New Play, "Dead Man's Cell Phone," Opens at UTC

Dead Man's Cell Phone

Michael Edward Miller

Chattanooga, TN – Imagine this: you're sitting in a cafe. There's this guy sitting at a table nearby. He's sitting there quietly, almost too quietly--there's definitely something a little odd about him. And then his cell phone starts to ring.

The guy just sits there. He ignores his ringing phone. It keeps on ringing and ringing, and he just lets it. Finally, you decide you can't stand this anymore. You get up and confront the guy--why won't he answer his phone?

You realize he's dead.

What would you do? Probably scream for help, right? But what if you didn't what if, instead, you answered this dead guy's phone? Maybe you just have this personality where you HAVE to stick your nose in other people's business. Maybe that's why you answer a dead stranger's phone. You need to know who he is--who he was-- and who the people calling him are.

That scenario is the premise of DEAD MAN'S CELL PHONE, the new play opening at the Fine Arts Center at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The protagonist, a woman named Jean, finds a man who died suddenly while sitting in a caf . She starts answering his phone, and pretending like she knew him. She gets involved in his life--or, more accurately, the lives of the friends and family he's left behind.

I talked to the director, Gaye Jeffers. The first thing I asked her about was the play's unusual plot.

DEAD MAN'S CELL PHONE, a play written by Sarah Ruhl and directed by Gaye Jeffers, will open on October First. It's at the UTC Fine Arts Center on campus. Reservations can be made by calling the UTC Fine Arts Center box office at 425-4269.