Zeljko Ivanek as the Prince of Denmark at the Guthrie Theaternconcept, but Ivanek was not up tonbringing it off. There needs to bensomething appealing about Hamlet, annair that offsets his sometimes pettynrage, or a handsomeness at least, tonhelp make up for the petulance that isnso often his outlet for grief This versionnof the play had some strengths —nnotably the play within the play, whichnwas well done as a sort of Noh draman—but a bandy-legged Hamlet, a verynweak Gertrude, and an overly naivenOphelia (a common mistake) underminednsome better characterizations,nmost notably Laertes (played by CurzonnDobell, whose work with Stratfordndirector Robin Phillips shows).nBut a director deserves acknowledgmentnfor what he tries to do as wellnas for what he achieves. Wright sawnHamlet as very young and to a greatnextent overwhelmed by events; in factnthe most interesting thing Wright hadnto say about his reading of the playntouched on just this point. He hadnthought, going into it, that the mainntrouble he was going to have withnHamlet was that “it’s a deeply introspectivenplay and we’re not living in ansociety that’s introspective. So I wasn’tnsure it would speak loudly enough. Butn50/CHRONICLESnoddly enough, as we worked I foundnHamlet is not as introspective as I’dnassumed. Reading it on the page younthink it’s a play about thinking in thenface of acting or doing, and substitutingnthat for doing. As a matter of fact,nHamlet is not about postponing actionnso much as there is so much else onnHamlet’s mind. There’s a lot going onnfor a young person, living with a crisisnday to day.”nLucian Pintilie’s version of Ibsen’snThe Wild Duck was stronger as anperformance, primarily because ofnRebecca Ellens as Hedvig and RichardnOoms as Old Ekdal, both of whomnwere wonderful (Wright singled outnOoms’ performance as one of thenseason’s breakthroughs, but most of thencast was quite good, including ChristophernMcCann as Gregers Werle, KeithnJochim as Relling, and Charles Seibertn— from television’s Trapper John,nM.D.—as Hjalmar Ekdal). Pintilienbrought out all the humor in the play,nwhich is extremely funny in parts,nespecially in the final scene, leading upnto Hedvig’s self-sacrificial suicide.n(Since Pintilie had previously directednthis play, and Miss Ellens, at the ArenanStage in Washington, DC, the Guthriennncannot quite claim this as its own production.)nBut some of the best news out of thenGuthrie is its plans for development.nWright is trying to knead more moneyninto the company, hiring voice coachnElizabeth Smith (the Guthrie is largernthan most Broadway houses andnunmiked) and raising the artists’ salaries.nIn 1987 he instituted the GuthrienLab, essentially a workshop for thenactors and directors. The fundraisingngoal for the next few years is $25nmillion, and that’s for an endowmentnfund; Wright admits it’s a lot, “revolutionary,”nas he puts it, “in a field that’snnever thought of itself as on an equalnscale with museums and orchestras.”nHe’s making quite a good point: nonone would be surprised by such annumber at, say, the Metropolitan Operanin New York. “Actors,” Wrightnsays, “have historically been gypsies,nand most cultures have not onlynallowed that but encouraged that. Ultimatelynit has an effect on how good wenfind ourselves being.” That thenGuthrie’s executive director, EdwardnA. Martenson, formerly ran the theaternprogram at NEA can only help,nthough one of the things the Guthrienshould be proudest of is the amount ofnlocal support: 80 percent of the summernaudience and 90 percent of thenwinter are local people from the twinncities, and over 90 percent of thosenwho give money to support the Guthrienare likewise local.nThe season closes this month withnHoward Brenton and David Hare’sndrama a clef Pravda, a British playnbased on the life of Rupert Murdoch,nrounding out a season that includednThe Glass Menagerie, The ImaginarynInvalid, a new adaptation of MarynShelley’s Frankenstein (none of which,nunfortunately, I saw). Next year’s seasonnstarts in June. As of our press datenhalf the fundraising goal has been metnin pledges, a good sign; perhaps anneven better sign is what Wright saidnwhen asked if he missed New York. Henlived and worked very happily there, hensays, on and off-Broadway, for 17nyears. But he does not miss it: “Not fornone second.” Our best hope for anynstrong regional theater is in just thatnkind of rancorless prejudice.nKatherine Dalton is managing editornof Chronicles.n