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ARTS | CULTURE | EVENTS

Jun – Jul 2013 | Vol 1 No 6

CATF 2013 SPECIAL EDITION Contemporary American Theater Festival 23 Seasons = 100 Plays CATF Timeline Interview with Actor Joey Collins Interview with “Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah” Playwright Mark St. Germain First Readings 2013 Five Invitations From Ed 2013 CATF Schedule

Joey Collins as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Angela Pierce as Miss Montaigne in “Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah,” 2013 Contemporary American Theater Festival. PHOTO BY SETH FREEMAN


23 Seasons = 100 Plays BY NANCY MCKEITHEN

“It was ripe for the oldest town in West Virginia to 23 doSeasons, something like present the newest plays in CATF: 100 Plays America.” Ed Herendeen, Founder and Producing Director of CATF — the Contemporary American Theater Festival — is talking about their first season, 1991. Forripe him, it was the combination and “It was for the oldest town in West Virginiaoftoplace do something opportunity: history, a college town, a vibrant like present the newest plays in America.” Ed Herendeen,campus Founder community, visual artists musicians working and Producing Director of theand Contemporary American Theater and making a living, close metropolitan areas, Festival—CATF—is talking about their first season, 1991. the Shenandoah Valley, the Potomac River. “This natural creative atmosphere,” he says, “gave us a chance to For work him, it was combination of and opportunity: bring new andtheplaywrights toplace develop and take history, a college town, a vibrant campus community, visual chances with their new work outside the glare ofartists the and musicians working and making a living, close metropolitan urban spotlight.” areas, the Shenandoah Valley, the Potomac River. “This natural creative atmosphere,” he says, “gave us a chance to bring new In the early years of the festival, work and playwrights to develop and take chances with their new Herendeen had to sell the Shepherdstown address work outside the glare of the urban spotlight.”

somewhat aggressively; it wasn’t a typical location for a new contemporary theater. But like a book on a bestseller list, word spread among the theater community about this beautiful place to come and In the early years of the festival, Herendeen had to sell the work in the summer… and artists came, from New Shepherdstown address somewhat aggressively; it wasn’t a typical York, Chicago, Los Angeles. location for a new contemporary theater. But like a book on a Like the Shepherd University population it’s bestseller list, word spread among the theater community of part this of,beautiful the CATF staff shrinks and swells throughout place to come and work in the summer… and artists the year, from three full time people during the off-

season — Herendeen, Associate Producing Director Peggy McKowen and Managing Director James McNeel — and a few part-time people, to a payroll of more than 90 starting each May. From the outset, CATF was anything but typical. Many theaters will do one new play as part of their season. CATF did — and does — dedicate all of its play slots to developing and nurturing new plays. For this season, it commissioned two new plays. That dedication is part of the CATF mission, and something of which Herendeen is perhaps most proud. “We had a specific mission and a specific group of core values, we committed to and maintained that mission throughout the 23 years, and we’ve never veered from it,” he says, “never been tempted to water down the mission.” But without the support of partner Shepherd University and the CATF Board of Trustees, that wouldn’t have happened, says Herendeen. He is speaking to the kind of work CATF is known for doing: provocative, controversial, thought-provoking. “I’m very proud that our partners have never questioned the mission of what we are trying to do, and have allowed us to do our work even when it might have made individuals on the board or at the university uncomfortable

TIMELINE NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2011

NOVEMBER 2012

Ed receives multiple “pitches” from literary agents and playwrights for potential 2013 season commissions.

Hold CATF annual board meeting. Approve FY 2013 budget.

Mark St. Germain is commissioned to write Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah (with support from Shepherd University). Jane Martin is commissioned to write H2O (with support from Lawrence Dean & Mina Goodrich, and Paul & Lisa Welch). SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2012 Ed meets with NY literary agents and organizations such as New Dramatists, and is given scripts to review. He reads 100+ new plays. Wrap up and reconcile previous season. Complete grant reports. Marketing and ticketing analysis completed. Assess program. Begin fundraising for 2013 season.

Ed narrows down his scripts for second or third readings, also taking into consideration “the rep”: casting, venue, budget, style, etc. Hold annual CATF reunion party in NYC (where we reconnect with Cassie Beck and Kent Nicholson, who share with Ed the script for A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World by Liz Duffy Adams). Attend Theatre Communications Group’s Fall Forum on Governance with staff and board. Receive first drafts of two commissioned plays, H2O by Jane Martin and Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah by Mark St. Germain.


Ed Herendeen on June 4th, his favorite day of the festival: First Rehearsal.

because of some of the controversial issues the plays raise.” Herendeen believes this freedom to take chances, to veer from what he calls “community-approved, sanitized art” you see in some communities, speaks to the nature of CATF being on a college campus, where ques-

tioning and debate and criticism are valued. “I’ve always believed that as artists we are noisemakers, oftentimes supporting work that is a reflection of our society.” Another thing he is proud of — they have demonstrated by failing that they have taken the fear out of failure. “We’re creating belief in an empty space with u PHOTO Seth Freeman

DECEMBER 2012

JANUARY 2013

Select season and begin playwright negotiations with agents.

