In early November, the Theatre Studies program at St. Norbert College produced the play Dead Man’s Cell Phone, written by Sarah Ruhl. This play tells the story of a lonely woman who obtains the cell phone of a man who died in front of her. After realizing the level of tension this man has left in those around him throughout his life, she works to make things right. Filled with little comedic relief and irony, the story highlights the breakdown of true communication and connectedness that comes with the use of cellphones.
The production was considered a success by those who were involved. Some students of the Honors Program had key roles in this successful show. When asked about the play, first-year student Anton Maslowski stated, “I think the play was really well cast and everybody took to their roles really well.” The execution of the play was smooth and consistent, explained the cast members. First-year student Garret Fritz claimed, “Compared to other productions I’ve been in, this has been the most low-stress, ever.” He elaborated that “most of the time, when you’re in a show, nothing seems to go right, but this time, we were ready to open almost two weeks before opening night.” That readiness was evident in the show through the smooth lines, the timely transitions, and the extremely realistic interactions.
In order to pull off such a feat, ample amounts of time had to go into preparing. Those who are in the plays at SNC need to take theater lab - a two-hour class - twice a week to rehearse and practice for opening night. Along with this, rehearsal for the play spanned from 6pm-10pm five times a week. Anton Maslowski explains the amount of practice time by saying, “The director wanted all members to have a very clear idea of who their characters are, even if the character does not always have lines in the script.” Come showtime, it was evident that the characters were fine-tuned and well-rehearsed. Each character held a level of consistency that was both believable and easy to follow.
Though it takes extensive time and effort to put on a play with the precision needed to amaze, it is beyond worth it to those involved. When asked about his reaction to the preparation and performance of Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Garret Fritz said, “Everybody accepted the play. It was really nice to see. There were such passionate people, especially coming right out of high school.” After being asked the same question, Anton Maslowski declared it a “rewarding experience” because of the ability to tell a story for a couple of hours.
There is a lot that happens behind the scenes of the production of a play, but one thing was unanimously decided: it is worth the commitment. Bonds were made throughout the process, and the final product on the opening night made the long days worth it.