The Experimental Theatre Company’s (ETC) “subText” performed in front of a full house with more than 40 audience members on April 6 in the Lab School 101 Theatre at Fresno State.
The student-run play depicted the struggles of communication with today’s technology. The cast was made up of 13 Fresno State students. Seven of them played two different characters throughout the play.
The show, originally written by Tyler Dwiggins, tells the stories of different characters, demonstrating various scenarios in which miscommunication leads to problems.
The characters Dani, played by sophomore Cecilia Cantu, and Cameron, played by senior Jacob Gonzalez, opened the performance by debating whether Jamie — a character who never appears on stage — likes Cameron. This scenario reoccurs and continues to evolve throughout the play.
Gonzalez exemplified the frustration of trying to communicate through texts with one’s romantic interest.
His character complains about Jamie’s “mixed signals” — liking his post on Instagram, retweeting him, sending him snaps and taking hours to text him back — which make it difficult for Cameron to know if Jamie likes him or not.
“Wait at least three hours or you’ll look needy and desperate,” said Cantu’s character when Cameron expresses distress over Jamie’s text.
Cantu’s and Gonzalez’s characters also fight over which of them has more likes on their Instagram posts. From teenagers to senior citizens, the audience members laughed at almost every scene of the dramatic yet enjoyable performance.
“subText” also depicts scenarios in which a high school boy dates two girls at the same time. His deception is discovered when he sends a text to the wrong girl.
The performance also illustrates the importance of announcing a relationship on Facebook; how a couple can break up over typos in text messages; a couple being perfect on Instagram posts while they are miserable together in real life; how yelling at your partner instead of talking can hurt a relationship; and how mishearing a conversation can make someone feel ridiculous.
Cassidy LeClair played the character Josie, a high school student in search for a perfect date to go to prom. Bridget, played by Samantha Martinez, is Josie’s best friend who tries to tell Josie one of her deepest secrets, but Josie keeps on being distracted by her phone.
LeClair said that playing Josie was all about honesty. In the play, Bridget declares her love for Josie, who also has secret feelings for her best friend. LeClair is heterosexual and said it was challenging for her to “be in the mindset of Josie” in order to make her acting look real.
LeClair is a freshman theatre arts-acting major who has participated in the University Theatre’s “The Wolves” and “Book of Days” productions.
Martinez is a sophomore theatre arts-general major and has been involved in ETC’s plays “And Then There Were None” and “The Wolves.”
From the audience’s perspective, the wide stage consisted of one wooden table and two chairs on the left side, one mattress with stuffed animals in the middle and one black leather sofa and coffee table on the right side.
On top of the bed, there was a white, rectangular screen that showed the characters’ phone conversations and social media posts.
“It makes you feel like you are in the room [with them,]” said John Rodriguez, an audience member.
The show started at 7:30 p.m. and lasted roughly an hour and 40 minutes with one 10-minute intermission.
This was the first time that Dylan Mark Murphy, a sophomore student, had directed a Fresno State play. Murphy said he felt accomplished by listening to how much the audience laughed and enjoyed the show. He said the preparation of “subText” took two months.
“I had the opportunity to work with people in a different level,” said Murphy, a theatre arts-general and communications major.
Murphy said one of the challenges he faced as a first-time director was to be in an authority position with his classmates and friends. He said that working with such beautiful people helped him overcome this challenge.
Murphy has participated in Fresno State University Theatre’s “The Wolves” and “Book of Days.”
The show ended with a reminder to the audience that being honest and telling people, face-to-face, how you really feel is better than texting.
“Love is not a thing of convenience,” said the character Faye, played by first-year theatre arts- acting major Jenna Valencia, at the end of the play.