“In the book of life, the answers aren’t in the back,” comic hero Charlie Brown of “Peanuts” once said.
It is his search for such answers that will take the stage this weekend.
No Refund Theatre’s free production of “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” will show at 8 p.m. Friday and at 2 and 10 p.m. on Saturday in Forum 111.
Director Libby Ross said that the play is loosely based off of the Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts” comics and what the characters would be like in high school.
“Dog Sees God” is a drama but with comedic moments and is about the main character CB, who is “trying to figure out what happens after you die,” Ross (senior-public relations) said. “This happens when his own dog [Snoopy] dies.”
CB deals with his issues but “from there, things get pretty hectic,” actor Michael Weakland said.
It is a different and unique portrayal of the comic, Weakland (senior-information sciences and technology) said. But he warned viewers “that it gets pretty dark.”
This is Ross’ first time directing for No Refund Theatre and she said that she chose “Dog Sees God” because she first saw it when a friend from her hometown performed in a production of it.
“It stuck with me,” she said.
The cast of eight has been rehearsing since the beginning of the semester on the play about “finding your identity,” but also accepting the fact that “it’s OK to be different,” Ross said.
“Dog Sees God” deals with a range of themes presented in high school, including drug use, sexuality and bullying, Ross said.
“Everyone in the play is trying to find themselves,” she said.
Weakland plays Van, or Linus van Pelt, in the production.
When Linus was younger, he was “a bit of a thinker,” Weakland said.
Van is still the same philosopher, but now uses marijuana to maintain his thinking, Weakland said.
In order to get into character, Weakland has been reviewing old “Peanuts” comics and also has been comparing Van to the “stereotypical stoner character” that movies normally portray.
The character of CB has never been afraid to be himself but he loses that as he grows up, Weakland said. However, by the end of the play, CB learns how to accept himself.
Spinabelli (sophomore-English education) plays CB’s sister in the play and called the play a “weird coming of age story” with an anti-bullying message.
“[CB’s sister] changes her philosophy each week,” she said.
Spinabelli cited as example the character’s change from a “goth” to a Wiccan.
“She can’t figure out who she is,” she said.
In order to get into character, the cast, which first auditioned last spring, did multiple character workshops, she said.
Spinabelli’s character’s costume involved a lot of dark clothing and make-up that she said is helpful for getting into character.
Of “Dog Sees God,” she said that it would show audiences how the characters grow.
“If you’ve ever enjoyed the ‘Peanuts’ comics, you should come see the show,” Weakland said.