Chautauqua Theater Company will present the last of three New Play Workshops and the last production of the 2023 season this weekend.
The Bleeding Class was written by playwright Chisa Hutchinson. The play, whose reading at Chautauqua is supported by the Roe Green Foundation, focuses on a Dominican-American escort and a “reserved” Black doctor who must team up to save humanity amid a deadly plague, according to the play’s synopsis.
“The Bleeding Class challenges us to ask ourselves what we are willing to sacrifice, who we are willing to trust, and if we are willing to love,” the synopsis states.
Performances will take place at 2:30 p.m. Saturday as well as 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday in Bratton Theater.
CTC Guest Artist Tramell Tillman plays Dr. Wesley Pennington, the doctor charged with helping to save humanity.
“This piece has a lot of heart,” he said.
He said he’s thrilled to be working with playwright Hutchinson to workshop this play.
“It’s so beautiful working with a playwright like Chisa,” he said. “She’s very specific and heartfelt and takes a lot of care with her characters.”
Often, Tillman is working on productions written by the likes of Shakespeare and August Wilson, but he enjoys working with living playwrights because he has the opportunity to explore the play.
“To have the playwright right there is … really rewarding, because you have the opportunities to ask questions and get answers,” he said.
Tillman has learned a lot about himself, his character and humanity through the script-to-stage process. He referenced humanity’s complexity and the decisions we’re faced with in navigating difficult situations.
“We are complex; we are very complex,” he said. “In this world, where we are seemingly part of a witch hunt movement to see who’s good and who’s bad, … I’m realizing it’s not as black and white as we think it is. … There’s the question of humanity, and what cost are we willing to pay in order to do the right thing?”
This isn’t Tillman’s first time at the Institution. He was a CTC Conservatory Actor in 2014 and worked with Producing Artistic Director Jade King Carroll when she directed The Tempest, in which Tillman played the role of Ferdinand.
For Tillman, it’s exciting to delve into a character to explore the bigger message conveyed through theater.
“My joy about acting is being able to bring humanity to every character I play,” he said.
The actor hopes audiences will be receptive to the conversation that the play introduces, and that they’ll approach the production with an open mind.
“My hope is that they have an open heart and open ears,” he said. “I look forward to hearing what they take away from it and I really want to hear their experience of it.”
Tillman said he’s excited for Chautauquans to see the play, especially because of the hard work and dedication that has been put into the workshopping and production processes.
“Everyone here is so passionate and believes in this project. … We’re all ready to see it flourish,” he said.