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Rousuck's Review: The Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, WV

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Photograph by Seth Freeman
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Today on Midday, theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck ventures a bit beyond Charm City, as she shares her thoughts on the roster of new plays at the 2018 Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia -- about a 90-minute drive from Baltimore.

This year's CATF is featuring six powerful new plays, each portraying aspects of contemporary life through tragedy, romance, drama, and comedy: "The Cake," "Memoirs of a Forgotten Man," "Thirst," "The House on the Hill," "Berta, Berta," and "A Late Morning (in America) with Ronald Reagan."

Rousuck notes two standouts among the new CATF offerings:  In “Berta, Berta,” directed by Reginald L. Douglas, playwright Angelica Cheri creates a backstory for an American work song. Set in 1920s Mississippi, Cheri's prison pipeline account focuses on a widow and her former lover, who has done time in Mississippi’s notorious Parchman prison and fully expects to go back. Rousuck says though “Berta, Berta” contains seeds of hope, it will break your heart.

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Credit Photograph by Seth Freeman
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David McElwee in MEMOIRS OF A FORGOTTEN MAN

And the political thriller, "Memoirs of a Forgotten Man," written by D.W. Gregory and directed by Ed Herendeen, takes viewers back to Soviet Russia where the fates of a journalist, psychologist, and government censor become entwined as victims and collaborators in Stalin’s campaign to rewrite public memory. 

The Contemporary American Theater Festival continues at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, through Sunday, July 29th.  Follow the link above for more information on tix, show schedules and directions.

J. Wynn Rousuck has been reviewing theater for WYPR's Midday (and previously, Maryland Morning) since 2007. Prior to that, she was the theater critic of The Baltimore Sun, where she reviewed more than 3,000 plays over the course of 23 years. Her feature coverage for The Sun included a comprehensive series chronicling the development of the Tony Award-winning musical, “Hairspray.” Judy got her start at The Cleveland Press and at Cleveland’s fine arts radio station, WCLV. Her broadcasting experience also includes a year as an on-air theater critic for Maryland Public Television.
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