The Penn State alumni are set to star in and direct Mary Gage’s new play “Fallout” March 30-31 at the State Theater.
“Fallout” is about Claude Eatherly, who participated in the bombing of Hiroshima and was the pilot who dropped the bomb on Nagasaki. After returning to the United States, he was filled with guilt and made efforts to end the nuclear war.
The play will address Eatherly’s journey of coping with her post-traumatic stress disorder and how it affects the people around her. He will also address how the US government and military silenced him.
“Mary wrote a play about one person’s life, but it’s an absolute whirlwind,” said Penn State alumnus and director of the play Elaine Meder-Wilgus. “It goes through decades of history.”
Meder-Wilgus said this will be the third Gage play she has directed. She said she liked Gage’s use of “the abstraction of a theatrical scene to tell a story”.
“Fallout” will feature Penn State alumnus Doug Cockle, who has worked for more than 20 years in theater, film, television, radio, video games and corporate video. He is best known for playing Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt video game. He currently lives in the UK
Cockle said when he first moved to England his credibility was in doubt because he had studied in the United States, but Gage vouched for him. Cockle said Gage was “key” to a relationship with his 16-year-old former agent.
Playing in the room feels like a “full circle ending,” Cockle said. “Mary did me a favor, so I’m doing her one too.”
“Fallout” was originally supposed to open in New York, but it was postponed twice due to the pandemic.
Meder-Wilgus said she was unable to watch the play originally because she was working on other productions, but was able to because of the pandemic, along with the rest of distribution.
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Mark Keeton, the lead actor, has worked in over 20 productions on and off Broadway. He also had roles in movies and TV shows. Some of the best known include “Wonderstruck” and “The Lion in Winter”.
Keeton said the play started out as a “vague idea” due to the number of times it had been cancelled, like many other theatrical performances amid the coronavirus pandemic. He said he “didn’t think about it” when Meder-Wilgus contacted him, but after reading the script he “got the character so well”.
“I fell in love with his journey even though it was the hardest journey,” Keeton said. “It affected me so much that I couldn’t say ‘no’.”
Roxy Arrojo, who plays Eatherly’s wife, is a New York-based actress and singer. She is the Program Director of the Educational Arts Team and was last seen in the play “Collected Stories” in March 2020.
Arrojo said she “wanted to reclaim the theater community” that the coronavirus took away. She said she was “desperate” to go back and “didn’t read the scripts but knew [she] wanted to go back.
Meder-Wilgus said “Fallout” is an important story that will weave its way into deep subject matter.
“This piece is heavy subject matter, but it’s not trying to be political in any way. It’s asking people to really wake up and really observe. says Meder-Wilgus. “Art is where we approach things that we can’t face, and that’s what this piece allows us to do…it sparks conversations.”
This story seems to be “forgotten for decades,” and it’s “important” to “keep the story front and center,” Keeton said. “It is very important that we do not forget his story so that future generations will follow in his footsteps.”
“Fallout” will also feature Penn State professors including Charles Dumas, Michael Waldhier, Rick Gilmore, Carrie Marcinkevage, Jared Kehler, Lyn Freymiller and Laura Waldhier.
“Fallout” premieres at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on March 30 and 31 at the State Theater. Tickets, which cost $15 for students and $28 for everyone else, can be found here.
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