Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead

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Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead
Written by Bert V. Royal
Characters CB
CB's Sister
Van
Matt
Beethoven
Tricia York
Marcy
Van's Sister
Date premiered August 2004
Place premiered Soho Playhouse as part of FringeNYC
Original language English
Subject Imagining characters from the comic strip Peanuts as teenagers
Genre Drama, satire

Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead is a play written by Bert V. Royal.

An "unauthorized parody," the play imagines characters from the popular comic strip Peanuts as teenagers. Drug use, suicide, eating disorders, teen violence, rebellion, sexual relations and identity are among the issues covered in this drama.

Characters[edit]

Whether by artistic design or to avoid rights infringement, names from the comic strip have been changed for those appearing in the play.

  • CB (Charlie Brown) is the main character in the play. He is intensely saddened over the death of his dog, and is forced to question both his sexuality, and his social status when he unwittingly falls for his classmate Beethoven.
  • CB's Sister (Sally) has gone goth, at least for a portion of the play. It is mentioned that, like her character basis, she changes her philosophy on life often. Her other personas during the course of the play are scripted as thug (called "gansta-bitch" in the script), and hippie.
  • Van (Linus), always the philosopher in childhood, is now a pothead with a worldview to match. He repeatedly attempts to pursue a sexual relationship with CB's Sister.
  • Matt (Pig-Pen) is a pathological germophobe whose dirtiness has been internalized - he's sex-obsessed and homophobic, and terrorizes Beethoven mercilessly. He is also a football player, and is CB's best friend.
  • Beethoven (Schroeder) became the school outcast prior to events in the play when it was revealed that he was sexually abused by his father. A bit of a recluse, Beethoven takes solace in playing the piano, but when he and CB become romantically involved, his world is turned upside down.
  • Tricia (Peppermint Patty), a party girl, who professes herself to be "Pretty" and "Popular". Though never spoken outright in the play, the general consensus is that her last name is York.
  • Marcy (Marcie), a party girl and Tricia's sidekick. She has a threesome with Tricia and Matt during the play.
  • Van's Sister (Lucy) has been institutionalized for setting the Little Red-Haired Girl's hair on fire.

Pen Pal - Does not appear in person, but has a key part in the play.

Characters mentioned but not appearing: Franklin, Frieda, Little Red-Haired Girl, Rerun van Pelt, Snoopy, Woodstock

Synopsis[edit]

CB and CB's sister have a funeral for their dog, who recently contracted rabies and was put down after killing "a little yellow bird" (implied to be Woodstock) and nearly biting CB. Unfortunately, the funeral ends in failure as they argue over who should say a prayer for him. CB then goes to see his pothead friend Van, asking where people go when they die. Van, who claims to be Buddhist, says that spirits either dissolve away or get reincarnated. The next day at school CB asks his friend Matt where we go when we die. Matt gives him a more detailed explanation, proposing that when we die we return to a vagina, similar to being born, although the vagina does not belong to our mother. Beethoven walks by and Matt calls him a fag.

At lunch Marcy and Tricia tell their friends about an upcoming party at Marcy's house. CB goes to Beethoven's practice room to listen to his music. CB then monologues over his dead dog which irritates Beethoven that in return, Beethoven tells CB about how he can't go through his day without someone bullying him in some sort, and tells CB that "messing around with me" means teasing and other sorts. CB makes a truce with Beethoven to reestablish their friendship. CB sits next to Beethoven while he plays, and then CB kisses Beethoven.

At the party, Matt calls Beethoven a fag again. CB comes to Beethoven's defense and kisses him again, this time in front of everyone. Outside, Beethoven demands an explanation of what happened. CB says he wanted to do that and in return, Beethoven kisses CB. A few days later, Matt, Tricia, Marcy and Van eat lunch together, and are all stunned at what happened. Matt vows to make Beethoven pay for "messing with [his] best friend's head". CB goes to visit Van's sister, who was institutionalized for setting the Little Red-Haired Girl's hair on fire. CB tells her the whole story, also revealing that he and Beethoven had sex after the party.

While Beethoven is practicing, Matt comes in and harasses him for being in love with CB. Matt tells him to stay away from CB, or else. Beethoven says no and calls him by his old nickname, Pigpen. This angers Matt, who slams the piano top, breaking Beethoven's hands. Later on, the group has a talk about Beethoven, who committed suicide (Matt, meanwhile, was suspended from school for a week). CB is angered by this and berates them for not being sorry for him all these years. Later on, CB gets a letter from his pen pal. In the letter he tells him that he must keep strong, even in rough times. The letter mentions a boy "who plays piano just like [CB's] friend" moved in near the pen pal, and mentions that "he's had a tough life, but things are better for him, now.", and that he found a dog who likes to sing along to the piano (like CB's dog did, alluding that Beethoven is now caring for CB's dog in the afterlife). CB cries over the letter, as it meant so much to his friend, dog, and himself. The letter is signed 'CS', an allusion to Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz.

Intellectual property issues[edit]

Prominently advertised as a parody and including language indicating that the production has not been authorized or approved by United Features Syndicate or the estate of Charles M. Schulz in all materials, Dog Sees God has used First Amendment principles to avoid legal entanglement.

