COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the past 39 years, CATCO has brought professional theater to central Ohio.
This past week, the theater group made a big announcement about their continued commitment to providing modern, relevant storytelling to the Columbus community.
"We are moving to 'The Contemporary Theatre of Ohio,'" Christy Farnbauch, the executive director of The Contemporary, said. "We really want to plant that flag and we really want to bring 'contemporary theatre' back into our name and be really clear as we build a national reputation."
Not long after its initial founding, the Contemporary American Theatre Company started going by the acronym CATCO to broaden the group's prospects of doing work other than "American" plays.
"The idea that we need to be of the current moment is in our bones from the beginning and the founding of this company," said Leda Hoffmann, the artistic director for The Contemporary. "At the same time, the fact that now everyone knows that we are called The Contemporary Theatre of Ohio means [that] we [had] better be contemporary and we have to be of Ohio, so I'm picking plays that feel relevant to central Ohio; that are ideas and topics that people are talking about right here, right now."
"This past season we did '9 to 5,' focused on gender pay equity and harassment in the workplace," said Farnbauch. "And 'Indecent' in the fall was around antisemitism and censorship and, unfortunately, all of those issues are as relevant today as they were many, many years ago."
Looking forward, The Contemporary also announced its lineup of shows for the upcoming 2023/2024 season which will kick off this September. All of the plays were written within the past few years and one, which will be a world-premiere production, was written in 2022.
"The plays that we're doing next season feel fresh and new," explained Hoffmann. "They're not always plays that you've necessarily heard of, that you've been able to see in Columbus before."
The series starts with the play "POTUS," which Hoffmann describes as a "contemporary farce [with] lots of running around, crazy things happening.
"It's going to be this really fun behind-the-scenes look at what happens at the White House on a day when the president is making a lot of mistakes and a bunch of women have to figure out how to cover up for him," said Hoffmann.
The season will also include plays such as "Good Grief," "Skeleton Crew," the beloved musical "Ride the Cyclone," and a unique one-woman presentation of the holiday classic "A Christmas Carol."
In January, The Contemporary will host the world-premiere of "The Worries of Wesley (Or: How I Learned to Stop Having Anxiety, or Not Really, But I am Trying)." The play tells the story of a little girl who suffers from anxiety.
"She's trying to figure out how to talk to people about what that feels like," explained Hoffmann, "and there are puppets that play her heart and her lungs and her brain. You get to see this little girl figuring out who she is as she's coming of age and it's a great conversation about mental illness."
"I love our work," said Farnbauch. "I love the voices we're putting on stage; the stories we're telling."
All information about The Contemporary Theatre of Ohio's new name and upcoming season can be found at their new website.