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


Peggy’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 •

James McNeel | Managing Director

jkm headshot1-fb-bwJames 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 returning 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. He is a resident producer at No Hope Productions in New York City and is on the board of the Shepherdstown Visitors Center, Jefferson County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the National New Play Network.

Contact: 304-876-5240 •

Patrick H. Wallace | Director of Production

Patrick is a success story of CATF’s Internship Program. A graduate of Otterbein College, he started with the Festival six years ago as a Stage Management Intern and has returned for the last three Seasons as Technical Director. For four years, he served as Assistant Technical Director at Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis, where he was in charge of Special Effects, Hydraulic/Pneumatic Systems, and Computerized Show Control. In January of 2001, he accepted the position of Technical Director for Shepherd University Theater and Music, where he currently manages the technical needs of university productions.

Contact: 304-876-5447 • 

Trent Kugler | Production Supervisor

Trent 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: 304-876-5133 •  



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