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Theatre Faculty Play Role in Marcellus Shale Education

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From left: Josephine Wilson, Raymond Sage, Timothy Riley

In early May, residents of Clearfield County got an education in natural gas drilling—from Penn State Theatre faculty and recent graduates. As part of the National Science Foundation grant project “Marcellus Matters: Engaging Adults in Science and Energy,” Timothy Riley and Josephine Wilson, 2012 alumni of the M.F.A. Acting program, and Raymond Sage, associate professor in the Musical Theatre program, presented short plays about shale gas development written by faculty members Bill Doan and Susan Russell. Following the performances, Doan and Russell facilitated a conversation among the audience members while Penn State scientists provided technical information.

Beginning this fall, plays written by Doan, Russell, and Dean Barbara Korner will be presented again in Clearfield, which was selected because of the history of resource extraction—such as coal mining—in the area. The theme of the plays is “Living with Risk and Uncertainty,” and they were written using information gleaned from online message boards where Pennsylvania residents discuss Marcellus Shale issues. The plays’ content will evolve based on audience response.

This project marks the first time Theatre faculty have been part of a Penn State NSF grant. For more on College of Arts and Architecture involvement in the project, check out the cover story in the 2012 issue of the College of Arts and Architecture News Magazine. For more on the grant, visit the website for the Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research at