Begin hiring artistic team, including directors and designers for each show.

Select venues for plays and determine repertory slots. Begin developing play and season images for marketing. Attend National New Play Network’s annual conference in Washington, DC. Gidion’s Knot by Johnna Adams (part of 2012 season) published in American Theatre magazine and also named the #3 best play of the year by Washingtonian magazine.

Unveil season to CATF trustees at the annual board retreat, in addition to revealing the name of the new CATF performance space, the Stanley C. and Shirley A. Marinoff Theater. Send out initial “early bird” mailing with plays to past subscribers. Begin preliminary discussions between Ed and playwrights.


scenery and with actors and the performers, but we fail in rehearsal—and you have to fail till you get it right…. I think nothing happens without taking risks.” Their goals are lofty. CATF wants its plays to have a life after Shepherdstown—and some do. They want to do work that is important for an audience to witness: “…work that would ask audience members to question and think and maybe even provoke change.” And they’ve seen that in some examples, too. “When we did our first AIDS play way back in the early ’90s, What Are Tuesdays Like, we saw how that affected people in the audience who began to look at that issue and that subject matter and maybe their own past behavior and prejudices,” says Herendeen. “And we literally could see, because of what they told us, how behavior was changing. “Probably one of the more controversial plays we’ve produced was My Name is Rachel Corrie. That created a lot of press and controversy, lots of donations... a lot of respect for the courage to tell that young woman’s story. By telling her story—the only reason we wanted to do this play—it created an opportunity for people to have a dialogue and a living conversation about the uncomfortable subject matter the play raised.” June 4th is Herendeen’s favorite day of the festival. That’s when he and his staff welcome the entire company, they go into a room, close the door and read in eight hours at least four of the plays. The next day, they go into rehearsal halls. “That’s when the work of really ‘making believe’ starts to happen,” he says.

Anne Marie Nest as Rachel Corrie in My Name is Rachel Corrie—“What the play really, truly did is what I think theater does best by presenting a divisive and controversial issue, such as the Palestinian Israeli issue, on stage,” says Herendeen. “The story is told through the journals and emails and words of this young American woman who was killed in Gaza.” PHOTO Ron Blunt: Anne Marie Nest in My Name is Rachel Corrie (2008)

TIMELINE FEBRUARY 2013

MARCH 2013

Announce season to the public. Tickets go on sale.

Design meetings commence between directors and designers.

Staff hiring begins (over 60 interns and professionals) for administration, box office, company management, production, etc.

Workshop reading #2 of Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah in Shepherdstown.

Promotional efforts begin.

Private reading of H2O in New York City.

Workshop reading #1 of Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah in New York City with playwright and creative team.


Herendeen checks off what it takes to put on the festival: 90+ people, a budget of a little over a million dollars, a good business plan, a good staff. “It takes working with Peggy and James and hiring people who are better than you. When you do, you develop a really creative workforce.” To Herendeen, working in theater is a vocation not an occupation. “Theater people are famous for possessing an incredible work ethic.”

Robin Walsh (standing) plays a grief-stricken mom and Joey Parsons her son’s fifth-grade teacher in Johnna Adams’ Gidion’s Knot, which had its world premiere at CATF during the 2012 season. As announced on April 6, Adams is a citation winner of the Steinberg/ATCA (American Theatre Critics Association) New Play Award.

Director Peter Brook tells best what theater takes in The Empty Space, says Herendeen and paraphrases: “All you really need is an empty space. You need somebody to walk into that empty space and do something important. You need at least one person to witness that, and you have an experience of theater.” Herendeen describes the experience. His voice slowly crescendoes and his pace quickens as he goes, compelling in this impromptu monologue: “We go and sit with other people in a room that will become dark where light is illuminated at the other end of the room and we sit in silence and give attention of a side of ourselves — undivided attention — to a group of people who are in the light telling us a story or performing in front of us who are also concentrating, and what we have is that we are both concentrating on the same thing, we’re both believing and if they’re believing who they say they are and what they’re going through, and we sit in silence and pay attention and we start to believe who they are and what they do, and we start to experiencee the emotions that they’re experiencing u

PHOTO Seth Freeman: Joey Parsons and Robin Walsh in Gidion’s Knot by Johnna Adams

APRIL 2013

MAY 2013

Present scenic, costume and sound designs to creative team.s

Pre-season staff arrive, including company and stage management.

Set drafting for the production shop begins.

Final designs are submitted, season construction begins, and on- and off-campus housing secured and prepared.

