Shepherdstown’s Contemporary American Theatre Festival will offer a five-production schedule which will include new plays by Chisa Hutchinson, whose Dead and Breathing ignited the 2014 Festival, Susan Miller and Allison Gregory as well as plays by Roonan Noone and Christina Anderson, the Festival announced.
Imagine you’re at a wedding reception and you’re not quite sure how or why you got there. The guests seem to be speaking a foreign language — one you’ve never heard before. The bride keeps looking at you hungrily. And then you realize you’re not a guest.
You’re a gift.
That’s the premise of Hutchinson’s The Wedding Gift, a 90-minute play which May Andrales will direct. The Festival has announced that this play is for mature audiences because of nudity and strong language.
OBIE-Award Winning playwright Susan Miller’s world premiere is 20th Century Blues, a story of four women who meet in jail after a protest rally in the early seventies. They become good friends, and thereafter meet every year to catch up and have their photos taken. But then somebody has the idea of turning those private photos into a public exhibit, and the ensuing dispute causes the four to reconsider their friendship, and their ideas about themselves. Festival director Ed Herendeen will direct this two-hour production.
If you’re the mother of young children, the play you’d probably not like to see is Medea, which is, you know, about a really bad mom. This is the dilemma facing the protagonist in Gregory’s Not Medea, a New Play Network rolling premiere which Perseverance Theatre and B Street Theatre are co-producing with the CATF. The inventive solution which Gregory supplies to this problem involves magic, mythology and manipulation, which is to say, theater. Ninety minutes; directed by Courtney Sale.
The Festival will also offer Anderson’s pen/man/ship and Noone’s The Second Girl. The first story recalls a time in the late nineteenth century where there was a (white-led) movement to return black Americans to Africa; the three central characters are headed to Liberia, and not entirely happy about it. “[T]he potency of the play’s meaning…capture[s] our attention,” David Weigand of the San Francisco Chronicle said. “Anderson’s dialogue is rich, almost scriptural in places.” Lucie Tiberghien directs this two-hour production.
You remember Cathleen, the Irish serving girl who banters with Mrs. Tyrone in O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night? Noone has constructed a play about her, and about two offstage characters in that classic play, the first girl Bridget and the chauffeur Jack. Herendeen will direct Noone’s The Second Girl, about which Don Aucoin of the Boston Globe says, Noone’s “compassionate but unflinching examination of the choices made and not made by this trio — and of the complicated relationship many of us have with the places we come from, immigrants or not — forces us to think, and think hard, about the meaning of that most charged and multifaceted of all words: home.” In a turnabout, the Tyrone family will be offstage presences in this play.
The five plays will run in rotating repertory between July 8 and 31, 2016 at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Details and tickets.