shakespearean world. Did you like what the Guthrie did with their interpretation?

BK: I’m always impressed by the way the Guthrie transforms the words of Shakespeare into such appealing interpretations. They had half-naked actors dancing across the stage for the majority of the second act – they captured modern entertainment perfectly. The language always seems like it’s going to be a road block going into the play – like it is when reading the text, but the difference with the live performance is simply that the actors cause me to forget that the language barrier there by the end of the performance.

ODH: I completely agree. I also think that with many English courses now requiring students to read Shakespeare, the intentions of his writings are lost through that language barrier. Shakespeare is truly meant to be performed in a theater. And when actors who have practiced their lines over and over again deliver them with expression and excitement, the meaning of his message becomes so much clearer.

BK: Those are good points, but I do want to recognize that reading Shakespeare is still valuable. Even though it may be more difficult to understand, it’s still an essential part of a modern education. However, as you said, it’s important for everyone to realize that Shakespeare’s original intention was to have his works performed for a live audience – with actors in elaborate costumes and actually using voice inflection to deliver lines. His plays reach an entirely new level when you get to see them on a stage – almost as if you’re interacting with the story yourself. And at the Guthrie? The entire experience is beyond impressive.

ODH: That is so true. I don’t think that students realize how accessible the theater really is. It only took us six minutes driving down River Road to reach downtown Minneapolis. We have this valuable resource right in our backyard.

BK: Exactly! We have a Tony Award-winning theater right in our own neighborhood – so many people take this for granted. And it’s not just a theater – it’s a public place that provides an extremely well rounded experience. It has everything from phenomenal views of Minneapolis and the Mississippi River to a restaurant and coffee house.

ODH: Those views are breathtaking. The architecture of the building astounds me every time I walk in. They have a four-story escalator, a floating bridge over the river, three separate theaters, and nine floors worth of space for the arts. While some people may have initially hated the building when it was first constructed because of its chilly modernism, it’s one of the best spaces in the city. And when you combine that with its fabulous production company of actors, designers, and directors the Guthrie becomes one of the leaders in Twin Cities theater.

BK: It may seem crazy to us modern high schoolers, but I honestly believe that the theater experience – both at the Guthrie and elsewhere – is a better and more entertaining time than spending ten dollars to see a movie on a giant television. Challenge yourself to step out of that comfort zone and experience Shakespeare as he intended his works to be received.

Though The Winter’s Tale has concluded its showing at the Guthrie, there are more shows waiting to be enjoyed. Not only is the Guthrie just a few miles down the road, but Minnehaha’s own will be performing their interpretation of a classic Shakespearean play, Midsummer Night’s Dream, this spring. Challenge yourself to experience a new form of entertainment.

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