Vol. 21, No.4/Summer 1999
|Behind the scenes at the
Guthrie Theater - and a walk at the Walker Art Center
By Linda Henderson
On Thursday, after a grueling week of working days and playing nights, Bob Jansen led those of us still standing on a tour of three of the cultural high points of Minneapolis - the Guthrie Theater, the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
On the way to the center, the bus broke down about a block from our destination, so we enjoyed a short walk through a park and over the highway. After that shaky start, all went well. We began at the Guthrie Theater where our tour guides took us into the 1,300-seat theater and gave us a brief history and overview of the physical plant of the Guthrie and then led us for a look backstage.
The crew was preparing to mount Sheridan's "The School for Scandal", so we watched as they made costumes, props and wigs for the 18th century play. It was fascinating to see the detail that the costume designers and drapers work into these creations. We learned that when the Guthrie is finished using costumes, the general public can rent them for dress-up.
In the prop shop, we saw giant crown molding being gold-leafed and talked to one of the prop-makers about his background and his craft.
In the craft room, the man in charge showed us how he made a donkey face for Bottom in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and a birdcage for a soaring 18th century hairdo for "Scandal." We also toured one of the cramped dressing rooms and marveled at how split-second costume changes are achieved.
After our peek at the real life of the theater, we were treated to a delicious lunch at the top of the Walker Art Center, which is adjacent to the theater, and then had free time to spend money in the gift shops or to roam the museum and grounds. We then met our guides for tours of the modern art at the Walker and the beautiful grounds of the sculpture garden.
The Walker has the full spectrum of 20th century art, from the realistic art of Edward Hopper and Georgia O'Keefe to the funkier realm of video, collage and interactive art. We saw Brazilian bank notes strung into a slinky sculpture and old books fashioned into a boat.
Outside, the famous spoon with cherry by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen (pictured on the cover of the last issue of NLN) anchors the tranquil sculpture garden. We walked down to the flower garden, filled with peonies and clematis and went into a greenhouse where a huge fish with glass scales by Frank Gehry seemed to be jumping out of its pond.
The bus trip back to the convention center was uneventful and, overall, the day was the best possible ending to a great conference week.
Linda Henderson is the director of the library at the Providence Journal. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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