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Seton Hill University's Theatre and Dance Program presents the world premiere of “Running in Traffic,” a play by Denise Pullen, associate professor, theatre and dance, at the University. The play, which is set in Pittsburgh and is filled with local references, centers around a young man with severe autism. Immediately following select performances, Pullen, playwright, and Kellee Van Aken, director, will facilitate “Talk Back” sessions. Individuals affected by autism will participate in a dialogue with the audience.

The schedule for the “Talk Backs” is as follows:

Cassi Group-Sunday, April 29, immediately following 2 p.m. performance
Group is the outreach coordinator for Autism Speaks. Additionally, works with Family Behavioral Resources (FBR). In November 2009, she was asked to serve as in the interim autism coordinator in Somerset and Bedford. Just three months later, she officially joined the FBR Autism Team in Somerset and Bedford. Group supported consumers and their families in Blair and Cambria Counties during that time. Today, Group works with the Somerset and Uniontown offices as well as Head Start in Fayette County. Group also serves on FBR's Community Outreach and Networking Committee. Prior to her work with FBR, Group was a substitute teacher and worked in a Life Skills classroom within the Somerset Area School District. She has a passion for working with children on the autism spectrum. She enjoys implementing and training others in the utilization of various modalities that fall within the framework of Applied Behavior Analysis. Group received her undergraduate degree from Waynesburg University and completed her graduate work at Chatham University.

Luciana Randall-Wednesday, May 2, immediately following 10:30 a.m. performance
Randall is the executive director of the Advisory Board on Autism and Related Disorders (ABOARD) Autism Connection of Pennsylvania. After graduating from Wright State University with her Master of Science degree in rehabilitation counseling, Randall worked for several years in Philadelphia managing both residential and day programs and moved to Pittsburgh in 1992. With colleagues Randall started Spectrum Charter School in Monroeville in 2000. She began training professionals about the brain basis of autism in 2001. Randall was project director for the Autism Society of Pittsburgh for two years before moving on to work with the strong parent board of directors of ABOARD's Autism Connection of Pennsylvania

Randall will be joined by Lisa Liston, president of the Autism Society of America, Westmoreland County Chapter.

James Gurksnis-Thursday, May 3, immediately following 8 p.m. performance
A Greensburg native, Gurksnis lives with Asperger’s Syndrome. Despite the challenges he faces, Gurksnis graduated from Slippery Rock University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in finance. Gurksnis works for WIS International as an inventory associate and is a member of Toastmasters International.

Marie Mambuca-Friday, May 4, immediately following 8 p.m. performance
Mambuca is the Family Supports coordinator for Advisory Board on Autism and Related Disorders (ABOARD) Autism Connection of Pennsylvania for 12 years. She has a 20-year-old son with autism. Mambuca works with families to assist them in dealing with issues from pre-diagnosis to helping older adults. Currently, Mambuca is completing graduate work in early intervention autism specialization and obtaining board certification in behavioral analysis.

“Running in Traffic” focuses on Bolton, a nonverbal young man with autism who runs from home to attempt independence and becomes lost. He finds refuge on a traffic island when Stevie, a girl in a sandwich suit, pulls him from speeding traffic. While his family tackles traffic to find him, Bolton fights to continue his destination and Officer Edwards speeds to the scene of an alleged assault on a sandwich.

“The story unfolds with humor and compassion. While the real-time action of his rescue and arrest plays out, scenes dramatizing the struggles Bolton and his family face throughout his life expose the toll autism takes on the families it affects. My goal with this new play is to attempt an understanding of the mysteries of the autistic mind and give voice to the needs and desires held hostage within it,” said Pullen, who has a personal perspective on the topic of autism. “My 23-year-old nephew is autistic. I wrote this play as a tribute to this family’s struggle and the strength of their love.”

Performances: April 27 and 28: 8 p.m.; April 29: 2 p.m.; May 2: 10:30 a.m.; May 3, 4 and 5: 8 p.m.

Venue Information: All Seton Hill Theatre and Dance performances are held in the William Granger Ryan Theatre in Seton Hill University's Performing Arts Center, 100 Harrison Avenue, Greensburg, Pa. The Performing Arts Center is a fully accessible and climate-controlled facility. Parking is available in four nearby Greensburg parking areas: the Bell Parking Garage on North Otterman Street (across the street from the Performing Arts Center), the Hellman-Ghrist lot on North Main Street, the Albert Grillo lot on Seton Hill Drive, and the Wib Albright lot off West Otterman Street.

Ticket Information: Single admission tickets are $16. Seton Hill students (with valid ID) can purchase tickets for $5. Non-Seton Hill students (with a valid school ID) can purchase advance tickets for $13. Students from any school can purchase rush tickets five minutes before curtain, subject to availability, for $5 (with valid school ID). Groups of 16 or more can purchase tickets at a rate of $12 each with a reservation and advance payment. Order tickets online, by phone at 724-552-2929, or by mail at SHUPAC Theatre Box Office, Seton Hill University, 1 Seton Hill Drive, Greensburg, Pa. 15601-1599. Box Office Hours, by telephone: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Extended hours on performance days: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Sunday.

Seton Hill University's Performing Arts Center is 73,000 square feet of everything a performing arts major needs to move from student to professional. The Center houses two dedicated, flexible performance spaces, the Carol Ann Reichgut Concert Hall and the William Granger Ryan Theatre. The Center also includes a performance studio, new classrooms, rehearsal rooms and technical areas that include the best equipment for learning and performing, from Steinway pianos to the latest in lighting, sound, video and acoustics. The Center is located in downtown Greensburg, putting it squarely in the middle of the city’s cultural district yet still only minutes from Seton Hill’s main hilltop campus.

The Seton Hill University Theatre and Dance Program has a long history of educating performing arts majors for professional careers while playing a vital role in the educational life of the campus. Seton Hill’s Theatre and Dance Program offers four full-length productions (as well as a number of shorter works) and one dance production each year that generate audiences of over 3,500 and speak to topics addressed in courses across Seton Hill’s curriculum.