Co-commissioned with Pittsburgh's City Theatre, Jeffrey (Turn of the Screw) Hatcher's Compleat Female Stage Beauty -- one of the four mainstage plays at the ninth annual Contemporary American Theater Festival, held at Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, West Virginia -- ends its run Aug. 1. Beauty, set in 1660s London, looks at the latest rage in theatre of the time: using actual women to play female characters. Ed Herendeen directs this new work by the author of Three Viewings, Neddy, and Scotland Road.
Also scheduled for the West Virginia Fest are Wendy MacLeod's The Water Children, which had an Off-Broadway mounting two seasons back, Julia Jordan's Tatjana in Color, and Bruce Graham's Coyote On A Fence.
MacLeod's play tells of a modern, liberal woman, an actress, who opts for the big paycheck when she appears in an anti-abortion TV commercial. Not only that, she gets emotionally involved with the leader of the right-to life organization. He respects her views, and she his -- until she gets pregnant. CATF producing director Ed Herendeen directs the comedy-drama by the author of The House of Yes and Apocalyptic Butterflies. The CATF has already commissioned MacLeod to write a play, The Marriage of Minds, for their next festival in 2000.
Winner of the Denver Center's Primus Prize, Tatjana In Color examines the relationship between painter Egon Schiele and his twelve year-old muse, Tatjana von Mossig. Brad Rouse directs. Author Jordan is working with CATF's Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Coalition to create a play that deals with issues of teen pregnancy and abortion.
Bruce Graham's Coyote on a Fence, staged by Lou Jacob, looks at two men on death row and how they were taught to hate. Graham's plays include Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar and Grille, Belmont Avenue Social Club and Moon Over the Brewery. Appearing at this year's festival are Lee Sellars, Paul Sparks, Susan Knight and Tony Carlin, Elizabeth Reaser, Dallas Roberts, Michelle Federer, Anne Louise Zachary, Cordis Heard, Michael Goodwin, Brandy Burre, T. Ryder Smith, Melinda Wade, Michael Tisdale, Cherene Snow and Anne Torsiglieri.
Alongside these productions, the Contemporary American Theatre Festival will also offer late-night stand-up comedy, a lecture series tied to the four mainstage plays, and post-show discussions.
For tickets, call 1 800-999-CATF.
-- By Sean McGrath