“DOG SEES GOD: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead" Explores a Darker Side of the Peanuts Gang at Drexel
Imagine Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang as anguished teenagers. The Drexel Co-op Theatre Company will stage a production of “DOG SEES GOD: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead,” an irreverent, yet poignant drama that conceives the teenaged Charlie Brown and his friends as real people dealing with complex issues.
The play, which opens Friday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. in the Black Box Theater in Drexel’s URBN Center Annex (3401 Filbert Street), follows the gang through explorations of sexual identity, self and social hierarchy. Digging deeply, it deals with such difficult topics such as drug use, suicide, eating disorders and teen violence.
A preview performance will take place on Feb. 12 at 8 p.m., followed by opening night on Feb. 13 and show times on Feb. 14 and 19 – 21, all at 8 p.m.; as well as a matinee on Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. Click here to buy tickets, which are $5 for Drexel students/faculty/staff with ID; $10 for non-Drexel students; and $15 for general admission. Purchasing tickets in advance is highly encouraged, as seating is limited and may sell out. The play contains mature subject matter that is not suitable for young children.
A dark parody written by Bert V. Royal, “DOG SEES GOD” first premiered off-Broadway in 2005. “The play is about finding faith in oneself to get up every morning and live authentically in the world. The ride is bumpy. It’s not the smoothest or the straightest path, but this play is ultimately about having hope that things will get better,” said Bill Fennelly, the play’s director and an assistant professor of theater at Drexel.
A New York Times review of a previous staging of the play called it “…a welcome antidote to the notion that the ‘Peanuts’ gang provides merely a slice of American cuteness, perfect for Hallmark cards or Broadway musicals. For while there are many winks to fans, the spirit of the play has as much in common with ‘Peanuts’ as it does with the view of high school as a Darwinian hell (presented in movies like ‘Heathers’ and ‘Mean Girls’).”
Despite an irreverent tone, the Drexel Co-op Theatre Company’s production intends to establish a wider reach across the Drexel community, launching a conversation about issues that are difficult to discuss but which have touched the lives of nearly everyone in some way. The playbill will include information about Drexel’s counseling center among other organizations and resources for anyone affected by the issues raised in the play.
Audience members will be ushered individually into the Black Box and given a handwritten letter from a “pen pal.” The heartfelt letter sets the tone for the play and explains how audience members can participate, including by adding their own graffiti to the show’s set.
“The idea is for the audience to engage in a way that’s deeply personal to them,” Fennelly said.
Fennelly recently directed a production of the musical comedy “Hairspray” at Syracuse Stage, Central New York’s premier professional theater, with Syracuse University Drama Department that broke box office records and played to standing ovations each night. The show, which Syracuse.com called “scintillating” and “delightful,” was spotlighted on CNY Central News here.
About the Drexel Co-op Theatre Company
The Drexel Co-op Theatre Company engages students from across the university in presenting a wide variety of productions each year. It is a resident, student-run theater company that produces shows as part of Drexel’s theater program and is sponsored by the Department of Performing Arts in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. Students receive hands-on experience running a theater company at a professional level. Students participate in all aspects of theater performance and production including: acting, directing, design, costumes, lighting, sets, sound, publicity and box office. Auditions occur in the spring and the beginning of each fall term for incoming students. Several alumni have also returned as paid professionals. For more information about theater at Drexel, visit http://www.drexel.edu/westphal/minors/THTR/.
About Bill Fennelly
Fennelly's work has been seen on Broadway, off-Broadway and regionally. His recent directing work includes "Hairspray" at Syracuse Stage; "Herringbone" at Flashpoint Theatre; "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" with Syracuse Stage Company, which recieved S.A.L.T. Awards for "Director of the Year" and "Production of the Year"; and the new musical "Fly By Night" at Dallas Theater Center, which received a Column Award for "Best Director of a Musical." Previous roles include original assistant director for "Jersey Boys," resident director for "The Lion King," Phil Killian Directing Fellow at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, staff director at New York City Opera Lincoln Center, associate artistic director for The Acting Company and assistant artistic director for Cirque du Soleil.