Casting commences in NYC with Pat McCorkle Casting. Actor offers go out to agents. CATF staff and board members attend the 37th Annual Humana Festival in Louisville, Kentucky, at which, Gidion’s Knot is presented with a citation prize from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Awards. Development reading of A Discourse on the Wonders of

the Invisible World in NYC. Ribbon cutting for the new Center

for Contemporary Arts (CCA/II) at Shepherd University, home to CATF’s new Marinoff Theater.

Theatrer equipment moved from the Sara Cree Studio Theatre (now retired!) to the Marinoff Theater, where lighting, sound, and video commission work has been completed.


Phase II of the Center for Contemporary Arts and home of the new 180-seat Stanley C. and Shirley A. Marinoff Theater.

and we’re experiencing, and we’re all doing this at the same time, you can have that moment, this aha moment, or we’re weeping together or we’re shocked and pissed off together, but we’re in this dark room experiencing the same moment at the same time, and we willingly choose to have that experience.”

“I remember my daughter, many, many years ago when she was in elementary school, had to write an essay about ‘what one of your parents did,’ ” he says. “I remember seeing her essay and she said, ‘My daddy makes believe.’” He still does. PHOTOS Seth Freeman

TIMELINE JUNE 2013

JULY 2013

Full company arrives —  company picnic!

Preview performances — July 3 and 4.

Four weeks of rehearsals (6 days / week, 8 hours/day)

Opening night — July 5 and 6.

All five shows built, including costumes, props, scenery, lighting,and sound.

100 performances of the 2013 season plus ancillary programming: readings, workshops, lectures, classes and discussions — July 5–28.

Tech week and final dress rehearsals.

CATF hosts the annual conference for the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), marking the first time the conference has been held in a non-urban environment — July 17–21 CATF Hostel Youth program — July 21–25. CATF partners with Shepherd University in hosting the National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) Voices from the Misty Mountains Summer Seminar — July 7–27. Closing night — July 28. Strike — July 29–31 July 31 — Everyone departs!


“I’m havin’ a blast, with a capital B-L-A-S-T, boldfaced.” He traces the letters in air. For over 30 years, ever since leaving graduate school, he’s worked in theater, and he considers himself lucky to be able to do what he does. “It’s never boring. There’s always another phase. We’re constantly raising money. We’re constantly talking to people and sharing our passion.” CATF’s first strategic plan had a goal of achieving a national reputation (an ongoing goal realized by the American Theater Critics choosing to have their annual convention at the festival in July), developing and producing a world premiere of a future Pulitzer Prizewinning play (Gidion’s Knot and several others have been nominated) and CATF plays having a life outside of Shepherdstown (many have gone to off-Broadway, and a film was commissioned from one of its plays). The second strategic plan resulted in CATF’s 100th play produced and construction of the Center for Contemporary Arts (CCA) Phases I and II. Phase III will be a 250-seat end-stage theater. “We are big believers in strategic planning,” says Herendeen. Now he wants to see more people make the festival a summer destination, in the same way that people go to the Dublin and Edinburgh theater festivals. CATF has seen an increase in the number of people traveling here from other countries, England and India as example. “We’re just shy of our goal of producing six new plays each season over a six-week period… and we’re looking at year-round opportunities,” says Herendeen.

Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University July 5 — 28, 2013 (see the schedule on page 35) A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World —  Liz Duffy Adams Modern Terrorism, or They Who Want to Kill Us and How We Learn to Love Them — Jon Kern

Inside the Marinoff Theater, Shepherd University President Suzanne Shipley speaks at the ribbon-cutting for the opening of Phase II of the CCA. First performances here are this summer.

“We’ve set a goal of creating a professional playwriting program, where we’ll work with professional playwrights and mentor early career playwrights, giving them an opportunity to have their work heard, and read by professional actors. “We want to create more educational opportunities with Shepherd University and increase our involvement with its Lifelong Learning Center. We want to find even more innovative ways to do the kind of work we’re doing, whether it’s embracing technologies in the media arts or providing residencies and opportunities for writers to be here year-round. We’re in that exciting place of ‘where do we want to go.’” It’s a fine place to be. fluent

BEYOND THE STAGE... BREAKFAST WITH ED LUNCH & ART CATF AT THE MOVIES CATF IN CONTEXT — FREE (reservation required) STAGE READINGS — FREE

H2O — Jane Martin

SATURDAY LECTURE SERIES — FREE

Heartless — Sam Shepard

AFTER-THOUGHTS SALON — FREE

Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah — Mark St. Germain

POST-SHOW DISCUSSIONS — FREE

catf.org

HOSTEL YOUTH

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For theater patrons with an early curtain on Wed, Thu and Fri, an early dinner (6–8 pm) is available at The Bavarian Inn Dining Room, Bistro 112 and The Yellow Brick Bank, all in Shepherdstown.


