The Chautauqua Theater Company continues to usher in the new season of programming in a way that merges new and old. The traditional “Hello Chautauqua” performance will be broadcast virtually at 5 p.m. EDT on Friday, July 3, on CHQ Assembly’s Virtual Porch.
Traditionally, “Hello Chautauqua” has been a chance for CTC conservatory members to introduce themselves to the Chautauqua community through performances at Bratton Theater. This year, with all programming moved online, the community will get to know the conservatory members through a series of short films shot by the actors and designers themselves.
Conservatory liaison Stori Ayers is looking forward to the event, and thinks it’s a unique way for Chautauquans to meet the conservatory.
“We have got some amazing videos, with people doing avant-garde, sharing very big-hearted, open things about themselves and what they care about,” Ayers said. “They are either using this as an opportunity to showcase their talents, or their point of view and perspective they have right now of the world, or to share something really vulnerable about themselves.”
The event traditionally can be anything from a talent show to unique performances, but this year it will take shape in the form of individual two-minute video clips stitched together in an hour-long movie. Each member will introduce themselves in any way they want — Ayers said the only constraint was the time limit.
“When we go to the theater and watch performances, we usually don’t get a chance to learn who the artists are; we only see them through the vehicle of their work,” Ayers said. “I think what’s really special about ‘Hello Chautauqua’ is that the community will remember meeting the artists and getting to know them, so they can see them in multiple layers throughout the season.”
Ayers said the clips she has seen so far are outstanding, and she is confident that moving to a virtual platform will be a positive transformation.
“We lose something not doing it in-person and on the grounds, but we gain something in how far we can reach with our virtual programming,” Ayers said. “I’m really excited about that component for the entire summer, because not only will we reach the community that would typically be on grounds, but we can reach the members of their households who may not have had that opportunity in the past.”
Ayers is particularly excited that “Hello Chautauqua” will remain on the Virtual Porch after the broadcast ends, so people need not worry about missing the performance.
The CTC conservatory is made up of both new artists and returning artists, all of whom will be introduced in the short film on Friday. The chance to connect with performers is one unique to Chautauqua, and Ayers hopes the community will take advantage of this.
“What I really love about the conservatory is having all these young artists in one place and getting to know them at the beginning of their careers, and then being able to see them grow and expand beyond school,” Ayers said. “When you are watching them on T.V. or they’re directing something on Broadway, you remember how they were when they were just starting out.”