GRASS VALLEY, Calif. August 26, 2016 – An incessantly ringing cell phone in a quiet café. A stranger at the next table who has had enough. And a dead man—with a lot of loose ends. So begins “Dead Man’s Cell Phone”, a wildly imaginative and off-center romantic comedy by MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Sarah Ruhl. “Dead Man’s Cell Phone”, directed by Sharon Winegar, is the final production of Sierra Stages’ 2016 season and plays for three weekends only from September 29 through October 16 at the Off Center Stage in Grass Valley.
“Despite the title, ‘Dead Man’s Cell Phone’, the play is a whimsical, wonderful exploration of how we make intimate connections with one another,” says director Sharon Winegar. “I directed a production of the play in 2010, for the Sonoma County Repertory Theater in Sebastopol, and it was so popular, it drew audiences far exceeding expectations.” Winegar adds, “Management was concerned that the title would prove off-putting, but the production was a hit. Word of mouth was explosive, and the show played to full houses. I’ve wanted to mount this delightful play for ages in Nevada County, and Sierra Stages has offered me the opportunity to ‘re-vision’ the production. I am truly grateful to be able to share this story with my own community.”
The cast of the Sierra Stages production of “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” includes Nevada County actors Chase Coney, Lyra Dominguez, Paulette Gilbert, Jonathan Hansard, Wendy Willoughby, and Sharon Winegar. Set & lighting design is by Tim Dugan and costume design is by Paulette Gilbert.
“Dead Man’s Cell Phone” features comedy, mystery, romance, supernatural events, with eccentric characters in extreme situations – all because a young woman answers a stranger’s ringing cellphone. According to Winegar, “It’s an act any of us might do at any moment, but in this case the repercussions are huge. Playwright Sarah Ruhl explores the way individuals make “contact” in this digital world. If you’ve ever yearned for the “good old days” of rotary telephones, this is your kind of show. And if you’ve ever wondered how you existed before the advent of iPhones, this is your kind of show.”
Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Ruhl explained, “If someone were to ask me why I wrote this strange play, I might be silent, I might be evasive, or I might outright lie. But imagine that I said that I was interested in the culture of cell phones, in how they have completely altered our emotional, psychic and body states to the point where culture (and perhaps not even evolution) has caught up. Imagine that I said I was interested in how there is no longer any privacy, nor is there any reason anymore to talk to strangers on elevators… That I feel, at times, lost.”
“Dead Man’s Cell Phone” premiered in 2008 at Playwrights Horizons in New York City, and has since been performed at regional, college and community theatres throughout the United States and internationally. Sarah Ruhl is a prolific contemporary playwright who has twice been a Pulitzer finalist, for “The Clean House” and “In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play). Her newest play, “Scenes From Court Life, or the whipping boy and his prince” (about two political dynasties — the Stuarts of 17th-century Britain and the Bush family of the contemporary United States) will premiere this fall at the Yale Rep in New Haven.
“Dead Man’s Cell Phone” plays for three weekends only from September 29 – October 16 at the Off Center Stage, 315 Richardson Street, Grass Valley. Performances are Thursdays at 7 PM. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays (October 2 and October 16) at 2 PM. The first two performances on September 29 & 30 are lower-priced “previews” with $20 General Admission. For all other performances, General Admission is $25. Reserved Seating is also offered for all performances at $35 and is available for audience members who wish to select specific seat locations in advance and provide additional financial support to the production and Sierra Stages. $15 Student Rush tickets (for students age 25 and under with a valid student ID) are offered at the door beginning ½ hour before each performance, subject to availability. For tickets and information, visit www.SierraStages.org or call Sierra Stages at 530.346.3210. There are NO ADDITIONAL CHARGES for purchasing tickets online.
Sierra Stages is a tax-exempt nonprofit community theatre based in western Nevada County with a mission to provide quality productions that are affordable and accessible to everyone. Since it began in 2008, Sierra Stages has presented 29 plays and musicals and has been recognized by the Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Alliance with six Elly Awards and 58 Elly Award nominations. The annual Elly Awards honor outstanding achievements of community theatres and artists in the greater Sacramento area. For more information about Sierra Stages, visit www.SierraStages.org.