CTC Brown Bag features ‘Shakespearean titans’

Suzi Starheim | Staff Writer

Actors and instructors will be on the spot in front of audience members at today’s Brown Bag lunch as they work through Shakespearean text with no prior rehearsal.

This week’s Brown Bag lunch, which begins at 12:15 p.m. today at Bratton Theater, will be led by Associate Artistic Director Andrew Borba and Peter Francis James.

James, who teaches at the Yale School of Drama, will be in Chautauqua working with Chautauqua Theater Company for the first time this summer. This includes today’s Brown Bag lunch in addition to several three-hour sessions working with conservatory members as part of their summer curriculum at CTC.

Artistic Director Ethan McSweeny said today’s Brown Bag lunch is being “led by two Shakespearian titans” who “agree not a lot about how to perform Shakespeare, so they’re going to have a Shakespeare-off battle, and it’s sure to be a bloodbath.”

While Borba said he doesn’t necessarily think today’s event will be a “bloodbath” between him and James, there will be very different techniques used to approach Shakespearean text.

Throughout today’s event, Borba and James will teach conservatory members Shakespearean text using their own methods. This will be done with no prior rehearsal and in front of audience members, and Borba said this is because CTC likes “to make it as dangerous as possible.”

While today’s Brown Bag lunch is in part to demonstrate to audience members the different methods used to teach Shakespearean text, Borba said another purpose is to show audience members how talented this year’s conservatory members are at interpreting the text.

“We understand that these plays are about the deeper things,” Borba said. “We spend a great deal of effort making sure that the actors know exactly what they’re saying and why they’re saying it.”

Borba said this approach to and understanding of Shakespeare has created something very rare in Chautauqua.

“We have both a clarity and life to Shakespeare that is rare,” Borba said. “I find that I’m on a mission to reintroduce Shakespeare to audiences so that they find the joy and life in it. We’re really good at it, and I think that’s because we all have a love for it.”

The Brown Bag lunch is free for guests to attend, and guests are welcome to bring their own lunches to the theater.