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Chautauqua, NY - Chautauqua Theater Company (CTC), under the leadership of Artistic Director Andrew Borba and Managing Director Sarah Clare Corporandy, is proud to continue its support of new play development with the 2017 New Play Workshops, running August 1-5 at Bratton Theater. The 2017 New Play Workshops are Birthday Candles by Noah Haidle and Building the Wall by Robert Schenkkan.

The New Play Workshop (NPW) Program is the arm of Chautauqua Theater Company dedicated to fostering important new American playwrights and providing a safe and stimulating playground for artists to develop new work for the theater. As such, it is at the core of Chautauqua Theater Company’s mission as a cultural and educational organization. New play development is made possible at CTC in part by a generous grant by the Roe Green Foundation.

Opening on August 1st is Birthday Candles by Noah Haidle, directed by CTC’s former Artistic Director, Vivienne Benesch, who is now the Producing Artistic Director at PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill, NC. Birthday Candles follows Ernestine Ashworth on a magical 100-year journey from her 17th birthday through her 117th. Birthday Candles was commissioned by Detroit Public Theatre and will premiere there in 2018.

The cast of Birthday Candles includes Dan Pearce (Machinal, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee),  Annie Purcell (The Coast of Utopia, Awake and Sing!), Jed Diamond (All My Sons), and 2017 Acting Conservatory members Will Harrison, Kelsey Jenison, and Maggie Mason. The creative team includes Amelia Bransky (Set Design),  Mari Taylor (Costume Design), Alex Miller-Long (Lighting Design), and Jordan Tani (Sound Design/Original Music).

Noah Haidle (Playwright): Noah’s plays have been produced off-Broadway, regionally and in various countries such as Germany, Norway, Sweden, Bosnia, New Zealand, Finland, England, Mexico, Austria, and Switzerland. He is a graduate of Princeton University and The Juilliard School, and lives in Los Angeles with his wife.

Vivienne Benesch (Director): After 12 seasons as the Artistic Director of Chautauqua Theater Company, Vivienne is now thrilled to return home to her family as a guest director. Among the multitude of productions she directed for Chautauqua Theater Company, a few favorites include: The Profane, The May Queen and The Romeo & Juliet Project. As an actor with CTC, favorites include: Fifty Ways, Arcadia and Reckless.  She is now the Producing Artistic Director of PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and has just completed her first season there, which featured several CTC alumnae both onstage and off. Vivienne has also directed at, among other theaters: Trinity Repertory Company, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, PlayMakers Repertory Company,  and at the Juilliard School, where she was on faculty for the last several years.

Building the Wall opens on August 2 at 8 p.m. and is written by the Pulitzer and Tony winning playwright Robert Schenkkan. Directed by CTC alum Katherine McGerr, Building The Wall is a tense, immediate drama that brings a human element to what could happen when inflammatory rhetoric transforms into policy. Building the Wall will play August 4 at 2:15 p.m. and August 5 at 2:15 p.m.

The cast of Building the Wall includes CTC’s Artistic Director, Andrew Borba, and Acting Conservatory member Moses Ingram. The creative team includes Amelia Bransky (Set Design),  Mari Taylor (Costume Design), Alex Miller-Long (Lighting Design), and Jordan Tani (Sound Design).

Robert Schenkkan (Playwright): Robert wrote his first play, Final Passages, in 1979. In Los Angeles, the play The Kentucky Cycle won the LA Drama Critics Award and the Penn West Award play won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Theater, shattering 75 years of Pulitzer tradition as it became the first play to win before it received a NY production. The Kentucky Cycle went on to Broadway where it was nominated for a Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics, and Drama League Award. Over the next 25 years, Robert would write and publish ten other full-length plays including Building the Wall, Hanussen, Shadowplay, and Handler. He co-authored the films Hacksaw Ridge (6 Academy Award Nominations) and The Quiet American. For television he wrote the movie, Crazy Horse, the mini-series Spartacus, and The Andromeda Strain (six Emmy Nominations). In 2010 he wrote four episodes of the acclaimed HBO miniseries, The Pacific, and received two Emmy nominations and a Writers Guild Award for his work. His play All The Way, headed by the five-time Emmy award winning actor, Bryan Cranston, enjoyed a sold-out run in Boston at the A.R.T. Theater  where it won the inaugural Senator Edward Kennedy Prize for Theater inspired by History Award, and the Steinberg/American Theater Critics Award for Best Play. It opened on Broadway, March 6, 2014 at the Neil Simon Theater and swept the awards that year, winning the Tony Award for Best Play, the Drama Critics, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle Award. Robert adapted All The Way as a movie for HBO and Co-Executive Produced with Steven Spielberg and Bryan Cranston, and it was nominated for eight Emmy Awards, including Best Drama.

Katherine McGerr (Director): This is Katherine’s 11th season with Chautauqua Theater Company. Previously, she has worked on the Young Playwrights Project (Director), Romeo & Juliet Project (Associate Director), An Incident (Workshop, Co-Director), and numerous assistant directing and dramaturgy credits.  Other directing credits include Measure for Measure (Playmakers/PATP), Laura and the Sea, Julius Caesar (Syracuse University), A Dream Play (Allegheny College), Beer (Workshop, Fault Line Theatre), Hedda Gabler, Two Gentlemen of Verona (Yale School of Drama), Dutchman (Yale Cabaret), Seagulls (Long Wharf NextStage).  Dramaturgy credits include The Price and the East Coast premiere of Donald Margulies’ Shipwrecked!... (Long Wharf). Katherine is currently CTC’s New Play Development Manager has previously held artistic staff positions at Playwrights Realm and Yale Repertory Theatre. She is an Assistant Professor at Syracuse University.  She holds a BA from Columbia University and an MFA in directing from Yale School of Drama.

TICKETS to the New Play Workshops  are $20 and seating is reserved. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling (716) 357-6250. Single event ticket is required, which also serves as a Chautauqua Institution gate pass 4 hours before and 4 hours following the start time of the performance.

Chautauqua Theater Company’s 2017 Season includes Noises Off: 6/30-7/16, Detroit 67: 7/21- 7/30, Romeo and Juliet:  8/11-8/18, and the 2017 New Play Workshops, Birthday Candles: 8/1-8/4 and Building the Wall: 8/2-8/5.