June 29, 2010

Chautauqua Theater Company (CTC) Artistic Directors Vivienne Benesch and Ethan McSweeny are proud to announce the first New Play Workshop (NPW) of the 2010 season, Close Up Space by Molly Smith Metzler. Four performances will run July 1 – 4 at CHQ’s Bratton Theater.

Now in its sixth season, CTC’s New Play Workshop series introduces audiences to important new voices in the theater and to the staged reading as a thrilling theatrical event in its own right. Each performance is followed by a discussion with the playwright, director and cast. Initiated by Benesch and McSweeny, the series has soared in popularity. "2010 sees us adding a performance to each of our new play workshops in response to the continued audience demand for new work," says McSweeny.

In a uniquely Chautauquan twist, CTC/NPW selects plays that correspond with the Institution’s weekly lecture theme. Close Up Space was chosen to complement and reflect the Week One theme: “Roger Rosenblatt and More Friends” which celebrates the literary arts.

Close Up Space tells the story of powerful book editor Paul Barrow who reads the dictionary for pleasure and scours manuscripts for grammatical errors. But when his grieving daughter shows up at his office after being expelled from boarding school, Paul is at a loss for words.

Award-winning playwright Molly Smith Metzler is making her CTC debut. "I am particularly thrilled to welcome Molly this season,” says McSweeny. “She has already garnered quite a following for her work and we think Close Up Space is not only her best play to date but one that will be a calling card on the American theater."

Metzler’s plays – including Training Wisteria, Carve, Close Up Space, and Elemeno Pea – have been presented by the Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons, the Cherry Lane, the Public Theater’s Summer Play Festival, the Kennedy Center, Tristan Bates (London), Boston Playwrights Theatre, Juilliard, and more. Her honors include two Lecomte du Nouy Prizes (Lincoln Center), three Kennedy Center KCACTF Awards, and upcoming residencies at the O’Neill Theater Center and Williamstown Theatre Festival.

McSweeny will be bringing Ms. Metzler’s play to life. For CTC, his numerous directing credits include The Glass Menagerie ('09), Death of a Salesman (’08), The Just ('07), The Cherry Orchard ('06), All My Sons ('05), Cobb ('03), and the New Play Workshops of Kate Fodor's 100 Saints You Should Know, and Quincy Long's Aux Cops among others. In New York his direction includes the premieres of 100 Saints You Should Know and 1001 (both Top Ten productions of ‘07 in TimeOut and Entertainment Weekly), and the Broadway revival of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man (Tony Award nomination, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards). This summer McSweeny is making his Stratford (Ont.) Shakespeare Festival directorial debut with Dangerous Liaisons.

Two veteran actors make their CTC debuts in the cast of Close Up Space. Rebecca Creskoff one of the stars of HBO’s hit series, “Hung,” plays Vanessa Finn Adams. . Her extensive television credits include “Greetings From Tucson,” “Mad Men,” “Law and Order,” “West Wing,” “The Practice,” and “Hannah Montana,” among others. Creskoff’s Broadway credits include Losing Louie (Manhattan Theater Club), and Off-Broadway credits include Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Rufus Collins plays Paul Barrow. Collins has appeared on Broadway in The Royal Family, To Be Or Not To Be, An Ideal Husband, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, and The Homecoming. Regional credits include In This Corner, directed by Ethan McSweeny at the Old Globe in San Diego.

Daniel Pearce, who plays Steve, has appeared in three CTC productions: Arcadia, The Winter’s Tale, and Reckless. Pearce’s Broadway credits include The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Circle in the Square). Off-Broadway credits include King Lear, Measure for Measure, Henry V, and Henry VI (NYSF/Public Theater); The Picture of Dorian Gray (Irish Repertory); and Love’s Fire (Public Theater) among others. In July, Pearce opens in the film SALT, starring Angelina Jolie.. The cast is completed by CTC Conservatory actors Irene Sofia Lucio as Paul’s rebellious daughter Harper, and Megan Ketch as his eager but persecuted intern, Bailey.

CTC/NPW also provides a stage for the Conservatory’s design fellows to showcase their respective talents. Costume Design Fellow Mark Nagle is entering his second year at the Yale School of Drama. He was just awarded the Donald M. Oenslager Award for Stage Design. Lighting Design Fellow Ellie Rabinowitz is entering her third year in California Institute of the Arts’ MFA lighting design program. Scenic Design Fellow John Zuiker is currently working towards his MFA at Carnegie Mellon University.