Conservatory actors Patrick Foley and Yonatan Gebeyehu share paths into theater, goals

Patrick Foley

Who: Patrick Foley, 27, Chautauqua Theater Company conservatory actor.

This weekend, Foley wraps up his role of Garry in Noises Off. He also appeared in the CTC After Dark production of One Arm and later this season will appear as Paris in Romeo & Juliet.

Where he’s from: Foley grew up in Washington, D.C. After graduating from NYU, he worked in regional theater for a few years. He is about to enter his third year as an M.F.A. candidate at Yale School of Drama.

First theatrical memory: Foley is the oldest of four children, and his mother was looking for a way to keep her 7-year-old busy. So she sent him to a theater program.

His clearest memory from that experience was doing a junior production of The Jungle Book with a cast of 5- through 7-year-olds. Foley was Baloo the Bear.

“I remember being onstage, and the two other kids who were acting in it both forgot their lines, and I realized I knew everyone’s lines,” Foley said. “So I just started to go around and whisper their lines to them.”

Theater credits: Although it was in high school, Foley still fondly remembers being in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. While in undergrad, his best friend directed a production of Amadeus, in which Foley portrayed Mozart.

“That’s like one of those moments where you’re acting and everything I was learning was coming together at one time,” Foley said.

Before coming to CTC, Foley appeared in a new play at Yale’s Carlotta Festival of New Plays, Everything That Never Happened by Sarah B. Mantell. He portrayed Lorenzo in the play, which reimagined everything Shakespeare left out of The Merchant of Venice.

Dream roles: Foley said his dream role would be originating a role in a new play, and is also interested in trying TV and film. Coming out of Noises Off, the first comedy he’s worked on since starting grad school, Foley said he’d like his future roles to be a mix of comedy and drama.

“It’s been so fun, but in a lot of ways more difficult than any of the drama because it has to be so specific and so calibrated,” Foley said. “I think I’m equally interested in both. I don’t think I would be happy with a career of one or the other.”

How he winds down: “I love sudoku,” Foley said. “I love the sudoku in The Chautauquan Daily, I do it every morning here.”

Favorite food: With his busy schedule for Noises Off, Foley hasn’t had the chance to do too much at the Institution. But he has been to Chautauqua’s Farmers Market to try the gazpacho.

Why Chautauqua: This is the second season Foley auditioned for the conservatory, and he became interested in the program after seeing other actors go through the program.

While Foley would be happy to work in New York, he said he enjoys working in smaller communities.

“Finding and building new families is why I like to act, as much as being onstage,” Foley said. “And so, the ability to do that in a company that you would do multiple shows with is really appealing.”

Yonatan Gebeyehu

Who: Yonatan Gebeyehu, 28, Chautauqua Theater Company conservatory actor.

This weekend, Gebeyehu will take his final bow as Freddy in Noises Off. Later this season he will appear in the CLSC Young Readers program and as Prince Escalus in Romeo & Juliet.

Where he’s from: Gebeyehu grew up in Silver Spring and Potomac, Maryland, then went to New York City to attend Columbia University for undergrad. After living in New York City for several years, he moved to San Diego, where he just finished his second year at University of California, San Diego’s M.F.A. acting program.

First theatrical memory: A 10-minute-long Thanksgiving play Gebeyehu wrote and performed for his third grade class launched his theatrical career. It was not an auspicious start.

“It was very much, ‘Will you take this corn for this turkey?’ ‘Yes,’ ” Gebeyehu said.

In middle school, he was performing in the school variety show, and by high school he was singing in school musicals. Deciding to try professional theater came naturally.

“Without blinking, that was the thing that I was doing,” Gebeyehu said.

Theater credits: While at UCSD, Gebeyehu appeared in Strange Men and a workshop production of How to Use a Knife, both by playwright Will Snider, who was pursuing an M.F.A. in playwriting at UCSD.

Before coming to grad school, Gebeyehu was with Columbia-based theater company The Brewing Dept., and a memorable role was portraying Allen in an outdoor staging of bobrauschenbergamerica.

How he winds down: “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Grace and Frankie,” “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation” and “How to Get Away With Murder” are all in Gebeyehu’s Netflix viewing history.

Although he is primarily interested in theater, Gebeyehu said his love for TV, as well as the stories currently being told on TV and streaming services, attract him as an actor.

“There’s a plethora of work that is exploring stories that are not the same story that used to be told, and so I want to be a part of that journey, or a part of that exploration,” Gebeyehu said.

Favorite food: “I could eat a burrito every day for the rest of my life.”

Why Chautauqua: This was the second time Gebeyehu auditioned for the conservatory, and he said he learned about the program through Rebecca Guy, one of his professors who previously served as artistic director of CTC. He said coming back for his audition this year, he felt more prepared and confident, having spent the past year working on his movement and diction.

Backup career: “I seriously considered being a mathematician for a while instead of an actor,” Gebeyehu said.

Beyond theater: When he is working on a play, Gebeyehu said he tries to be reading something other than the script. He is currently reading the memoir White Girls by Hilton Als and Intimate Apparel by playwright Lynn Nottage.

Favorite playwrights include Annie Baker, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Robert O’Hara. Keeping up with playwrights is part pastime, part planning for future roles.

“I’m trying to always be reading material by playwrights that I can do, like just seeing what’s out there,” Gebeyehu said. “Especially as a black man, who’s writing for me and for my experience?”

Tags : Chautauqua Theater Companyconservatory actorctcNoises OffPatrick FoleyRomeo & JulietYonatan Gebeyehu

The author Dara McBride

A recent graduate of Syracuse University’s Goldring Arts Journalism program, she comes to Chautauqua after covering Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina, for The Post and Courier. A Delaware native, she spent three years as a lifestyles editor on Maryland’s Eastern Shore writing about local authors, musicians and artists. Her work has also appeared in American Theatre magazine. She can be reached at or @DaraMcBride.