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Upcoming theater festival offers a sneak peek

July 01, 2007|By MEG H. PARTINGTON

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Four modern American plays will begin their nearly monthlong run this week on the campus of Shepherd University.

The 17th season of the Contemporary American Theater Festival begins Wednesday, July 4, with pay-what-you-can previews of Jason Grote's "1001" and the world premiere of Lee Blessing's "Lonesome Hollow." On Thursday, July 5, patrons can pay what best suits their wallets to see Richard Dresser's "The Pursuit of Happiness" and "My Name is Rachel Corrie," adapted by Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner. "The Pursuit of Happiness" and "1001" will be presented at 8 p.m. on the Frank Center Stage; "Lonesome Hollow" and "My Name is Rachel Corrie" will be staged at 8:30 p.m. in the Studio Theater.

A brief synopsis of the plays:

"1001": In medieval Persia, Scheherazade desperately weaves a tale to distract a bloodthirsty king, while in post-9/11 Manhattan, a love story unfolds between an Arab woman and a Jewish man. CATF Producing Director Ed Herendeen calls this comic riff on storytelling and history "a spectacle of theatrical delight."

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"Lonesome Hollow": Sex offenders are quarantined in mysterious penal colonies in this production, set in the relatively near future. An artist renowned for his nude photographs and a pedophile are thrown together, both struggling to understand the new rules of crime and punishment. "It's going to ride a real slippery slope," Herendeen said.

"The Pursuit of Happiness": The second installment in Dresser's "Happiness" trilogy, the first part of which, "Augusta," premiered last year at the CATF, explores the middle class and its quest for the American dream. Two parents devote their lives to making their daughter happy and educating her so she will have an independent voice, but they are thrown into a tailspin when that voice isn't saying what they want it to. "It's a funny play, but it has a bite to it," Herendeen said.

"My Name is Rachel Corrie": This play is drawn from the diaries, e-mails, journals and letters sent home by its namesake. Corrie, a Washington state native, was killed in 2003 in Gaza by a bulldozer she was trying to block from demolishing the home of a Palestinian. Herendeen said he doesn't see the controversial play as anti-Israel or pro-Palestine, but rather views it as an expression of the feelings of someone who was politically curious and committed to her cause.

Single tickets for all Wednesday and Thursday performances cost $30; students and those 65 and older pay $26. Single tickets for all Friday, Saturday and Sunday shows cost $36; students and those 65 and older pay $30.

CATCards to see all Wednesday and Thursday performances cost $100 each; for students and those 65 and older, the cost is $81. CATCards to attend all performances on any day cost $120 each; for students and those 65 and older, the cost is $100.

For more information, call 304-876-3473 or 800-999-CATF (2283); or go to www.catf.org.

More to come

For more about the CATF and the full schedule of performances, see this week's Loop in The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail on Thursday.

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