It’s not about dogs…
By: Ashley Biundo
On Feb. 15-19, the St. Louis Community College—Meramec Theatre put on a show called “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead.” It was about the high school lives of Charles Schulz’ “The Peanuts” gang.
Getting involved with drugs, violence, and suicide, C.B. finds out who he really is. The director Keith Oliver started looking through plays for the spring semester and he found “Dog Sees God.”
“As every director you have a list of plays you want to do. I liked [Dog Sees God] when I first read it, but it has sat on the shelf for a while. But this was an opportunity; it was a smaller cast. We didn’t have to do much set and then the costume and design came up with this great idea of the alieyway.”
Oliver said he iiked many parts of the play, but the ending stuck out the most.
“I don’t know if I have a favorite part,” Oliver said. “Of course the ending, up to the last part of the ending and there are some really profound things. Not only to me, but I think to everyone. It’s not only about identity, who you are in the world, but how you are going to treat others.”
Not only is the play about finding out about someone, it has a history behind it.
“Columbine High School happened in 1999 and you hear a lot about bringing guns to school so that was really fresh on everyone’s mind,” Oliver said. “I don’t think it has left us. Everyday you hear in the news that you worry about a school shooting or some type of violence erupted.”
Oliver said that this was about the time Schulz died.
“This [play] was written in 2004,” Oliver said. “But it is still relevant and it still has a lot of important information for today’s audience.”
The play was for mature audiences only, meaning it had vulgar language and sexual content.
“The interesting thing about this play is that it is really targeted to [adolescent and young adult] age group. Even the music was. ELO and Earth, Wind, and Fire would work. But seeing it work with the combination and let the cast have a lot of input. The DJ did an excellent job and he had suggestions too and that kind of interaction was one thing that worried me about the play when I first read it because there were so many transitions that you could get a kind of image, or routine, which would become kind of boring. I think if you use those transitions to your advantage, it would make it more exciting; then it kind of adds to the play.”
The cast started practicing early in the year, before the semester began.
“We started Jan. 9, so we started one week before school started,” Oliver said. “The actors were cast in December, and the reason I did that was because we had a really short rehearsal time period, so it really required them to be off book by the time we got to first rehearsal and more were off book. I was really proud of them.”
When it comes to directing the play, it is important to see the copyrights.
“When the playwright, Bert V. Royal, started writing this, the Schulz family was against this play in the beginning,” Oliver said. “I think [when] you have something that is your creative process, you protect it quite a bit. I think they are worried.”
Oliver said that despite this worry, he thinks that “Dog Sees God” is a positive reinterpretation of The Peanuts.
“I think the characters have changed quite a bit but it has a really positive message,” Oliver said. “I think that’s when the playwright is being true to that Peanuts brand. Can’t say Peanuts, or you can tell they aren’t using the names. There are some copyrights you need to be careful of and we did that, in both music and the design.”
Oliver was very proud of how the whole show went, even the designers too.
“What I am also really proud about Mike Swoboda’s class did the projections, so students have been throughout the process involvement. Its one of those times where you kind of cross classes and in the arts and it is kind of nice to share graphic arts and photographs.”