Development history[edit]

Dog Sees God was first presented as a reading on May 3, 2004, at the Barrow Street Theatre. It was directed by Anthony Barrile and produced by Sorrel Tomlinson. The cast was as follows:

Dog Sees God had its world premiere at the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival.[1] It was presented at the SoHo Playhouse. It was directed by Susan W. Lovell and produced by Sorrel Tomilinson/File 14 Productions. The cast was as follows:

The production was extended for two weeks and Daniel Franzese assumed the role of Van

Dog Sees God had another reading on May 9, 2005, at the Westside Theater. It was directed by Trip Cullman and produced by DeDe Harris and Sorrel Tomlinson. The cast was as follows:

Dog Sees God received its Off-Broadway premiere by Martian Entertainment and Dede Harris at the Century Center for the Performing Arts, opening on December 15, 2005. Presented by Bert V. Royal, the play was directed by the Trip Cullman; the set design was by David Korins; the costume design was by Jenny Mannis; the lighting design was by Brian MacDevitt; the sound design was by Darron L. West; the general manager was Roy Gabay; the production stage manager was Lori Ann Zepp; the assistant stage manager was Tammy Scozzafava; and the production manager was Randall Etheredge.

The cast was as follows.

When Dushku (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) quit in February 2006 along with several other members of the cast, attempts were made to tie their leaving to a lawsuit between the producers.[2] Charges of abuse against one of the producers were later dismissed as "plainly devoid of merit and undertaken as a vindictive campaign to harass".[3][4]

The Los Angeles premiere of the play was presented by the Havok Theatre Company and ran from June 7 - July 20, 2008 at the Hudson Backstage Theatre.

The Los Angeles cast was as follows.

Christine Lakin won an LA Weekly Theatre Award for Best Female Comedy Performance.

The UK Premiere Production took place at Taurus Bar on Manchester's famous Canal Street in March 2008 thanks to author Bert V Royal helping them secure the UK rights which at that time did not exist (After this production the UK rights were set up). The show was a sell out and quickly transferred to the larger venue The Lowry in January 2009. The production gained rave reviews and now looks set to move in to return in 2012. The play was produced by Award Nominated Vertigo Theatre Productions and directed by Craig Hepworth.

The UK Cast was as follows

  • Rick Carter as CB
  • Craig Hepworth as Beethoven
  • Abby Simmons as CB's Sister
  • Greg Kelly as Matt
  • Emma Salt as Marcy
  • Adele Stanhope as Tricia
  • Stuart Reeve as Van
  • Emma Willcox as Van's Sister

For The Lowry production Greg Kelly and Abby Simmons were replaced with Mike Gates and Louise allen due to scheduling conflicts. Dog Sees God will get a 3rd outing by Vertigo in 2012 with a mix of original UK cast members and new cast members. The show will again be directed by Craig Hepworth as well as Adele Stanhope.

The Canadian Premiere Production took place at Six Degrees in Toronto, ON in March 2009 produced by Michael Rubinoff and Lindsay Rosen. The show was directed by Lezlie Wade, with set and costume design by Jessica Poirier-Chang and Lighting by Renee Brode. The Toronto Star gave it a 3 1/2 out of 4 star review saying, ''What seems to be a comedic deconstruction of the famous Peanuts cartoon characters turns out to be one of the most interesting and moving plays I've seen this year, with some absolutely stunning performances. Director Lezlie Wade manages the transition skilfully and, by the end, there were totally unexpected tears rolling down my face."[5]

The Canadian cast was as follows:

  • Jake Epstein as "CB"
  • Ben Lewis as "Beethoven"
  • Mike Lobel as "Matt"
  • Adamo Ruggiero as "Van"
  • Tatiana Maslany as "CB's Sis"
  • Sibohan Murphy as "Tricia"
  • Alex Saslove as "Marcy"
  • Paula Brancati as "Van's Sister"
  • Lindsay Clark was a female swing.

A San Diego production is being produced by Breakthrough Workshop Theatre, and up and coming theatre group. The one-weekend-only production is running April 18-20, 2014 in repertory with You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. This workshop production utilizes minimality to focus on the story without any distraction from spectacle.

The San Diego cast was as follows:

  • Justin W Martin as "CB"
  • Shane Allen as "Beethoven"
  • Trevor Sanderson as "Matt"
  • Shaun Tuazon as "Van"
  • Courtnee Stagner as "CB's Sister"
  • Margot Nelson as "Tricia"
  • Alex Lee as "Marcy"
  • Samantha Wynn Greenstone I as "Van's Sister"

Awards[edit]

In 2004 it was one of the breakout hits at the New York International Fringe Festival, winning the Excellence Award for Best Overall Production, as well as Theatermania's Play Award of 2004, the GLAAD Media Award for Best Off-Off-Broadway production, Broadway.com's 2006 Audience Award for Favorite Off-Broadway Production and the 2006 HX Award for Best Play.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Playbill News: Bigfoot, Dog, Dixie, Mormon and Bicycle Men Fare Well as FringeNYC Bids Farewell, Aug. 29
  2. ^ Harris, Paul (February 19, 2006). "Turning tables on the casting couch". London: Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 2007-12-04. 
  3. ^ Robertson, Campbell (July 18, 2006). "Arts, Briefly; Lawsuit Against Producer Is Dismissed". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  4. ^ Hit With Sanctions Over Meritless Suit Against Tony-Winning Producer
  5. ^ "Dog Sees God is as lovable as Snoopy". The Toronto Star. 

External links[edit]