Chautauqua Theater Company will be sending off its 2019 Brown Bag discussions with a bang, as they host a two-for-one special event at 12:15 p.m. Thursday, August 8 in Bratton Theater.
Previous Brown Bag discussions have honed in on a single play, exploring exactly what it took to bring the productions to their feet. However, this discussion, “Fresh Ink 2.0: Agent 355 & On the Exhale, Two brand new plays in conversation,” will allow audiences to delve into not one, but two upcoming New Play Workshop shows.
For those concerned that discussion of the two shows will result in a large amount of overlap, these plays are vastly different creatures.
On the Exhale, by Martin Zimmerman, is an intimate, introspective look at the devastating and deeply personal effects of gun violence on the individual, while Agent 355 by Preston Max Allen and Jessica Kahkoska is a roaring, raucous musical about a female spy during the American Revolutionary War, as told by an all-female punk rock band.
According to members of CTC, there’s a lot to discuss about both NPWs, which are sponsored in part by the Roe Green Foundation.
On the Exhale director Patrick Walsh said he hopes to get audiences engaged and talking about the heavy subject matter of the play.
“I’m interested in exploring the idea that the isolation that we feel when going through cycles of grief is similar to the isolation that someone feels when firing a gun at someone else,” Walsh said. “I want to try to draw the audience into that; through this empathetic journey with this woman in this show.”
Walsh said he hopes On the Exhale will encourage audiences to take another look at a topic that has been an issue in America for decades.
“If this is a conversation that you think you’re sick of having, you should come see this play,” Walsh said.
On the flip side, Agent 355 presents audiences with a unique experience. The show is the first-ever musical New Play Workshop that CTC has tackled, and as such, it’s been pushing the limits of what the cast and crew can do.
“For an NPW, usually we bring a director and a writer,” said Sarah Clare Corporandy, CTC managing director. “But for Agent 355, we have a director, a music director and two writers, so it’s double the size. So it’s just new, fresh stuff.”
Audiences will get the chance to take a peek into how CTC plans to go about pulling a fully fledged musical onto its feet in just a few short days. Corporandy said the process and presentation are both exciting experiences.
“It’s such a cool story about these amazing women, presented at a time when most of the stories we’re hearing about are focused on men,” Corporandy said. “The history of it is also something I think Chautauquans will be interested in. And then the way that we’re presenting it is very contemporary in general, so that juxtaposition is going to be very, very cool.”