From a staff perspective, we’ve known the five plays that will occupy our lives for the next six months for a while now. But it never seems real until they flash across our website, show up on Google Alerts, and the–hopefully–constant buzz of the box office phones kicks in.  We’re no different than other theaters in, that, the selected season–the chosen few–dominates our hearts and minds: they are, for an appointed amount of time, our singular purpose, our motivation, our full-time occupation. But unlike more traditonal theaters that stretch out their season over, say, 10 months, we keep ours super compact–as a package, a bundle of explosive activity that bursts on the scene, and then is gone just as quickly. As far as we are concerned, in our CATF lives, these are the most important plays in the world. And we will give them our all.

We finally get to let you in on the secret we’ve been keeping since December. That’s not to say we have just been resting on our laurels, waiting around for an opportunity to make some noise and get some press.  We’ve been busy getting ourselves ready to launch this 24th repertory–some of it sexy, a lot of it not. And we’re almost ready. It’s exciting. It’s a little nerve-wracking. It’s why we do this.

I think you’re going to like the plays Ed has selected. I think you’re going to like them a lot. On Saturday, we will officially reveal them to anyone and everyone who cares to know how we’ll be devoting our time and treasure from now until early August. And “devoting” is right: this is a devotion for us. For Ed, Peggy, and me. For Patrick and Trent and our production staff. For Gaby talking to you as you sort out your ‘ultimate theater experience’. For our support teams who design our graphics, insure our stages, and balance our books. For our extraordinary board. For our donors and funders. And for you, I hope, our patrons.

We make art because we have to–nothing else compares. And you allow us the extaordinary privilege to create theater for a living. It’s a honor we do not take for granted. Thank you.

So, please join us this weekend as we announce the 2014 season and welcome the esteemed American playwright Charles Fuller to Shepherdstown. Once we unveil the season, it’s going to be a mad sprint to the finish line. Hang on tight.


CATF_March 1_General Admission copy

GIDION’S KNOT…hitting all corners of America

GidionsKnot_webThis past weekend, CATF visited Philadelphia to see a production of Johnna Adams’s GIDION’S KNOT at InterAct Theatre Company, under the direction of artistic director and co-founder Seth Rozin. They did a wonderful job with the play. Terrific performances by Alice M. Gatling as “Corryn” (that’s the role Robin Walsh played here at CATF for the play’s premiere) and Karen Peakes as “Heather” (played here by Joey Parsons). It runs through February 9 and more info about the Philly production, including a video interview with Johnna, can be found by clicking here.

InterAct is a core member theater of the National New Play Network–a collective of theaters across the country committed to the promoting the PRODUCTION of new plays, perhaps most famously through the concept of a “rolling world premiere”.  CATF was invited to join NNPN as a core member last summer. Hopefully, we’ll have an important related-item to report in a few weeks as it pertains to NNPN…

GIDION’S KNOT is not only playing in Philly right now. In fact, it opened this weekend in Austin, Texas at the Capital T Theatre under the direction of Lily Wolff.  Lily was a directing assistant at CATF the year we produced GIDION, which makes this performance all the more special.  Performances through February 8. Learn more here.

Finally–at least for now–is a production currently up at Profiles Theatre in Chicago under the direction of artistic director Joe Jahraus. This Midwest Premiere runs through March 9. Check it out here.

Upcoming life for GIDION’S KNOT is in February/March in Minneapolis at Pillsbury House and Theatre (click here) and more close to home in July at the Forum Theatre (Silver Spring, MD).

In total, there are 12 productions of the play scheduled for the ’13-’14 theater season, making this Shepherdstown-originated play the 11 most-produced in the United States. In addition to being published in American Theatre magazine in the December 2012 issue, it was the citation award-winner of the prestigious ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award.

Here’s a video of Johnna’s acceptance speech for the ATCA/Steinberg during the 2013 Humana Festival in Louisville:

MEET THE ARTISTS: David M. Barber (Scenic Design)

CATF is thrilled to welcome back to Shepherdstown this summer designer David M. Barber.  You’ll remember David’s work from last year if you saw CAPTORS by Evan M. Wiener and IN A FOREST, DARK AND DEEP by Neil LaBute.  Both shows were presented in repertory on the Frank Center Stage and were directed by Producing Director Ed Herendeen.

This season, David will be designing MODERN TERRORISM, OR THEY WHO WANT TO KILL US by Jon Kern and SCOTT AND HEM IN THE GARDEN OF ALLAH by Mark St. Germain–the two plays that will open the new Stanley C. and Shirley A. Marinoff Theater in the Center for Contemporary Arts II–as well as H2O by Jane Martin in CCA 112.

This is what Ed has to say about working with David Barber:

“As this is our second year of working together, David and I have an established vocabulary.  He’s collaborative with me along with the entire design and production team, willing to ask challenging, probing questions of the play and its direction. He provides helpful and thoughtful research and, most importantly to me, he begins the process by being true to the given circumstances the playwright provides. He’s loyal to the text, the script; his research to the architecture, time/place, and period, etc, of the world of the play. As a director, I want our creative team to take risks and provide me with choices. David does both.  With Scott and Hem, his research has been really invaluable since the play is set in a real time (1937) and place (the resort villa, Garden of Allah). He’s been very sensitive to the needs of the play.  And with Modern Terrorism, it’s been exciting to see his ideas of using the new theater’s aesthetic to create both realism and spectacle.  We explored how this play covers the inside and outside world, while maintaining a claustrophobic atmosphere. Our audience will be quite struck by how he’s transformed the Marinoff Theater into a 1930s villa and then into a Brooklyn apartment.”

