“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring

                       will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”  T.S. Eliot

 All the risk taking, creativity inducing, entrepreneurial flames that have ignited the Contemporary American Theater Festival since 1991 continue to burn strong. Opportunities abound for creative stimulation, and inspiration continues to flow as we begin our 20th Anniversary Season.

 We embrace the excitement and wonder of our 2010 Repertory and we are clearly focused on  our vision, mission and core values. We are a community of artists who are united by a common purpose–to help people raise the standard of living meaningful lives by producing provocative contemporary works of art that help us to understand our world and ourselves. Our work empathizes with others because empathy lies at the heart of morality, and we are a theater company that embraces social responsibility. Our purpose drives our mission, which drives our vision, which is inspired by our core values.

Creativity is the nucleus of our collective enterprise. We understand that the creative process is essential to the health and success of our organization. We are a theater that is willing and agile enough to adapt to the unpredictable rhythms of society. This means that our Theater Festival is alive with possibilities. We celebrate the power of ideas and we seek fresh opportunities for new thinking. The 2010 Repertory will continue to rock-the-boat and shift the status quo.

Our 2010 playwright’s: Max Baker, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Jennifer Haley, Michele Lowe, J.T. Rogers and Lee Sellars function as master storytellers, while sending activist tentacles into the world to bring about dialogue and positive change.

So here’s a question: What does the Contemporary American Theater Festival truly represent? How does the work we create relate to the current social events and why does it really matter? I invite you to attend all five plays…and see for yourself…Because theater can move us…it ignites our passions and inspires the best in us. When we try to explain why theater is so effective, we speak of strategy, vision, or powerful ideas. But the reality is much more primal. Great art works through the emotions. Our success depends on how well we do this.

Throughout history and in cultures everywhere, people look to the artists for assurance and clarity when facing uncertainty. Artists act as our emotional guides. They help us to become more self-aware by mirroring our behavior. Self-awareness plays a crucial role in empathy, or sensing how someone else sees a situation: If a person is perpetually oblivious to their own feelings, they will also be tuned out to how others feel. Being attuned to how others feel in the moment can create an atmosphere for social awareness and empathy. Empathy which includes listening and understanding other people’s stories creates resonance. The root of the word resonance is revealing: the Latin word resonare, to resound. Resonance, the Oxford dictionary states, refers to “the reinforcement or prolongation of sound by reflection,” or more specifically, “by synchronous vibration.” This occurs in the theater when the audience is on the same wavelength emotionally with the actor and production–when they feel “in sync.” And true to the original meaning of resonance, this synchrony “resounds,” prolonging an “AHA!” experience with the audience.

Our 2010 Repertory presents five new works that will inspire and create resonance…plays that will move you with our  compelling vision and collective mission. I am attracted to contemporary writers who are attuned to our world and whose stories help us to define these tumultuous times.

I assure you that Max Baker, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Jennifer Haley, Michele Lowe, J.T. Rogers and Lee Sellars are attuned to today’s world and their stories will create resonance long after you leave the theater.

Ed Herendeen