This anthology represents the voices of women who range from two-time Obie Award-winning authors to emerging writers just beginning their careers. It's a group of women who vary in age, race and sexual orientation, representing a selection of society that is inclusive. One of the Festival's core values is "to tell diverse stories". This play anthology represents the success of that value by identifying some of the most current work in the theater today - all of which have had subsequent productions since their premiere at the Contemporary American Theater Festival.
The Contemporary American Theater Festival, based at Shepherd University, West Virginia, is nationally and internationally recognized as a home for playwrights and the development and production of new plays. The Festival makes it a priority to celebrate and produce playwrights with diverse backgrounds and strong, distinct voices, including women. Since 1991 the Festival has produced over 121 plays; 50% have been written by women across a canon of work that includes 47 world premieres and 10 commissions representing 85 playwrights.
The anthology provides plays that speak to one of the most compelling virtues of artists everywhere - freedom of speech. By gathering these works together it becomes a necessary volume of women playwright's work and an invitation to artistic leaders, scholars and students to embrace gritty, thought-provoking new dramatic work.
Along with five powerful plays this anthology features an introduction to the works in conversation by Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage. Each play is followed by an informative and discursive author interview conducted by Sharon J. Anderson that contextualizes and develops the plays themselves.
The plays include:
Gidion's Knot by Johnna Adams
The Niceties by Eleanor Burgess
Memoirs of a Forgotten Man by D.W Gregory
Dead and Breathing by Chisa Hutchinson
20th Century Blues by Susan Miller
Susan Miller is anOBIE award winning playwright and Guggenheim Fellow whose work includes thecritically acclaimed one-woman play, MyLeft Breast (Obie), which premiered in Louisville's Humana Festival andhas been performed across the U.S, Canada, and France. Her play A Map of Doubt And Rescue won The Susan SmithBlackburn Prize, as well as The Pinter Prize. Her play Average American recently won 2nd Prize in the 2014 Arch &Bruce Brown Foundation's Playwriting Competition. A recipient of two NEA's& a Rockefeller Grant, Miller received her first OBIE for Nasty Rumors And Final Remarks. Her other plays include: For Dear Life, Flux, Confessionsof A Female Disorder, It's Our Town, Too, and Reading List. Millerwas a Consulting Producer/Writer on the first season of The L Word aswell as ABC's landmark series, Thirtysomething. She's writtenoriginal screenplays for Disney, Universal, Warner Brothers, and her shortfilm, The Grand Design, was directed by and starred Eric Stoltzwith Frances Conroy.
She is the Executive Producer/Writer,with Tina Cesa Ward, of the highly acclaimed Indie web series, AnyoneBut Me, which airs on Hulu & YouTube and has over 50 million viewsworldwide. For her work on Anyone But Me, Miller & Ward won theWriters Guild of America Award for Outstanding Achievement in Original NewMedia, the first of its kind ever presented. Eleanor Burgess's plays include THE NICETIES, START DOWN, CHILL, and THESE DYING GENERATIONS. Her work has been produced or developed at Manhattan Theatre Club, The New Group, New York Theatre Workshop, Ensemble Studio Theatre, the Alliance Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Portland Stage Company, Centenary Stage Company, the Lark Play Development Center, the Kennedy Center/NNPN MFA Playwrights Workshop, Everyday Inferno, Ryder Farm and Luna Stage. She's currently a 2050 Fellow at New York Theatre Workshop, a member of The Civilians' R&D Group, and a semifinalist for the 2018 P73 Playwriting Fellowship. She has also been the recipient of the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Award, an EST/Sloan commission, a Keen Teens Commission, and the Susan Glaspell Award for Women Playwrights. She grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, studied history at Yale College, and recently completed the M.F.A in Dramatic Writing at NYU/Tisch. Johnna Adam's plays include Sans Merci, Cockfighters, The Sacred Geometry of S&M Porn and The Angel Eaters Trilogy (Angel Eaters, Rattlers and 8 Little Antichrists). Chisa Hutchinson earned a B.A. in Dramatic Arts from Vassar College and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from NYU. She has written and performed with the New York NeoFuturists and become a Staff Writer for Blue Man Group. Her work has been presented by the Lark Play Development Center, City Parks' Summerstage, the New York NeoFuturists, Partial Comfort, Mad Dog Productions, Atlantic Theater Company, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, New Dramatists, the Rattlestick Theater, the Contemporary American Theater Festival, Midtown Direct Rep, Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), the Working Theater, Project Y, the Contemporary American Theater Festival, National Black Theater, Second Stage Theater, and FilmGym.
