Screening Of 'Steelbound' Will Be Presented At National Museum Of Industrial History

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Screening Of 'Steelbound' Will Be Presented At National Museum Of Industrial History

Revisit Touchstone Theatre's iconic production of "Steelbound" on Sept. 25 when the National Museum of Industrial History presents a screening of the original, groundbreaking theatrical work featuring Bethlehem steelworkers. The work, which premiered in 1999, was the centerpiece of Steel Festival: The Art of an Industry, Touchstone's multi-arts festival celebrating Bethlehem's heritage of steelmaking.

The event is planned as a pre-show to Touchstone's Festival UnBound Oct. 4-13, featuring 10 days of original theater, dance, music, art and conversation designed to celebrate and imagine the future of Bethlehem 20 years after the closing of Bethlehem Steel and just a few months after its landmark Martin Tower was imploded. The festival includes "Prometheus/Redux," a companion piece to "Steelbound" that features William George returning in the lead role. George is a co-founder of Bethlehem's Touchstone Theatre, ensemble member and project director of Festival UnBound. The work is written by Gerard Stropnicky, a founding member of the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble.

"Steelbound," a collaboration with Cornerstone Theatre of Los Angeles, was conceived when Bethlehem Steel shut down steelmaking in Bethlehem after an almost 150-year history building our nation. Designed to help the community work its way through that traumatic change, "Steelbound," written by Alison Carey and directed by Bill Rauch, was an adaptation of Aeschylus' "Prometheus Bound," a Greek tragedy in which Prometheus stands for human progress against the forces of nature. It featured a prematurely retired steelworker chained to a 24-ton ladle. The cast featured more than 50 people, including former steelworkers and their families and neighbors. The sold-out production was presented in the iron foundry of the closed Steel plant in south Bethlehem. It included music by Ysaye Barnwell, founder of the a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock. Some of that music is included in "Prometheus/Redux."

In "Prometheus Redux," on stage in the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts Oct. 4-6, George returns as Prometheus. It's 20 years after he left the Steel and now, instead of being chained to the ladle, we find him bound to a hospital bed, suffering liver failure. Where has he been? What's on his mind? And how can he find a place for himself in such a changed world?

"Steelbound" was a pivotal moment in Touchstone's on-going mission to tell the stories of the community. Other groundbreaking works have included "Don Quixote of Bethlehem," a street production designed to bridge the gap between the Anglo and Latino cultures, and "Journey From the East," a two-year project inspired by the influx of Chinese people into Bethlehem.

The screening of "Steelbound" starts at 6:30 p.m. at the National Museum of Industrial History. Doors open at 6 p.m. Hank Barnette, former CEO of Bethlehem Steel, is scheduled to present opening remarks. The screening will be followed by a talkback with local artists and community leaders who worked on the original production. Admission is free.

Festival UnBound features 20 free and ticketed events, including nine pieces of original theater, at locations throughout the Lehigh Valley, primarily in Bethlehem. It is a collaboration with the City of Bethlehem, local African and Latino communities, educational institutions such as the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts and Moravian College and area steelworkers and other residents.

For more information on Festival UnBound, see or call 610-867-1689.

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