…one of the nation’s most satisfying seasonal destinations for original drama.


Gabrielle Tokach

Producing Directors

Ed Herendeen
Founder & Producing Director

Peggy McKowen
Associate Producing Director


The Cake

Shepherdstown theater festival features world premieres and top notch acting

July 11, 2018 • The Washington Post

The plays at this year’s Contemporary American Theater Festival speak fervently about the power of memory. Whether it’s because of Proustian cookie consumption or because divisive times and extreme weather inspire soul-searching about the past, the six works currently on view at this town’s nationally known new-play showcase comment on memory’s ability to dominate and disrupt the present. MORE»


Review: Thirst at Contemporary American Theater Festival

July 9, 2018 • DC Theatre Scene

I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, Albert Einstein once said, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and rocks.

It is after the war now. The great cities are gone, and the networks which kept us alive and healthy are in disarray. Once we dreamed of luxury vacations and hot cars and McMansions and bling, but now we dream of some little hunk of meat to go with our root vegetables. And water. Most of all, we dream of water… MORE»

Berta, Berta

Review: ‘Berta, Berta’ at the Contemporary American Theater Festival

July 12, 2018 • DC Metro Theatre Arts

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

–William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun.

Of the many great moments in the late August Wilson’s Twentieth Century cycle, the most powerful one for me comes in The Piano Lesson, Wilson’s evocation of the Hill District in Depression-era Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A circle of men, all from the same county in Mississippi, are hanging out together when the conversation turns to Parchman Farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, a prison for men, mostly black, where hard labor was the rule… MORE»


W.Va. theater festival presents uncannily timed lesbian wedding cake play

July 6, 2018 • Washington Blade

A play about a Christian baker’s dilemma to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple probably sounds more tragic than funny. But Bekah Brunstetter, writer and producer of NBC’s hit dramady “This Is Us,” has written a comedy on just this topic. MORE»

Bekah Brunstetter

Theater that prompts thinking

July 4, 2018 • Spirit of Jefferson

At the Contemporary American Theater Festival kicking off Friday, 6 plays will explore love, suspense, political divisions, propaganda, and more. MORE»

C. A. Johnson

Playwright C.A. Johnson’s ‘Thirst’ makes premiere at Contemporary American Theater Festival

July 1, 2018 • Herald Mail

This isn’t the first summer playwright C.A. Johnson found her way to the Contemporary American Theater Festival. The New Orleans-area native ad been displaced to Washington, D.C., to finish high school, following Hurricane Katrina.”And I ended up in D.C. and I never wanted to leave because I started going to an arts high school there,” she said during a telephone interview from her Los Angeles home. MORE»

CATF returns thought-provoking summer theater to Shepherdstown

July 5, 2018 • Martinsburg Journal

Enjoy six brand new –some world premiere– plays featuring talent from Broadway right in Shepherdstown this summer as the Contemporary American Theater Festival returns to Shepherd University. MORE»

WV Travel Team: Theater giants flock to Shepherdstown for festival

July 1, 2018 • Charleston Gazette-Mail

Shepherdstown, in the Eastern Panhandle just across the Potomac River from Maryland, has many designations — a great getaway, a cool small town, charming and one of the oldest municipalities in West Virginia. This month, it turns into something else: a theater destination where playwrights, actors, directors and arts fans descend to immerse themselves in new and often edgy works. MORE»

Named one of the top 17 “theater cities outside of New York and London” by Policy Mic!

“One of five performing arts festivals (worldwide) YOU MUST VISIT!”
—Travel Pulse

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