Presently, Chisa teaches creative writing at the University of Delaware and is developing her work for television. Peggy McKowen's association with the Theater Festival began in 2006, when she designed the costumes for Mr. Marmalade by Noah Haidle and the world premiere of Keith Glover's Jazzland. She joined the full-time staff the following year. As designer, her work at CATF has included costumes for 1001 by Jason Grote, H2O by Jane Martin (directed by Jon Jory), and Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah by Mark St. Germain; sets for From Prague by Kyle Bradstreet, Wrecks by Neil LaBute, and Gidion's Knot by Johnna Adams; and sets and costumes for Dear Sara Jane by Victor Lodato and The Insurgents by Lucy Thurber. Her free-lance work has been seen in New York with the Phoenix Theatre Ensemble and Gateway Playhouse, and in California on Libby Larsen's opera, Every Man Jack. As resident designer for the Obie-award-winning Jean Cocteau Repertory, Peggy designed the Darius Milhaud-scored version of Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children, Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heany's The Cure at Troy, and several productions directed by the late Eve Adamson. Regional theater work has been seen at Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Texas Shakespeare Festival, and the Dallas Shakespeare Festival. She designed Romeo and Juliet, one of six tours of the National Endowment for the Arts' series Shakespeare in the American Communities. Peggy's international design work has been seen at the B.A.T. Studio Theatre (Berlin), the Teatro Alfa Real (Sao Paulo, Brazil), and for the E.T.A. Hoffmann Theatre in Bamberg (Germany). Additionally, she designed the first full-length English speaking production of The Tempest performed in Beijing, China.
Peggy holds an MFA from the University of Texas (Austin), and has taught theater and humanities at Shepherd University; Dickinson College; Dickinson College/London; and West Virginia University, where she was Chair of the Division of Theater and Dance for five years. She has been a member of the Shepherdstown Rotary Club; directed the intra-state event, Antietam Remembrance Walk; produced Rumsey Radio Hour, the annual fundraiser for the Shepherdstown Visitors Center; and currently serves on the Arts Advisory Council for Hagerstown Community College. In recognition of her work as both theater designer and administrator, Peggy has recently been featured in Live Design and Wonderful West Virginia magazines. Production work has been captured in American Theater magazine; The New York Public Library Videotape for the Theater on Film and Tape Archive; The New York Times, Back Stage, New York Magazine; Wall Street Journaland in the texts: The Theater Experience and Theatre: The Lively Art. She is a member of United Scenic Artists 829. Ed Herendeen founded the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, West Virginia in 1991 with the mission to produce and develop new American theater. Through his leadership, and operating under an AEA LORT D contract and an annual budget of over one million dollars, the Theater Festival has produced 105 new plays - including 40 world premieres and nine commissions - and has gained a reputation as one of America's most important producers of new work. Hosted on the campus of Shepherd University, CATF sells over 13,000 tickets to its four-week rotating repertory season of five new plays and attracts a national audience from 35 states to the region. Each summer, the Festival generates a local economic impact of over $2.1 million dollars to West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle.
Recently, Ed's directing credits include The Eclectic Society by Eric Conger, a world premiere produced by the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia. Among the plays he has directed at the Contemporary American Theater Festival are the following world premieres: Whores by Lee Blessing; Miss Golden Dreams: A Play Cycle and Bad Girls by Joyce Carol Oates; Compleat Female Stage Beauty by Jeffrey Hatcher (which was commissioned by CATF and later produced as the film Stage Beauty); Carry the Tiger to the Mountain by Cherylene Lee; Octopus by Jon Klein; Jazzland by Keith Glover; Dear Sara Jane by Victor Lodato; The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa by John Olive; The Occupation by Harry Newman; What Are Tuesdays Like? by Victor Bumbalo; From Prague by Kyle Bradstreet; Gidion's Knot by Johnna Adams; and Still Waters and Psyche Was Here by Lynn Martin. Other CATF directing credits include: Ages of the Moon, The God of Hell, and The Late Henry Moss by Sam Shepard; Fifty Words by Michael Weller; Race by David Mamet; Farragut North by Beau Willimon; The Overwhelming and White People by J.T. Rogers; Mr. Marmalade by Noah Haidle; In A Forest, Dark and Deep and Wrecks by Neil LaBute; Blessing's Thief River; and Below the Belt, Gun-Shy, and Something in the Air by Richard Dresser.
Ed has also worked at The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, The Missouri Repertory Theatre, The Old Globe, The Lyceum Theatre, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival. In 1999, CATF was presented with the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts and, in 2012, the Governor's Award for Leadership in the Arts. Ed was honored with the College of Fine Arts Distinguished Alumni Award in Theater from Ohio University (from which he received his MA in Directing) and has served on the Admissions Committee for New Dramatists and as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts. Since 2011, he has served on the board of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national service organization for American theaters.