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Tyrone Guthrie

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William Tyrone Guthrie (2 July 1900 - 15 May 1971) was a British theatrical director instrumental in the founding of the Stratford Festival of Canada and the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Guthrie was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, the great-grandson of the actor Tyrone Power. He received a degree in history at Oxford University, where he as active in student theatre, and worked for a season at the newly-established Oxford Playhouse.

In 1924 Guthrie joined the British Broadcasting Corporation as a broadcaster and began to produce plays for radio. This led to a year directing for the stage with the Scottish National Players, before returning to the BBC to become one of the first writers to create plays designed for radio performance. From 1929-1933 he directed at various theatres, including Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author, in 1932. For 1933-1934 and 1936-1945 he was the directory of the Shakespeare Repertory Company.

In the forties Guthrie began to direct operas, to critical acclaim, including a reaslistic Carmen at Sadlerís Wells and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In 1953 he was invited to direct the first season of the Stratford Festival of Canada, and continued to do so for four years, becoming a strong influence in the development of Canadian theatre. In 1963 he founded the Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which was modelled after the Stratford Theatre.

In the prologue to his biography James Forsyth wrote: Anti-Broadway, anti-West End, anti everything implied in the term 'Legitimate Theatre', he ended up with a legitimate claim to the title of 'most important, British-born theatre director of his time. Peter Hall wrote: Among the great originators in British Theatre...Guthrie was a towering figure in every sense. He blazed a trail for the subsidised theatre of the sixties. He showed how to run a company and administer a theatre. And he was a brilliant and at times great director...

Guthrie wrote two major books about the creation of effective drama: Theatre Prospect (1932) and A Life in the Theatre (1959). Guthrie was married to Judith Bretherton, who survived him by only a year. He was knighted in 1961 and died in Newbliss, County Monaghan, Ireland in his 71st year.

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