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Student run play deals with real issues

October 21, 2011

Adam Ruble/The Courier - Postbaccalaureate student Nick Munson, senior Ivy Bekker and junior Colleen Sinclair rehearse for the play “Dog Sees God”. The play is entirely student run with students handling everything from media to directing.

If students are already assuming that the plays taking place at Monmouth this month are the run-of-the- mill mainstream dramas, then “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead,” might be a play students should consider attending.

Students in Professor Janeve West’s Theatre Repertory Company course have been working since May of last semester to put together this dark comedy. By portraying the Charlie Brown characters as high school students, the cast is giving a performance filled with real life situations with taboo topics.

Senior Marcus Bailey is playing the character Beethoven, who is known as Schroder from Charlie Brown. According to Bailey, “Dog Sees God,” is a play where the characters from Charlie Brown are going through troublesome teenage years while also giving some inspiring messages.

“The play relates the message that it’s okay to be different and that bullying should be stopped,” Bailey said.

Senior Mary Bohlander, who is taking West’s class, is directing the play. Bohlander, who read the script two years ago, felt a deep connection with the messages in the play.

“A lot of things really hit home,” Bohlander said. “There’s a line in the show, ‘I have been branded as a psychosis, and I have no choice but to believe it,’ and I wanted to bring something to campus that said there’s really so much more to that.”

Besides the messages about anti-bullying that are apparent in the play, teenage angst and self-discovery are also strong messages.

“It helps too with the classic characters we grew up with going through the same things we are now: drug use, sexuality, questions, body image, alcohol, sex in general, being careful of what you say, you change how who you are from this group of friends to that group of friends, and so on.”

Bohlander believes most students will not recognize the characters, since each has done some growing up since students last saw Charlie saving Christmas or watching for the Great Pumpkin.

“A lot of times the characters are the exact opposite,” said Bohlander.” For example, Pigpen is a total germaphobe- very neat, very clean. Peppermint Patty is now a total Regina George, like think “Mean Girls” type persona.

There are still connections to the original characters which are very obvious and purposeful, but you do see them evolve whether it’s a 180 or slight tweaks here and there.”

Nicholas Munson, who is doing Public Relations for the play as well as playing Matt in the show, explained the reasons for the drastic character changes from the cartoon to the play.

“Bert V. Royal, who wrote the play, changed everything enough so he couldn’t be sued,” Munson said. “He wrote it because they’re characters everyone knows. It’s shocking for us to see what they grew up to be like.”

Munson, who is used to the spotlight, was surprised at how evil his character was in the script.

“My character is so different from who I am,” said Munson. “He says every bad, racist word. It really made me realize how bullying hurts people.”

Munson, who is also in charge of PR, mentioned that “Dog Sees God,” is not an acceptable show for children as there are adult themes and  content.

However, West explained that the adult content is necessary in order to portray messages to the audience.

“The purpose is to use theater to enlighten, question, inquire, and push boundaries,” said West. “We need to stop hiding, and look at what is actually happening.”

West also praised the students in her class, as West only acts as a guide, while the students handle the play in every aspect from costumes, set design, make-up, sound, and lighting among other jobs.

“It is intense and very high pressure,” said West. “They have a responsibility to the public. They hold each other accountable for everything that must be done.”

Tickets for “Dog Sees God,” will be available at the showing or ahead of time in Stockdale during meal times next week. Prices are $4 for students with an MC ID, $6 for adults, or $5 for other students and senior citizens.

The performance will be at the WIT Studio Theater in the basement of the Haldeman-Thiessen science building running from Oct. 27-29 at 7:30 p.m. and on Oct. 30 at 2 p.m.

Stevie Croisant and Kelly Klikas
Copy/Layout Editor and Contributing Writer

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