CATF Plays in Running for National Critics' Award

The Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) at Shepherd University has been informed by the American Theatre Critics Association that two of its 2010 plays – Lidless by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig and Breadcrumbs by Jennifer Haley – are under consideration for the prestigious ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award.

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I am thrilled that the Critics Association has recognized Frances and Jennifer and their excellent plays. Their success further validates our ambitious efforts to introduce our audience to the next generation of American playwright.

Shepherdstown, West Virginia (Vocus) November 16, 2010

The Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) at Shepherd University has been informed by the American Theatre Critics Association that two of its 2010 plays – Lidless by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig and Breadcrumbs by Jennifer Haley – are under consideration for the prestigious ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award.

Since 1974, the Critics Association has annually honored with this award, as judged by its national membership of professional theatrical critics, new plays produced outside of New York City. The commendation for CATF marks only the second time in the history of the award that a theater company has had TWO of its plays considered. Only two dozen plays, out of the hundreds reviewed this year, are currently being judged. Six finalists will be announced in January with winners honored this spring at the annual new play Humana Festival, held in Louisville, Kentucky.

The plays by Ms. Cowhig and Ms. Haley were part of the 2010 CATF five-play season and were performed, in repertory, in the Theater Festival’s 175-seat Studio Theater. Lidless, directed at CATF by Ed Herendeen, explored the lingering effects of the War on Terror on the soldiers – and their families – who were asked to execute it. The Frederick News-Post called it a “moving, dark, and melancholy tale of a Guantanamo Bay interrogator and her detainee.” Breadcrumbs, which had its CATF world premiere directed by Laura Kepley, is a two-person play about memory or – more precisely – the loss of memory for a writer at the end of her life composing an autobiography. The production was hailed as “heartbreakingly beautiful” by the DC Theatre Scene website and “powerful” by The Journal.

“I am thrilled that the Critics Association has recognized Frances and Jennifer and their excellent plays,” commented Theater Festival Producing Director Ed Herendeen. “Their success further validates our ambitious efforts to introduce our audience to the next generation of American playwright.”

The ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award, which is funded by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, provides $15,000 for the top-ranked playwright and $5,000 to two runners-up. Past recipients have included Lynn Nottage, August Wilson, Horton Foote, and past CATF playwrights Lee Blessing, J.T. Rogers, and Keith Glover. A third CATF playwright, Michele Lowe, was also honored earlier this summer by the American Theatre Critics Association for her play Inana, also part of the 2010 season. Ms. Lowe was the recipient of the Francesca Primus Prize, which is considered one of the highest honors for women in theater.

The Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University celebrated its 20th anniversary season in 2010. Founded by Ed Herendeen, CATF is a leading incubator for new American theater, having produced 85 plays. Recognized regionally and across the country for daring works from emerging and established writers, the Festival runs for four weeks each summer on the campus of Shepherd University, a public liberal arts institution founded in 1871.

The 21st season of the Contemporary American Theater Festival will be held July 8 – 31, 2011. For more information, visit http://www.catf.org or call (800) 999-CATF. To learn more about the American Theatre Critics Association, visit http://www.americantheatrecritcs.org.

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