Last year, in Season 22, actor Joey Collins’ first at CATF, he starred in two plays: as Bobby in In a Forest Dark and Deep (far right with Johanna Day) by Neil LaBute, and as Peter Malkin in Captors (near right) by Evan Wiener. He’s back for Season 23, again in two plays: This year as F. Scott Fitzgerald in Mark St. Germain’s Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah and as Peck in Liz Duffy Adams’ A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World. He talks about it here.

FLUENT Given the many roles you tackle in one season, how do you keep it all together? JC Haha...Once the performances begin it’s easier to keep it all together with two plays. Each performance is fresh. You associate a pair of shoes, with a character’s journey, for instance. And that journey must be as new for that character as it is for the audience who is witnessing it for the first time. Last year, you know, I had these two massive roles in the LaBute piece and Evan’s piece. They were in the same theatre. But donning the different clothes, having different sets, it really was an “am I wearing the baseball cleats or the soccer cleats” kind of freedom before arriving to the stage door. It’s not like you’re going to swing at a baseball with your foot­ — hahaha. That, and my kids keep my fairly busy. FLUENT What are the challenges of playing two roles concurrently? JC The biggest challenge is the front end. The rehearsal. The prep. The research. That can be challenging with a truncated process. We really don’t have enough rehearsal time (per day). Who does anymore in the theatre? So, it requires a lot of work outside of the rehearsal room. For me, the rehearsal period is a monastic life. I wake at 7, go for my run or swim or 28 |

bike, eat, shower and work on my lines, my dialect, do my movement work all before 10. Then, I meet with another company member or assistant director or volunteer to drill my lines­ — talk out my actions­ —  until 12:30. Eat again, rehearse PLAY ONE from 1–5 pm. Eat dinner. Meet with another volunteer from 5:15–6 to drill lines. Rehearse PLAY TWO from 6–10 pm. Eat a snack, meet with another volunteer from 10:15–1 am (if I can find someone to work that late). Then, I have a nightcap of sorts. I’m in bed by 2 am. Start over the next day at 7. And... I love it. Most of us actors, not all, learn our lines­ — our roles­ — simply by going through the motions over and over in the room. You know, building on the previous rehearsal, improving on the moment-to-moment work, making it tighter, better, more dramatic, funnier­ — right? All of that happens here at CATF­ — don’t get me wrong­ — but it is a very economical process. And it takes a) a director that can work economically with precision and b) perhaps the most important­ — a stage management [SM] team that can keep the room the creative space it needs to be while keeping all of us on schedule. And the SM team here is dreamy. You’ll not find a better SM team­ — anywhere. You kind of want to put them in your back pocket and take them with you for your next gig, ya know? They understand the rigors of the rotating repertory process annd I’d be dishonest if I didn’t give them the credit they deserved in keeping us all sane. PHOTOS Seth Freeman


FLUENT How do you develop a particular character so that he feels right to you? JC Every process is different. I like to work moment to moment IN the rehearsal room. But, I’m all nerdy OUTSIDE of it. I love research. But, you can’t perform research. Luckily, I love letting go of research, too. Ultimately, the dramatic tension comes from the human relationships­ — their conflicts, their needs, what stands in their way­ — basic acting 101 stuff. For me, the best characters spring forth from my research. I learned how to develop character from both the outside in and the inside out. So my disciplines vary project to project, and my method is rather eclectic. I love magazines and photo journalism. I free-write backstory whenever I can. In the case of Fitzgerald this season and Peter Malkin last season, I have this plethora of material to pour over. I steal from those historical examples and shape them constantly. I won’t get to all of it. Not before first rehearsal. Or by closing. But, I will continue to deepen the soul of these men inside of me--strive to. I use art and music, too. I’ll find a theme song for a character, or scene — try it out. Last year, at first I had this 14 song soundtrack for Bobby in the LaBute play. There was a lot of The Subdudes on that soundtrack. Great drummer in that band. A lot of soul. Bobby’s core was rooted on some people in my life and from my past — others. He grew

from a combination of those people into a deeper and deeper interpretation of what LaBute wrote. In the end, you look at all that research, all that backstory, all the art and music that inspires a character and think, “How did I get from there to here?” The roadmap to a character is a fun game to play. But those people and those songs were my ticket into the LaBute world, my key to unlocking Bobby. I’m still searching for those things with F. Scott and with Peck. But it’s early. With them, it may be art, biblical passages, poetry, photography — who knows. I’m knee deep in it all now. FLUENT And when do you know the character is right, what tells you? JC There’s this great feeling when you feel that wholeness of that character click. It is like speaking another language. When you are thinking like the character, using their rhythms, their cadence, their vernacular, their jargon­ — you have the key­ — you KNOW you have the key. From there­ — you are FREE­ — he is free­ — free from me. Away from me. You know? All the research, all the rehearsals, all the playing with puppets and improvisations and freewriting and backstory­ — it all pays off and sort of stays a bucket filler for that character. That click can be a physical one, a vocal one, an intellectual one. Sometimes it happens from day one. Sometimes u | 29


