Park Square Theatre and Guthrie Swap Plays for 2014-15 Season
What's that saying about the "best laid plans o' mice and men?" Last month Park Square Theatre announced its ambitious line-up of 19 projects for its first season with two stages, including the area premiere of Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, by Anne Washburn. The Saint Paul theatre had secured a contract for the rights to produce the play from Samuel French to open the inaugural season of Park Square's Andy Boss stage. Unfortunately, another agent at the publisher had already been in negotiations with the Guthrie, San Francisco's ACT and the playwright herself about a cross-country collaboration.
"Joe Dowling reached out to call me from London," said Park Square's Artistic Director Richard Cook. "He was wonderfully gracious when we talked. I learned that Mr. Burns was not only a Guthrie project, but that another large regional theatre, the playwright and her agent had been laying plans for a major joint effort. All of this was much bigger than a Twin Cities premiere. Within minutes, our agent was calling from New York - mortified that he had been out of the loop about the Guthrie's thinking; but clear that this license needed to go to them. When Joe and I reconnected, we started laying plans to coordinate our plans and announcements."
But, with materials already arriving at the Historic Hamm Building to begin construction of the Boss Stage, and opening only a few months away, Park Square had to work fast. "We had options on several fine plays, but I wanted something shiny and new for our first Boss Stage show," explained Cook. "Park Square had tentatively held the rights for Amy Herzog's award-winning 4000 Miles, but they had been retracted - the Guthrie was considering it for the Dowling Studio. I'd let Joe know that we also coveted the play - and as the Guthrie finalized their Studio schedule, he called me again, still from London, to let me know that we could work in tandem to transfer the license from the Guthrie to Park Square! Monday, Gary Gisselman signed on to direct 4000 Miles."
Park Square subscribers looking forward to Mr. Burns will be able to see it at the Guthrie at a substantial discount that mirrors their Park Square subscription price. The two theatres are local leaders in supporting the work of contemporary playwrights and Twin Cities audiences will benefit from having two shows with great national buzz in the market during the coming season.
"I am thrilled that Richard and I were able to work collaboratively in an effort to serve the work, the playwrights and our audiences," said Joe Dowling. "I thank Richard for his partnership and look forward to both of these plays enjoying successful runs in our respective theaters."