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% ~r LI BI0 Wednesday, March 21, 2018 ~ ~,~, 1' ;3" Ed Herendeen (above left), the founder and producing director of the Contemporary American Theater Festival, on Friday hosts a special event focusing on the 2018 festival selection tentatively entitled, "A Late Morning (in America) with Ronald Reagan" starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Marinoff Theater (above right). The sneak peek with playwright Michael Weller and director Sam Weisman is free and open to anyone. DEEP ning night at the Contemporary 't till July, but Friday's preview will offer Theater Festival se of 'Morning' By CHRISTINE SNYDER editor@spiritofjefferson.com d Herendeen, the founder of the play festival that's intro- duced more than 120 intense works here in West V'lr- ginia,s oldest town since the month- long event's start in 1991, is gearing up for another exciting summer. Ed Herendeen,the founder of the play festival that's introduced more than 120 intense new works here in West Vh'gin- ia's oldest town since the monthlong eVent's start in 1991, is gearing up for another exciting summer. On Friday, just before ticket pack- ages for the 28th season of the Con- temporary American Theater Festival go on sale next week, Herendeen will preside over a special sneak preview, a panel discussion with playwright Mi- chael Weller and director Sam Weis- man at the Marinoff Theater. At Friday night's event, which is free and open to anyone, the two will share d ails about the one-man show that's to be part of the 2018 season - a tentatively entitled, "A Late Morn- (in America) with Ronald Reagan. WeUer is still writing the work, a col- laboration with actor Tim Matheson. Matheson - who became a star play- ing "Otter" on "National Lampoon's Animal House" in 1978 and is known for TV's "The West Wing" and last year's "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jun- gle" - is no stranger to the role. He portrayed the 40th president in a TV adaptation of the novel "Killing Rea- gan" that premiered on the National Geographic Channel in 2016. Both Weller and Matheson are en- joying delving more deeply into the life of Reagan, Weller said in a CATF news release. They're "both fasci- nated by the charming, articulate, fo- cused communicator, and inspiring leader. We hope to create an original and unexpected portrait that shows us amen in many ways like our next-door neighbor, and in many other ways a T~m Matheson will be in Shepherdstown for the Contemporary American Theater Festival in July. He's set to star in the one-man play tentatively titled "A Late Morning (in America) with Ronald Reagan." The actor, a California native, is collaborating with playwright Michael Weller on the work. complete paradox." Weller - who penned the screenplay for "Hair" in 1979 and won an Oscar nomination for the 1981 film, "Rag- time" - is a familiar face at CATF, where his play "Fifty Words" was pro- duced in 2007 and "The Full Catastro- phe" four years ago. "CATF's audience is that rarest of rare things, a genuine cross section of the- atre-goers from around the country," he said in a CATF news release. "I've be- come so spoiled by the idea that such a theater festival happens every summer: a festival with brave, innovative work. I can expect to return to New York, with its high-pressure theater scene, feeling rejuvenated and happy to have chosen a career in writing plays." f 'intriguing and dynamic' Herendeen and other CATF lead- ers recently held a get-together where journalists could ask questions and get all the details on the plays that make up this year's festival. Telling stories that matter about the topics that are in Americans' minds to- day is what CATF has always been fo- cused on, according to Herendeen. The plays that will be staged at three venues on the Shepherd Universi- ty campus Tuesday through Saturday from July 6 to July 29 emerged after Herendeen read more than 120 scripts. All six picks are "intriguing and dy- namic plays, he explained. "Our pas- sion for provocative and inspiring the- ater continues." This summer's CATF lineup also will feature "The Cake" by Bekah Brunstetter; "Berta, Berta" by Angel- ica Chdri; "Memoirs of a Forgotten Man" by D. W. Gregory; "Thirst" by C. A. Johnson; and "The House on the Hill" by Amy E. Witting. Ta k theater Beyond just watching the plays from the audience, festival patrons can ex- plore companion lectures, the annu- al panel discussion with the six play- wrights, play readings of works under consideration for future festivals and other free extras. The festival sched- ules at least one post-performance dis- cussion for each of the plays so that theater-goers can "talk theater" about what they've just seen. Besides financial help from Shep- herd University and other local part- ners, the festival and its lectures and other extras are made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the West Virginia Human- ities Council and the West Virginia Di- vision of Culture & Tourism To help make the festival available to as many people as possible, CATF offers steep discounts for midweek performances as well as those slated for Sunday nights. With so much to distract us 24 hours a day as close as our smartph0nes,the idea of focusing on a gripping story on stage and then talking with others about the work has immense appeal, Herendeen says. There's no video of any of the plays to make the experience available to others or for later on, he explains. "That's the beauty of live theater," Herendeen said. "If you miss it, you miss it. You have to be here when it happens." WANT TO GO? Friday at 7:30 p.m the public is invited to a free sneak preview - a panel discussion with playwright Michael Weller and director Sam Weisman at the Marinoff Theater that's open to anyone. The2018 season of the Contemporary American Theater Festival happens from July 6 to 29. Ticket packages go on sale Monday and single- ticket sales start April i6. For details, go to the Contemporary American Theater Festival website at catf.org CATF's McKowen named a rtist of the Year' CHARLESTON - Peggy McKowen, whose set, was named West Vh'ginia Artist of the Year at the lighting and costume designs have won acclaim at Governor's Arts Awards. The honor cites the New the Contemporary American Theater Festival, on the Martinsville native's "artistic excellence, impact to pages of The New York Times and The Washington the state, and her role in growing and strengthening Post, and in theaters as far-flung as China, Germa- the arts in West Vh'ginia." ny, Italy and elsewhere recently accepted her home Known for creating some of CATF's most mem- state's top award for work in the arts. orable costumes including for the 2015 production, McKowen, CATF's associate producing director, "Everything You Touch" and "The Wedding Gift"in Peggy McK0Wen (above), the Contemporary American Theater Festival's 2016,she's also responsible for CATF's popular week- associate producing director with a flair for costume design (left, "The long program for high schoolers, Hostel YOUTH! Wedding Gift" from the 2015 season of CATF), recently was named West In accepting the honor, McKowen expressed thanks Virginia Artist of the Year at the Governor's Arts Awards. Paul Garrard, to Ed Herendeen, who founded CATF in 1991. "He the CATF board president, calls McKowen "the real deal - a remarkably made it possible for me to be in my home state and gifted woman whose considerable creativity is surpassed only by her with my family making art" she said. "It's an honor class as a person. She represents all that is right with the arts, and does so well beyond our great state of West Virginia." to make a difference in the lives of West Virginians." ! I ! '. '