Heartless, Sam Shepard’s latest take on the human condition, will be one of five plays at the heart of the Contemporary American Theater Festival’s 2013 Season.
Heartless tells the story of an iron-willed wheelchair-bound matriarch, her mute nurse, two damaged daughters and the bewildered lover of one of the daughters. “As much as any American playwright, Mr. Shepard understands that every family is insane in its own special way,” the New York Times’ Ben Brantley said in reviewing this play. “[F]or Shepard aficionados, ‘Heartless’ offers a fascinating focus on a figure that this restlessly imaginative author — in contrast to other great American playwrights, like Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill — usually doesn’t pay much attention to: good old long-suffering, child-shaping, hearth-keeping Mom.” CATF Artistic Director Ed Herendeen will direct this production.
While Shepard is one of America’s most well-regarded playwrights, the Festival will also feature three world premieres.
The mysterious Jane Martin (Anton in Show Business, Criminal Hearts, Vital Signs, Cementville) has penned H2O, the story of an aimless man who has become a celebrity actor and is cast in the title role in a Broadway production of Hamlet. Searching for someone to play Ophelia, he comes across an evangelical Christian who is resolved to land the role, and save his life.
Jane Martin is generally thought to be the pen name of an unidentified author (or perhaps series of authors); some have speculated that the author is actually Jon Jory, who will direct this production. (Jory has denied that he is Martin.)
Liz Duffy Adams has penned a sequel to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, called A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World. In Adams’ story, Abigail Williams – who set Salem ablaze ten years previous with her allegations of witchcraft and possession – talks with her childhood co-conspirator Mercy Lewis in an effort to understand the forces which put the Witch Trials into motion. But New England is on the edge of war, now, and not in the mood for reflection – and the devil is afoot. Kent Nicholson directs.
The third CATF World Premiere is Scott and Hem at the Garden of Allah, an imagined encounter between Hemmingway and Fitzgerald at the Los Angeles resort villa, the Garden of Allah. The two heavyweight novelists compare their gifts and the obsessive muse that drives them in Mark St. Germain’s (Camping with Henry and Tim, The Best of Enemies) play. St. Germain will direct.
The CATF will round out its month-long festival with Modern Terrorism, or They Who Want to Kill Us and How We Learn to Love Them, Jon Kern’s romp through the moronic efforts of three incompetent terrorists to blow up the Empire State Building.
During the third week of production, CATF will also host the American Theater Critic’s Association’s annual convention.
The Festival will run from July 5 to the 28th at the campus of Shepherd (no relation to the playwright) University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Subscription and single tickets are available now. More information here.