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CATF event previews plays

By Staff | Mar 4, 2011

(Chronicle photo by Kelly Cambrel) Actors from the Contemporary American Theater Festival’s season teaser take the stage Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 for a final bow. The teaser allowed attendees to view excerpts from the five plays that will be shown at this summer’s festival, taking place July 8 through 31. Buy tickets by calling 1-800-999-CATF. ?

The Contemporary American Theater Festival hosted a “season teaser” Feb. 26 to preview plays for its 21st season.

Presented by the CATF Board of Trustees and sponsored by Steptoe and Johnson, the CATF teaser event featured excerpts from the five plays to be produced this summer, as performed by Shepherd University theater students, one faculty member, a handful of community members, as well as professional actors from seasons past.

According to James McNeal, director of development and marketing for CATF, the season preview celebration was an opportunity to announce this summer’s plays and fundraise for the festival itself.

McNeal, a Shepherd graduate, joined the CATF staff last fall.

He said that the event met the group’s fundraising goals, selling out the 70-seat studio theater.

He hopes the event will “generate word of mouth” for the upcoming season and get people excited.

The festival will feature “From Prague” by Kyle Bradstreet, which will play at the Center for Contemporary Arts. According to information provided by CATF, “From Prague” is the story of 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.” The group find themselves in a crumbling church set against the backdrop of Prague.

“Race,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet, which will play at the Studio Theater, is a piece that deals with the subject matter of race by examining “what is thought – but never said,” as two lawyers work to defend a wealthy white executive charged with raping a black woman.

“Ages of the Moon,” by Pulitzer Prize-winner Sam Shepard, which will play at The Frank Arts Center, is the story of two old friends reuniting over bourbon to reflect on their lives and the choices they’ve made. “Fifty years of love, friendship and rivalry are put to the test at the barrel of a shotgun.”

“We are Here,” by Tracy Thorne, which will play at the Studio Theater, is “a story about a modern family coping with the death of a young son.” The play incorporates uses of humor and song, as the family makes peace with their loss.

Finally, “The Insurgents,” by Lucy Thurber, which will performed at the Frank Center, is a story that combines the stories of revolutionary figures like John Brown and Harriet Tubman with a modern family’s “quest for identity and survival.”

Ed Herendeen, CATF founder and producing director, said the plays have in common, “a real love of language.”

In his opening remarks at the event Saturday, Herendeen said that the “power of place” has everything to do with the success of CATF.

“We live in the oldest town in West Virginia, doing the newest plays in America,” he said.

McNeal explained the goal of this season is the same as years past – “to produce and develop new American theater at highest artistic level.”

CATF will be held July 8 through 31. Complete season information can be found at www.catf.org.