About the Producers
Founder and Producing Director
Mr. Herendeen founded the Contemporary American Theater Festival in 1991 on the campus of Shepherd University in historic Shepherdstown, WV. Through his leadership the Contemporary American Theater Festival has produced 23 World Premieres, commissioned 7 new plays, expanded its audience from 200, in the Eastern Panhandle of WV, to over 12,000 including, in 2007, people from 27 states and the District of Columbia and has gained a reputation as one of America’s most important producers of new work.
In addition to his work as the Producer of CATF, his directing credits include the following World Premieres; The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa by John Olive, The Occupation by Harry Newman, Miss Golden Dreams, A Play Cycle by Joyce Carol Oates, Compleat Female Stage Beauty by Jeffrey Hatcher, Carry the Tiger to the Mountain by Cherylene Lee, Bad Girls by Joyce Carol Oates, Octopus by Jon Klein, Psyche Was Here by Lynn Martin, What are Tuesdays Like? by Victor Bumbalo and Still Waters by Lynn Martin. Other CATF directing credits include The Late Henry Moss by Sam Shepard, Thief River by Lee Blessing, Something in the Air, Gun-Shy, and Below the Belt by Richard Dresser, The Water Children by Wendy MacLeod, BAFO by Tom Strelich, Lighting up the Two Year Old by Benjie Aerenson, Beti the Yeti by Jon Klein, Shooting Simone by Lynne Kaufman, Alabama Rain by Heather McCutchen, Black by Joyce Carol Oates, The Swan by Elizabeth Egloff, and Jazzland by Keith Glover.
In addition to CATF, Ed has worked in a variety of regional theaters including The Milwaukee Repertory, The Missouri Repertory, The Old Globe, The Lyceum Theater, and The Williamstown Theatre Festival. Ed has also served on the 2002 admissions committee at New Dramatists, NYC and as a panelist for the NEA. In the summer of 2002, Ed Herendeen conducted a workshop at the TCG New Artistic Leadership Institute. In 1999, Governor Cecil H. Underwood presented CATF with the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.
Associate Producing Director
Margaret (Peggy) McKowen brings both artistic and administrative experience to CATF. Peggy spent five years as Chair of the Division of Theatre and Dance at West Virginia University. During that time she promoted and implemented commercial theatre internships, international performance exchanges, and professional development activities for the students of theater. She was an active participant with the University/Resident Theatre Association, the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, and the National Association of Schools of Theater while serving on the Chair’s Advisory Committee to the Associate Provost for Academic Personnel.
Prior to joining the Festival staff in January 2007, Peggy was working as a free-lance designer. Most recently her work was seen in New York with the Phoenix Theatre Ensemble and Gateway Playhouse; and in California on Libby Larsen’s new opera, Every Man Jack. As resident designer for the Obie-award-winning Jean Cocteau Repertory, Peggy designed: the Darius Milhaud scored version for Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, the Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heany’s The Cure at Troy, and several productions directed by late Eve Adamson. Regional theater work has been seen at Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Texas Shakespeare Festival, and the Dallas Shakespeare Festival. She designed Romeo and Juliet, one of six tours of the National Endowment for the Arts’ series: Shakespeare in the American Communities. In 2006 Peggy began her affiliation with CATF, designing the costumes for Mr. Marmalade and the World Premiere of Keith Glover’s Jazzland. Peggy’s international design work has been seen at the B.A.T. Studio Theatre (Berlin), the Teatro Alfa Real (Sao Paulo, Brazil), and for the E.T.A. Hoffmann Theatre in Bamberg (Germany). She designed the first full-length English speaking production of The Tempest performed in Beijing, China.
Additional examples of her design work can be seen in the texts, “Theatre: The Lively Art” and “The Theatre Experience.” Peggy’s work has been shown in the Ukraine as part of the American Theatre Design Exhibit. Her designs for the Jean Cocteau Repertory production of Mother Courage and her Children can be found in The New York Public Library’s Theatre on Film and Tape Archive. Peggy is a member of United Scenic Artists 829 and received her MFA from the University of Texas in Austin.
James joined — or, more appropriately, rejoined — the staff at the Contemporary American Theater Festival in 2010. A native West Virginian, he is a graduate of Shepherd University and worked at CATF during seasons 8, 9 & 10. In the time in-between, he spent four years as Literature Specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts focusing on grants to nonprofit presses, magazines, and literary organizations, as well as awards to individual poets and writers. While at the NEA he also worked on the development of such national initiatives as Operation Homecoming, Shakespeare in American Communities, Poetry Out Loud, and the National Book Festival.
In 2005, James moved to New York City where he was General Manager and Development Consultant for the arts management firm, The Center for Creative Resources. At the Center, he worked with numerous individual artists and arts organizations, including Arthur Mitchell and Dance Theatre of Harlem, Manhattan Graphics Center, the Brooklyn Arts Council, the Arts & Business Council of New York, New York Theatre Ballet, and the Dramatists Guild Fund. He was a team leader in the feasibility study, opening, and first year of management and operation of The Times Center, owned by The New York Times, which opened in 2007 and was designed by Renzo Piano.
Prior to joining CATF, James served as Director of Development and Marketing at the historic Cherry Lane Theatre, located in Greenwich Village, and did his graduate studies in Arts Management at American University.