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Student director takes spring project personally
What if our childhood comic strip icons grew up and became teenagers? Find out in Bert V. Royal’s “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” starting Feb. 17 at Radford University.
Zak Bacon, senior theatre major and director of the play calls it a tragicomedy. This genre has elements of both comedy and tragedy.
According to the play’s publisher, Dramatists Play Service, “Drug use, suicide, eating disorders, teen violence, rebellion and sexual identity collide and careen toward an ending that's both haunting and hopeful.”
“It’s everything you could want in a play,” Bacon said, “From lines that will make you laugh out loud to jokes that will make you just plain feel uncomfortable. Also, the touching moments and the setup for the end will make you cry. It will make you think.”
He describes “Dog Sees God” as a play about a high school senior named CB, whose dog has recently died from rabies. This event causes CB to ponder deeper subjects such as life after death. Instead of striving to blend in with the crowd he seeks to rediscover himself through trial and error. He experiments with bold new choices without considering what other people will think. The other characters, Bacon says, appear as high school stereotypes but they are masking problems and insecurities beneath the labels others have assigned them.
These are all reasons why Bacon wanted to direct the play. It has funny and sad moments, and is easy to relate to the characters and their journeys, as well as the themes the play highlights.
Bacon finds these themes resonate with him. He openly shares his personal story. During his first year at Radford he received many positive opportunities. But when he got to his sophomore year things took a darker turn. By his own admission he made some poor choices that resulted in his dropping out of school. He felt he had burned bridges and needed to regain trust in order to return.
But, he worked through those personal issues and came back strong the next semester. He got a role in “Jack Goes Boating” in the fall of 2014. During this time Bacon also took a directing class. The final project was to direct a one-act play. With that, he fell in love with directing. So, he applied to helm this spring’s student-directed production and received the opportunity.
“My experience has taught me so much about acting and directing but even more than that it has taught me about me and how to be responsible, humble, and hard working,” Bacon said. “Take no opportunity for granted.”
He shares his experience with cast members Jordan Wommack as CB; Megan Ward as CB’s sister, Forrest Goodwin as Beethoven; Landon Kime as Matt, Krissy Cralle as Tricia, Rebecca Haas as Marcy, Guy Ritchie as Van and Lexi Cohen as Van’s sister.
“Dog Sees God” runs Feb. 17-20 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 21 at 2 p.m. at the Hawes Studio Theatre, Porterfield Hall. This play is intended for mature audiences.
Tickets are free, but reservations are strongly recommended. These are available online at rutheatretickets.universitytickets.com or may be picked up at the Porterfield Box Office (540-831-5289) during the week of the show. The Box Office is open from noon to 6 p.m. and one hour before the start of each performance.