Frequent Guthrie actor wins Tony, quotes Minnesota poet in acceptance speech

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Actor Mark Rylance, who has appeared onstage at the Guthrie Theater in recent years in roles in "Peer Gynt," "Twelfth Night" and "Big Fish," won a Tony for Best Featured Actor in a play on Sunday night.

The Independant reported that Rylance, 54, won for his third Tony for his portrayal of Olivia in "Twelfth Night." Rylance was also nominated for Best Lead Actor in a Play for a"Richard III", but lost to to Bryan Cranston who won for his Broadway debut as former President Lyndon Johnson in "All The Way".

In the Sunday Star Tribune, the newspaper speculated on the candidates who are possible successors after Joe Dowling takes his leave next year. Rylance was named, with the note that on the pro side, the actor is "Wisconsin-born, British-bred," and "knows this community" due to his frequent stage appeances. On the other side of the ledger, the article questioned whether Rylance would be able to "make the adjustment to working in a theater ecology that is not as highly-subsidized as it is in Britain."

The Fire Island Sun called Rylance's acceptance speech "bizarre," saying it was "...a recitation of an obscure poem by Minnesotan poet Louis Jenkins." The New York Times ArtsBeat blog explained that Rylance recited a work by Jenkins in 2008 when he won a Tony for his performance in the comedy “Boeing-Boeing.

Speaking from Duluth, Jenkins told the Times that he had been tipped off by the actor that he might recite the poem if he won. Jenkins said he "...enjoyed hearing his poetry in the unexpected setting of the Tony Awards (“It’s a break from the usual thank-yous,” he said), and did not mind that Mr. Rylance did not specifically mention his name from the Tonys podium."

Rylance and Jenkins have collaborated on a stage work based on poetry written by Jenkins.

“I think it works better if it just sounds like he’s making this up as he goes along,” he told the Times in an telephone interview. “He always credits me afterwards, so that’s fine.”

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