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CATF ready for July with PlaycastPlus season planned

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Jun 25, 2021


SHEPHERDSTOWN — The Contemporary American Theater Festival is, for the second summer in a row, finding a creative way to celebrate theater this summer. But, unlike last summer, this year’s events will not only be held online, but also in-person.

CATF’s summer season, PlaycastPlus, will feature a series of street parties on a cordoned-off section of King Street throughout July, according to Public Relations Manager Gabrielle Tokach.

“CATF is going to look very different this year – but we are still doing new plays and art!” Tokach said on Friday. “We are having street parties behind the Shepherdstown Public Library on July 9, 16, 23 and 30 from 7-10 p.m-ish.”

For CATF Associate Producing Director Peggy McKowen, PlaycastPlus’ location is an opportunity to encourage CATF’s supporters to also support CATF’s town.

“We kind of wanted to be downtown,” McKowen said. “We wanted to encourage people to be downtown and support our local businesses. We really want to drive some enthusiasm about Shepherdstown, now that it is reopened!”


According to Tokach, the street parties will vary in themes related to CATF’s activity in the local and national fine arts scene.

“The first two parties will have more of a festival environment – lots of musicians, dancers and poets. July 9 will have a special focus on local artists and July 16 will highlight artists of the global majority. The last two parties are release parties for the audio dramas of “Sheepdog” (July 23) and “The House of the Negro Insane” (July 30). After listening to the plays [at the final two parties], we’ll have talk backs with some of the artists involved in producing the audio dramas,” Tokach said.

PlaycastPlus will be a COVID-19 Pandemic-friendly replacement for the festival, which in a pandemic-free time would feature a July filled with theatrical performances at Shepherd University. However, McKowen said PlaycastPlus’ purpose is greater than that of just a fill-in event series.

“We’re trying to safely celebrate coming back, and to get people to Shepherdstown and be outside and be safe. It’s a real celebration of Jefferson County and the Eastern Panhandle and the artists that are here, and kind of inviting everybody out!” McKowen said, referring specifically to the first PlaycastPlus street party.

“People who can’t come and experience it in-person can experience it online,” McKowen said. “We’re also talking to theaters across the country, including one in D.C., to hold CATF audio drama listening parties like the ones we’ll be holding in our final two street parties.”

To learn more, visit https://catf.org/catf-playcastplus/. To order tickets, contact CATF’s box office at 681-240-2283 or boxoffice@catf.org. Box office hours are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12-5 p.m.