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Just a sneak peek: Online event showcases plays for 30th season of Contemporary American Theater Festival

By Staff | Apr 3, 2020

Bar tender Justin Stoute, who is the fiancé of CATF Company Manager Nicole Smith, shows viewers how to make a couple of drinks inspired by the plays that will be performed during CATF Season 30, during the online Shepherdstown Sneak Peek on March 20. Courtesy photo

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Every year, the Contemporary American Theater Festival first reveals the plays it will be featuring during its upcoming season to its local audience, with an event in the Marinoff Theater.

Unfortunately, this year’s CATF Shepherdstown Sneak Peek could not be held in-person, due to the need for social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. So CATF’s staff created a live online sneak peek event to take its place, which was featured on its Facebook page.

“Tonight, we’ll be doing something that we’ve never done before,” said CATF Board of Trustees President Marellen Aherne. “We’ll be, through the marvels of technology, live-streaming to you a sneak peek into our 30th anniversary season. By doing it this way, we are able to share with you our current plans, while respecting the need for each and every one of us to stay safe and healthy.”

While CATF is currently planning on to hold its 30th season this July, it is closely monitoring the developments of COVID-19, in case the season may have to be postponed to July 2021.

“Our commitment to you is to keep you current with our plans and informed on any changes that we need to make, as a result of these unprecedented times,” Aherne said. “We thank you for your patronage, your support and your understanding.”

According to CATF Founder and Producing Director Ed Herendeen, the online event was simply part of CATF’s efforts to adopt social distancing measures. CATF’s staff had already been working from home, for the most part, for a week.

“We are so excited to be with you tonight! I just regret that we couldn’t be with you in-person, in-community, where we could thank you personally, looking you in the eye, thanking the Shepherdstown community for their support of 30 years of new American theater,” Herendeen said. “We’re optimistic, we’re hopeful, and as you know, we’re passionate about new American theater.”

The 30th season will feature the second production of Kevin Artigue’s “Sheepdog,” along with five world premiers: Victor Lesniewski’s “The Fifth Domain,” Terence Anthony’s “The House of the Negro Insane,” Jacqueline Goldfinger’s “Babel,” Caridad Svich’s “Ushuaia Blue” and Chisa Hutchinson’s “Whitelisted.” The plays range in genre from comedy to horror, but all of them ask the same question, according to Herendeen.

“I think we have chosen a selection of plays that really have raised the bar of what is at stake,” Herendeen said. “The stakes are high in this world, the stakes are high in this nation, and these playwrights have stepped up and are all asking the same question, ‘What’s at stake with this work?'”

To learn more about each of the plays, visit catf.org or CATF’s Facebook page to view the recording of the event.