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June 27, 2018


Contact: Maggie Wilson


Jordan Steves

Chautauqua Institution



Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon opens Chautauqua Theater Company’s 36th Season

Performances June 29 - July 8


(Chautauqua, NY) Chautauqua Theater Company under the leadership of Artistic Director Andrew Borba and Managing Director Sarah Clare Corporandy opens its 36th season with Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Obie Award-winning play, An Octoroon. Directed by Giovanna Sardelli, An Octoroon is playing June 29–July 8 in Bratton Theater on the Chautauqua Institution grounds. Tickets are $35–$40.


A MacArthur “genius” grant recipient and two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, Jacobs-Jenkins premiered An Octoroon in 2014 at Soho Rep. It was quickly declared “this decade’s most eloquent theatrical statement on race in America” by The New York Times, and in 2018 it was also listed as one of The New York Times’ 25 Best American Plays since Angels in America. Sardelli is an award-winning New York-based director.


An Octoroon is a meta-theatrical production that revolves around the 1859 hit melodrama The Octoroon by Dion Boucicault. The original melodrama concerns 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. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins jabs and dissects the history of slavery and identity in America.


“The question that Director Giovanna Sardelli and I keep coming back to is ‘How do we release and rectify the horrors of a system that allowed people to enslave other people?’” Borba said. “And the truth is we don't know, but we are looking to Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ award-winning play to start these conversations in our theater and on these grounds.”


An Octoroon guest artists include Brett Rickaby (National Tour-Carousel, TV-Grey’s Anatomy, CSI), Larry Powell (Regional-The Legend of Georgia McBride, Geffen Playhouse) and Nija Okoro (Regional-The Legend of Georgia McBride, Geffen Playhouse). Conservatory members include Alex Brightwell (Case-Western), Janet Fiki (UCSD), Johnique Mitchell (Penn State), Jenny Latimer (UNC), Hannah Rose Caton (Juilliard) and Keshav Moodliar (Juilliard).


Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Playwright)

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a Brooklyn-based playwright whose credits include War (Yale Rep; forthcoming at Lincoln Center/LCT3), Gloria (Vineyard Theatre), Appropriate (Obie Award; Signature Theatre), An Octoroon (Obie Award; Soho Rep, Theatre for a New Audience) and Neighbors (The Public Theater). He is a Residency Five playwright at Signature Theatre and is under commissions from LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater, MTC/Sloan, and the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. His recent honors include the Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama, the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation Theatre Award, the Benjamin H. Danks Award, the Steinberg Playwriting Award, and the inaugural Tennessee Williams award. In addition to holding an MA in Performance Studies from NYU, Jacobs-Jenkins is also a graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at the Juilliard School. He currently teaches in the Hunter College Playwriting MFA Program, where he is a Master-Artist-in-Residence.


Giovanna Sardelli (Director)

Giovanna Sardelli is an award-winning director who has worked on world premieres of plays by Rajiv Joseph, Matthew Lopez, Theresa Rebeck, Lynn Rosen, Joe Gilford, Jeff Augustin, Lauren Yee, and Zoe Kazan, among others. She has worked Off Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre, Second Stage Theatre, Vineyard Theatre, Playwrights Realm, Women’s Project Theater, Ensemble Studio Theatre, and Roundabout Theatre Company. She has directed numerous productions for Dorset Theatre Festival, where she is the Resident Director, Barrington Stage Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Old Globe, Hartford Stage Company, Cleveland Play House, Cincinnati Playhouse, Hudson Stage Company, San Francisco Playhouse and TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, among others. She received her M.F.A. in acting from NYU and is also a graduate of their Directors Lab. Based in New York, she is also the Director of New Works for TheatreWorks Silicon Valley.


TICKETS to An Octoroon are $35–40 and seating is reserved. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 716-357-6250. A 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.


PERFORMANCES are 8 p.m. Friday, June 29 (Preview); 6 p.m. Saturday, June 30 (Opening); 2:15 p.m. and 8 p.m.Sunday, July 1; 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 3; 2:15 p.m. Wednesday, July 4; 2:15 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday, July 5.; 4 p.m. Friday, July 6; 2:15 p.m. Saturday, July 7; and 2:15 & 8 p.m. Sunday, July 8.


Beyond a talkback after every production of An Octoroon, additional events taking place during the run of An Octoroon include the following two unique opportunities to hear from CTC staff and creatives. All CTC special events listed below are free with the purchase of a Chautauqua Institution gate pass.  


BROWN BAG: Thursday, June 28th & Monday, July 2nd at 12:15 p.m.

Adaptation and Identity in An Octoroon: Adapting an old play in a new way"  

Bring a bag lunch to Bratton Theater and discuss this topic with Artistic Director Andrew Borba and Artistic Associate Sarah Wansley.


LOCATION and PARKING INFORMATION  An Octoroon plays at the Bratton Theater located at the Chautauqua Institution.  To get to the Bratton Theater from the Chautauqua Institution Main Gate go down the red brick walkway (Miller).  Once at Bestor Plaza take a left on Pratt. Then go a few blocks and Bratton Theater will be on the left. For additional directions visit  For parking information visit



2018 Season Calendar:

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. 1: New Play Workshop 1: Untitled Russian Play by Lauren Yee, directed by Nicholas Avila

Aug 2–4: New Play Workshop 2: Jump by Charly Evon Simpson, directed by Summer Williams

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: Week 9 Programming: The Amish Project by Jessica Dickey, directed by Sarah Elizabeth Wansley

About Chautauqua Theater Company

Entering its 36th 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 develop.m.ent 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.