For the past thirty years, the Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, has produced and developed new plays in rotating repertory. DC Metro Theater Arts has covered the Festival regularly. But this summer, the stages of the professional theater company will be dark.
“I am so very worried about the health and safety of my own family, children, and grandchildren,” said Ed Herendeen, Producing Director of the Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF). “I am worried for the safety of my beloved Shepherdstown community…. And I am deeply worried about all of you: our loyal, dedicated friends, and supporters…”
In a statement released to Festival patrons, Herendeen announced his decision to reschedule the Festival’s 2020 season to July 2021. The six plays slated to be staged this upcoming summer will be fully produced in Shepherdstown next year. “I have personally guaranteed our playwrights Terence Anthony, Kevin Artigue, Chisa Hutchinson, Jacqueline Goldfinger, Victor Lesniewski, and Caridad Svich we will honor our commitment and produce the plays in 2021.”
Each summer over 6,000 patrons from 38 states flock to Shepherdstown to immerse themselves in a robust new play experience. Marellen Aherne, the President of the Board of Trustees acknowledges the impact that rescheduling the Festival will have on the Shepherdstown community: “For me it was personal to support Ed’s decision to reschedule. Many of the shop, restaurant, and hotel owners are my friends. I value and care about the full-time staff, the artists that join us every summer, and our patrons. We have to keep everyone safe.”
Before finalizing the decision, CATF staff consulted with Shepherd University President Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix and Shepherdstown Mayor Jim Auxer. The Mayor wrote a letter published on the Shepherdstown website stating his “support [of] this difficult decision, but given the uncertainty of the times CATF really had no other choice.”
At the end of his letter, Herendeen reminds us to “embrace and nurture our artists. We need them to help make sense of this turbulent world.”
The plays that were originally slated for this season but have been rescheduled to July 2021 are Chisa Hutchinson’s Whitelisted, Victor Lesniewski’s The Fifth Domain, Jacqueline Goldfinger’s Babel, Caridad Svich’s Ushuaia Blue, Terence Anthony’s The House of the Negro Insane, and Kevin Artigue’s Sheepdog.
Patrons who have already purchased tickets to the 2020 season dates can find information on the CATF’s website to learn about options to adjust their ticket order. Patrons can also email the box office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Members of the box office staff will also be reaching out to patrons starting Monday, April 6.