SHEPHERDSTOWN, W. Va., July 14, 2014 – We’ve just finished a frenetic weekend viewing all five of the brand new to nearly new plays at the Contemporary American Theater Festival, an increasingly well-known annual professional theater program held each July at Shepherd University in (relatively) nearby Shepherdstown, West (by God) Virginia.
As has been our tradition since around the turn of the current century, we’ll be offering this week our take on each of the five. We’d speculated a bit last week on what we thought we might encounter. But this year’s plays proved more difficult to define than we’d imagined, which is actually a good thing.
As always, each of our upcoming reviews will explore not only the acting and staging of each play. We’ll also take a look at the work of each playwright as well.
In a separate short piece, we’ll also list the additional, related events scheduled to coincide with the festival itself, which is now off and running with performances scheduled through early August.
Meanwhile, once again, here are the particulars of CATF 2014:
This year’s plays:
“The Ashes Under Gait City” by Christina Anderson.
A World Premiere, originally commissioned by Portland Playhouse.
“One Night” by Charles Fuller
Commissioned and first produced (2013) by Cherry Lane Theatre (NYC), Angelina Fiordellisi, Artistic Director, in a co-production with Rattlestick Playwrights Theater (NYC).
“Uncanny Valley” by Thomas Gibbons
A National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere in affiliation with InterAct Theatre Company and San Diego Repertory Theatre.
“North of the Boulevard” by Bruce Graham
“Dead and Breathing” by Chisa Hutchinson
Tickets, Times, and Places: The following info is derived from CATF press material:
Matinee and evening performances are held Wednesday – Sunday throughout the Festival at a variety of times and venues. Single ticket prices to the 2014 repertory are $59. Four-show and five-show subscription discount packages (Rep Passes) are available, ranging from $100-$240. Additional ticket savings are available for military personnel and families (as part of the Blue Star Theater Program), students, seniors, patrons 30 & under, and West Virginia residents.
Performance tickets can be purchased through the Theater Festival Box Office, which is open off-season Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., by calling 800-999-CATF (2283), or 24-hours a day online by visiting www.catf.org/boxoffice.
For the official schedule, visit http://catf.org/schedule/
Complete season information – including playwright bios, promotional images and headshots, schedule, past production photos, videos, and ticketing – is available at www.catf.org. Social media connections (#CATF) can be made at twitter.com/thinktheater and facebook.com/CATFatSU.
Getting there: It all depends on where you life. Marylanders and DC denizens will likely head out to Shepherdstown via the Beltway, I-270, I-70 plus a few turns on local roads in the general vicinity of Hagerstown before crossing the Potomac. All plays will be staged at venues not far from the bridge crossing.
Virginia residents will likely head out via the Dulles Toll Road/Greenway to the VA-7 Leesburg bypass and then to VA-WV-9 to the Shepherdstown turnoff. But other routes may also work.
Check the CATF web site for further details, or program your GPS for the theater location you need. Or visit CATF’s “Getting There” info at http://catf.org/map-a-directions/.
Dining and lodging: If you plan on getting the ticket package for the entire Festival, call now and check the CATF general website above for dining and lodging suggestions. NOTE: Shepherdstown has a surprising number of first-rate restaurants, but they tend to get jammed during the Festival. Reservations are HIGHLY suggested.