it happens at the 11th hour. I have enough tools in my shed now to keep whittling away at it. If the ball peen doesn’t work sometimes it takes the scalpel­— or, um, even the hack saw. Hah-hah-hah. I only play with puppets, actually, with my kids. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. FLUENT What in particular about this venue or plays brought you back to CATF? JC Ed Herendeen. Peggy McKowen. James McNeel. One. Two. Three. From the outset of my audition last year we all clicked. This is a special place. They love new plays. I love new plays. I get it. You know, West Virginia is not the first place people think of regarding the developing of plays and fostering dramatists. CATF has a stellar reputation inside the theatrical community, and I am honored to be a part of their history as they continue to grow in reputation and scope. FLUENT Is narrating audio books different from performing on stage? Does it take the same kind of preparation and delivery? JC Narrating satisfies that school boy side of me that loves to learn. I really enjoy it. Even in the least literal of books, you’re learning something. Or that’s how I look at it. The audience comes later. It’s smaller in scope and therefore it possesses the same challenges as film acting. You have to trust what you are doing is “reading” — that the audience is getting it, just like with all performance. Nobody really wants to be spoon fed every little detail. Do they? Haha. They want to fill in the blanks, right?

Playwright Mark

tht

St. Germain talks about playwriting and his play commissioned by

CATF for the 2013 season.

30 |

By Sean O’Leary

FLUENT Does something happen for you as an actor as a result of there being a live audience? JC Well, it doesn’t happen without them — that’s for sure.... You are there for them — to give them the story — give as in gift. They ARE the other character in the room. You feel their presence. Their breath, their curiosity. I was told once that the most compelling space in a room (a theater) is not the kiss in a scene. It is the space between the kiss­ — before the kiss. The kiss is the end of the “what if ” in a way. I would also say there is that magical space between me and my colleagues up on the boards and the audience. I love the audience. I cherish that air, that energy between us. I respect it. Folks who know me know that I am beside myself with joy and anticipation­ — much like my kids are on Christmas Eve­ — the days before that first audience. I cannot wait to give them the goods­ — or whatever it is­ — they give us back. That thing is the actor’s opiate, ya know?­ — like each audience member has a string attached to them and that string runs up and into you. Your goal is to keep that string taut. Or to keep control of its tautness might be a better way of expressing it. FLUENT How much do the other actors matter in your own delivery? JC “Delivery” is a tough word on which to comment. It has a result-oriented ping to it. At the risk of sounding like an “artiste,” I’ll ask for a little rope here. Because I know what you’re asking, I believe. Uh, a character must learn to think independently

Fluent What about CATF makes you want to come here? MSG Well, first of all, I think it’s a very charming area with a lot of good restaurants. And Ed is like the evangelist of new plays, and his excitement is very contagious — you can tell he loves what he does. I did go down and see all the plays last year and how the festival operates, and it’s very exciting. Fluent Do you direct your own plays often, and if not, why did you choose to this time? MSG No, I’ve done it before but normally I don’t. Because of the biographical nature of it, I thought that the actors would have tons of questions, and I thought it was really an easier thing rather than going through the director —  unless the director had done research — and I thought it would just be shorthand. And three characters — I wouldn’t do this with a larger play — so I thought this was one to do. I


from his or her actor and dramatist’s lines. Yet, they are those lines. That doesn’t mean I have to “become” the character. No. It just means I need to get out of his way. The actor must learn his lines verbatim­ — for those are the words provided by the playwright, right? Anything else is cheating both the dramatist and the audience. I always say, learn the thoughts first. The essence. What’s behind the lines­ — sometimes­ — the subtext. Then, delivery will take care of itself. It’ll come from what the character needs from the other characters and the other actors. You will have to massage a line differently for Johanna than you do for Rachel or Lori. In essence your delivery comes from the dance you get to do each night with your colleagues. It’s not some choreographed bits of dialogue you can plug anyone into. That would be boring. Johanna might have in her eyes, “I want to just slap your nose off ” while Rachel’s eyes say, “I’m playing hard to get” and Lori is professing her love. They all compel you to act because they all either have what you want or stand in your way. FLUENT What role — whether it’s existing or hasn’t yet been written — would like to play? JC I always wanted to play Edmund in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Don’t know if that’ll happen. There are several plays I’ve worked on in New York I’d like to continue to flesh out and play. I’m attracted to playing broken people. They give me clues on mending my own broken qualities, I guess. FLUENT What would you like to ask of your audience?

directed a couple of years back a two-character play of mine that we did first at the Barrington Stage in New York and I enjoyed it. It’s just not something I do all the time. Fluent Was the idea of directing this play yours or Ed’s? MSG It was mine actually, and Ed was gracious enough to indulge me. Fluent Do you think your characterization of Hemingway will offend some people or draw criticism from those who have a different perception of Hemingway? MSG It could well. There are people who just idolize him. But I don’t think there is anything in there that they could quarrel with factually. They can certainly quarrel about the interpretations. But I think it’s very well known the way Hemingway not only had maligned Fitzgerald during his life, but even worse after his life. He did not want him leaving a legacy.

