Dead Man’s Cell Phone

An incessantly ringing cell phone in a quiet café. A stranger at the next table who has had enough. And a dead man—with a lot of loose ends. So begins Dead Man’s Cell Phone, a wildly imaginative comedy by MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Sarah Ruhl, author of The Clean House, Eurydice and In the Next Room: The Vibrator Play. Dead Man’s Cell Phone is a work about how we memorialize the dead—and how that remembering changes us—it is the odyssey of a woman forced to confront her own assumptions about morality, redemption, and the need to connect in a technologically obsessed world.

Buy Tickets

Dead Man’s Cell Phone
by Sarah Ruhl

Directed by Maureen Hennigan

Production Dates:
May  31-June 4
Barnard Inn Barn
Barnard, VT

Our Cast!

JEAN – Rachel Navaro
GORDON/DWIGHT – Peter Mendes
MRS. GOTTLIEB – Barbara Swantak
HERMIA – Leah Montalbano
GORDON’S BODY – Neal Cronce
OTHER WOMAN/STRANGER – Marcella Williamson


Dinner available before or after at the Barnard Inn (except Sun).  10% of food sales donated back to BarnArts.

BarnArts’ Tradition of Staging Contemporary Drama Continues
Dead Man’s Cell Phone Comes To Barnard’s Barnard Inn Barn

BARNARD, May 22, 2017 – BarnArts continues to venture into new territory with the contemporary comedy Dead Man’s Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl, opening May 31 at the Barnard Inn Barn, a new performance venue, which will provide an intimate and rustic experience for theater goers.  

Playwright Sarah Ruhl has twice been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize (for The Clean House and In The Next Room (or The Vibrator Play), and received a MacArthur Fellowship “Genius” award at the age of 32, for “creating vivid and adventurous theatrical works that poignantly juxtapose the mundane aspects of daily life with mythic themes of love and war.”

While Dead Man’s Cell Phone does not take on war, it does take on love and death.  The characters struggle towards and away from self-identity and forgiveness in the age of contemporary technology, all in the quirky atmosphere of this modern comedy, with creative scripting which edges into magical realism.

“It’s a wondrous journey for all the characters,” says lead actor Rachel Navaro of Reading.  Navaro appreciates the deliciously complex, nuanced absurdity of Dead Man’s Cell Phone. “Every time I confabulate as Jean, I’m teleported to a different realm, and trust we’ll be able to do the same for our audience. The space (Barnard Inn Barn) is fantastic—both intimate and cavernous—much like the play itself.”  

Starring opposite Navaro in Dead Man’s Cell Phone is Peter Mendes of Hartland, who gets to play two characters – both the nefarious dead guy, Gordon (when he’s alive) and his awkward brother Dwight.

Says Mendes, “The playwright created such great characters in the brothers Dwight and Gordon, with a range of different personalities and traits.  However, as different as they are externally, all siblings have some common “family traits.” For me, the fun in this play is to continue to explore how these brothers are different, where they are similar, and the family dynamics that put them in the place they are now.”

When the dead guy is dead, he is played by Neal Cronce of White River Junction.   Cronce has written and will perform original music while on stage playing dead.

“We all have a dark side to our souls which most of us try to keep on a short leash,” says Cronce.  “The original music compositions, are an attempt to reflect a man, Gordon, who made little effort to rein in that side of his personality.”

The idea of the dead Gordon playing music came from director Maureen Hennigan..  “She built a strong vision around creating a dream like thread that would run consistently through the music, and evolve over time telling Gordon’s story,” says Cronce.

Director Maureen Hennigan of Bethel, relishes the opportunity to think and play creatively with this script.   Hennigan is a former actor, writer, director and a general victim of the New York theater, TV and film scene.  She moved to Vermont in 2008 to raise her daughter and has only now really started to get back involved in theater.  “As a director, the joy is in the collaborative process of working with both cast and crew,” says Hennigan.

Other performers include Barbara Swantak of East Corinth as the disconnected mother, Mrs. Gottleib; Marcela Williamson of Bradford in two character roles, Stranger and Other Woman; and Leah Montalbano of Windsor as Gordon’s widow Hermia.

Performances are at the Barnard Inn Barn on May 31, June 1 & 2 @ 7p.m., June 3 @ 4:30 & 7pm, and June 4 @ 12noon, followed by a celebration reception with the cast.  

Dinner is available before and after performances at Barnard Inn, and 10% of food sales by ticket holders will be donated to BarnArts.  Barnard Inn and the Barnard Inn Barn are located at 5518 VT Rt 12, Barnard, VT.  Dinner reservations should be made directly with the restaurant. 

Contact BarnArts