CATF Staff

Ed Herendeen | Founder & Producing Director

ed headshot low resolutionEd Herendeen founded the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, West Virginia in 1991 with the mission to produce and develop new American theater. Through his leadership, and operating under an AEA LORT D contract and an annual budget of over one million dollars, the Theater Festival has produced 105 new plays – including 40 world premieres and nine commissions – and has gained a reputation as one of America’s most important producers of new work. Hosted on the campus of Shepherd University, CATF sells over 13,000 tickets to its four-week rotating repertory season of five new plays and attracts a national audience from 35 states to the region. Each summer, the Festival generates a local economic impact of over $2.1 million dollars to West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle.

Recently, Ed’s directing credits include The Eclectic Society by Eric Conger, a world premiere produced by the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia. Among the plays he has directed at the Contemporary American Theater Festival are the following world premieres: Whores by Lee Blessing; Miss Golden Dreams: A Play Cycle and Bad Girls by Joyce Carol Oates; Compleat Female Stage Beauty by Jeffrey Hatcher (which was commissioned by CATF and later produced as the film Stage Beauty); Carry the Tiger to the Mountain by Cherylene Lee; Octopus by Jon Klein; Jazzland by Keith Glover; Dear Sara Jane by Victor Lodato; The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa by John Olive; The Occupation by Harry Newman; What Are Tuesdays Like? by Victor Bumbalo; From Prague by Kyle Bradstreet; Gidion’s Knot by Johnna Adams; and Still Waters and Psyche Was Here by Lynn Martin. Other CATF directing credits include: Ages of the Moon, The God of Hell, and The Late Henry Moss by Sam Shepard; Fifty Words by Michael Weller; Race by David Mamet; Farragut North by Beau Willimon; The Overwhelming and White People by J.T. Rogers; Mr. Marmalade by Noah Haidle; In A Forest, Dark and Deep and Wrecks by Neil LaBute; Blessing’s Thief River; and Below the BeltGun-Shy, and Something in the Air by Richard Dresser.

Ed has also worked at The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, The Missouri Repertory Theatre, The Old Globe, The Lyceum Theatre, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival. In 1999, CATF was presented with the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and, in 2012, the Governor’s Award for Leadership in the Arts. Ed was honored with the College of Fine Arts Distinguished Alumni Award in Theater from Ohio University (from which he received his MA in Directing) and has served on the Admissions Committee for New Dramatists and as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts. Since 2011, he has served on the board of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national service organization for American theaters.

Contact: 304-876-3885 •

Peggy McKowen | Associate Producing Director

PeggyMcKowen_SFP_2258Peggy McKowen’s association with the Theater Festival began in 2006, when she designed the costumes for Mr. Marmalade by Noah Haidle and the world premiere of Keith Glover’s Jazzland.  She joined the full-time staff the following year. As designer, her work at CATF has included costumes for 1001 by Jason Grote, H2O by Jane Martin (directed by Jon Jory), and Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah by Mark St. Germain; sets for From Prague by Kyle Bradstreet, Wrecks by Neil LaBute, and Gidion’s Knot by Johnna Adams; and sets and costumes for Dear Sara Jane by Victor Lodato and The Insurgents by Lucy Thurber. Her free-lance work has been seen in New York with the Phoenix Theatre Ensemble and Gateway Playhouse, and in California on Libby Larsen’s opera, Every Man Jack. As resident designer for the Obie-award-winning Jean Cocteau Repertory, Peggy designed the Darius Milhaud-scored version of Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heany’s The Cure at Troy, and several productions directed by the 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. 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). Additionally, she designed the first full-length English speaking production of The Tempest performed in Beijing, China.

Peggy holds an MFA from the University of Texas (Austin), and has taught theater and humanities at Shepherd University; Dickinson College; Dickinson College/London; and West Virginia University, where she was Chair of the Division of Theater and Dance for five years. She has been a member of the Shepherdstown Rotary Club; directed the intra-state event, Antietam Remembrance Walk; produced Rumsey Radio Hour, the annual fundraiser for the Shepherdstown Visitors Center; and currently serves on the Arts Advisory Council for Hagerstown Community College. In recognition of her work as both theater designer and administrator, Peggy has recently been featured in Live Design and Wonderful West Virginia magazines. Production work has been captured in American Theater magazine; The New York Public Library Videotape for the Theater on Film and Tape Archive; The New York Times, Back Stage, New York Magazine; Wall Street Journal and in the texts: The Theater Experience and Theatre: The Lively Art. She is a member of United Scenic Artists 829.

