CTC Brown Bag showcases playwrights’ rewriting process


A scene from Michael Mitnick’s “Elijah,” which will be staged at 8 p.m. tonight in Bratton Theater. Photo by Demetrius Freeman.

Suzi Starheim | Staff Writer

Most of the time, audiences flock to theaters to see a finished production of a play. In the case of the Chautauqua Theater Company’s 2011 New Play Workshop Festival, however, audiences are flocking to see works in progress.

Watching plays grow and change will be the focus of the Brown Bag lunch: Rewrite! at 12:15 p.m. today at Bratton Theater. This lunch will show audience members how this year’s playwrights change their plays, draft by draft, as they work toward a finished product.

Today’s Brown Bag lunch will feature the three playwrights — Michael Mitnick, writer of “Elijah,” Michael Golamco, writer of “Build,” and Molly Smith Metzler, writer of “Carve”— who are in Chautauqua for the New Play Workshop Festival.

Today’s lunch will give an inside look at exactly what these playwrights are here to do: rewrite.

Associate Artistic Director Andrew Borba said the playwrights will bring in pieces they’ve written, along with rewritten versions of those pieces, to demonstrate what their rewrites look like. To show the differences rewriting causes, conservatory members will then perform the original versions of sections of these plays and then the rewritten versions of these same sections of the plays.

Borba said in addition to demonstrating the different versions of the plays, the playwrights also will discuss their particular process for rewriting their work. He said this part of the lunch is to show guests that “all playwrights do not rewrite in the same way.”

Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch said the ultimate purpose of today’s Brown Bag is to show audiences the mechanics behind the productions they will see throughout the NPW Festival.

“We just thought it would be really interesting for audiences to get a look into what the rewriting process for a playwright is, and we are going to literally ask them to provide different versions of a scene,” Benesch said. “We just thought we’d look into the mechanics of their writing process.”

Borba said he also hopes today’s Brown Bag will bring to light what inspires each of the three playwrights in this year’s festival.

“Who knows what sparks the imagination of a playwright?” Borba said. “It falls under that greater heading of really trying to let the audience in on as much of the process of what it is to create these plays as possible.”

The New Play Workshop Festival runs through Sunday, which will be a marathon day showing all three of the new plays.

Guests are welcome to bring lunches to Bratton Theater for today’s Brown Bag event.