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UW-Green Bay Theatre inaugurates 2011-12 season with ‘Dead Man’s Cell Phone’

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The contemporary comedy Dead Man’s Cell Phone, a work by noted young playwright Sarah Ruhl, will inaugurate the 2011-12 University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Theatre season with shows beginning Oct. 13.

The play tells the tale of Jean, a woman who, sitting alone in an urban coffee shop, becomes increasingly annoyed with a man sitting nearby who allows his cell phone to ring and ring. Jean soon discovers that he has died at the table, and her decision to answer the phone starts her on a wildly imaginative journey that explores the ways in which we memorialize the dead, as well as the need to connect in a technologically obsessed world.

“She comes into the possession of it and gets drawn into his life,” said production director and UW-Green Bay associate professor John Mariano. “She becomes kind of intrigued by this, starts to pretend like she knew him, and feels compelled to sort of make his death OK for the people who knew him.”

(Click thumbnails to enter slideshow view.)
UW-Green Bay Theatre performs Dead Man's Cell PhoneUW-Green Bay Theatre performs Dead Man's Cell PhoneUW-Green Bay Theatre performs Dead Man's Cell Phone

UW-Green Bay sophomore Abigail Lee portrays Jean, the unsuspecting and somewhat shut-off protagonist who discovers the phone. The production has a little something for everyone, Lee said.

“It has humor and it has some deep questions,” she said, “and action, a bit — so, everything, really.”

The production also has its dark and surreal moments, said Mariano, but audiences will be well rewarded as they follow Ruhl’s strange tale. The up-and-coming young playwright is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient.

The UW-Green Bay production of Dead Man’s Cell Phone brings together a cast of nine students with a depth and breadth of experience acting at UW-Green Bay. It is the first main stage production for Lee, a sophomore from Kewaunee, Wis.

The UW-Green Bay Theatre program is coming off its best season to date, highlighted by its most successful production yet. Originally staged in October 2010, Almost, Maine earned numerous regional and national awards at the American College Theatre Festival Region III festival held in January, and was selected as an alternate production to the National Festival at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in April.

Dead Man’s Cell Phone performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21 and 22 in the Jean Weidner Theatre at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts on the UW-Green Bay campus, 2420 Nicolet Drive. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door for adults, and $12 in advance and $15 at the door for students and seniors. Order online at www.uwgb.edu/tickets or by calling (920) 465-2400 or (800) 328-tkts.

See a video on the UW-Green Bay production of Dead Man’s Cell Phone.

Dead Man’s Cell Phone cast:
Abigail Lee — Kewaunee, sophomore, Theatre Performance; Jade Landry — Kohler, senior, Theatre Performance; Shelbi Cox — Tualatin, Oregon, senior, Musical Theatre and Arts Management; Alyssa Falvey — Waukesha, senior, Theatre Performance; Taylor Hoeft — Onalaska, sophomore, Music Education/Musical Theatre; Pat Fincutter — Elkhorn, senior, Theatre Performance; Lindsay Kujawa — Wausau, senior, Theatre Performance/Education; Erin Zimmerman — Wausau, junior, Music Education and Theatre Performance; Tamar Brooks — Rio, junior, Theatre Performance/French, Humanistic Studies

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