Carnegie Mellon University
August 03, 2011

Ph.D. Candidate in Rhetoric to Continue Deliberative Theater Project

Shannon Deep and Tim DawsonShannon Deep and Tim Dawson

Tim Dawson, an English Department Ph.D. candidate in rhetoric, is looking forward to the next staging of "Managing Marcellus." The entire three-hour deliberative event—including a performance of the play by CMU alumus Shannon Deep, structured discussion with trained moderators, and an expert resource panel—will be replicated in Washington County in November 2011. Dawson is eager to hold the event in an area that is affected by the Marcellus Shale drilling.

The first production was recorded on July 27, 2011, at WQED-TV's studio in Pittsburgh. (Click here to watch a video of the performance on WQED's website.) Dawson deemed it a success. "[P]eople found the event useful and an invigorating alternative to other public discussions of the issues surrounding Marcellus Shale...Specifically, it enabled people to move beyond polarized position-taking, allowing them to consider alternative perspectives and to meaningfully reflect on their own perspective," he said.

A report on the event, including survey results and a compilation of the notes from each small-group discussion, is currently being prepared. The report will be published on the websites of WQED and Pop City Media, and Dawson will present the results at the "Imagining America" national conference next month. WQED also plans to broadcast a 30-minute special about the event in the fall of this year.

Dawson is the Document Developer for the Program for Deliberative Democracy and coordinator of outreach programming for Unseam'd Shakespeare Company. He acted as the producer of the performance of "Managing Marcellus" and developed the playbill that accompanied the event. In addition to being a first-year writing instructor in the English Department, he also teaches a performance studies course in the Humanities Scholars Program and is an adjunct in the School of Drama. His research focuses on how the arts can be used to foster greater civic engagement and increase citizen participation in processes of democratic decision making.

To learn more about the project, read the Carnegie Mellon News Blog post and the CMU homepage story.