JC First, to let them off the hook. They don’t have to love the plays as much as we do. We’re the pioneers, you know? We love them. We believe in them, we’re sold on their value, their need to be in the canon of American plays. However, we know they’ll have favorites. So will we. We also know what one group loves another group just likes and what another group doesn’t like yet another group comes back for a second viewing. Ed has done a superb job obtaining the rights to these diverse plays. It is a privilege to do them and we’ll strive to give them their best productions. If they (our audiences) love the theatre­ — LIVE ART­ — may they consider being an ambassador to it. Whatever that may mean to them: an emissary for their arts locally, an agent for future arts development, become a voice for the original 3-D experience, heck, the patronage of an artist. Actors are only valued on a national level when they’re famous, it seems. And sometimes actors who are famous aren’t very artistic. They’re pretty. They’re wonderful to look at and they are rewarded for their commercial value, as beautiful people who can talk. Now, many famous folks are artists. I’m not knocking fame or beauty. I’ll admit I’m even envious of both. But, to do theatre at this level at CATF, you have to be an artist and one with a collaborative spirit. You have to have those in your pocket. Audiences, in my little scientific sample set of experiences, prefer quality over fame for fame’s sake. Here, the focus is on the gift of the story, the plays, with fantastic production. The fame here belongs to the playwright. However, my big ask of an audience would be to acquaint someone in their life to the gift of the give and take, of drama and laughter, of contemplation and catharsis. That gift, of course, is the theater. fluent

There was one time — it’s not in the play, it occurred after this — that someone adapted one of Fitzgerald’s stories as a play and he read about it, that it was going to take place at Pasadena Playhouse. He was so excited about it. He and Sheila Graham showed up — he was in his tuxedo. Fitzgerald went to the box office and they said no, it’s not in the main theater, just go to the rehearsal hall. It was a student production, and they were among, maybe, an audience of 20 or 30, and they watched the production. Of course, he was devastated that it wasn’t on the main stage but still he was a gentleman and decided he’d go back and visit the cast. When he came back to Sheila Graham he was very rattled. They drove back and he told her that when he walked in and announced who he was they just stared at him because they thought he was dead. Fluent Do you worry how other directors and actors are going to interpret these two roles, especially u

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Interview with Mark St. Germain continued

Hemingway’s, where there’s such a wide range of possible interpretation? MSG I think that’s the exciting thing about theater, that everybody will have a different take on it. My take on it with this initial production will be one thing, but I’m sure somebody will come along and do something that’s totally different, and I think that’s fine. I don’t have any problem with that. Fluent This is a play that takes place in real time —  one conversation that goes the run time of the play — which for playwrights can create a real challenge when you don’t have the luxury of scene breaks and other things. There’s an inherent challenge to maintaining dramatic suspense in a sustained way for that long. Is that something you enjoy? Is it something you have done often? Or do you have a preference? MSG I’ve done plays that are better told with biography. The play that we’re opening on Friday — a play about Dr. Ruth — for instance. That became something that was also in real time but with her memory calling different things to look back on through her life. It just seemed the way to do it. I can’t explain it. And I will never do that to an actor again. Just brutal. Just brutal. Another play that I’m doing right now at Goodspeed called The Fabulous Lipitones is a musical comedy I wrote with John Marcus. It’s broken down into four scenes. So every one of them is really different. Fluent What is it that draws you to theater as a medium, considering your work on TV and also in film? MSG I’ve always loved writing for theater, and I never went full time on a writing staff for television because I always wanted to be available to plays. I certainly would do another movie. John [Marcus] and I have talked about trying to do something in TV, but I definitely prefer writing for the theater. I think it’s more a writer’s medium than certainly movies, which is a director’s medium. And television — there are a lot of brilliant shows out there — but you really need the writer, creator, producer. I’ve only produced once and that was a documentary. Fluent Those are other performance mediums. There’s also other literary media, such as novels. Theater is an incredibly restrictive medium — you’ve got just a couple of hours at most with which to work, a little black box, and most of all, at least as compared to novels, you don’t have a narrative voice. It’s got to be done more or less entirely through dialogue, yet you’re telling me that you find those restrictions enjoyable as compared to a more free form?

Playwright and director Mark St. Germain with Ed Herendeen.

