Guthrie and Theatre

As a theatre maker Sir William Tyrone Guthrie was one of the great originators, redefining the open stage. 

Among British Theatre Directors Tyrone Guthrie was one of the great originators; a true ‘enfant terrible’ of British theatre in the thirties and forties and, standing six foot four in his socks, quite the tallest enfant terrible to be found in the English-speaking world.

Guthrie’s work in London before and during the Second World War included productions with John Gielgud, Orson Wells, Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness. He had a profound effect on directors such as Peter Brook and Peter Hall. He blazed a trail for subsidised theatre in the Sixties and his views on theatre could be readily adapted to all the arts.

The range of Tyrone Guthrie’s achievement in opera and drama is formidable; ninety-six productions, not including those he did for the Scottish National Players and the Cambridge Festival Theatre between 1926 and 1930, together with several works for radio (BBC). He also wrote a handful of plays and books.

Guthrie started theatres all over the world. The founding Artistic Director od the Stratford Shakespearean Festival of Canada, he also added to the flourishing American regional theatre movement with his work at Minneapolis founding the Guthrie Theater, which became a prototype for an important new kind of theater in America. Perhaps his greatest achievement was to reinvent the open stage.

Guthrie never referred to his knighthood, which came very late in life. There was an innate humility about him and he always hoped to find a shadow of it in others.

Further Reading:

Much has been written about the visionary theatre maker William Tyrone Guthrie, who was knighted in 1961. His original approach to both Shakespearean and modern drama greatly influenced the 20th-century revival of interest in traditional theatre in Great Britain and America. On this page we attempt to gather writings about Tyrone Guthrie, the history of his family and the history of the estate.  If you have others to add please get in touch

Tyrone Guthrie was an excellent writer and many of his theatre writings are still available. A selection of these is presented below with links to for information purposes. Amazon listings include IBAN numbers for ease of searching other catalogues.

If you want to read more about Tyrone Guthrie there is also an authorized biography from 1976 written by James Forsyth.