Contemporary American Theater Festival Announces 2011 Repertory

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New plays by David Mamet, Sam Shepard, Kyle Bradstreet, Tracy Thorne, Lucy Thurber: 21st Season to be held July 8 – 31, 2011

CATF at Shepherd University

CATF at Shepherd University

Our audience has an appetite for daring new plays that celebrate and challenge the human experience. This year’s repertory consists of five extraordinary voices of the stage that exemplify the breadth of the American playwright.

The Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) at Shepherd University has announced the 2011 five-play repertory for its 21st season of producing and developing new American theater. SEASON21 will feature new plays from Kyle Bradstreet, David Mamet, Sam Shepard, Tracy Thorne, and Lucy Thurber. The four-week festival, consisting of 93 performances, will be held July 8 – 31.

In addition to the plays – produced in rotating repertory, which allows audience members to see all five shows in just two days – the 2011 Season will also feature free lectures, discussions, stage readings, music, and art exhibitions. Plus, patrons have the opportunity to purchase tickets to audience immersion events including lunches with artists and breakfast with the Theater Festival’s producing director.

“The five plays of the 2011 Contemporary American Theater Festival repertory have serious velocity,” said CATF Founder and Producing Director Ed Herendeen. “They explode, they needle, they bleed, and they will give you room to reflect and dream. Our audience has an appetite for daring new plays that celebrate and challenge the human experience. This year’s repertory consists of five extraordinary voices of the stage that exemplify the breadth of the American playwright. These plays are funny, intelligent, and compelling; and they explore the power and beauty of language and storytelling,” he continued.

The 2011 repertory includes regional premieres of plays by two Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights, two world premieres (including a CATF commission), and a second production. The plays are:

From Prague by Kyle Bradstreet. World Premiere. Directed by Ed Herendeen.
Prague – the city of ghosts – is the lingering backdrop for three wounded voices, all clamoring to be heard, all indelibly bound to each other. The characters – Samuel, an exiled patriarch and disgraced academic; his son, Charles, a zealot barely clinging to his faith; and Anna, the beautiful expatriate whose life has been upended – find themselves in a crumbling church where memory and consequence collide. Kyle Bradstreet’s poetic new play creates a landscape for people with nothing left to lose, and only the past to regain.

Race by David Mamet. Directed by Ed Herendeen.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet tackles America’s most controversial topic in a provocative new play of sex, guilt, and accusation. Two lawyers find themselves defending a wealthy white executive charged with the crime of raping a black woman. Mamet turns his jagged spotlight on the quest for truth in a world full of lies. This high-voltage, incendiary drama rips the cover off of what is thought – but never said – along the vicious path to justice.

Ages of the Moon by Sam Shepard. Regional Premiere. Directed by Ed Herendeen.
Old friends reunite over bourbon on ice to reflect upon the shadows of their lives. Fifty years of love, friendship, and rivalry are put to the test at the barrel of a shotgun in this gritty new play by Pulitzer Prize-winner Sam Shepard. The characters are older and the booze goes down a little harder as Shepard spins a poignant hangdog tale of remorse and regret for two men at the twilight of life’s journey into night.

We Are Here by Tracy Thorne. 2nd Production. Directed by Lucie Tiberghien.
Playwright Tracy Thorne braids the joyful past with the devastated present as three generations of a family endure unimaginable loss with compassion, humor, and song. This is a story about a modern family coping with the death of a young son. Strong-willed, smart, funny, each member must find the way to peace and redemption in a world built on love and survival.

The Insurgents by Lucy Thurber. World Premiere. Directed by Lear deBessonet.
John Brown. Harriet Tubman. Timothy McVeigh. Nat Turner. All deeply religious. All heard voices from God. All were extremely patriotic and loved their country. And all believed in violence. Their stories and unique historical markers meld into a contemporary family’s quest for identity and survival. In this CATF Commission, Off-Broadway sensation Lucy Thurber fearlessly tackles the often fine line between martyrdom and terrorism. (Supported, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts; commissioned by the Contemporary American Theater Festival.)

Single ticket prices to the 2011 repertory are $52. Four-show and five-show ticket packages (CATCards) are available, ranging from $100-$225. Discounts for students, seniors, active military personnel, and groups are also offered. For the Theater Festival Box Office, which is open off-season Monday to Friday from Noon to 5 p.m., call 800-999-CATF (2283) or visit http://www.catf.org.

Over the last 20 years, the Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University has become a leading center for the production and development of new plays, having fully staged 85 American works, including 32 world premieres, by 60 different playwrights. With a budget of more than $1 million, the Theater Festival sells 11,000 tickets each summer, bringing patrons and visitors to West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle from 33 different states. A 2008 economic impact survey reported that the Theater Festival generates more than $2 million for the local economy each season.

Speaking about the Theater Festival’s unique home in Shepherdstown, Herendeen said: “Our geography plays an important role in our success. We live in the oldest town in West Virginia doing the newest plays in America. This vibrant community – steeped in history and filled with great architecture, dining, lodging, and shopping – has proved to be the perfect setting for our company of artists. Shepherdstown is the summer home of the American theater.”

A 501(c)3 nonprofit, the Contemporary American Theater Festival enjoys major grant support from the State of West Virginia, The Ted Snowdon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Weissberg Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Nora Roberts Foundation, and the West Virginia Humanities Council. The 2011 Season would not be possible without Shepherd University which has hosted the Theater Festival since 1991.

Complete SEASON21 information – including playwright bios, schedule, photos, and ticketing – is available at http://www.catf.org. Social media connections can be made at twitter.com/thinktheater and facebook.com/CATFatSU.

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