Only One Weekend Left For CATF


There are several summer delights that I relish and look forward to every year: a baseball game (major or minor league) on a summer evening, the forbidden indulgence of a mocha chip ice cream cone, and fireworks on the fourth among them. But six years ago I discovered another summer pleasure to savor; this one is not illicit in any way and even involves air conditioning:

The Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF)

CATF is a festival full of extraordinary talent, artistry, and design both on and off its stages. The festival, which takes place each July at Shepherdstown University in West Virginia, is dedicated to developing and producing new American Theatre. And, boy, do they. Their objectives are simple, and very much in line with what I enjoy about what we often find here on Washington’s stages, that is, artistic processes which are both innovative and daring, diverse stories and, of course, profound and ever-evolving relationships between the audiences and the work.

Each year I attend the festival with a group of wonderful theatre-going friends. Our goal: to see all five plays in one weekend. Together we enjoy the charming community of Shepherdstown, savor some wonderful meals together, and come together for some terrific theatre. A few weeks ago I made my annual pilgrimage to Shepherdstown. And each year, this one being no exception, I am more impressed than the last.

I had the privilege of seeing all five productions: In A Forest, Dark and Deep, The Exceptionals, Captors, Gidion’s Knot, and Barcelona. In addition to the individual merits of each production it is the overall festival programming and design that never ceases to amaze me. Each stage is a model of versatility, transforming itself from one intricate environment to another graced with a caliber of acting and direction that is nothing less than sublime. In one short weekend I cried my eyes out, I laughed to the point of personal embarrassment, I felt a horrifying degree of dread and, felt a rush of endorphins not called into action since my 17th birthday. Overall, a far greater range of human emotions than I usually experience in one weekend. The 2012 CATF season lasts only one more weekend. So forget about the home improvements you’re thinking about doing this week. They’ll always be there . . . CATF won’t.