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‘Marcellus Shale’ to be presented at Alban Arts Center

By Clint Thomas, Metro Reporter
From left, “Marcellus Shale” creators Ellen Maddow and Paul Zimet and director Frieda Forsley stand outside the Alban Arts Center in St. Albans. Courtesy photo

“Marcellus Shale,” a topical play addressing the environmental and personal impact of fracking, will be presented on stage at 8 p.m. Friday, April 21 and also at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 22 at the Alban Arts Center, 65 Olde Main Plaza in St. Albans.

The weekend performances of “Marcellus Shale” are being produced in conjunction with Talking Band, a New York-based theater company, and Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

“Marcellus Shale” was written by Paul Zimet, with music by Ellen Maddow. Frieda Forsley is the director for the St. Albans production.

Yvonne Farley of St. Albans, the stage manager and outreach coordinator for the production, said she has a personal tie-in to “Marcellus Shale,” which will be performed on Earth Day Saturday as well as the Friday opening night.

“The way it started was that the woman who did the music to it, Ellen Maddow, was my roommate at Antioch College,” Farley said. “When they wrote the grant -- it’s being done with private money, not public money, to do the show, they contacted me about what was going on in West Virginia, so I was part of it right from the beginning.

“We went around and looked at theaters and chose the Alban, because it’s such a friendly place. We liked the stage and its intimate surroundings. It’s got a very good cast -- George Daugherty, ‘The Earl of Elkview,’ is in it,” Farley said.

Along with Daugherty, other “Marcellus Shale” cast members include Gary Brown, Laura Michelle Diener, Stuart Frazier, Madelyn Greene, H. Wyatt Hanna III, Ariana Kincaid, Ty Miller, Janet “JP” Prince, Caroline Chamness Rainey and Paula Ruckman.

Farley said the musical play is derived from Zimet and Maddow’s personal experiences.

“They have a farm around Binghamton in upstate New York. They based the play on interviews they did with their neighbors and created the characters based on people they knew. The play tries to show different reactions to fracking and the people who are coming in and buying the land. But it’s not a polemic; it shows the different points of view of the people and how they react to it. The show’s also a little about the dreams these people had about their lives. There’s a surrealistic quality to the play, too,” Farley said.

Tickets for each production are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. Proceeds will go to the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and the West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization.

To order tickets, call 304-721-8896 or visit www.albanartscenter.com and click the “Purchase Tickets” link at the top of the page.

Cast members are slated to perform excerpts from “Marcellus Shale” from 12:30 to 1 p.m. Thursday, April 20, in the Davis Fine Arts Building auditorium on the West Virginia State University campus in Institute. The half-hour program is part of WSVU’s Earth Day activities on Thursday.

Also, from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, “End of the Line: The True Story of the Bluegrass Pipeline,” a film by Sellus Wilder, will be presented free at the Alban Arts Center. Coffee and doughnuts will be provided.


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