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CATF expands from 5 to 6 plays for Summer 2017 season

Written By | Apr 5, 2017

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va., April 5, 2017 – Based in and around the campus of Shepherd University, which is located in this small, picturesque, Georgetown-like city on the Potomac, the annual Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) has become a must-see summer season not only for D.C.-Metro area theater aficionados. Its cutting edge equity productions have been attracting increasing numbers of out-of-town visitors as well since its founding back in 1991.

The attraction? Each season presents five new or nearly new American plays by promising, mostly young playwrights, with occasional plays by better-known playwrights as well. In fact, since CATF’s founding in 1991, the Festival has produced over 115 new plays, including forty-three world premieres and ten commissions.

As with anything new, some of these plays will delight, others will challenge. Still others will miss the mark, although that latter category has been a rarity at least since we started reviewing the entire Festival many years ago. But it’s a tribute to the consistent quality of this festival that many of the plays first-staged here have gone on to successful runs on Broadway, in national venues, and, at least once on film.

New in 2017

CATF’s 2017 festival — its 27th — has come up with an extra-added attraction: an additional play, making this the first season the company is offering not five but six new plays. With many performing arts venues across the country still under some financial pressure due to the lingering effects of the Great Recession, CATF’s growth path is a clear indication of its continuing success as a must-see theater event.

CATF’s recently announced 2017 dramatic offerings include:

  • The Niceties by Eleanor Burgess
  • Welcome to Fear City, by Kara Lee Corthron (world premiere)
  • Wild Horses, by Allison Gregory (world premiere)
  • Byhalia, Mississippi, by Evan Linder
  • Everything is Wonderful, by Chelsea Marcantel (world premiere)
  • We Will Not Be Silent, by David Meyers (world premiere)

Tickets for CATF’s 27th season went on sale on April 4, 2017. According to the CATF’s news release:

“Ticket prices range from $35 to $65, with discounts for students, seniors, active and retired military members, West Virginia residents, and for Sunday evening performances. Package discounts are also available. The Festival takes place July 7th through 30th, with matinee and evening performances Tuesday through Sunday.

“Rep4 Packages include performances in the venerable Frank Center and Shepherd University’s sparkling, almost band-new Marinoff Theater. Flex5 Packages allow patrons to see any five out of six shows at the Festival and Rep6 Packages offer patrons a ticket into all six productions.”

To order tickets to Contemporary American Theater Festival, and for additional information, visit CATF online at or call the Box Office at 1-800-999-CATF (2283). Box Office hours are Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. Single tickets range from $35 to $65. Packages range from $120 to $305. In this reviewer’s opinion, the price is right.

Getting there: For locals, access to Shepherdstown, West Virginia is easy. Located in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, this venue is roughly a 1½ to 2-hour drive from the metro D.C. area in Jefferson County, which is adjacent to Virginia’s Loudoun County and just across the Potomac from Maryland’s Antietam battle sites. Out-of-towners will likely want to fly in to Dulles Airport and rent a car for the short but picturesque drive out to Shepherdstown.

Terry Ponick

Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Senior Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17