Behind the Scenes - Dead Man's Cell Phone

Uploaded by UniversityTennessee on 29.03.2012

ASHLEIGH: My name is Ashleigh Stochel and I’m a third year MFA student at the University
of Tennessee—in acting.
First scene, Jean is sitting at a café table and there is the dead man—we don’t know
he’s dead yet—is sitting behind me and I’m writing a thank you card. It’s a very
important thank you card to me.
[Phone rings and continues ringing]
CASEY: My name is Casey Sams and I’m on the faculty of the Theater department. I teach
on both the undergraduate and graduate level. I teach acting and movement and musical theater.
So part of the challenge is how…I’ve got this actress who doesn’t really have anybody
to bounce her reactions off of.
[Phone rings and continues ringing]
ASHLEIGH: Excuse me, are you going to get that?
CASEY: But she has to tell this very frenetic, panicky story in a way that’s focused and
funny and engaging to the audience.
[Phone rings and continues ringing]
ASHLEIGH: Are you ill? Are you deaf?
So I come in with my ideas about the character, Casey comes in with her ideas about the play
as well as the character and it’s just a constant give and take.
CASEY: A play is a huge collaboration. I feel like I’m kind of the one that’s defining
the edges of the swimming pool.
[Phone rings and continues ringing]
ASHLEIGH: Allright! Excuse me. Hello?
CASEY: And then it’s the actors and the designers and the technicians who are filling
the pool for the audience to eventually swim in.
ASHLEIGH: My favorite parts are the failures, if you will. The trying something and after
you finish trying it you look at it and you’re like, “No that’s not going to work; don’t
do that.”
Aahh! Are you ill? No, we need to take it back.
[Casey and Ashleigh laugh]
CASEY: But since we’re stopped anyway, what I want to see…
ASHLEIGH: And, you know, we have to have the freedom to screw up—and there’s a lot
of screw ups—and then we get notes and try it again and sometimes it works and sometimes
it doesn’t, and that’s the beautiful part when it all starts to [Snaps] come together;
it’s usually just happenstance; this moment is created and that’s the most exciting
part about theater, I think.
Gordon? Ah!
CASEY: Lots of times, I’ll think I know what a scene is supposed to do as we’re
moving in and then I’ll watch the actors do it and I’ll be like, “Oh, oh! No, no,
no! What we’re really doing in this moment is this other thing.” And that’s part
of why I’m in the room is to sit on the outside and go, this is all of the good gooey
stuff that’s living inside this scene.
ASHLEIGH: …have a…hope you have a good day. Bye
It was your mother.
CASEY: I just have so much respect for the honesty and the simplicity and the heartfelt
approach to this character that Ashleigh has brought into it. It’s really beautiful and
very tender. And then I really appreciate how willing she’s been, with me poking on
the outside going, “Yes, and now we’re funny.” [Casey laughs]
ASHLEIGH: Do you want me to keep talking until they get here? Gordon, I’m Jean. You don’t
know me, but you’re going to be just fine. Well, actually you’re… don’t worry.
Are you still inside there? How did you die so quietly?
When it’s absolutely silent in the room and you could hear a pin drop and people are
listening—and especially somewhere in the lab where you can actually see their faces—and
they’re paying attention to you and watching, it’s thrilling. I mean, we’re a community
and we’re all together—you know, just a group of people sitting around a campfire
telling a story. I think it’s beautiful. To be creative and tell a story cultivates
meaning and I think that’s ultimately what I’m trying to do.
I’ll stay with you, Gordon. For as long as you need me. I’ll stay with you, Gordon.
I am where I am supposed to be. I have had wonderful support from my professors here.
I have learned so much about myself and about my craft and about being a part of a community
of artists. We have the Clarence Brown Theatre here and we’re fortunate enough to be a
part of these professional productions. It’s thrilling. I’ve loved my time here; very
sad about leaving. It’s kind of denial, it’s in two months, I can’t really…
you know my classmates are like my siblings and my professors are like my family so—it’s
been wonderful.
For as long as you need me, I’ll stay with you, Gordon.
[Dead man breaks character—screams. Everyone laughs.]