Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead
About the Production
Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead by Bert V. Royal was presented on March 6th and 7th, 2015 at the Phoenix Theatre, in Interlochen, MI. It raised over $3,000 for the It Gets Better Project.
It was the first production produced by Doghouse Ensemble Theatre, unfortunately labeled “Potato Productions” at the time for reasons not worth discussing. This was the beginning of the first student production company at Interlochen Arts Academy. The production was an unparalleled success.
About the Play
The PEANUTS gang is all grown up, and ready to raise some hell.
When CB’s dog dies from rabies, CB begins to question the existence of an afterlife. His best friend is too burnt out to provide any coherent speculation; his sister has gone goth; his ex-girlfriend has recently been institutionalized; and his other friends are too inebriated to give him any sort of solace. But a chance meeting with an artistic kid, the target of this group’s bullying, offers CB a peace of mind and sets in motion a friendship that will push teen angst to the very limits. Drug use, suicide, eating disorders, teen violence, rebellion and “repressed homosexual anger” collide and careen toward an ending that’s both haunting and hopeful.
“Good grief! The Peanuts kids have finally come out of their shells.” — Time Out New York
“A welcome antidote to the notion that the Peanuts gang provided merely a slice of American cuteness.” — New York Times
“Dog Sees God doesn’t feel like the same old high-school-warfare schlock. The characters – teenage and reckless – are both genuinely sympathetic and unquestioningly cruel. Growing more hysterical – and more harrowing – as it flows to an inevitable, uncomfortable end, this taut comedy manages to make tired clichés about stoners and popular homecoming airheads funny and endearing.” — New York Magazine
Written by American screenwriter and playwright, Bert V. Royal is the author of the smart comedy Easy A. He moved to New York City from Green Cove Springs, Florida with no college degree and very little professional experience. Seven years later, Royal’s hit play Dog Sees God opens off-Broadway and pocketed a six-figure advance to write an original screenplay for Paramount, thanks to the play’s quick triumph. The play became a hit at New York’s 2004 Fringe Festival, which gave way to an all-star off-Broadway production, playing 98 performances. “I hate teenagers,” Royal says. “I can’t stand them. They scare me. I just think it’s the period of time where puberty makes you crazy. They’re such nasty human beings.” And that is exactly why Royal decided to write about them. “I thought the idea of taking them and putting them in real trauma could be really interesting. What would you do in the absence of God or your creator?” Royal asks. “Ultimately, the play is about your creator and the life that you’ve led in your creator’s eyes. It becomes very much about looking outside your world.”
- Peter Osborne (CB)
- Clara Honigberg (CB’s Sister)
- Riley Warmoth (Van)
- Shannon Burke (Matt)
- Yoni Weiss (Beethoven)
- Aiden Ankli (Marcy)
- Madi Boveri (Tricia)
- Kathleen Taylor (Van’s Sister)
- Harper Hodgson (Female Swing)
- Drake George (Male Swing)
- Mark Mazzarella (Director/Producer)
- Yoni Weiss (Producer)
- Daniel Fender (Stage Manager)
- Charlotte Gruman (Production Manager)
- Ryan Inoue (Scenic Designer)
- Zoleka Vundla (Sound Designer)
- Julia Steenstra (Lighting Designer)
- Kelsey Peterson (Overseer)
- Production Assistant: Jenna Koch
- Apprentice Stage Managers: Abigail Arends, Rachel Simpson
- Makeup and Costume Crew: Ciel Pope, Clara Steeves
- Run Crew: Otis Peterson, Ben Rodenmeyer, Jenna Koch, Jules Slocum, Bairton Warburton-Brown, Adrian Hess
- Donation Tables: Isabel Karp, Bairton Warburton-Brown
- Poster Hanging: Maya Lagerstam*, Jules Slocum*
- Lobby Display: Yoni Weiss*, Adrian Hess, Harper Hodgson, Jenna Koch*
- Original Music: Emily Spradling, Moya Aldridge*
- Photographer/Videographer: Anna Tubbs
Producer’s Notes by Yoni Weiss
Can you hold on to your innocence forever? For millions of people all over the world who grew up and continue to adore Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” gang, that age continues to thrive. Even after Schulz’s passing over a decade ago, the characters remain in the hearts and minds of every generation, and continue to charm us.