MSG I really do. I would love to be able to write a novel. I’ve tried, and I do it terribly. I find I turn out to be not interested in anything but the dialogue, so that’s not a good novelist. The one book I tried was not a success, so it’s back to theater again. Fluent If it makes you feel any better, Charles Dickens’ great unfulfilled wish was to be a playwright. MSG Yes, I do know [much laughter]. I think he had a theater in his house as a matter of fact. I think people always want to do what they can’t do. I would love to write a novel. And my secret desire is to write a crime series of novels. I love reading them; I can’t get the hang of writing them. Fluent Is there a story that you’ve been wanting to write a play about that’s nagging at you? MSG I have one I’m commissioned to do next, which is about Ronald Reagen in his final years when Alzheimer’s had started to get to be a very serious issue with him, after he was out of office. That will also be a play that will be, if not in real time — I think, I haven’t written it yet — in one setting. Then to try to tell his life through that will be a challenge. Fluent What else are you working on right now? MSG The two — one that just opened and one that will open this weekend. The next thing will be this play, and there’ll be a new play I’m about halfway through that will have a reading in the very end of August. That’s a non-historic character play for a little break. It’s actually sort of a romance. It’s a little twisted. It’s called Dancing Lessons, and it’s about the relationship between a Broadway dancer who just got injured and might not dance again and a guy who lives in her building who is very high on the autism scale but still can’t touch people who wants to learn how to dance one dance because he’s going to a dinner where he’s being honored. fluent | 32


F I R S T

R E A D I N G S

2 0 1 3

PHOTOS Seth Freeman: Clockwise, Mahira Kakkar; Becky Byers; Cassie Beck, Kathleen Butler; Joey Collins; Liz Duffy Adams; Mr. Collins; Kohler McKenzie; Ms. Beck, Robyn Cohen, Michael Cullen.

| 33


fiveinvitationsfromed A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World —  it’s a period play set in 1702. This is an opportunity to come and experience a play that’ll be done in period in 1702, 10 years after the Salem Witch Trials... to see a community that is afraid of the invisible world that they don’t understand... afraid of individuals that aren’t like them, and have strong religious beliefs... to see how they are dealing with their fear and how hysteria and fear-mongering are created within the community, and does that somehow relate to our present day in time. The opportunity to see John Kerns’ new play — he’s a staff writer for “The Simpsons”  and he’s a young playwright whose dialogue just bounces off the page. His new play, Modern Terrorism and They Who Want to Kill Us and How We Learned to Love Them, is really an homage to Stanley Kubrick’s 1963 title ‘Dr. Strangelove and How I Learned to Love the Bomb.’ John Kern has written in the style of satire... gallows humor, black comedy about a very serious subject matter. How can you write a comedy about three terrorists living in a terrorist cell in Brooklyn who are determined based on their ideologies and need to do something, to carry out something very dangerous and very shocking and very disturbing—a play about people that want to blow up the observation deck of the Empire State Building? We commissioned Jane Martin to do a new play, H2O. We’ve hired one of the legends of the American theater, Jon Jory, to direct ‘H2O.’ Jon has directed every world premiere of Jane Martin’s work since she started writing plays. We’re looking forward to the kind of magic and aggressive directing style that he’ll bring to this.

34 |

We have a new play by Sam Shepard, Heartless —  the heart has always been a vital organ in Shepard’s plays — but he’s really broken new ground with Heartless because this very male, iconic male Pulitzer Prize-winning playright has written a play where there’s only one male character and four female characters with a very strong matriarch as the lead. So if you’ve never seen a Shepard play, this is an opportunity to experience Sam Shepard’s voice and his work. If you’ve seen Sam Shepard’s plays and been attracted to his work, this is an opportunity to see what he’s telling and speaking about now in a story that confronts many of the same themes that he’s dealt with—ruthlessness, wandering, existential questioning, the inability of human beings to connect with one other in a very authentic and real way. We have an opportunity to see these literary lions —  F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway — in a final meeting that Mark St Germain, the playwright, has researched — the final meeting between Ernest Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood in 1937 in the villas where F. Scott Fitzgerald worked for the movie industry and near the end of his life. He died at 44, and he’s only 41 when this play takes place. It’s called Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah, which was the name of his apartment complex where a lot of people from the film industry lived and worked. It’s an opportunity to hear these literary icons talk about the sacrifices and at what cost dedicating your life to writing and an artistic pursuit... at what cost has that been to personal relationships and to financial stability, to emotional health, etcetera. These are two very competitive, two very virile, two very sexy men, See what happens when Mark St. Germain puts them into the room at the same time.


