Mission & History
The Contemporary American Theater Festival is dedicated to producing and developing new American theater.
CATF’s goals (core values) are to:
• sustain an artistic process of innovation and daring;
• tell diverse stories;
• and to create a profound and ever-evolving relationship between the audience and the work.
• Founded in 1991 by Ed Herendeen
• To date, 100 new plays produced, including 37 world premieres by 73 American playwrights (production history)
• CATF has commissioned 10 new American plays
• Forty percent (40%) of all plays produced by women writers (well above national averages).
• 2013 attendance: 13,732 from 35 states, DC, and around the globe.
• 2008 independent economic impact survey reported that CATF generates $2.1 million for the local economy. Read more about CATF’s audience and economic impact by downloading this document.
• Operates under a LORT D contract with Actors’ Equity Association and in agreements with United Scenic Artists and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers
• Annual operating budget of $1.2 million
• Proud member, Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and the National New Play Network (NNPN).
• Hosted the annual conference of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) in 2013.
• Johnna Adams’s Gidion’s Knot premiered at CATF in 2012; it was published in American Theatre magazine, was a citation winner of the ATCA/Steinberg Award; and is the 11th most produced play in the 2013-14 season nation-wide.
• Member of the Blue Star Theaters Network for military personnel and families.
• Presented the Governor’s (W.Va.) Award for Leadership in the Arts in March 2012.
• The 1999 CATF commission, Compleat Female Stage Beauty by Jeffrey Hatcher, was later adapted as the film Stage Beauty, starring Clare Danes, Billy Crudop, and Tom Wilkinson.
• Check out the latest CATF news and press by clicking here.
CATF’s commitment to new work is an annual festival of new plays by American playwrights, most often premieres or second or third productions. CATF invites you to thinkfive as it again offers FIVE new plays in rotating repertory. CATF focuses on plays that deal with contemporary issues that boldly challenge and entertain audiences.
The Contemporary American Theater Festival, an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit, is hosted on the campus of Shepherd University (Dr. Suzanne Shipley, President), a public liberal arts institution founed in 1871, and located in historic Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Situated along the banks of the Potomac River, and just 70 miles north of Washington, DC, and west of Baltimore, MD, Shepherdstown is a mixture of metropolitan thought and rustic ambience. Drawing on populations of Northern Virginia, western and suburban Maryland, DC, and Baltimore, 60% of CATF’s audience comes from outside the State of West Virginia. The CATF season is truly America’s newest plays in West Virginia’s oldest town. (Join CATF in celebrating Shepherdtown’s 250th anniversary in 2012.)