The Guthrie Theater opened in 1963 with a production of Hamlet directed by the theater’s founder, Sir Tyrone Guthrie. In contrast to for-profit theaters operating in the highly commercial environment of Broadway, as a nonprofit resident theater company with strong community support, the Guthrie could focus on producing great works of dramatic literature, cultivating the talents of established and emerging artists, and nourishing the widest possible audience. During Joe Dowling’s 20 year tenure as the theater’s seventh Director which ended in June 2015, the Guthrie commissioned and produced major new works, expanded educational offerings for K-12 and college students, added professional actor training programs for undergraduate and graduate students, and emerged as a national leader in providing services that make its productions accessible to people with disabilities and financial barriers to participation. The Guthrie’s new multistage theater center on the banks of the Mississippi River opened in 2006 and allowed the theater to expand its own repertoire and present the work of diverse local and international companies. The new theater also serves as a public gathering place and hub for dialogue inspired by the work on its stages. In July 2015, Joseph Haj became the Guthrie’s eighth Artistic Director. With a celebrated career that has taken him from performer to director to artistic director of PlayMakers Repertory Company, the theater company in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Haj is a highly respected visionary with a reputation for exceptional leadership, notable collaborations with leading artists, and award-winning productions of classic and contemporary plays.
Guthrie Theater will present student matinees of King Lear directed by Artistic Director Joseph Haj. The company will provide related educational activities, including workshops, presentations, residencies, post-play discussions, and a play and study guide. They anticipate reaching 100 schools located in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.