I’m a big fan of them, myself. I remember lying in bed reading treasuries of “Peanuts” comics, listening to You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown until I could recite the show by heart, and renting the TV specials from the video store vividly. Like so many people, I was growing up with these characters.
But they never had a chance to grow up with me. Over the years, Charlie Brown has only aged from four years old to eight. Suddenly, I found myself only able to look at these characters with a strange sense of nostalgia. Then, Bert V. Royal wrote a play.
My first exposure to Dog Sees God was through a teacher of mine, Lisa Melinn, giving me a monologue to do from it. I was instantly obsessed. There is something deliciously inappropriate about seeing the confused and dysfunctional teenagers these characters had grown up to be. But this play was not written to shock, it was written to teach, like the comics have done for so many. Royal has posed important questions about bullying, death, mental illness, faith, and the overall state of teenage-dom, coupled with a hauntingly beautiful message.
When I mentioned to some people last year that I had an idea for this production, they laughed at me and said it could never be done. I was dejected and convinced it was an impossible feat, until one night in the dorms Nic Mains and Ross Bloedorn told me that they believed in me. Their unwavering support for me in that moment made me realize just how possible this show could be, with the right people. And I am thankful that one of them was Mark Mazzarella, who continues to inspire me every day, even if we may bicker like an old married couple. I love you.
I would like to thank all of those who encouraged Mark and me along the way, as well as those who did not. You all made us work harder to create something we are very proud of. Danny Fender, you are the most amazing stage manager I’ve ever met, and working with you on this project has been an incredible experience. Bill Church, my gratitude for you allowing us to do so many crazy things is neverending, and I am so thankful to learn so many valuable lessons from you. To the designers, crew, donators, faculty, volunteers, and everyone else who helped make this a reality, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. To my incredible family, I am so proud and happy to be related to you all and thank you for everything a million times over. My life has been forever changed by this play/cast/production/school/experience, but I have been lucky to be surrounded by the greatest people in the world. I love you all.
Most importantly, however, I want to thank those who have fought so hard for LGBTQ equality. Leelah Alcorn, Alan Turing, Harvey Milk, Jamey Rodemeyer, William Inge, and Matthew Shepard, to name a few of the many. Please do not let their message fade away.
Director’s Notes by Mark Mazzarella
It was May of last year when I was approached by Yoni (my co-producer) saying he had a crazy idea. He wanted to do a student-run production of Dog Sees God. We both felt that there wasn’t enough student-produced work here, and what better way to start than with such a poignant, funny, nostalgic, and relevant piece. I was totally on board, and I expected him to ask me to be a producer, as well as acting in it. When he offered to let me direct it, I was taken aback. Me, an actor with no experience directing or producing, trying to suddenly take on a full-length work with no official help from faculty, seemed absurd. However, Yoni assured me that it could be done. It was a daunting task, but I eventually decided to go for it. We wrote up a proposal and went in for a meeting with Bill Church, who gave us the go ahead, but told us that the responsibility would be on us to make this happen. So we did it. At first, one of my worries was that we wouldn’t have support from the community: I could not have been more wrong. We set up a GoFundMe in order to raise money to pay for rights, sets, costumes, etc. I expected raising the money to be an arduous task, which could take weeks, but with the overwhelming support of our friends, family, and a few strangers, we managed to raise the budget within three days of setting up the fundraiser. And when it came to getting a cast together, we couldn’t have had a better group of passionate, hardworking actors. Everyone was ecstatic to be a part of this project, and was fully willing to dedicate a good chunk of their free time to the production. Every member of this cast and crew has been so instrumental to the success of this production. We couldn’t have done it without them, and we couldn’t have done it without the wonderful support of everyone who has helped us along the way. Bill Church and the Theatre Company faculty, everyone at It Gets Better, our wonderful cast and crew, and of course, anyone who has donated or helped us in one way or another. It has been so humbling and I couldn’t be more thankful for all of your help.