Peggy McKowen is the new production artistic director of the Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University. Photo Courtesy CATF

CATF Welcomes New Director Peggy McKowen

After the announcement of Artistic Director Ed Herendeen’s retirement, the CATF (Contemporary American Theater Festival) organization were looking to find another to fill his role. Peggy McKowen is now the new production artistic director of CATF, the professional summer theater festival based at Shepherd. In an interview, Peggy explained her journey to CATF.

“I became familiar with the professional theater through my connection to Ed Herendeen, who been a faculty member at WVU when I was a student there,” she said. “I joined CATF as a designer first in 2007 and then later became the Associate Producing Director in 2008.”

Before fully considering joining the organization, Peggy described other works that she had in different locations.

“I was the chair of the Division of Theater and Dance (what it was named when I was there) at WVU. At the same time, I was maintaining my freelance work as a professional costume designer as the resident designer for a small theater in NYC called the Jean Cocteau Repertory.”

Peggy McKowen, the new CATF production artistic director, looks forward to the CATF’s return to Shepherd this summer with a full slate of plays. Photo courtesy CATF

Herendeen’s retirement caught everyone by surprise, in and out of theater, including Peggy.

“Even though he had started to talk about a time that he would begin to retire, I just didn’t think it would happen at this time. I was a little stunned.”

After the new transition to the role of producing artistic director, Peggy’s purpose and top priority, is to “lead CATF.” She then described what she hopes to accomplish in the future.

“I think part of my job as CATF looks forward is to build upon and enhance everything that Ed began.”

Going into more detail, Peggy shines light on this topic of addressing ideas that Ed had in mind. She said  they were of similar minds when it came to their ideas.

“I shared Ed’s passion for new plays and making art. I think Ed and I share similar goals, but I am a different leader. And as a different leader, I will follow a unique path and encounter new ideas and additional goals along that journey.”

The CATF will return to Shepherd this July with six plays in rotating repertory after two-year hiatus because of Covid-19.

Peggy McKowen added that she is determined to lead CATF into a future of incredible works and events; and she addressed this time period as an “important time of transition.”

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