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PSU Theatre production examines our technology ties

April 21, 2014 9:15AM

The Pittsburg State University Theatre’s upcoming production of “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” by Sarah Ruhl, is a surreal and wryly funny examination of our fascination with technology.

“This play captures the condition of modern culture,” said Director Cynthia Allan. “Technology allows us to connect with a multitude of people instantly and constantly and yet we are losing our face-to-face communication skills. We connect but are not in touch.”

“Dead Man’s Cell Phone” begins in a small cafe, where a lone woman is annoyed by the ringing cell phone of the gentleman seated next to her. When she asks him to answer his phone, she realizes he is dead. She answers his phone herself and thus begins her entanglement with his family, business associates and a strange planet called heaven that includes laundromats.

“I love the way Ruhl plays with words and creates absurd situations with characters who somehow remain highly recognizable,” Allan said. “We live digital lives. That means we are always ‘there’ but nowhere at the same time. We don't even go away when we die, since our presence is still available through our social media and voice messages.”

The cast of “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” features Breezi Hancock as Jean, Austin Van Becelaere as Gordon, Megan Reed as Mrs. Gottlieb, Caitlin Almond as Hermia, Logan Qualls as Dwight, and Bobbi Jo Smith as the Other Woman/Stranger. The production also includes five more cast members who participate in the Cell Phone Ballet. The production staff features student designers of both set (Caitlin Almond) and lighting (Morgan Beach), costume designer Lisa Quinteros, and the local band, Deadeye, fronted by Megan McCoy. The band will perform live on stage during the show, creating all the sound effects themselves. They have also written all original music for the show. 

“Working with Deadeye has been a wonderful collaboration,” Allan said. “Their contributions to the show, both in terms of music and sound effects, add a level of sly humor and immediacy that dovetails perfectly with the production. This has been a lot of fun for me and the cast."

The cast will collect used cell phones before each production to be donated to the local Safehouse Crisis Center. Donated cell phones must be in working condition with batteries and charger. They will be used as emergency phones for women in domestic violence situations.

“Dead Man’s Cell Phone” runs Thursday through Saturday, April 24 – 26, at 8 p.m. A 2 p.m. matinee will be presented on Sunday, April 27. All performances will be held in the PSU Studio Theatre at the corner of Joplin and Cleveland streets. Tickets are $11 for the general public and $7 for persons under 17 or over 65. PSU students, faculty and staff with a valid PSU photo ID are admitted for free. Tickets are available at the PSU Ticket Office in the Weede PE Building, 1701 S. Homer, 620-235-4796. Tickets may also be purchased at the door, starting approximately 30 minutes before each performance. This production is intended for mature audiences.

©2014 Pittsburg State University

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