Running from July 10 through Aug. 2, the festival has a reputation for thoughtful, innovative productions. It’s introduced 105 new plays since its inception in 1991. No lighthearted musicals or whimsical diversions here. The plays deal with contemporary issues that both challenge and entertain audiences. 

related: The wild ponies of Chincoteague

This year five plays run in a rotating repertory. They explore topics such as choosing to live with reality or fantasy, the bonds and boundaries of family, finding identity beyond cultural images, and the Russian activist group Pussy Riot. The festival is held on the campus of Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, about 70 miles north of Washington, D.C.

The festival website, www.catf.org, has schedules, tickets and logistical info. For even more info, head to www.shepherdstown.info

For more travel advice, go to www.insightguides.com.