Friday, July 03, 2009

Guthrie's Tony Kushner Festival Results

From the Star Tribune:

The theater issued a news release Monday that declared the festival "a success!" It noted that ticket holders for three productions, seminars, classes and workshops totaled 90,000 -- from 50 states, Europe and Japan. The shows themselves drew more than 85,000 attendees, which the theater said "exceeded [its] box office goals."

However, there was some controversy over the decision not to invite national critics to see the premiere of Kushner's new play. This is from an article from the Associated Press:

Local theatre critics were ambivalent about the result. Both daily newspapers had qualified praise but the Star Tribune said it seemed "unfinished and uncertain of its purpose" and the St. Paul Pioneer press called it "mushy, melodramatic." The alternative weekly City Pages was more generous, pronouncing it "immensely entertaining."

Both daily papers also noted in stories that the Guthrie, on Kushner's behalf, asked national theatre critics not to review the show. Kushner and Guthrie artistic director Joe Dowling bristled at suggestions that Minnesota audiences were subjected to an unfinished play.

"I don't feel we asked anyone to sit through an unfinished or unready piece of work," Kushner said. "We used previews the way they were meant to be used."

But he also admitted that weak reviews from national critics could have been "crippling to me" as he continued to work on the play. "The trick is going to be figuring out the things that didn't work narratively," he said

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