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First production of spring

Feb. 18, 2014 @ 08:03 AM

HUNTINGTON — The Marshall Theatre Alliance will host its first play of the Spring Semester this week.

The production of “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” will run at the Francis-Booth Experimental Theater from Feb. 19 through 22 and from Feb. 27 through March 1. All show times will begin at 7:30 p.m. On Thursday, Feb. 20 and Friday, Feb. 21 guests will be invited for coffee and conversation in the Joan C. Edwards Lobby at 6:30 p.m.  

The play will be part of this year’s Birke Fine Arts Festival.

Written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Sarah Ruhl the play tells the darkly comedic story of a woman named Jean who discovers a cell phone belonging to a dead man. Contacting the man’s friends and associates she tries to unravel the mysteries of this man’s life.

“Jean finds that through the phone she’s able to connect to all of these people and have these adventures in a way,” said Director Nicole Perrone. “In some ways she’s able to transform herself into a different person and she seems to have a good time doing that. As she goes forward on the journey however, she comes to realize this phone is actually interfering with her ability to really connect with people. One of the reasons we chose this play is because it’s being presented as part of the 2014 Birke Fine Arts Festival. The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Trending Now: Artists & Audiences in the Information Age.’ We thought the way this play deals with people trying to connect in a technologically obsessed world seemed to make it a good fit for the festival.  It was written in 2002 but in our version of the play we made the phone into a smart phone. I think it‘s funny how Sara Ruhl created this world 10 years ago, not realizing all the topics she wished to explore would escalate in the decade to follow.”

Casting for the play was selected in December and rehearsals started near the beginning of the spring semester. Dress rehearsals began Sunday, Feb. 16.

“The cast is made up of students that our audiences have come to love on the stage over the past few years,” Perrone said. “We have three seniors in this play Michael Norton, Adrieene Goodwin and Kameron Stambaugh. For a couple of them this will be their final production on a Marshall stage, so it’s a special production for them. The other two actors in the play are Grae Greer and Cheyenne Debarros. It‘s a small cast that works beautifully in an ensemble.

The play deals with how technology can be a double edged sword, lamenting how it connect and disconnect us from people, according to Perrone.

“On the other side we here in the theater department wanted to highlight all the ways technology is changing and enhancing our field,” Perrone said. “We are implementing two new practices on this production. Our student stage managers have completed all of their work in a completely digital format using newly purchased iPads and specialized apps that are specifically for stage management. Our students will talk about that before the show. We are also trying something new.  We are implementing ‘Tweet Seats.’ The entire second floor balcony will be reserved for audience members who are encouraged to silently live-tweet about the show.  This is something a lot of theaters have done in the last year or so to promote their productions and because of the Birke Fine Arts Festival this seemed like a good thing to try.”


Main stage general admission to the play is $20 for the general public and $15 for Marshall faculty and seniors.  Admission is free for students with a valid Marshall ID.  Tickets for children 5-12 are $7 but play contains mature language and themes. To order tickets call the box office at 304-696-2787.

The Marshall Theater Alliance will return in April with a production of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” from April 23-26. The play will be directed by Marshall Theater Program Director Jack Cirillo.

For more information on the Marshall University Theater Alliance visit www.marshall.edu/somt/theatre/marshall-university-theatre-alliance/.

For a list of coming events at the Birke Fine Arts Festival, visit the College of Arts and Media online at www.marshall.edu/cam/.



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