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Vivienne Benesch celebrates 10th year as artistic director of CTC

Chautauqua Theater Company is about to kick off its 31st summer season with “A Raisin in the Sun,” a play that is particularly relevant right now due to the Broadway revival’s recent three Tony awards.

Vivienne Benesch promises a great performance.

“Broadway has the stars of today. Chautauqua has the stars of tomorrow,” she said. “There’s really a sense of ‘We saw them when’ here.”

It’s Benesch’s 10th season at Chautauqua, and she said she is proud to celebrate this milestone in a year when four of the five featured playwrights are women.

“Shakespeare is the only boy invited to the party,” she said, referring to the company’s last show, “The Tempest.”

This summer also will feature the world premiere of an original play, “The May Queen” by Molly Smith Metzler.

“It will appeal to anyone who has complicated feelings about high school, prom or working in an office,” Benesch, who is also directing this production, said. She described the play as a mix between NBC’s “The Office” and a modern-day romantic comedy.

“There are very few great female comedic writers who are being produced, so we wanted to get behind her,” Benesch said of Metzler.

Aside from the main three productions, CTC’s The New Play Workshop, also in its 10th year, will have readings of “Dairyland” by Heidi Armbruster (July 10-12) and “The Guadalupe” by Carol Carpenter (July 31-August 2). An inter-arts event called “Go West!” will meditate on America’s western expansion on July 26 only.


“A Raisin in the Sun” (June 27- July 6)

CTC’s season will start with Lorraine Hansberry’s famed “A Raisin in the Sun.” Set in the South Side neighborhood of Chicago, the play is about the struggles of an African-American family. Originally debuting in 1959 on Broadway, veteran Ethan McSweeny directs CTC’s version.

“The May Queen” (July 18-27)

Commissioned by CTC and the Chautauqua Writer’s Center, “The May Queen” will have its world premiere this summer. The comedic story follows what happens when a much-talked about beauty returns to town amidst rumors of what could have happened to her after she left. It is directed by CTC’s Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch and written by Molly Smith Metzler.

“The Tempest” (August 8-15)

Shakespeare’s classic tale of a group of characters marooned on a magical island will feature Lisa Harrow of British theater fame as Prospero. Jade King Carroll will direct the comedic drama, which will find its perfect setting in the wooden shiplike structure that is the Bratton Theater.


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