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Dances with Cellphones answered with applause

“Can you hear me now? How about right now?”

Cheers, laughs and clapping were recently heard at Eastern’s production of Dances with Cellphones, directed by professor of theatre Mark Hallen with assistance from 2001 Eastern alumnus Jake Miller.

The four night production, held from November 17-20, showcased the uses of cell phones in modern day society.

“We put on a comedy that covered the physical, emotional and social aspects of the cell phone,” first-year actor Jared Grazulis said.

In constructing the plot and storyline of the play, the cast members assembled into different pods. These pods consisted of a pod director and each pod correlated stories for the production.

Senior Asia Prophet explained that the job of the pods was to observe individuals on their cell phones and then act out what had just been seen.

“It was fun to watch the people, but it was even more fun to reenact their actions on stage,” Prophet said.

The pods developed different scenes based on their observations. These scenes included ones in a train, on an airplane, at a bread store and in an elevator among others.

The show began with the lights on, and the actors approached the audience from the back of the auditorium. With cell phones in hand, all of the actors were searching for that perfect signal for their phones.

After this introduction, the production moved into several of the stories.

Other skits included a battle between phones with wires and cell phones and a scene about a student’s reaction when her cell phone drops and breaks.

Throughout the show, there were references made about a girl in college who is pregnant, and at the end of the show, that girl is revealed.

“The pregnant girl was a through line and subplot to the show, and it appears throughout,” stage manager Dani Mione said. “It all depends on how you see it. The play is deep.”

Audience participation was a key element to the show. A mock game show took place, which asked audience members about their own cell phone stories.

There was also a dance that called for volunteer audience participants to dance on stage.

“I enjoyed being able to go up on the stage, and dance was fun. It brought back memories of when I used to act, and now I can tell my mom I was part of an Eastern production,” first-year audience member David Carter said.

“The audience reaction was nice. I think they liked it a lot. They laughed at parts where they were supposed to,” Prophet said.

Senior Julie Van Dusen also commented on the crowd, saying that “a great audience makes it worthwhile.”

Mione also commented on the backstage work that it took to bring the play to the stage, noting that over 70 sound cues and 60 light cues were used in the production.

As the play ended, the lights faded, turning the auditorium pitch black. The cast then performed a dance routine in the dark, while holding their cell phones for their only source of light.

When the lights reappeared, the cast was greeted with cheers and loud applause.

Both audience and cast members had high praise for the show.

Jeff Van Dusen, an employee at Eastern and brother of Julie Van Dusen, thought the show was great as well. Jeff was pulled on stage for participation in one of the game shows.

“It seems as though every time I sit in the front three rows at an Eastern production, I get pulled on stage,” Jeff said.

“Tonight was great. We got a lot more laughs than expected, and my favorite part was the interaction with the audience,” first-year actress Janelle Boyd said.

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