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“Dead Man’s Cell Phone” premieres Oct. 8 on SFA’s Turner stage

September 18, 2013—Robbie Goodrich

NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS—As part of its 2013-2014 University Series “Live Out Loud,” the Stephen F. Austin State University College of Fine Arts, along with the SFA School of Theatre, will present “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Oct. 8 through 12, in W.M. Turner Auditorium on the SFA campus. A special 2 p.m. matinee performance will also be presented on Saturday, Oct. 12.

The play, by Sarah Ruhl, premiered in 2007 and won a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play. It examines the conflicts between present-day technology’s ability to connect and isolate people in the digital age.

“Dead Man’s Cell Phone” is a wildly imaginative comedy centered on a woman confronting her assumptions about morality, redemption and the need to connect in a technologically obsessed world, according to Laura Rikard, assistant professor of acting in the School of Theatre and the play’s director.

“I am so pleased the SFA School of Theatre is mounting a play by one of America’s most produced modern playwrights,” Rikard said. “Fifty years from now, our students will study the works of Sarah Ruhl just as they study Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams today. Her imaginative plots are driven by charming characters, and expressed through eloquent and poetic text that will entertain and enlighten the audience.”

Charles Isherwood of The New York Times writes of the playwright: “Characters in her plays, which include ‘The Clean House’ and ‘Eurydice,’ negotiate the no man’s land between the everyday and the mystical, talking like goofs one minute and philosophers the next. She writes surrealist fantasies that happen to be populated by eccentrically real people, comedies in which the surface illogic of dreams is made meaningful – made truthful – by the deeper logic of human feeling.”

Ruhl’s plays have been produced on Broadway by Lincoln Center Theater and off-Broadway at Playwrights’ Horizons, Second Stage, Classic Stage Company and Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse Theater. Her plays have been produced regionally across the country, with premieres at Yale Repertory Theatre, the Goodman Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.

In 2003, Ruhl was the recipient of the Helen Merrill Emerging Playwrights Award and the Whiting Writers’ Award. She is a member of 13P and of New Dramatists and was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2006. She was recently the recipient of the PEN Center award for a mid-career playwright, the Feminist Press’s 40 Under 40 award and a 2010 Lilly Award.

Prior to the opening night performance, there will be a 7 p.m. informative talk about the author and the play presented by Rikard in Griffith Gallery located across the hall from Turner Auditorium. The audience is invited back to the gallery for a post-performance reception to meet the cast, crew and director and to honor the event’s corporate sponsor, Tipton Ford Lincoln.

This play is recommended for mature audiences. Please visit www.theatre.sfasu.edu and click on the On Stage button to view the content advisory. If it were a movie, “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” would be rated PG-13.

Single tickets for “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” which is also included in the School of Theatre’s Mainstage Series, are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $7.50 for students and youth. For tickets or more information, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit www.finearts.sfasu.edu.

Griffith Gallery and Turner Auditorium are located in the Griffith Fine Arts Building, 2222 Alumni Drive.