Brüka has picked the challenging play “Dog Sees God,” written by Bert Royal, because of its subject matter and ability to address a wide variety of issues.
“Androo is a great director and is able to say to me that he wants to direct a show and I let him do it,” said Mary Bennett, the Brüka’s director.
“For this show, I am up for the challenge,” Allen said. “Mary can pick a piece and I can say ‘Bring it on!’ and I enjoy that.”
The challenge for Allen is to make the lovable and iconic “Peanuts” characters, who have visited American homes for decades courtesy of cartoonist Charles Schulz, still seem lovable about 10 years later while dealing with teenage angst, adult conflicts and mature subject matter: sex, drugs and death.
This means Allen has difficult directorial decisions to make.
“There are some heavy moments,” Allen said. “The thing that is difficult with a piece like this is to (choose whether to) play it as a drama with comedy or a comedy with drama.
“I like to accentuate the positive,” Allen added. “We play on the positive and play on the youth and optimism.”
Closing the season with “Dog Sees God” was a deliberate choice, Bennett said, because such performances can make audience members think.
“Theater really holds up a mirror,” Bennett said. “Identity issues is a good way to describe (‘Dog Sees God’). Who are we right now?”
As the “Peanuts” characters struggle to make sense of life, Bennett and Allen agree that the difficulties they experience as teenagers can be beautiful.
“For us it is really rewarding and interesting as artists to address contemporary issues,” Bennett said. “We have such a diverse community here that wants to experience things that are live — and alive.”
“The reality of this is it’s exploration of life with an innocent perspective,” Allen said. “It’s a great journey to take, to share the pain and the joy.
“Given the history and admiration of these characters and the people that have grown up with them, I wanted to make sure I leave this piece with hope,” Allen added.
Making the Brüka’s performance of “Dog Sees God” special, Bennett and Allen said the cast consists mostly of newcomers to the theater company and they have been doing an amazing job at rehearsals.
Allen said the performance will be played as a comedic drama and will hopefully lead the audience members through an emotional journey alongside the characters.
“It’s not a heavy piece, but it’s got heavy issues,” Allen said. “While pain occurs, hope is everywhere. I won’t start a piece unless I am passionate about it.”
For Allen, who has worked with the Brüka for 12 years, he said “Dog Sees God” is powerful.
“To worry about what we don’t have is to abuse what we do,” Allen said.
“Dog Sees God” will open at 8 p.m. Friday and runs through Saturday, July 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31. A matinee performance will show at 2 p.m. on July 18. Tickets are $18 for general admission, $16 for students and seniors and $20 at the door. Reservations can be made by calling 323-3221, by visiting the Melting Pot Emporium at 1047 S. Virginia St. or at www.bruka.org.
The Brüka staff strongly encourages an 18-and-older audience for this performance. For more information, visit www.bruka.org.