Ed Herendeen

It’s Worth The Trip

What dya’ say we go on an odyssey?… What a great sound that has.

What dya’ say we go on an adventure?

(pause, another approach)

How about…let’s just take a trek to Shepherdstown, the oldest town in West Virginia doin the newest plays in America?

It’s closer than you think…AND… It’s worth the trip!

So…what dya’ say?

Do you wanna be engaged?

Do you wanna be entertained?

Do you wanna be inspired, transformed and transported by the power of a good story?


Where else can you see and experience FIVE new plays in rotating repertory in a beautiful, rural, historic American town? Where else can you meet other theater lovers like yourself and form an instant kinship and bond over art and ideas? Where else can you have total access to the makers of the art and engage in a living conversation? Where else can you dine, relax, walk and talk-theater?


There is no place like the Contemporary American Theater Festival. Our 21st Odyssey continues with a rotating repertory of FIVE new American plays by:SAM SHEPARD. DAVID MAMET. TRACY THORNE. KYLE BRADSTREET.  LUCY THURBER.

So…What dya’ say we go on an odyssey…an adventure…and discover new American theater?

(pause, very simply this time)

How ’bout let’s just drop everything and go to the THEATER FESTIVAL?

Wanna join our artistic community…in July? Do you wanna share our journey to create the future?

Come on…What dya’ say?


Be present for the future of the American theater.

BE HERE NOW! The future spends the summer in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

So…What dya’ say?

Ed Herendeen, Producing Director


The Contemporary American Theater Festival has grown beyond my wildest dreams. More importantly, it’s remained true to it’s mission and core values: a theater that celebrates truth and beauty without ignoring the destructive forces of a dangerous world; a theater company that poses provocative questions about contemporary issues. The work is often personal…sometimes political…sometimes controversial…often profound…and entertaining.

In every Festival Season you will find love and loss, paradox and mystery. But you won’t ever see mindless, escapist entertainment–because CATF doesn’t distract audiences with status-quo work. In an age of commercialism, we’re something of a miracle: serious artists producing challenging new works for the American stage.

I can’t promise you that every play, lecture, talk-back or performance will enlighten you, or cure even one tiny neurosis. I can promise you that each Repertory will contain some of the most radically intimate and socially conscious writing being performed today. The Contemporary American Theater Festival is a annual reminder that everyone has a story to tell and a voice to tell it. Those who attend the Festival and the playwrights and theater artists who create it are joined in an uncommonly close way. We are an artistic community. Every summer we come together to celebrate the glory and the heartache of being human.

I personally invite you and your friends to join me on our 21st ODYSSEY beginning on July 8th 2011. We will announce the 2011 Repertory later today.

Ed Herendeen, Producing Director


Tonight the CATF Board Of Trustees will honor and show our appreciation for the remarkable leadership of Lisa Younis. Lisa has completed her two year term as Board President and her nine years of service as a Trustee. Suzanne Shipley, President of Shepherd University, is hosting a party for Lisa and the CATF Board in her beautiful, historic home at Popodicon. This important celebration marks another milestone in the Festival’s history. Tonight we pay tribute and recognize Lisa’s unselfish dedication to our mission: “to produce and develop new American theater.” Lisa has lead our Board during the most difficult economic climate since the Festival began twenty years ago. Under her watch the Festival persevered and continued to produce extraordinary new works for the American stage. Tonight we salute her leadership and service. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with Lisa. 

Lisa joins an elite group of former CATF Board Presidents.  Ron Jones, Andy Michael, Mary Helen Strauch, Lynn Shirley, and Stephen Skinner have provided the Theater Festival with their leadership, advice and dedicated support. Each of these extraordinary individuals has been instrumental in guiding and nourishing the creative work of the American playwright. I am forever grateful to these past presidents. They have embraced my vision to create a home for the future of the American theater.

Serving on an arts board is, especially in this moment, a form of social activism. It is a statement of belief in the power of community. The Contemporary American Theater Festival is supported by an outstanding Board of Trustees. They are a generous collection of individuals who are deeply committed to the Festival’s mission and core values. They give so much of themselves in service to our theater and to our community. They believe in the power of contemporary theater. They believe in the power of story. They believe in the power of sharing the most private of feelings in the most public of spaces–the theater. Together we breathe the same air–actor with actor, actor with audience, audience with audience–as we confront pain and difference, conflict and joy in the safe environment of the stage. Our Board shares a passionate belief that we can only grow as a society if we find the strength to confront and consider ideas and issues that may make us uncomfortable. Our trustees believe that a community without art has no voice, no memory, no aspiration — a community without art is no community at all.

I am always inspired when I walk into our board room and see the dedicated faces of our trustees. They have made room in their lives for our work. With so many things competing for their time, our trustees continue to commit their resources (intellectual as well as financial) as they freely choose to dedicate their valuable energy to our artists and our work. Our community is made better because of their support fot the Contemporary American Theater Festival. 

On behalf of the entire Theater Festival artistic community, I want to personnally thank Lisa Younis for her dedication and service as our Board President. I wish her all the best and look forward to seeing her, and her husband John, in our audience in the years to come.

I also welcome our next Board President — Jenny Ewing Allen. Jenny will continue to guide the Festival into the future. She will help to create and nurture an environment for a strong supportive relationship between the board members, the artists, and the festival staff as we continue our mutual creative journey.

–Ed Herendeen, Producing Director


The Contemporary American Theater Festival attracts theater fans, theater tourists and adventure seekers who travel short and long distances to see and experience our work…they follow us…they take to the road to see contemporary theater. We have created a sub-culture of audience members who participate in the entire experience.

Where else can you spend two days seeing and experiencing five new plays in a beautiful, rural, historic American town?

Where else can you meet other theater lovers and form a kinship and bond over art and culture?

Where else can you have total access to the makers of art and engage in a living conversation?

Where in America can you join a community of art travelers from across the nation and world and form relationships with people like yourself…who feel competent and free to question our contemporary world?

Where else can you shop, dine, relax, walk and talk-theater…talk  about real life issues, concerns and fears by listening to live theatrical stories?

Every July our audience takes to the road and joins a community of thrill seekers…truth seekers…beauty seekers…knowledge seekers…interesting and engaging human beings who form kinship’s with other human beings. This is an annual community made up of friends, traveling companions and strangers who all share a common (spiritual) bond. Many of you have been attending the Festival for years! I think that is REMARKABLE! You reunite in Shepherdstown with the same folks each season. You make the annual CATF TREK. You are a part of the CATF ODYSSEY…a unique theater adventure to be shared with friends…old friends…new friends etc…

Our loyal fans know what I am talking about when I describe the CATF TREK and the close bonds that a shared Festival experience brings. New relationships are quickly developed, as strangers become friends in the supportive environment of the Festival. We provide an opportunity for “random encounters” every summer. The random Festival encounter is perfect, cosmic, generating reunions and the warm glow of artistic and intellectual curiosity.

The Contemporary American Theater Festival is sort-of a secret society of people checking out great contemporary theater while escaping from everyday life to encounter a sense of belonging. Each person defines the festival experience a little differently. Sure the plays, the programming, the artists are the main attraction. But the audience is YOU. The audience is US!

I believe that our audience feels a special connection, brotherhood and kinship that you just can’t replicate at other theater venues…because we offer an entire experience that is about more than just seeing a play. Our geography…our location…our destination is truly unique.

How do you define your Festival experience? Please share with me a story about a “random CATF encounter”. Please share a personal CATF story. Tell me a remarkable CATF experience. I look forward to hearing from you on this Blog or via facebook etc…I want to hear from you.

Ed Herendeen, Producing Director