by Lorie Lewis Ham
If you are looking to see a show that is a bit more out of the box than a lot of what is currently on local stages, then don’t miss Dog Sees God that will be playing this weekend for one weekend only in Fresno. KRL had the chance to chat with the show’s director Miguel Gastelum this week.
KRL: What is the basic plot of the show?
Miguel: 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 sexual identity collide and careen toward an ending that’s both haunting and hopeful.
KRL: Is there a Charlie Brown tie in as the poster implies?
Miguel: Yes! The show is an “unauthorized parody” of the Peanuts gang all grown up.
KRL: Is this your directorial debut?
Miguel: No. I have directed two shows on my own previously, co-directed one and assistant directed three.
KRL: How did it come about that you would do this show?
Miguel: This show has been a bit of an obsession of mine since my sophomore year in college, when it was introduced to me. One night a very good friend of mine and I were sitting discussing it and I thought it would be neat to do a staged reading and then it slowly developed into a full production, the timing was right and I had the right people, so we went full steam ahead!
KRL: Can you give us a little background on this play?
Miguel: The show is written by Bert V. Royal, he is most known for writing the screenplay for the film Easy A. The show had its world premiere at the New York Fringe Festival in 2004 where it was one of the breakout hits of the festival, winning the Excellence Award for Best Overall Production.
KRL: Are you doing it for a local company?
Miguel: No, I am producing this show entirely on my own, with the support of numerous friends.
KRL: How big of a cast is it?
Miguel: It is a cast of eight. Four men and four women.
KRL: Who is in the cast?
Miguel: I have been blessed with a truly stellar cast of young local actors. They include; Kelsey Deroian, Matthew Freitas, Kyla Kennedy, Randall Kohlruss, Katy Michelle Lewis, Hannah Moser, Justin Ray, & Brian Cade Sullivan Jr.
KRL: Can you tell me about this venue and why you chose to do the show there?
Miguel: We are performing at The Voice Shop in the Tower District. This venue is absolutely perfect for this show. The show is very intimate and deals with some very heavy issues, in a venue like this it really allows us to bring the audience in and make them feel like they are with the characters in these moments.
KRL: What is your theatre background?
Miguel: As I mentioned before I have been performing for a long while now, about 11 years, and have been directing for about three. I have had exposure to several other aspects of theatre as well, box office management, set construction, costume building, etc. I have been very fortunate to have a well-rounded theatre knowledge!
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Miguel: This is a Fresno Premiere.
This show is not intended for children. It deals with heavy topics that might be too much for the under 16 crowd. With that said, at the end of the day, the show delivers a beautiful message that is hopeful and endearing and is something that is not to be missed.
KRL: How do people purchase tickets?
Miguel: By visiting dogseesgodfresno.brownpapertickets.com or at the door, although with limited seating I strongly urge people to purchase tickets ahead of time.
The show runs August 23, 24 and 25.