The Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) at Shepherd University has announced the 2012 five-play repertory for its 22nd season of producing and developing new American theater. The season will feature new plays from Johnna Adams, Bob Clyman, Neil LaBute, Evan M. Wiener, and Bess Wohl. The four-week festival, consisting of 94 performances and other programming, will be held July 6 – 29 in Shepherdstown, WV.
In addition to the plays – produced in rotating repertory, which allows audience members to see all five shows in just two days – the 2012 Season will also feature free lectures, stage readings, panels, and an art exhibition. Plus, patrons have the opportunity to purchase tickets to audience immersion events including lunches and workshops with artists, and breakfast with the Theater Festival's producing director.
"The Contemporary American Theater Festival is the summer home of fearless, irreverent, brave, and provocative new plays," saidFounder and Producing Director Ed Herendeen. "We collaborate with some of the most important theater artists working today and discover the foremost artists of tomorrow. We push at the boundaries of what theater can be. We launch rigorous, adventurous, and passionate new works for the Contemporary Stage. The 2012 repertory continues the vibrant and electrifying conversation between our artists and our audiences that began 22 years ago. These five plays-filled with humor, anger, love, and lust-explore, examine, and celebrate the ethical, moral, and dangerous choices we face every day."
The 2012 repertory includes two world premieres, two second productions, and a new play from one of the most well-known and daring writers for the stage and film. The plays are:
Gidion's Knot by Johnna Adams. World Premiere. Directed by Ed Herendeen
Over the course of an unexpected parent/teacher conference in a 5th grade classroom, a mother and her son's teacher have a volatile conversation about Gidion. Was he a bully? A victim? A protector? Or, was his imagination too powerful a tool for the adults around him? As his story is uncovered, the women try to construct an explanation for his behavior and come to terms with who, or what, is at fault. Gidion's Knot is a heart-wrenching, devastatingly beautiful work about the power of words and freedom of expression. It explores the dangerous, emotional, and often painful world of elementary school.
Johnna Adams is the 2011 recipient of the prestigious Princess Grace Award for playwriting and was a finalist (with Gidion's Knot) for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her plays include Sans Merci, Cockfighters, and The Secret Geometry of S&M Porn; she is currently pursuing her M.F.A. from Hunter College, studying with playwright Tina Howe.
The Exceptionals by Bob Clyman. Directed by Tracy Brigden
Five years after participating in a fertility program experiment, two mothers, with distinctly different backgrounds, are faced with complicated choices surrounding their extraordinarily gifted children. Set in the near future, this wonderfully smart play of high-stakes social experimentation sheds light upon the competitive sport of parenting and raises the question: how far would you go to provide your child every possible opportunity? Gwen and Allie battle over their children's – and their own – lots in life while learning that, perhaps, they need each other more than they realize to successfully raise their super babies.
Bob Clyman is a playwright and clinical psychologist. His work has appeared Off-Broadway and at Denver Center Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Laguna Playhouse, and elsewhere. The Exceptionals premiered at Merrimack Repertory Theatre in 2011.