JULY 3 - JULY 28, 2013

SCHEDULE * = PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN PREVIEW ** = Opening Night, followed by the OPENING NIGHT RECEPTION ^ = these performances will be followed by a POST-SHOW DISCUSSION

A DISCOURSE ON THE WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD

Week One

Tues 7/2

Wed 7/3

Thur 7/4

Fri 7/5

10:00 am 12:00 pm 12:30 pm

Sat 7/6

Sun 7/7

CONTEXT

BREAKFAST

H2O

H2O

LUNCH & ART

2:00 pm 2:30 pm

MOVIE

4:30 pm 6:00 pm

H2O*

H2O*

H2O**

DISCOURSE

HEARTLESS

TERRORISM

SCOTT/HEM

LECTURE

H2O

H2O

DISCOURSE

6:30 pm

TERRORISM

8:00 pm

DISCOURSE*

HEARTLESS*

DISCOURSE**

HEARTLESS**

8:30 pm

TERRORISM*

SCOTT/HEM*

TERRORISM**

SCOTT/HEM**

Wed 7/10

Thur 7/11

Fri 7/12

Sat 7/13

Sun 7/14

CONTEXT

BREAKFAST

H2O

H2O

HEARTLESS

DISCOURSE

SCOTT/HEM

TERRORISM

by Liz Duffy Adams

FRANK CENTER STAGE • 260 UNIVERSITY DRIVE RUN TIME: 2 HOURS

Week Two

HEARTLESS by Sam Shepard

12:00 pm

FRANK CENTER STAGE • 260 UNIVERSITY DRIVE RUN TIME: 1 HOUR, 40 MINUTES

MODERN TERRORISM by Jon Kern — MARINOFF THEATER CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS II 62 WEST CAMPUS DRIVE RUN TIME: 2 HOURS

SCOTT AND HEM IN THE GARDEN OF ALLAH by Mark St. Germain MARINOFF THEATER CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS II 62 WEST CAMPUS DRIVE RUN TIME: 90 MINUTES

H2O by Jane Martin CCA 112 • CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS I 92 WEST CAMPUS DRIVE RUN TIME: 90 MINUTES

LUNCH & ART

Tues 7/9

10:00 am

BREAKFAST

12:30 pm

LUNCH & ART

2:00 pm

HEARTLESS

DISCOURSE

2:30 pm

SCOTT/HEM

TERRORISM

MOVIE

H2O

H2O

H2O

LUNCH & ART

4:30 pm 6:00 pm

7:30 pm

SCOTT/HEM

8:00 pm

HEARTLESS^

DISCOURSE^

HEARTLESS

DISCOURSE

8:30 pm

SCOTT/HEM

TERRORISM

SCOTT/HEM

TERRORISM

10:30 pm Week Three

SALON

Tues 7/16

Wed 7/17

10:00 am

Thur 7/18

Fri 7/19

BREAKFAST

12:00 pm 12:30 pm DISCOURSE TERRORISM

SCOTT/HEM

MOVIE

BREAKFAST WITH ED

4:30 pm

CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS II 62 WEST CAMPUS DRIVE ($25)

6:00 pm

H2O^

H2O

H2O

PRESENTED FREE OF CHARGE thanks to the West Virginia Humanities Council:

7:30 pm

SALON = Location TBA CATF IN CONTEXT = A scholarly approach to the CATF repertory. Free but requires reservation. CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS II

BREAKFAST

H2O

H2O

DISCOURSE

HEARTLESS

TERRORISM

SCOTT/HEM

LECTURE

H2O

H2O

DISCOURSE TERRORISM

READING

8:00 pm

DISCOURSE

HEARTLESS

DISCOURSE

HEARTLESS

8:30 pm

TERRORISM^

SCOTT/HEM^

TERRORISM

SCOTT/HEM

10:30 pm Week Four

SALON

Tues 7/23

Wed 7/24

10:00 am

Thur 7/25

Fri 7/26

BREAKFAST

12:00 pm 12:30 pm HEARTLESS

2:30 pm

SCOTT/HEM

CATF season plays at the Shepherdstown Opera House, 131 W. German Street. $10.00

6:00 pm

Sat 7/27

Sun 7/28

CONTEXT

BREAKFAST

H2O

H2O

HEARTLESS

DISCOURSE

SCOTT/HEM

TERRORISM

LECTURE

H2O

LUNCH & ART

2:00 pm

MOVIE = Friday matinee films related to the

H2O

TERRORISM

H2O

MOVIE

H2O

H2O

6:30 pm 7:30 pm

304.876.3473 | 800.999.CATF (2283)

Sun 7/21

CONTEXT

6:30 pm

4:30 pm

BOX OFFICE | www.catf.org

Sat 7/20

LUNCH & ART

2:30 pm

READING = Join the CATF company for Stage Readings of new plays at the Shepherdstown Opera House, 131 West German Street

HEARTLESS

READING

2:00 pm

discuss issues raised in the plays at the popular Talk Theater Lecture Series at Reynolds Hall, 109 North King Street

H2O

H2O

6:30 pm

CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS II 62 WEST CAMPUS DRIVE ($30)

LECTURE = Distinguished guest speakers

LECTURE

READING

8:00 pm

HEARTLESS

DISCOURSE

HEARTLESS

DISCOURSE

8:30 pm

SCOTT/HEM

TERRORISM

SCOTT/HEM

TERRORISM

10:30 pm

HEARTLESS SCOTT/HEM

SALON

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