Date of Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Sarah Ruhl, Dead Man's Cell Phone, Theatre, Edward Hopper, THEA 319
In the March of 2014, the Department of Theatre and Dance at Bucknell University selected me to conceive and direct a production of Dead Man's Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl. This production would be the winter Main Stage show of the university's artistic season in February 2015. This project would not only serve as an honors thesis project, but also as a THEA 319 Independent Study for the culminating experience of my theatre degree. In preparation for this project, I conducted significant research of both the play itself and the initial design concepts that I felt best supported the piece. I also set out to accomplish two goals: first to direct a piece that would resonate and speak to an audience consisting of my generation and the Bucknell community, and second, to accomplish, as the director, the establishment of a strong and productive ensemble. Working with an advisor and a production team consisting of faculty, staff and students, I became the leader of a yearlong process that included holding auditions for the Bucknell student body, leading and designing five weeks of workshops and rehearsals, and ultimately ensuring a successful run of four shows. The script book for Sarah Ruhl's Dead Man's Cell Phone opens with an epigraph of a quote from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. He writes, "every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other." Dead Man's Cell Phone captures the essence of this quote, as protagonist Jane and the audience begin to learn the profound secrets and mysteries of a dead man's life. In our daily lives of classes, meetings, work, personal commitments, and relationships, we journey through the lives of many other people. We see ourselves as always connected, always part of a community- but could that be wrong? Could we, members of the technological age, be more isolated than ever before? How do we have so much information available to us yet still feel we know so little? How do we have so many friends and acquaintances and yet Dickens' assertion that, "the three passengers shut up in the narrow compass of one lumbering old mail-coach; they were mysteries to one another, as complete as if each had been in his own coachÂ¿" often still holds true (Ruhl 2008)? This is why I have taken on this show and why I have decided to explore the art of human connections. I wanted to direct this piece at Bucknell because I believe many Bucknell community members can move through our time here meeting many people but only truly knowing a few. This thesis will explore my process as I perused these artistic endeavors.
Brunner, John Patrick, "Exploring the Art of Connections: Directing Sarah Ruhl's Dead Man's Cell Phone" (2015). Honors Theses. 297.