Contemporary American Theater Festival Joins National New Play Network


The NATIONAL NEW PLAY NETWORK (NNPN), the country's alliance of non-profit theaters that champions the development, production, and continued life of new plays, has added its 27th member, Contemporary American Theater Festival. The decision was made by the organization's Board of Directors at its Annual Conference on June 6 in Dallas, TX, hosted by Core Member Kitchen Dog Theater.

Founded in 1991 by Producing Director Ed Herendeen, the Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University has become a leading center for the production and development of new plays, having fully staged 100 American works, including 37 world premieres, by 72 different playwrights. Situated along the banks of the Potomac River, and just 70 miles north of Washington, DC, and west of Baltimore, MD, Shepherdstown is a mixture of metropolitan thought and rustic ambience. Drawing on populations of Northern Virginia, western and suburban Maryland, DC, and Baltimore, 60% of CATF's audience comes from outside the State of West Virginia. Each summer, the Theater Festival (a LORT D Equity professional company) produces five new plays in rotating repertory. The current season, which runs through July 28th, features world premieres from Liz Duffy Adams, Jane Martin (a CATF commission), and Mark St. Germain (a CATF commission) as well second productions of plays by Jon Kern and Sam Shepard. For more information, visit

"We are delighted to add CATF to our roster of Core Members," says Nan Barnett, Executive Director of NNPN. "They are, of course, the ideal company to join the Network - their history of new play development and production is exemplary, and many of our members and alumni playwrights have longstanding relationships with the theatre. Ed, Peggy [McKowen], James [McNeel] and the CATF company are already such an integral part of the nation's new play field, and it's only logical that we join forces." CATF's membership in the Network makes them eligible for all of NNPN's programs, including the opportunity to apply for grants totaling tens of thousands of dollars, Playwright and Producer Residencies, Commissions, and the Continued Life of New Plays Fund.

The National New Play Network (NNPN) is the country's alliance of non-profit professional theaters that champions the development, production, and continued life of new plays. Since its founding in 1998, NNPN has commissioned almost two dozen playwrights, provided nineteen MFA graduates with paid residencies, and supported more than 100 productions nationwide through its innovative Continued Life of New Plays Fund, which creates "Rolling World Premieres" of new plays. Hundreds of artists have gained employment through these efforts in the dozens of regions of the country where NNPN member theaters are located. NNPN receives substantial support from the Doris Duke Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, the Shubert Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Network is comprised of a relatively small group of Core Members, who pioneer and implement collaborative new play strategies, and a growing group of Associate Members, who disseminate the Network's programs and strategies nationwide.

NNPN's Core Member theaters are: Actor's Express Theatre (Atlanta), Actor's Theatre of Charlotte (Charlotte, NC), Borderlands Theater (Tucson), Contemporary American Theater Festival (Shepherdstown, WV), Curious Theatre Company (Denver), Florida Studio Theatre (Sarasota), Fountain Theatre (LA), Horizon Theatre Company (Atlanta), InterAct Theatre Company (Philadelphia), Kitchen Dog Theater (Dallas), Magic Theatre (San Francisco), Marin Theatre Company (Mill Valley, CA), Mixed Blood Theatre Company (Minneapolis), New Jersey Repertory Company (Long Branch), New Repertory Theatre (Watertown, MA), New Theatre (Coral Gables, FL), Orlando Shakespeare Theater (Orlando), Performance Network Theatre (Ann Arbor, MI), Phoenix Theatre (Indianapolis), Playwright's Theatre of New Jersey (Madison), Prop Thtr Group (Chicago), Riverside Theatre (Iowa City, IA), Salt Lake Acting Company (Salt Lake City), San Diego REP (San Diego), Southern Rep (New Orleans), Unicorn Theatre (Kansas City, MO), and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (Washington, DC).

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