A long wait: CATF to postpone 30th season to July 2021
SHEPHERDSTOWN — The serious nature of the COVID-19 pandemic hit home for many local residents last week, when the Contemporary American Theater Festival announced its plans to wait to hold its 30th anniversary season in July 2021.
The festival attracts hundreds of tourists to not only see its plays, but to also patronize local restaurants and businesses, making the festival one of the most economically important times of the year for local small businesses.
“I have personally guaranteed our playwrights: Terence Anthony, Kevin Artigue, Chisa Hutchinson, Jacqueline Goldfinger, Victor Lesniewski and Caridad Svich we will honor our commitment and produce the plays in 2021,” said CATF Founder and Producing Director Ed Herendeen. “I also want you to know that we are honoring our contracts with our full time staff. I am proud to continue to work with such a caring and dedicated group of creatives during this difficult time. And I assure all of you that we are committed to introducing you to a stunning 30th anniversary festival in 2021.”
The festival will feature the East Coast premiere of Kevin Artigue’s “Sheepdog,” along with five world premieres: 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.” People who had already purchased tickets to see any of the plays can either consider their ticket payments as donations to CATF, or they can get a full refund of their ticket price, according to Herendeen.
While the loss of ticket revenue will put a strain on the Contemporary American Theater Festival, Herendeen said the decision was made with careful consideration for the health of the CATF and Shepherdstown communities.
“I am so very worried about the health and safety of my own family, children and grandchildren,” Herendeen said. “I am worried for the safety of my beloved Shepherdstown community, and I am deeply worried about all of you: our loyal, dedicated friends and supporters.”
Herendeen consulted with Mayor Jim Auxer and Shepherd University President Mary J.C. Hendrix before making the final decision to postpone the season.
On Friday, Auxer released a statement on the town’s website, addressing the decision.
“We support this difficult decision, but given the uncertainty of the times, CATF really had no other choice,” Auxer wrote. “We must all support one another as we have been doing. When states start lifting their stay-in-place policies, stores and restaurants will open up and people will start feeling confident enough to travel.
“I am sure that we will once again see bustling streets in downtown Shepherdstown,” Auxer wrote. “Perhaps not as busy this July as is usual, but then we have a whole year to help promote CATF’s 30th season in 2021.”
To learn more, visit catf.org.