Fall 2010: Another Beginning

The 2010 Festival is history and the work speaks for itself. Now it is time to re-invent a new repertory. Nothing compares to the feeling that I have when I begin to plan a new season. It is Fall in Shepherdstown and that means reading scripts. I have been traveling back and forth to New York and Chicago where I have been meeting with playwrights and Literary agents…taking “pitches” and attending readings and workshops. My Kindle is loaded with new scripts. Beginning a new season is thrilling, exhilarating and frightening. I am ferociously devoted to finding provocative scripts with good stories and new ideas…new works that express the beauty, wonder, and dirty truth of the human spirit.

Our Odyssey continues…

For two decades the Contemporary American Theater Festival has invited brave artists and adventurous audience members to join us on an extraordinary odyssey to discover and create the future of the American Theater. It has been an exhilarating voyage in search of new American plays. Over the years we have explored and produced new works by some of the best playwrights in America, as well as discovering a new generation of emerging writers. Our quest for innovative new plays and new ideas has earned us a reputation as one of America’s most important producers of new work. Our long strange trip has been an artistic endeavor of collaboration between the artists, the work and our followers. This eventful journey began on a wing and prayer AND a burning passion to make art. Our passion, creative spirit, imagination and industrious commitment to discover truth and beauty in our turbulent world–guides us on our next odyssey.

I am looking forward to sharing with you my thoughts on our upcoming 2011 Theater Festival. I also look forward to hearing from you. Please send me your comments, reactions, impressions and testimonials from our 2010 Season. Let’s start a digital conversation. Let’s TALK THEATER!

Ed Herendeen, Producing Director


We have added four additional performances of WHITE PEOPLE by J.T. Rogers. This is great news! So check-out the new schedule on the CATF Web-site . I recommend that you make your ticket reservations now if you want to experience this powerful new play by J.T. Rogers.

“What is wrong with self-preservation? Where’s the sin there? Yes, I live in a community of people who look like me. I choose to live where my children will be privileged, where they’ll find opportunity. For thousands of years people all over the world have grouped with their own. But now we decide–What?–this is a bad thing? All of a sudden, we should throw comfort–protection–out the window? All of a sudden, I’m supposed to look around at the world and feel shame?”            Martin in WHITE PEOPLE


 The theater is a democracy. It pushes–expands our notion of who the “we” is. It creates a live, dynamic transaction between the performer and the audience. And this transaction is often controversial. I believe it is vital that our Theater Festival is a flash-pot in today’s turbulent world.The theater is a place where we can have a community dialogue about topics and issues that make us uncomfortable. I hope that our production of WHITE PEOPLE will prompt a fruitful dialogue about race and language in our culture.

“I mean, look around here. Everything’s different now. People are coming here on boat, foot, camel. Bringing their religion, food, talk…and I understand! I mean, the rest of the world is burning down. Even people like Dr. Singh are crawling over each other to get here. So I say good! Fine! But there’s just one thing everyone needs to remember: we were here first. You understand? Now that means something. All these people–black, brown, yellow–they need to see us, get behind us, and wait their turn. That’s what you call fair and that’s what you call just. Because me and Earl: We were here first.”     Mara Lynn in WHITE PEOPLE

Producing contemporary theater, especially in this moment, is a form of social activism. It is a statement of belief in the power of community, in the power of sharing the most private feelings in the most public of spaces–the theater. Contemporary theater is a messy business…it thrives on risks…This state of risk-taking can sometimes produce a collision of values between the audience and the risk-hungry artist.

I look forward to reading your comments. Lets’ talk…

Ed Herendeen