New Play Commission recipient Dohrn leads special playwriting workshop

SAALIK KHAN | Staff Photographer
Chautauqua Theater Company produced Zayd Dohrn’s Muckrakers as part of its New Play Workshop in 2012. Dohrn returns to the grounds this season to work on another new play for CTC and to lead a playwriting workshop for the Writers’ Center.

Playwright Zayd Dohrn will stir up some drama when he comes to Chautauqua, but that’s exactly what he’s been asked to do.

Dohrn will lead a special workshop at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center in Week One called “The Great American Drama: Writing for Theater, Film and TV.”

While Dohrn might be best known as a playwright, he also has experience in screenwriting, which he hopes to use with students in his workshop. Dohrn said he thinks his workshop will be
helpful to any type of writer.

Dohrn completed his undergraduate education at Brown University, where he said he knew he wanted to pursue writing professionally, but didn’t know how to go about it. He ended up going to graduate school at New York University and then went on to become a Lila Acheson Wallace fellow at Juilliard, a program that sponsors up-and-coming playwrights. After that, he began pursuing playwriting as a profession.

“Then it sort of became my job,” Dohrn said. “It sounds easier than it actually was.”

Dohrn said he’s excited to work with the students in his workshop, especially because collaborating with other artists inspires him in his own work as a playwright.

adds a perspective and you end up with something greater than the sum of its parts,” Dohrn said.

This will not be Dohrn’s first time at Chautauqua — two of his previous plays, Sick and Muckrakers, were workshopped at the Chautauqua Theater Company.

He’s also the recipient of Chautauqua’s New Play Commission for 2015. He’ll start working on the play this summer. He hopes to do some readings of portions from the play this year in order to prepare it for production in the 2016 season.

Dohrn has another Chautauqua connection as well: He’s good friends with Molly Smith Metzler, who previously received the New Play Commission and had her play, The May Queen, produced by CTC during the 2014 season.

Metzler and Dohrn were classmates at both Brown and NYU and were fellows at Juilliard together. Now they’ve both made their way through Chautauqua.

“So we follow each other around a lot,” Dohrn said.