Peggy McKowen Appointed Contemporary American Theater Festival Producing Artistic Director

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — After a thirty year run by her predecessor, Peggy McKowen has been unanimously appointed as the Producing Artistic Director of the Contemporary American Theater Festival.

She has been acting in the role since September when the founder of CATF Ed Herendeen retired.

For McKowen, who has been with the festival for fifteen years, it’s a chance to build on the foundation Herendeen laid and, “I do hope we can do some things that focus a little bit more on the development of this work. We’ve done really exceptional work producing, but to really give the playwrights and other artists the opportunity to further develop the scripts before they get into production I think could be a really exciting thing for us to be doing as kind of an incubator.”

She would also like to see the reach of the festival go further. “… find ways that we can share this work, because I think it is so meaningful to this industry. How can we do a residency in another theatre somewhere and share a play that we feel more audiences need to see? Can we get out into some of the colleges around here so that they can see this new work?”

As for the 2022 season, McKowen says the festival will honor its commitments to the producers of the plays from the 2020 season that was canceled because of the pandemic.

You can hear more about those plays in our full interview with Peggy McKowen on our Panhandle Live Spotify and also on the CATF Website at

The Contemporary American Theater Festival has been in operation since 1991 and bills itself as one of the top theater festivals in the world. Each summer, CATF brings six new plays in rotating repertory on the campus of Shepherd University.