David BarberDavid M. Barber is a designer of scenery and clothing for theatre, television, film and the special events world. He brings expertise to the collaborative table that spans geographically from Texas to Toronton…and experientially from studio art to performance and back again.
Visit David’s website here.


Renderings follow from David’s set designs for CATF 2013 (Copywright: David M. Barber, 2013):

Written and directed by Mark St. Germain
Stanley C. and Shirley A. Marinoff Theater


by Jon Kern. Directed by Ed Herendeen
Stanley C. and Shirley A. Marinoff Theater




Welcome to the Marinoff!

Last week, Shepherd University President Suzanne Shipley announced the official name of the theater housed within the new phase of the Center for Contemporary Arts.  This 180-seat flexible space will be called the STANLEY C. AND SHIRLEY A. MARINOFF THEATER in honor of a recent legacy gift made by Dr. Stanley Marinoff to the Shepherd University Foundation. This endowment gift will be used for the long-term support of CATF’s programming and education initiatives.


In January, at the CATF annual board retreat, Dr. Shipley and Ed Herendeen announced this to the board at a private event in the lobby of the new theater (scroll down for more photos):
Stan at podium

Dr. Stanley C. Marinoff

Dr. Marinoff made the following remarks:

This Endowment gift is a continuation of the Marinoff family’s commitment to the Contemporary American Theater Festival. There has been a Marinoff on the board for 21 years, and in fact, Shirley was an original board member and one of the first in the community to see CATF’s potential. She would be proud of this day and to see how far we have progressed over these years.

I remember early-on in the Festival’s history when I had to co-sign a bank loan to keep everything going; now we have financial stability–a testament to the great strides we have made. This is a gift that will last forever.  It is made to help enshrine a permanent future for CATF and guarantee that the organization can forever benefit and know that it can count on my family’s support.  It will ensure that future students, artists, and audiences will be impacted by this gift for years and years to come. It is a long-term pact that will serve the organization and community in perpetuity. With this gift, I am able to know that every future CATF season, and future University students, will be supported by the Marinoff family.

Shirley and I first discovered Shepherdstown the same year CATF was founded and as soon as we built our house here we became involved in the organization. I have witnessed this community and campus expand and grow over the last 23 years along with CATF.  The cultural fabric—and quality of life improvements—that the Theater Festival and the University has provided Shepherdstown is proof of the power and importance of the arts.

The University has supported CATF and has provided us our own modern theater. CATF’s partnership with Shepherd remains paramount to my support as both education and the arts share a mutual mission of opening minds and inspiring critical thinking.  Shepherd’s focus on a liberal arts curriculum, and CATF’s commitment to thought-provoking new work, continue to successfully fulfill this important need.

With this gift, our internship program will be expanded and a future generation of theater students will be given the opportunity to begin their careers at Shepherd University and CATF. Many former Marinoff Interns have gone on to work in theater around country, including our own James McNeel who was an intern in 1998.

There are so many needs in the world, and often the arts are the first to be cut.  This gift will, hopefully, help shelter CATF for when times are tough; and expand and develop the organization when things are not.  As Ed always says, the arts are not a luxury, but a necessity of a civilized society. This organization and this university are the pillars for the continued vibrancy of Shepherdstown.

Finally, I hope this gift will inspire others to consider the future of CATF by building up its endowments and continuing its home here on Shepherd’s ever-growing and beautiful campus. It is rewarding—even fun—to donate money to something you believe in deeply. —Dr. Stanley C. Marinoff, January 12, 2013.

Here are some additional photos from this festive day–one of the great keystone moments in the history of the Festival. Thank you Dr. Marinoff and the Marinoff Family!

(photos by Seth Freeman)

Allison hugs Stan

(pictured above) Dr. Marinoff is hugged by his daughter Allison Marinoff Carle, with Ed Herendeen and Trustees Ray Smock and Elena Echenique

SU Drum corps

(pictured above)  Members of the Shepherd University Drum Corps provided the musical backdrop to the announcement.

CATF board applauds

(pictured above) Members of the CATF Board and Honorary Board applaud the announcement.


(pictured above) Billy Thompson and Mary Hott sang in honor of the Marinoffs–the unofficial first performance in the theater!

Stan and Allison

(pictured above) Dr. Stanley Marinoff and Allison Marinoff Carle.

in the theater

(pictured above) On the (at that point unpainted) floor of the Marinoff Theater.

on the grid

(pictured above) “Up on the catwalk” – taking a tour of the theater: the Marinoffs with Dr. Mark Stern, Marjorie Weingold, Ray Smock, and Gary Horowitz (CATF Trustee R.B. Seem snaps photos in the distance)

Ed with Stan

(pictured above) Ed Herendeen shares a private moment with the Marinoffs. There has been a member of the Marinoff family on the CATF board since the Festival’s founding. Stanley’s late wife Shirley (Allison’s mom) was an early advocate and supporter of Ed’s work and vision.