He’s so concerned he wants to start a discussion about texting, tweeting and Facebooking and how these activities affect the way people interact with each other.
“In the classroom, people are on their phones constantly. Or they’re wandering around, heads down, with their devices. They’re not making eye contact with real people,” says the UPEI theatre studies co-ordinator.
So, when he saw a performance of “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” at a conference several years ago, he bought the script, read it and “thoroughly enjoyed it.” He also realized it would be a timely play for Vagabond Productions to mount.
“The play explores how technology has changed relationships. It dovetails nicely into my thinking about the evils of cellphones and social media,” says Doran, director of “Dead Man’s Cell Phone”, which runs March 22-25 in the Faculty Lounge in the Main Building on the UPEI campus.
The story is about Jean, who sitting quietly in a café, and who becomes increasingly frustrated at the endlessly ringing cellphone on the table next to her. Its owner, Gordon, won't answer it, and Jean soon realizes it is because he's dead. In her panic, she begins answering the constant phone calls, and once she begins answering Gordon’s phone, she learns about his life and his dark secret.
“It’s a good show for the students, given that they are really (of) that social media/cellphone generation and I am not. The play creates an interesting dynamic between the digital, cell phones and the analogue world, the idea that we use paper to remember things. The play is also funny and that always helps.”
IF YOU GO:
What: “Dead Man’s Cell Phone”
When and where: Main Building on the UPEI campus, March 22-25, 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Admission: Pay what you can
Advisory: Play contains adult language, so it may not be appropriate for younger audiences
Further information: Call UPEI theatre studies, 902-566-6013, or email email@example.com
Besides entertaining audiences, the play is helping actors develop self-awareness.
“It’s making me conscious of how much technology I use and how it’s breaking me off from real interaction,” says Aditya Vella, who plays Dwight, an analogue person in a digital age.
“Dead Man’s Cell Phone” is having the opposite effect on Kassinda Bulger, who plays Jean, the lead character who doesn’t have any contact with technology until she picks up Gordon’s phone.
“Coming from her perspective, it’s really opened my eyes to see what my life was like before I had a cellphone, when I was in high school and what it’s like now, when I have everything at my fingertips and can contact my friends and family members without ever leaving the room or my chair.”
Although the director doesn’t expect people to stop checking their Facebook accounts or using their cellphones after they see the play, Doran hopes it will be insightful.
“It might start a conversation. It might get people thinking about it in a different way.”