The first perspective: Amanda Urban, Sophomore, Co-Producer of the show:
Our Experimental Theatre Guild production Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead opened and the show was AMAZING. I co-produced the show and it was an awesome experience. I had never produced before but I learned the ropes quickly. It was my job to oversee that everything got done in time for opening night: that the costumes were made, the set was built, the programs and tickets were printed, the cast rehearsed and was ready to go.
Dog Sees God tells the unauthorized story of the Peanuts characters all grown up (legally, the characters in the play were unrelated to Charlie Brown and company, but the play continually makes references to the Peanuts) in a totally unexpected way. Van, Linus’ character, is a pothead that smoked the ashes of his blanket, Matt, the equivalent of Pigpen, is now a homophobic “germaphobe” and Lucy’s character is a pyromaniac. And that’s just the beginning. The real story lies in the character of C.B. (Charlie Brown’s character) who struggles to find his identity after his dog is put to sleep. Dog Sees God explored a vast array of touchy subjects—including being bullied because of one’s sexual orientation.
I had attended every rehearsal and saw the entire show develop and blossom into a fantastic performance. Opening night, I could not wait for the doors to open. I was anxious to see how an audience was going to react to the show that I had fallen in love with. I walked back and forth around the Cabaret (our dining area that was converted into a performance space for the show) making sure that everything was ready. Sound, check. Lights, check. Programs ready. Tickets ready. I opened the doors and people began to flood in.
The play was a hit. The audiences LOVED it. They laughed (to the point where it sounded like a sitcom laugh track!) and they cried. After the show, audience members came up to me and told me that it was the best show they had ever seen at Marist. I was so proud! Producing this show was an awesome experience. I oversaw the production of a show that didn’t just entertain—it sent a message. And a powerful one at that. A message to be yourself with no apologies.
Dog Sees God was a show that stepped outside the boundaries of the plays usually performed by Marist College and although it was a risk to do, it was a total success. It brought attention to problems that are too often ignored or forgotten.
And most importantly…it was a TON of fun!
The second perspective: Kristen Stevko, freshman, audience member:
I decided to attend a play that the Marist was putting on. I convinced my friends to come with me, as their busy time would not be starting until Monday. They groaned a bit, but they knew how stressed I was with work, so they put on a smile for my benefit and came along.
We walked in, and immediately the three of us found more friends at the door, both working selling tickets and just waiting for the show to begin. As we all stood discussing what was to come, we began to get more excited, because honestly, none of us were fully sure what exactly this play was about. I mean really “Dog Sees God?” We got the gist that there was some concept of a dog dying at some point, but were fully aware that this could not be the entire premise of the play. Plus, we had also heard that there was some comedy. So we were eager to find out exactly what we were in for.
We found our seats as the show began. Opening scene: siblings standing by the grave of their dead dog. Honestly, I turned to my friend Christina and whispered, “I don’t think this is going to be very funny,” and she looked at me and gave me the ‘sorry hon, but there is nothing I can do’ look. It might sound crazy, but everyone knows the look. I sighed, resigned to be disappointed, until the next scene. Thinking back on it, I cannot believe how quickly I went from sad silence to bursting laughter! Literally, from one extreme to another.
But this, I think, was the point of this particular play. It brought out important issues – drugs, eating disorders, homophobia, suicide – pretty much anything you can think of that has made its circuit on the talk shows. But it was not like listening to someone spewing facts, not like being put down because you were subtly being accused as a part of the problem, yet not like it was being taken lightly. It put these issues into real life situations where, in the setting of a play, they were blatant and horrifying. But in life, the same things could happen under your nose and you may simply disregard it.
The characters seemed real, they were funny, some personable, some not, but all relatable in some way. There were jokes and laughter, but there was also the seriousness. It was put together fantastically and played so well, I forgot after a bit that I was not in a theatre, but instead on campus in the cabaret. I forgot my worries for the time and enjoyed the show, but did not feel like I was just idly watching. As much as we all like to believe we know everything about things that there is no school class for, I found I was learning.
Who knew you could learn anything outside of classes?