James Downs, associate professor of history and American studies, will spend the 2015-16 academic year studying medical anthropology at Harvard University.
The Department of Theatre will present “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” in Tansill Theater from Thursday, Feb. 28 through Sunday, March 3. Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, and matinee performances are at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The play tells the tale of a man named Gordon who dies at a café, leaving only his cell phone connecting him to the world. Jean, a woman who finds herself answering his phone after his death, accepts the responsibility of keeping Gordon’s memory alive and providing closure to his family. Through various obstacles, Jean explores Gordon’s life, as well as grief, communication and humanity in the current technological age.
The show’s director, Talia Curtin ’13, found Tony-nominated playwright Sarah Ruhl’s story to be inspiring in many ways.
“The more I work with this play, the more I discover the depth of the magic that originally captivated me,” she said. “Sarah Ruhl’s writing is poetry, and her ability to craft a story that is simultaneously touching, evocative, bizarre, relevant and hilarious is simply stunning. ‘Dead Man’s Cell Phone’ creates its own conventions and asks its directors, designers and actors to unpack them.”
Curtin calls the production a true collaboration between faculty, designers and the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology, as well as students with roles as diverse as choreographing and composing.
“There are so many voices and visions that have been put into this show,” she said. “We are exploring the endless possibilities of theatre and magical realism, creating a show that will be unlike anything ever seen in Tansill Theater.”
And of the characters and cast, Curtin said, “These characters are so wonderful because they are thoroughly unique, quirky and loveable. I am urging each actor to locate the humanity of their role within themselves and then discover it within the world of the play.”
Since much of Ruhl’s play revolves around communication, the producers have started a larger, campuswide conversation on Twitter, encouraging people to follow @DeadMansHashtag and tweet overheard conversations. Curtin said some tweets will even make it into the performance.
Tickets are $6 for students and $8 for general admission, and can be purchased through the box office in Palmer Auditorium or by phone at (860) 439-ARTS.