The Chautauqua Theater Company has a unique role to play in the American Theater — it offers our loyal and discerning audience the best in classical, contemporary, and new plays and features a company made up of internationally acclaimed professional actors, directors, designers, playwrights, and faculty, joined by the finest emerging actors in the country.
As originally conceived by founding artistic director Michael Kahn, the goal of the CTC was to build “a professional theater company centered at Chautauqua that would, in the future, be able to do a season of very, very good theater combining professional actors and students.”
Under the 18-year stewardship of the incomparable Rebecca Guy, the Conservatory emerged to fill Michael’s original vision of a resident company at Chautauqua. Patiently, with years of support from Chautauquans near and far, Guy built the infrastructure of a sustainable theater organization and completed the stunning renovation of Bratton Theater.
Building on the firm foundations laid by their predecessors, Vivenne Benesch and Ethan McSweeny took over as co-Artistic Directors of CTC in 2005. Their vision was to bring the company to the forefront of summer theaters, unite the twin traditions of performance and training under one Bratton roof, and invite playwrights to develop new plays at Chautauqua with their Signature Staged Readings. This vision was expanded by Andrew Borba, the company’s most recent Artistic Director, who originally joined the company in 2005. Under his artistic leadership from 2017-2022, he deepened CTC’s commitment to New Play Workshops (including the workshop of Birthday Candles, which went on to Detroit Public Theatre and ultimately transferred to Broadway). Additionally, Borba initiated CTC’s Touring Shakespeare program, going beyond the gates and bringing theater into the larger Chautauqua community.
History of Bratton Theater
Theater has existed at Chautauqua for over 100 years. Many theater companies have performed at Chautauqua over the last century, including the Jamestown Players, the Pittsburgh Players Club and the Chautauqua Players. The Cleveland Playhouse made Chautauqua Institution its summer home for over 51 years beginning in 1930. During that time, Normal Hall (as Bratton Theater was then called) served as the rehearsal hall and scene shop for the Chautauqua Opera Company. In the early 1980’s the prestigious Acting Company made Chautauqua a recurring stop on their national touring circuit. This fortuitously brought Michael Kahn to the grounds of Chautauqua, and under his leadership, the Chautauqua Conservatory Theater Company was created in 1983 and Normal Hall became a dedicated theater space.