Minnesota theaters pave the way for nation-wide change

The Guthrie Theater is one of four Twin Cities theaters to get a new artistic director in the last couple years, part of a growing trend in Minnesota and the U.S.  // Photo via Wikipedia

Leadership changes are happening swiftly and often at theaters around the United States, but perhaps nowhere is the change happening faster than in the Twin Cities, reports The New York Times.

Minneapolis–St. Paul is one of only two markets in the country (with New York) that can claim three or more companies that have won a Tony Award as outstanding regional theater. With that reputation comes high stakes for the theaters’ artistic directors, many of whom are stepping down.

Guthrie Theater, Jungle Theater, Penumbra Theater Company, and Mu Performing Arts have all welcomed new artistic directors to head their programs in the last couple years. At the same time that Joseph Haj, the new artistic director of the Guthrie Theater, was settling into his office last month, Sarah Rasmussen was taking over at the Jungle Theater in Uptown Minneapolis. In St. Paul, Randy Reyes is in his third season at the helm of Mu Performing Arts. At Penumbra Theater Company, Sarah Bellamy is a few months into her new job as co-artistic director, part of a multiyear transition under which she will gradually take the reins from her father, Lou Bellamy.

The new leaders are all significantly younger than their predecessors, many of whom were artistic directors at their respective theaters for two or more decades; Bellamy and Rasmussen are 36, Reyes is 42, Haj is 51. The new directors face the challenge of maintaining their theaters’ impressive reputations, growing the companies, and connecting with their communities. It’s a big challenge, and it’s something 30 percent of theaters around the country will face in the next five years. 

To learn more about the state of theater in Minnesota and beyond, see The New York Times



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