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The Contemporary American Theater Festival, a four-week summer theater festival located on the campus of Shepherd University in Shepherdstown annually produces four new American plays in rotating repertory in the festival’s two theaters. The festival was founded in 1990 in partnership with Shepherd by Ed Herendeen and college president Michael Riccards. It has since grown to be the largest fully professional theater in West Virginia and has won praise for its productions from playwrights such as Joyce Carol Oates, Jon Klein, and Jeffrey Hatcher.

The festival is a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the leading organization of nonprofit theaters in the nation, and has a League Of Regional Theaters ‘D’ contract, allowing the festival to bring in a company of Equity actors and other theater professionals from around the country. The Contemporary American Theater Festival has seen more than a dozen world premieres, and many of its plays have moved to other regional theaters and to off-Broadway in New York City. In 1999, the festival received the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Cultural Organization for the commissioning and production of Cherylene Lee’s Carry the Tiger to the Mountain.

In addition to annually producing four plays, the Contemporary American Theater Festival has featured professional puppetry, dance, and music groups as well as a late-night comedy club.

Contemporary American Theater Festival website

This Article was written by James McNeel

Last Revised on June 15, 2012

Cite This Article

McNeel, James "Contemporary American Theater Festival." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 15 June 2012. Web. 20 September 2021.


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