The Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) officially welcomed its company of actors Thursday evening, at its annual picnic.
Mayor Jim Auxer welcomed the new group of actors, interns and staff to Shepherdstown.
Mayor Auxer applauded the work CATF does every summer for its contribution to the region.
"I think it's great that they provide Shepherdstown the Eastern Panhandle and the Mid-Atlantic area with innovative and wonderful theater," he said.
The Mayor also encouraged the new company to avail themselves to the town's shops, restaurants, and history.
"There are so many things here," he said
Jenny Ewing Allen, board president for CATF discussed the works it takes year round to bring CATF to life each summer.
"The board believes that art should be the center of everything that we do," she said.
Allen cited Shepherd University as CATF's "most important," partnership.
Shepherd University President Suzanne Shipley called on the new company to ignite our collective imagination.
"We are absolutely committed to igniting the education of others," she said .
"You are people of the imagination," she said.
CATF Producing Director and founder Ed Herendeen emphasized the festival's dedication to the modern playwright.
"Writing plays matters," he said.
Herendeen discussed a vision CATF has had and continues to have for the future.
He cited the completion of phase II of the Contemporary Arts building as an example of how the festival and university have grown together.
Herendeen told the festival's newest company that they'll be a part of contributing to the future of American art and culture.
"We're going to create the future," he said.
"We are the future of American Theater."
The Contemporary American Theater Festival will be held July 11 to Aug. 3 at Shepherd University.
For more information about this season's plays, writers, actors, staff and events, visit the CATF web site at catf.org.