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An Octoroon, Airness, and Into the Breeches!

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Chautauqua Theater Company (CTC), under the leadership of Artistic Director Andrew Borba and Managing Director Sarah Clare Corporandy, is proud to announce mainstage programming for the 2018 summer season. The 2018 season features Branden Jacobs-JenkinsAn Octoroon, directed by Giovanna Sardelli, running June 29–July 8; Airness by Chelsea Marcantel, directed by Joshua Kahan Brody, running July 14–29; Into the Breeches! by George Brant, directed by Laura Kepley and running Aug. 11–17; Shakespeare’s As You Like It, directed by Andrew Borba and touring around Chautauqua Institution and surrounding communities; The Amish Project by Jessica Dickey, directed by CTC Artistic Associate Sarah Elizabeth Wansley for a special limited run, Aug. 19–21; two New Play Workshops including Untitled Russia Play by Lauren Yee and another to be announced.

"Now more than ever the purpose of theater and specifically theater under the umbrella of Chautauqua’s mission of lifelong learning is to entertain, challenge and grow the community within which it is produced,” Borba said. “Our season this year reaches very broadly, from our first touring Shakespeare, performed outdoors and free to our local neighbors, to Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ brilliant play about race, literary adaptation, cultural appropriation and

symbolism, to plays about the silly freedom of air guitar, the power and playfulness of women finally taking the reins, and, lastly, a play about the difficulty and beauty of forgiveness within an Amish community. We hope all of this summer’s work not only stretches us as artists, but builds deeper, stronger, playful and more meaningful relationships between us and our audience.”


A Meta-theatrical Provocation

Obie Award-winning playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins kicks off the 35th CTC season with his incisive new play, An Octoroon. An Octoroon was hailed by The New York Times as “this decade’s most eloquent theatrical statement on race in America.” In 1859, Dion Boucicault wrote a hit melodrama about the fate of an Octoroon woman in the Antebellum South. Today, BJJ (a young black playwright) can’t get the story out of his head and writes his own version. But when the actors in his adaptation quit, BJJ takes on the role of the racist plantation overseer himself. In this hilarious and piercing new play, Jacobs-Jenkins jabs at the history of slavery and identity in America.


An Energetic Comedy: Airness

Chelsea Marcantel, writer of the beloved 2016 New Play Workshop “Tiny Houses,” returns to CTC straight from her triumph at The Humana Festival of New Plays with Airness, directed by Joshua Kahan Brody. When Nina enters her first air guitar competition, she thinks winning will be easy. But as she befriends a group of charismatic nerds all committed to becoming the next champion, she discovers that there’s more to this art form than playing pretend; it’s about finding yourself in your favorite songs, and performing with raw joy. Airness is an exuberant reminder that everything we need to rock is already within us. CTC is thrilled to announce that Matt Burns, the two-time World Air Guitar Champion, will be joining this production.


A Modern Classic

Providence, 1942. With the men of the Oberon Play House away at war, Maggie (the artistic director’s wife) decides to take charge and direct an all-female production of Henry V. Written by award-winning playwright George Brant (Grounded, 2012 Smith Prize) and directed by Cleveland Play House Artistic Director Laura Kepley, Into the Breeches! follows a passionate, if amateur, group of theater artists looking at Shakespeare’s valiant warriors in a new light. This hilarious and moving backstage comedy explores how theater can bring a community together in hard times and perhaps even expand our idea of what community is. Brant’s new comedy comes to CTC fresh from a successful run at Trinity Repertory Theater.


Free Will: Chautauqua Shakespeare in the Park

Andrew Borba directs CTC’s first free Shakespeare in the Park production with As You Like It. Rosalind and her cousin Celia journey through the Forest of Arden to find safety, and eventually love. Along the way they meet a ragtag group of rebels in the woods, the lovesick poet Orlando, the melancholic philosopher Jacques, and the witty clown Touchstone. Join CTC as we bring

Shakespeare out of the Bratton Theater and onto the grounds at Chautauqua Institution, as well as to neighboring Jamestown, Mayville and Southern Tier Brewing Company. For more information about Free Will and the touring performance schedule, please visit


A Special Solo Performance 

CTC closes the 35th season with a special limited engagement of Jessica Dickey’s The Amish Project, a fictional investigation of the real life Nickel Mines school shooting. Proclaimed a “remarkable piece of writing” by The New York Times, this riveting one-woman show explores the Amish community’s concept of radical forgiveness. Performed by CTC Conservatory alumni Andrea Syglowski and directed by CTC Artistic Associate Sarah Elizabeth Wansley, The Amish Project portrays two communities shattered by a mass shooting, and their journey to healing.


The New Play Workshop Signature Staged Reading Series in Repertory

Chautauqua Institution and CTC continue their commitment to new play development for the American Theater, and this year will produce two Signature Staged Readings. This series is presented as part of the New Play Workshop.

New Play Workshop 1: Untitled Russia Play by Lauren Yee

Two young Russian men try to find their way after the fall of Communism in an absurd comedy about art, love and advertising in the dawn of capitalism. Lauren Yee is the winner of the Kesselring Prize and the Francesca Primus Prize and will be the 2018–19 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts.

New Play Workshop 2: TBA

Tickets: Single tickets for the 2018 season are now on sale. Tickets to An Octoroon, Airness and

Into The Breeches! are $35 and the New Play Workshop Signature Staged Readings are $20. Theater ticket packages are available in Premium for $175, 5-packs for $135, and 3-packs for

$81. For more information visit



June 29–July 8: An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, directed by Giovanna Sardelli July 14–29: Airness by Chelsea Marcantel, directed by Joshua Kahan Brody

July 30–Aug. 4: The New Play Workshop Signature Staged Readings

Aug. 11–17: Into the Breeches! by George Brant, directed by Laura Kepley

June 25– Aug. 15: As You Like It by William Shakespeare, directed by Andrew Borba Aug. 19–21: The Amish Project by Jessica Dickey, directed by Sarah Elizabeth Wansley


About Chautauqua Theater Company

Entering its 35th season, Chautauqua Theater Company is the resident professional theater and Conservatory of Chautauqua Institution. Internationally known actors, directors, designers and writers join 20 emerging artists drawn from the nation's top training programs to form a unique company that produces a vibrant summer of work in the historic Bratton Theater. Dedicated to the next generation of theater artists, the development of new work, first-rate productions of modern and contemporary classics, and fresh insight into Shakespeare’s canon, CTC produces the best of a year-round regional theater within an eight-week summer season.


About Chautauqua Institution

The pre-eminent expression of lifelong learning in the United States, Chautauqua Institution comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. Over the course of nine weeks, more than 100,000 people visit Chautauqua and participate in programs, classes and community events for all ages — all within the beautiful setting of a historic lakeside village. As a community, we celebrate, encourage and study the arts and treat them as integral to all of learning, and we convene the critical conversations of the day to advance understanding through civil dialogue.