Pogo Press /ISBN 0961776722 (1988)
I sent for this book for research work on one particular theatre. I intended to look up that theatre
in the index, note the reference, and put the book in my collection. Instead I ended up reading it
cover to cover. I suppose there are two reasons for this: books about theatre and the kind of people
who just have to go out and produce plays -- even in Minnesota when the winters are 50 below 0,
in the 19th century when buildings had little-or-no insulation and only wood stoves for heat, where
stage lighting is candle or gas light -- have got to be interesting. The actor's need to perform
and the isolated settlers' need for entertain would overcome all hardships.
Another reason is the author's enjoyable writing. Frank M. Whiting obviously loved both
Minnesota and theatre his entire life. In his honor I'll include his own description:
"The general consensus (never proven) seems to be that there is more theatrical activity
per capita in the Twin Cities are than anywhere else in the nation, New York included.
This book therefore, is a humble attempt to make reader's a bit more aware of Minnesota's
theatrical heritage. The material is arranged in four chronological divisions: Part One
takes us from the soldier shows at old Fort Snelling to 1883 when not one but two Grand
Opera Houses were constructed. Part Two ends with 1933, the date when Buzz Bainbridge gave
up his theatre to become mayor. Part Three covers the thirty year interval between the demise
of the Bainbridge Players and the opening of The Guthrie, while Part Four is concerned with
the explosion of activity that immediately preceded and followed the opening of The Gutherie."