For years, David Zinman attended parties where he was consistently mistaken for a celebrated conductor of the same name. After confessing his true profession as a journalist, conversation partners would often drift away to another corner of the room.
“I figured there’s something I have to do to get through this,” Zinman said. “What I thought I had to do was conduct one piece at a symphony, and it turned out, at Chautauqua, I got a chance to.”
Zinman based his one-act play, The Two Mr. Bernsteins, off this personal experience. Friends of Chautauqua Theater will sponsor a reading of Zinman’s play, along with Basses are Loaded by Caitlyn Kamminga, at 10 a.m. Saturday in Fletcher Music Hall.
Each of the comedies is close to the authors’ hearts. While Zinman shares a personal annoyance with being mistaken for a semi-celebrity, Kamminga picked up the bass at 15 years old. Coming from a musical family — her father is a recently retired horn player — she has played in symphonies throughout the world.
The character-driven Basses Are Loaded focuses on three bassists in different stages of their careers.
“The whole idea was to really explore the relationships,” Kamminga said. “There’s an intimacy between two people who are stuck together, having to turn pages for each other. You wind up spending more time with your stand partner than you do with your wife or husband.”
Kamminga said that orchestras show one side of themselves onstage, but much goes unseen between players through the years.
“Musicians are very irreverent, and they have a whole life that happens on the stage,” Kamminga said. “There’s a huge range of ages, and it adds to the intricacies of how people relate to each other.”
So far, Zinman has written about a dozen one-act plays and three full-length productions. Kamminga is currently in the process of preparing her stage adaption of Igor Stravinsky’s “L’Histoire du Soldat,” titled Jab Molassie, to show in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
The two enrolled in The May Queen playwright Molly Smith Metzler’s playwriting class last year. Basses are Loaded is the product of Kamminga’s work in the class.
According to Zinman, a transition into playwriting after a career in journalism was a smooth one.
“I found that, as a newspaperman — which I’ve been all my life — the strongest part of my writing was features stories and particularly dialogue in feature stories,” Zinman said. “It was very easy to make the transition.”
Kamminga agreed that dialogue comes the most naturally. She said she hopes to see how other aspects of the plays hold up in a staged reading.
“I’m much better at dialogue than I am with plotlines, so I want to feel like the audience is satisfied at the end,” Kamminga said. “That they feel that it’s reached a natural conclusion.”
The duo of play readings, titled “Music, Music,” will feature Chautauquans as actors, many of them Friends of the Theater. Political comedian Mark Russell will also be joining the cast of The Two Mr. Bernsteins.
“We’ll pack the hall … [It will be] a turn-away crowd,” Zinman said. “I hope we have a big crowd and they enjoy it.”