Chautauqua Theater's New Play Commission THE PROFANE, Starring Michael Potts, Opens Tonight

Michael Potts, best known for his roles of Brother Mouzone in "The Wire" and Mafala Hatimbi in The Book of Mormon, has returned to Chautauqua Theater Company (CTC) as Raif in CTC's THE PROFANE, a new play commissioned from the celebrated CTC New Play Workshop alum Zayd Dohrn (Sick - 2008, Muckrakers - 2012). Directed by CTC Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch and playing July 22 - 31 at the Chautauqua Institution, tickets are $35 and are currently on sale.

Michael Potts returns to CTC for the second summer in a row, after a successful run as Dr. Gibbs in CTC's 2015 production of Our Town. THE PROFANE follows Michael Potts' role of Raif, a first-generation Muslim American who prides himself on being a modern, liberal, and tolerant man. But when his daughter falls for the son of a fundamentalist, he finds himself cast as the intolerant patriarch of his own fast changing family. Playwright Dohrn's searing tale follows two immigrant families forced to grapple with each other's religious beliefs, cultural traditions, and deep-seated prejudice.

Michael Potts as Raif, Costume Fellow Alexis Chaney,
and Artistic Associate Miryam Coppersmith
in a table reading of THE PROFANE.

Other Profane guest artists include Amy Carle (National Tour - The Vagina Monologues, 2016 film - "Who Gets the Dog") as Naja , Edward Furs (Off-Broadway - The Primary English Class, Regional - LOMBARDI) as Peter, and Rita Wolf (Off-Broadway - Homebody/Kabul, Manhattan Theatre Club - The American Pilot) as Carmen. Conservatory members include Brittany Bradford (Juilliard) as Aisa/Dania, Juliana Canfield (Yale School of Drama) as Emina, and Joshua Grosso (Carnegie Mellon School of Drama) as Sam.

The creative team includes Lee Savage (Scenic Design), Sabrina Zain(Costume Design), Scott Bolman (Lighting Design), Rob Kaplowitz (Sound Design), and Will Steinberger (Assistant Director).

Michael Potts (Raif) Plays include Our Town (CTC), Broadway: The Book of Mormon, Grey Gardens, Lennon. Off-Broadway: Mother Courage and Her Children, The Tempest, Richard III (CSC); Grey Gardens, Mud River Stone (Playwrights Horizons); Arms and the Man (Roundabout); The Persians (NAT); Cabin in the Sky (Encores); The America Play (Public Theater); Twelfth Night (Delacorte); Rent (NYTW). Regional: The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with A Key to the Scriptures (Guthrie); Oedipus, Highway Ulysses (ART); Romeo & Juliet (Ahmanson); The America Play, Le Bourgeois Avant-Garde, St. Joan of the Stockyards, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World (Yale Rep); The Hostage, Love's Labour's Lost (Old Globe). Film: "37," "Let Me Make You a Martyr," "Assisted Living," "Hometown Hero," "Diggers," "Conspiracy Theory," "Stonewall," "The Peacemaker." TV: "BrainDead," "Show Me A Hero," "True Detective," "The Wire," "Damages," "Gotham," "Law & Order: SVU," "Person of Interest," "Bored to Death," "NYPD Blue," "Thomas Jefferson." Accolades: Obie, Falstaff and Grammy awards, William & Eva Fox, Kennedy Center Fellow. Graduate of the Yale School of Drama.

Zayd Dohrn (Playwright) Plays include Outside People (The Vineyard/Naked Angels), Want (Steppenwolf First Look), Sick (National New Play Network), and Reborning (The Public/SPF). He received Lincoln Center's Lecomte du Nouy Prize, the Kennedy Center's Jean Kennedy Smith Award, the Sky Cooper American Playwriting Prize, Theatre Master's Visionary Playwrights Award, and Chautauqua's 2015 Play Commission. He has written screenplays for the American Film Company, Bedlam Productions, and Vox3 Films, and is currently developing television series for Showtime and BBC America. Zayd received his MFA from NYU, was a Lila Acheson Wallace Fellow at Juilliard, and currently teaches playwriting and screenwriting at Northwestern University.

Vivienne Benesch (Director) Since 2005 Vivienne has served as Artistic Director of the renowned Chautauqua Theater Company and Conservatory, presiding over the company's transformation into one of the best summer theatres and most competitive summer training programs in the country. In January of 2016 she became Producing Artistic Director of PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill, NC. She has directed over fifteen productions for CTC including the world premiere of Molly Smith Metzler's The May Queen and an acclaimed unique re-imagining of Romeo and Juliet featuring the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, theatre, opera and dance companies. For PlayMakers she has helmed productions of Three Sisters, Love Alone, RED and In The Next Room. Other directing includes The Heidi Chronicles for Trinity Repertory, extensive work for The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey and eight years with the Juilliard Drama Division. Vivienne is a graduate oF Brown University and NYU's Graduate Acting Program.

Tickets to THE PROFANE are $35 and seating is reserved. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling (716) 357-6250. A single event ticket is required, which also serves as a Chautauqua Institution gate pass 4 hours before and 4 hours following the start time of the performance.

Performances are Friday, July 22nd at 8 PM (Preview); Saturday, July 23rd at 6 PM (Opening); Sunday, July 24th at 2:15PM & 8:00PM; Wednesday, July 27th at 4PM; Thursday, July 28th at 4 PM; Friday, July 29th at 4 PM; Saturday, July 30th at 2:15 PM; Sunday, July 31st at 2:15 & 8 PM.

Additional events taking place during the run of THE PROFANE include the following three unique opportunities to hear from CTC staff and creatives. All CTC special events listed below are free with the purchase of a Chautauqua Institution gate pass.

BROWN BAG: Thursday, July 21st at 12:15 PM

"The Sacred in THE PROFANE." Bring a bag lunch to Bratton Theater and get to know playwright Zayd Dohrn and Director Vivienne Benesch while they give you a glimpse inside this brand new commissioned work.

'FORE-PLAY: Sunday, July 24th at 7 PM

Visit Lenna Hall for a special pre-show discussion about THE PROFANE. Enhance your understanding of the play and get a primer on the production with members of the artistic staff.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES TOUR: Tuesday, July 26th at 1:00 PM

Visit Bratton Theater for a Behind-the-Scenes Tour. Explore the set, costumes, lighting and special effects behind CTC's production of THE PROFANE. Tours are guided by CTC's production leaders and design fellows and last approximately 45 minutes. All are family friendly.

THE PROFANE plays at the Bratton Theater located at the Chautauqua Institution. To get to the Bratton Theater from the Chautauqua Institution Main Gate go down the red brick walkway (Miller). Once at Bestor Plaza take a left on Pratt. Then go a few blocks and Bratton Theater will be on the left. For additional directions visit For parking information visit

Entering its 33rd Season, Chautauqua Theater Company is the resident professional theater and Conservatory of the Chautauqua Institution. Internationally known actors, directors, designers, and writers join 20 emerging artists drawn from the nation's top training programs to form a unique company that produces a vibrant summer of work in the historic Bratton Theater. Dedicated to the next generation of theater artists, the development of new work, first-rate productions of modern and contemporary classics, and fresh insight into Shakespeare's canon, CTC produces the best of a year-round regional theater within an eight week summer season.

The pre-eminent expression of lifelong learning in the United States, Chautauqua Institution is a 140-year-old community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York State that comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities.

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