Contact: 304-876-5151 •

Gabriel Zucker | Director of Communications and Marketing

GZucker_SFP_2211_cropped_smlGabriel Zucker has been active in the arts for nearly 25 years. Before joining CATF, he served as the Senior Manager for SMART Marketing, a Chicago-based company that builds audiences through subscription sales and fundraising initiatives. There, he was responsible for the staffing, development and administration of as many as twenty active campaigns with performing arts groups located all over the country. Under his leadership, SMART grew nearly 20% annually, transforming it from a small firm working seasonally, to a nationally-recognized organization operating year-round.

Gabriel is also a former Theatre Artist and member of Actors’ Equity. Regional stage appearances include The Shakespeare Theatre and Baltimore’s Center Stage. Additionally, he’s participated in projects for the Discovery and Learning Channels, taught voice and movement and served as a casting associate.

Prior to his foray into theatre and film, he had a career in publishing. Gabriel spent several years at the helm of a creative writing program offered through McGraw-Hill’s Continuing Education Center. During his tenure with the company, he developed new assignments for the school, streamlined the curriculum for its Fiction and Non-Fiction writing courses, and helped students successfully market their work through his evaluation of their manuscripts.
Gabriel earned his MA in the Performing Arts from Emerson College and holds a BA in English and Philosophy from the College of Wooster.

Contact: 304-876-5240 |

Joshua Midgett | General Manager

JoshuaMidgett_cropped_SML_SFP_1839Joshua Midgett recently joined the Theater Festival staff after completing his graduate studies at American University in Arts Administration. During his time in the District of Columbia, he worked with a handful of arts organizations in various capacities, including the DeVos Institute of Arts Management (then housed at the Kennedy Center), GALA Hispanic Theatre, Young Playwright’s Theatre, and American University’s Greenberg Theatre. While at American, Joshua studied abroad as a part of the University’s Certificate in International Arts Management program, spending a semester at Victoria University of Wellington studying Tourism Management. He also served as the Financial Chair for the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium, an organization dedicated to inspiring conversation among current and future leaders in the arts about the spectrum of concerns facing the industry.

Prior to his time in the Mid Atlantic, he worked as a company and residence manager for companies such as the Utah Shakespeare Festival, the Glimmerglass Festival, Dorset Theatre Festival, and the Peterborough Players. His theatrical management career began, however, at the Trinity Repertory Company, where he served as a management intern. His undergraduate studies were at Keene State College in southwest New Hampshire, where he earned a Bachelor’s of Art in both Directing and Economics.

Contact: 304-876-3304 •

Trent Kugler | Production Manager

Trent Kugler has worked at CATF since 2009. He is a transplant from Ohio where he earned a B.F.A. in Theater Design/Technology from Otterbein University.  Before moving to the area with his wife, Mayme, he was the Assistant Technical Director at Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C. A photographer and builder of robots and other small electronic contraptions, he has served as Technical Director for the departments of art, theater, and music at Shepherd University since 2010.

Contact: 304-876-5447 •

Gabrielle Tokach | Patron Services Manager

GabrielleTokachGabrielle Tokach is an arts management graduate student at George Mason University and has recently been elected to serve on the executive committee of the department’s student leadership group. Gaby graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College, where she studied musical theatre and arts administration. She has worked on film productions with Arvold Casting and Scrappy Cat Productions. Gaby was nominated for 2014 Broadway World’s West Virginia Regional Best Actress Award for the By My Side soloist in Godspell.

304/876-3473 |


Web & Graphic Design
Jen Rolston | Eden Design

Season Image Design
Francheska Guerrero

Payroll Services
PlanIT Payroll | Martinsburg, WV

Yount Hyde & Barbour | Winchester, VA

Insurance Provider
Tom Maiden’s Insurance Outfitters | Shepherdstown, WV

Seth Freeman | Shepherdstown, WV

Season Casting is conducted by
Pat McCorkle, CSA