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Summer at the Theater: Contemporary American Theater Festival

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Summer at the Theater: Contemporary American Theater Festival

In-Person Program

Multi-Day Tour

Friday, July 12, 2024 - 8:15 a.m., to Saturday, July 13, 2024 - 6:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1CNCTF
Detailed information for overnight tours
is mailed approximately FOUR WEEKS
prior to departure.
Select your Registration
Double Room Member
Double Room Non-Member
Single Room Member
Single Room Non-Member

The Marinoff Theater, site of the Contemporary American Theater Festival (Photo: Ecragg)

Please Note: This tour will no longer be accepting additional registrations as of July 10, 2024. Also, the return time on July 13 has been updated (previously listed as 7 p.m.)

One of the top theater festivals in the world, the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, helps shape the future of American theater. Each summer since 1991, the festival has produced bold, new plays spotlighting daring and diverse stories. Washington, D.C., area theater aficionado Lynn O’Connell leads a visit to the festival.

Over the course of two days, attend the premieres of three new plays. In addition to the performances, enjoy “talktheater” sessions that offer opportunities to meet with actors, artistic directors, staff, and special guests for lectures, discussions, and staged readings, all focused on issues and themes in the plays.

Performances Included in this Tour

Enough to Let the Light In
By Paloma Nozicka
Directed By Kimberly Senior 

Girlfriends Marc and Cynthia spend the night celebrating a significant milestone. As the evening progresses, it quickly devolves into chaos. As buried secrets emerge, their lives are irrevocably changed, putting their relationship at risk. Enough to Let the Light In is a story about love, truth, and the ghosts that won’t let us go. This smart, spooky play asks whether we can love each other through the most challenging self-discoveries and if unseen forces shape our destinies.

The Happiest Man on Earth
By Mark St. Germain
Directed By Ron Lagomarsino

This true triumphant story brings the extraordinary journey of Eddie Jaku to life. He endured innumerable harrowing experiences while navigating and evading multiple Nazi concentration camps. Eddie’s story is one of unimaginable grief and tragic loss, yet it is a testament to the indomitable spirit of the human soul. Defying all odds, he declared himself "the happiest man on earth," as evidenced by his resilience and determination to find light even in the darkest circumstances. Based on the memoir of the same name by Eddie Jaku.

Tornado Tastes Like Aluminum Sting A World Premiere
By Harmon Dot Aut
Directed By Oliver Butler

Through the lens of an iPhone, we see CB’s perspective—a world where cigarettes sound like screaming peacocks and the word “breath” sounds like trees cracking their knees. CB, a non-binary filmmaker with synesthesia, humorously and annoyingly follows the young movie maker’s parents around the house, documenting family and community, all while the memory of a tornado looms in the distance. This play centers on a teenager with autism finding their place and parents learning to love each other and their child, ultimately cherishing the gift of being alive.

Know Before You Go

  • Cost includes bus transportation, lodging, all activities, and the following meals: one breakfast, two lunches, and one dinner.
  • Overnight accommodations are at the Hampton Inn and Suites, Charles Town, West Virginia.
  • Tour departs by bus from the Mayflower Hotel, Connecticut Ave. and DeSales St., NW, with a pickup at the Wiehle-Reston East Park & Ride at about 8:40 a.m.
  • Single-room supplement $110 (factored into the Single Room Member and Single Room Non-Member pricing).
  • Singles registering at the double-room rate are paired (on a nonsmoking basis) if possible, but must pay the single-room supplement otherwise.
  • Detailed information is emailed to registrants about four weeks prior to departure.
  • Participants are advised to purchase travel insurance for overnight and multi-day tours from a provider of your choice. Travel insurance provides additional coverage against unforeseen incidents that require last-minute cancellations.

General Information

  • Update: Registration for this tour will end by 9 a.m. ET on Wednesday, July 10, 2024.
  • The tour departs by motorcoach from downtown Washington, DC with a designated secondary pick-up outside the city. Content delivered by the study leader on the way to the destination, after the secondary pick-up, is an integral part of the study tour experience. Meeting the group once the tour is en route is discouraged.
  • Smithsonian Associates is a mask-friendly environment. Please feel free to bring and wear a mask at any time during a tour, both for your safety or the safety of others.
  • As we aim to move away from single use water bottles, guests are strongly encouraged to get in the habit of bringing their own reusable water bottle on tour.
  • For additional tour information: