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W.Va. Professional Theater Festival Founder To Retire At The End Of The Year

Herendeen in Rehearsal.jpg
Seth Freeman
The Contemporary American Theater Festival
Founder of CATF Ed Herendeen works with an actor during rehearsal. Herendeen will retire in December.

The founder of one of the country’s top theater festivals for new plays is retiring.

Ed Herendeen has been the producing director for the Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) in Shepherdstown, West Virginia for the past 30 years.

He will step down in December.

According to a news release, Herendeen founded the festival in 1991 and was key to guiding the organization to its well-respected status as a professional theater organization.

“At the time, there were so few places that fully produced new work,” Herendeen said. “There was a critical need for the nurturing of, and the development and production of new plays.”

A major part of CATF’s founding was thanks to then-Shepherd College president Michael Riccards. Today, Shepherd University remains the festival’s home.

With Herendeen retiring, Associate Producing Director Peggy McKowen has been appointed as the festival’s Acting Producing Director.

There will be a nationwide search for CATF’s next leader.

Since 1991, the festival has produced more than 130 new plays, including 56 world premieres.

"It’s always been about the work on stage, about the voice of the playwrights. The plays deal with timely issues. They ask questions. They inspire conversation and even controversy. That’s why the festival has grown,” Herendeen said.

Many of CATF’s plays have gone on to Broadway and Off-Broadway.

“Shepherd University has enjoyed a very special partnership with Ed and the Contemporary American Theater Festival for over 30 years,” said Shepherd University President Mary Hendrix. “Ed’s creative vision and unparalleled commitment to authenticity and excellence will long be remembered. His passion for performance and evoking emotional responses to real life issues underscore his remarkable legacy. Ed is an icon of our times.”

Webmaster/Eastern Panhandle Bureau Chief/Part-time Education Reporter/Producer, emccormick@wvpublic.org, 304-876-9313, @LizMcCormickWV

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