In adapting Steelbound, Alison Carey ensured that the women touched by Bethlehem Steel were represented.

Auditions for Steelbound were held at community centers, schools, places of worship and at Touchstone Theatre, attracting a good cross-section of community residents and professional actors. Nearly all 127 people who auditioned were called back-as is Cornerstone Theater's custom-and a surprising 95 percent of the callbacks showed up.

"I was particularly surprised there were more men than women who returned for callbacks," recalls Bill Rauch, co-founder of Cornerstone and director of Steelbound, since typically the company sees a higher percentage of women in its auditions. "That says a lot about the level of trust Touchstone engenders in the community." As a result of the enthusiastic response, Alison Carey expanded the Steelbound script to accommodate a larger cast.

From January through July, Touchstone's movement director, Jenny Gilrain, and local music director Bev Morgan held monthly rehearsals with the cast to fuse them into an ensemble. Rauch returned to Bethlehem to conduct regular rehearsals in August and, after three weeks' rehearsal, the cast moved to the former iron foundry of Bethlehem Steel. An electrical generator was installed, lights were hung, bleachers were built and brought in by city crews, and a 27-ton ladle, formerly the receptacle for molten steel, was anchored into the ground.

And the question of professionals and nonprofessionals working together? In the final weeks of rehearsal, Rauch was able to instill in the entire cast the realization that, while the professional actors brought the technical expertise to the play, Steelbound could not exist without the presence and participation of the community actors.

Response from the Actors/Audience