Carnegie Mellon University
June 22, 2011

News Brief: PDD To Use Deliberative Theater To Explore The Marcellus Shale Debate

By Shilo Raube

While Marcellus Shale is recognized as one of the greatest economic opportunities for Pennsylvania, the drilling and processing of natural gas poses both challenges and threats to local infrastructure, the environment and public safety.

What is the best role for communities to play in safeguarding local assets and protecting the environment?  What does the average person know about Marcellus Shale and how do they know it?  

The Program for Deliberative Democracy (PDD), a joint venture between CMU's Center for Ethics and Policy and Pittsburgh's Coro Center for Civic Leadership, is teaming up with WQED-TV, Pop City and Unseam'd Shakespeare Company to explore the issue of Marcellus Shale at the intersection of government, industry and community. 

"Managing Marcellus" is a Deliberative Theater performance written by Shannon Deep, a CMU alumnus, designed to inform people of the Shale controversy and different viewpoints.

"The performance will illustrate the different relationships and complexities with Marcellus Shale and how they play out in real life," said Deep, who was a Phi Beta Kappa Fellow in Deliberative Democracy.  "The different scenes move through issues related to trust, who has the correct information and is there even correct information?"

The play works towards a solution that all sides need to be included in the Marcellus Shale conversation.

"The institutions of democracy are by no means static — we are still very much in an experimental phase," said Robert Cavalier, co-director of the PDD and a teaching professor of philosophy at CMU.  "CMU is playing an important role in this experiment.  One example of this is Shannon Deep's development of a 'Deliberative Theater.'"

Unseam'd Shakespeare Company will produce "Managing Marcellus" and it will be performed and recorded on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 from 5-8:15 p.m. at WQED-TV's studios.  It will be televised on WQED later this fall.

Seating for the taping is limited and participants will be chosen by random, not first to sign up. The event is highly participatory and will include a reception, pre-reading, pre- and post-surveys, a moderated small group discussion, a Q&A panel discussion in addition to the performance of "Managing Marcellus."

To sign up to attend the July 27 taping, visit

For more information on the Program for Deliberative Democracy, visit