Three World Premieres Punctuate WV's Contemporary American Theater Fest, July 7-30

News   Three World Premieres Punctuate WV's Contemporary American Theater Fest, July 7-30
The Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, begins July 7, offering four new American plays, including three world premieres.

The festival runs to July 30. CATF veterans such as Andy Prosky, Carolyn Swift, Kaci Gober and Scott Whitehurst are joined by new faces with extensive Broadway, film and television experience.

CATF will produce the world premiere of Kim Merrill's Sex, Death, and the Beach Baby, "an outrageous and mysterious dark comedy set on the New Jersey shore"; Keith Glover's play Jazzland, which was commissioned by CATF and "explores the mind of a troubled musician as he struggles to regain his talent while reconciling with the demons of his past"; and Richard Dresser's comedy, Augusta.

The slate also includes Noah Haidle's Mr. Marmalade, seen in Los Angeles and New York.

"This year's plays offer a stunning mix of fantasy and reality, and sharp, insightful looks at what’s going on in the world today," said Ed Herendeen, CATF producing director, in a statement. Barbara Rollins is CATF's managing director.

Among new initiatives by the company is a "Pay Your Age" offer on Thursdays. It allows patrons under 33 to save on Thursday performances of Mr. Marmalade and Sex, Death and the Beach Baby. CATF plays are presented at the Frank Center and the Studio Theater in the college town of Shepherdstown.

Special events in the festival include the Under the Tent Lecture Series, the Staged Reading Series, post-performance discussions, and the Actors Lab performances.

Picturesque Shepherdstown is known for "its unconventional small-town charm," according to CATF. "This hip, historic destination on the Potomac River features many fine restaurants, art galleries, shops, and outdoor recreation activities, all at about 90 minutes' drive from Baltimore and Washington, D.C."

For information, visit or call (800) 999-CATF.


The 2006 CATF Season At a Glance

  • Augusta by Richard Dresser (a world premiere): "Middle-aged Molly and twenty-something Claire are caught in the working class vise, desperately clinging to low-wage jobs that barely allow them to make ends meet. The pay stinks, the corporate system's oppressive, and the boss is a jerk; how can a pair of blue collar gals angle their way toward a slice of the American Dream? A company retreat in Augusta may hold the key. Augusta is a classic pressure cooker comedy from Richard Dresser, the first play in a proposed trilogy on happiness from a master at hitting below the belt." Richard Dresser's plays include Below the Belt, Gun-shy, Something in the Air and Rounding Third, all of which appeared at CATF. Other plays include Alone at the Beach, The Downside, Wonderful World and Better Days. He wrote the film "Human Error" and the book for the Beach Boys musical Good Vibrations.

    Cast: Andy Prosky, Carolyn Swift, Kaci Gober.

  • Jazzland by Keith Glover (a world premiere commissioned by CATF): "Welcome to the Jazz Wars: Ram Gehrig, sax legend, was slain by his wife in a tabloid-style shooting that continues to haunt his son, Roderigo. The clouded "hows?" and "whys?" are teased out in colorful be-bop language that swings and soars with jazz inflections as Roderigo tries to bounce back from a debilitating car crash and find his own formidable trumpet chops again. But hard attitudes and unanswered questions keep messing with his groove. Keith Glover, whose previous works have drawn heavily from the blues, Thunder Knocking at the Door and Tex-Mex, The Rose of Corazon, dives into America's signature sound in a drama that pits pure jazz against rock fusion, the old cat against the young lion, the father against the son." Keith Glover is an alumnus of New Dramatists. His musical, The Rose of Corazon: A Texas Songplay was commissioned by CATF and produced in the 2004 season. His first play, Dancing on Moonlight, was produced at the New York Shakespeare Festival. In Walks Ed, directed by Glover at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1997. Glover is the writer of the 134th Edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus: The Greatest Show on Earth. He lives in Los Angeles.

    Cast: Sara Kathryn Bakker, Scott Whitehurst, Joseph Adams, Marshall Elliott, January LaVoy.

  • Mr. Marmalade by Noah Haidle: "Lucy is four, but with her single mother away all the time, she creates a surprisingly sophisticated fantasy land. Playing house, serving coffee, and planning vacations with her imaginary companion — the successful but very busy Mr. Marmalade — Lucy's dreams and activities are disturbing reflections of the real world, a demanding, whirlwind environment of adult tensions, isolation and neglect. At least Lucy can look forward to visits from the mysterious Mr. Marmalade. Lucy would do anything for Mr. Marmalade. A funny, frightening drama by newcomer Noah Haidle, Mr. Marmalade is a grown-up play about playing grown-up." Mr. Marmalade had its New York premiere with the Roundabout Theatre Company. His most recent play, Princess Marjorie, received its world premiere in 2005 at South Coast Repertory. Haidle's Rag and Bone recently played at the Long Wharf Theatre. Haidle is currently working on new play commissions from Playwrights Horizons and Princeton University and a screenplay for Scott Rudin Productions. He is a graduate of Princeton University and the Julliard School. He is the recipient of the Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights, an NEA/TCG grant, and three Lincoln Center Le Compte Du Nuoy Awards.

    Cast: Scott Whitehurst, Joseph Adams, Sarah Kathryn Bakker, Michael Borrelli, Anne Marie Nest, Matt Unger.

  • Sex, Death, and the Beach Baby by Kim Merrill (a world premiere): "Clara likes to cling to romantic illusions, but a trip home to the Jersey Shore — where she was famously discovered as an infant in the sand — dredges up memories and kindles provocative new alliances within her adoptive family. As a dashing Victorian ghost follows her around and a gregarious stranger claims to be her father, Clara — a budding historian — has to decide if she can look her own history in the face. Alternately painful and sweet, Sex, Death, and the Beach Baby is a comic fantasy about a woman who can't entirely drown her past." Sex, Death, and the Beach Baby was read in November 2004 in the Next Stage Festival of Cleveland Playhouse. Other credits include Finding Claire, produced by Theater for the New City in 2005, and Criminal Acts, seen at Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey in 2001. Her play Exposure Time was developed at PlayLabs 2005 in Minneapolis. Her short play Tasha Walks was a 2003 finalist for the Heideman Award at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Her work k has been supported by The Pilgrim Project in New York and a 1998 Playwrights First "Award for Outstanding Merit."

    Cast: Andy Prosky, Carolyn Swift, Michael Borrelli, Anne Marie Nest and Matt Unger.

    Peter Mendez will serve as an understudy.


    Since 1991 CATF has produced 55 new plays, including 19 world premieres, showcasing new works by leading playwrights including Sam Shepard, Joyce Carol Oates, John Patrick Shanley, Lisa Loomer, Lee Blessing, Richard Dresser and many others.

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