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The Talking Band Hosts a Fracking Symposium at La MaMa, 5/31


On Saturday, May 25 from 2:00 to 5:30 p.m., The Talking Band will host the event, "Marcellus Shale: Looking Between the Layers, A Symposium on the Social, Economic, and Environmental Impacts of Fracking" at La MaMa (74A E. 4 St., NYC).

Speakers at the symposium will include Dave Ramsaran, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology at Susquehanna University; Dr. Seth Ronkoff, Executive Director of Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy; Jake Hays, Program Director of the Public Health nexus for Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy; and Wes Gillingham, Program Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper. The event will also feature performances by the acclaimed singer/songwriters Loudon Wainwright III and Martha Wainwright, as well as a screening of the documentary shortThe Sky is Pink by Oscar nominated director Josh Fox. The symposium will be free and open to the public and will also be webcast for online viewing by

The day's schedule follows:

2:00 pm - Introduction from Mia Yoo, Artistic Director, La MaMa

2:05 pm - Overview of fracking on the Marcellus Shale from Wes Gillingham, program director of Catskill Mountainkeeper

2:20 pm - Address/Q&A on Fracking and its impact on communities from sociologist Dr. Dave Ramsaran

2:40 pm - 10-minute break

2:50 pm - Performance by Loudon Wainwright III

3:05 pm - Performance by Martha Wainwright

3:20 pm - Screening of The Sky is Pink

3:50 pm - 15-minute break

4:05 pm - Address/Q&A on Fracking and human health from Jake Hays, program director of the health-energy nexus for Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy

4:30 pm - Address /Q&A on healthy energy alternatives from Sheila Bushkin, MD Program Director of the Continuing Medical Education Program for Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy

5:00 pm Closing statements from Talking Band artistic director Paul Zimet and introduction to the play MARCELLUS SHALE

MARCELLUS SHALE is a world-premiere music-theater work written and directed by Paul Zimet and composed by Ellen Maddow. Presented by La MaMa in association with The Talking Band, MARCELLUS SHALE begins performances on Friday, May 24 at La MaMa's First Floor Theatre (74A E. 4 St., NYC). This strictly-limited run will play through Sunday, June 9th. The Press Opening is set for Tuesday, May 28th.

Inspired by interviews with people living on the Marcellus Shale and by Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel "Demons," The Talking Band's MARCELLUS SHALE is a music-theater work set in 2016 in a rural community in upstate New York where the landscape has been transformed, and friends and families have been divided by "fracking" as they confront the questions: What really matters to you? What would be the last thing you would give up? What do you consider a good life? And is your own life a good life?

Paul Zimet, a co-founder of The Talking Band, notes, "The issue of natural gas drilling has engendered fierce debates among my neighbors in upstate New York, where I have a home." While creating MARCELLUS SHALE, he adds, "I have not been asking people what they think about the drilling but rather basic questions about what's significant in their lives."

The diverse sensibilities and tensions within the affected communities are reflected in the songs -- from a cappella hymns to raw pop -- written by Ellen Maddow. The production's visual designs -- Anna Kiraly (sets and video), Lenore Doxsee (lights) and Kiki Smith (costumes) -- create a world at once hyper-real and surreal, familiar and strange against the backdrop of the natural and industrial environment on the Marcellus Shale.

The cast of MARCELLUS SHALE includes Harlan J. Alford, Suli Holum, John Kurzynowski, Joel Leffert, Ellen Maddow, Mike Mikos, Steven Rattazzi, Tina Shepard, David Smilow, and Linda Tardif.

The performance schedule for MARCELLUS SHALE is as follows:

- Week I (Previews): Fri. May 24 @ 7:30; Sat, May 25 @ 7:30; Sun, May 26 @ 2:30

- Week II: Tue, May 28 @ @ 7:30 (Press opening); Wed, May 29 @ 7:30; Thurs, May 30 @ 7:30;Fri, May 31 @ 7:30; Sat, June 1 @ 7:30; Sun, June 2 @ 2:30

- Week III: Wed, June 5 @ 7:30; Thurs, June 6 @ 7:30; Fri, June 7 @ 7:30; Sat, June 8@ 7:30;Sun, June 9 @ 2:30 and 7:30

Tickets to MARCELLUS SHALE are $25 ($20 for Students/Seniors). To purchase tickets, visit the La MaMa box office at 74A East 4th Street; call 212-475-7710 or online at

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