Guthrie Opens Season With THE MASTER BUTCHERS SINGING CLUB, Schedule Set 5/18

By: Apr. 08, 2010

Director Joe Dowling today announced the Guthrie Theater's 2010-2011 season will begin with the world premiere of a new play by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Marsha Norman. The Master Butchers Singing Club, adapted from the novel by Minnesota author Louise Erdrich, opens on the Wurtele Thrust Stage of the Guthrie Theater in September under the direction of Francesca Zambello.

"I'm very pleased that we're able to continue to commission new work for the Guthrie stage," Dowling said. "Over the last several seasons we've been able to commission and produce new plays from Tony Kushner, Jeffrey Hatcher, Naomi Iizuka and Robert Bly, in addition to a musical based on the work of Laura Ingalls Wilder. To have the opportunity to produce a new play based on a novel by a significant Minnesota author like Louise Erdrich is particularly gratifying to us."

Louise Erdrich's 2003 novel, The Master Butchers Singing Club, was hailed as "emotionally resonant" by The New York Times' Michiko Kakutani, who said "Erdrich gives us an indelible glimpse of the American dream and the disappointments that can gather in its wake." Reviewing for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Pamela Miller said "Erdrich's gift is in full bloom in this deep, dark story."

"When I read Louise Erdrich's The Master Butchers Singing Club I was transported by the powerful story of love and family in the raw and barren world of North Dakota in the 1920s and 1930s. The strange and compelling mix of immigrant and Native communities, the harsh lives, unlikely friendships and essential joy of song made me yearn to see the characters onstage," said director Francesca Zambello. "Marsha Norman has taken this rich material and given it a new dramatic existence. I am grateful to her for producing a moving script that captures the spirit of the book in a highly theatrical way."

The Master Butchers Singing Club, a moving story of tradition, family, love and loss, follows the life of Fidelis Waldvogel and his family, as well as Delphine Watzka and her partner Cyprian, as they adjust in their separate lives in the small town of Argus, North Dakota. Bookended by World War I, in which both Fidelis and Cyprian fought and World War II, in which Fidelis' children fight, the play chronicles the lives of ordinary small-town citizens as they encounter the extraordinary events - both in their insular world and in the larger world - that come to define their lives.

A full performance schedule and ticketing information will be available when the remainder of the 2010-2011 season is announced on May 18.

LOUISE ERDRICH is the author of 13 novels as well as volumes of poetry, short stories, children's books and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel Love Medicine won the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Last Report on The Miracles at Little No Horse was a finalist for the National Book Award. Most recently, The Plague of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her most recent novel, Shadow Tag, was published in February. Louise Erdrich lives in Minnesota and is the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore.

Marsha Norman won the Pulitzer Prize for her play, 'night, Mother and a Tony Award for her book of the Broadway musical, The Secret Garden. She is the book writer for The Color Purple, which just completed a national tour and run on Broadway. Ms. Norman is co-chair, with Christopher Durang, of the Playwriting Department of the Juilliard School and vice president of the Dramatists Guild of America. Her other plays include Getting Out, Traveler in the Dark, Sarah and Abraham, Trudy Blue and Last Dance. Her published work includes Four Plays, Vol. I: Collected Plays of Marsha Norman and a novel, The Fortune Teller. She has numerous film and TV credits, Grammy and Emmy nominations, and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and the Fellowship of Southern Writers. She is a native of Kentucky who lives in New York City and Long Island with her two children.

Francesca Zambello is the General and Artistic Director of the Glimmerglass Festival. Artistic Advisor of San Francisco Opera, where she is directing a new production of Wagner's "Ring" cycle. Her work has been seen at the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, the Bolshoi, Covent Garden, the Munich Staatsoper, Paris Opera, New York City Opera, Washington National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and English National Opera. She has staged plays and musicals on Broadway, at the Royal National Theatre, BAM, the Guthrie Theater, Vienna's Raimund Theater, the Bregenz Festival, Sydney Festival, Disneyland, Berlin's Theater des Westens and at the Kennedy Center. She has been awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government for her contribution to French culture, and the Russian Federation's medal for Service to Culture. Her theatrical honors include three Olivier Awards, two Evening Standard Awards, two French Grand Prix des Critiques, Helpmann Award, Green Room Award, Palme d'Or in Germany and the Golden Mask in Russia. She began her career as the Artistic Director of the Skylight Opera Theatre and as an assistant director to the late Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. She has been a guest lecturer at Harvard, Juilliard and Yale.