Andrew Borba, Artistic Director of Chautauqua Theater Company and Rotary President Kevin Sixbey
Jim Smith introduced our speaker, Andrew Borba, Artistic Director, Chautauqua Theater Company. This is his 5th time as guest of the Club and his 16th summer at Chautauqua Theater Company (CTC). Besides directing, he is a gifted actor on stage and on television.
Andrew spoke about coming back from last year. The theme this year has been “pivoting”. Planning for the many possibilities started last September. It was decided to partner with the Opera. It was thought they would be performing in Norton Hall, and the CTC planned for a season of 1 person shows. However, due to union issues, that was not going to work. So it was decided to go outside and the Pratt Performance Pavilion was created. It is like a Repertory Company.
The final performance of Blood at the Root is July 18. Then the opera Scalia/Ginsburg is on stage. Then a one person show “Thurgood”. Tickets are $25. All performances are at 4 pm.
Andrew feels fortunate to be active. Theaters are still at 94% unemployment across the country.  In planning for the season the CTC wanted to have stories for right now. “Now” and “Community” were the dominant threads. Staffing was reduced from 100 to 24 with just 6 Conservatory actors and 3 Conservatory designers. However, the Academy reached more actors than in the past, due to zoom, connecting it to the greater theater community. From 19 the Academy expanded to 40 people all around the world.
Andrew noted that what is happening currently in theater, as in all our lives, is a bridge. It will be interesting what changes remain permanent. One emphasis is “self taping” and self-creation. Now an actor doesn’t have to go to LA, NY, Atlanta, or Chicago to be discovered.
The Young Playwrights program has also continued with tweaks. 3rd and 4th graders made plays and filmed them. TCT couldn’t perform them, but instead interviewed the kids.
The pandemic has made CTC more thoughtful about what we do, how, with whom and for whom, noted Mr. Borba. For now, it is just wonderful to be back in the same room together. 
Q: Is anything available for those who cannot go to Chautauqua. Yes, Young Playwrights, and also the 2 one-person shows with NPR stations, the one in Buffalo “one child”. Another in Detroit. They will be rebroadcast over time.
Q: What is going on with writers? Have you seen an influx of creativity? As far as writing, Andrew has not seen a uniform response. Some writers feel a surge of creativity, others feel isolated. However, there are a whole slew of young actors who have access.
Q: In your other job (as Professor of Drama at UC Irvine), how did students come out? They are a mess. Because it was a “lab” they were allowed to continue classes. However, since it is an interactive art form, they suffered because they did not have direct contact with professors or other students.