The Nevada Conservatory Theatre at UNLV opens its 11th season Sept. 20 with Sean Clark's "Dog Explosion" in the Black Box Theatre. Francisco Menendez, chair of the UNLV department of film, directs.
This dark comedy is set in rural Missouri in the not too distant past. Three siblings must deal with a family crisis that starts with an unfortunate mishap involving a dog and some dynamite on the front porch of the house in which they were born and raised. That crisis, further fueled by doughnuts, beer, and faith, will leave them forever changed and one of them a bit hung over. This original work is written by Clark, assistant professor in UNLV's department of film.
An interdepartmental project, "Dog Explosion" combines film (playwright and director) and theatre and gives Menendez "a good chance to leave the camera behind and really focus on the actors," said Clark.
"They say every writer has his 'leaving home' play," he continued. "This is mine. This play is the angry female inside me."
Clark said he is known for "writing heavy, metaphorical dramatic stuff that's hidden behind jokes, situations, and characters that an audience will remember." Most importantly, he says he wants the audience to "have a really great time."
As for Menendez, he explains the work as something not typically seen on stage. "Usually embedded in themes of plays are the lovers, but in this play, there are no lovers, only siblings. At the beginning, their life is changed irrevocably, and in the course of 75 minutes, we'll see what the consequences are and at what cost."
Menendez sees the play as his return to theatre. He chose not to direct theatre for two decades, instead choosing to build the film program and create its foundation. However, now that the most recent co-curricular project is in the rearview mirror, it was the perfect time to take on "Dog Explosion."
"It's wonderful to work in theatre again," Menendez said. "Film is so much waiting. It's a joy to interact with an actor immediately and not work then wait, wait, wait."
The cast includes Jesse Brourque as Matt; Amber Bonasso as Naomi; Jasmine Mathews as Charlotte; and Sandy Hundley as Mrs. McCall.
The production and design team include assistant director Rachelle Tylo, scenic designer Molly Bailey, lighting designer Manuel Ramirez, sound designer and technical director Thomas Egan, costume designer Judy Ryerson, and production stage manager Amanda Mayfield.
Show times are at 8 p.m. on Sept. 20, 21, 25, 26, 27 and 28. Matinees are at 2 p.m. on Sept. 22 and 29. Tickets are $15 for adults, and $13.50 for those under 18. For tickets or additional information, visit pac.unlv.edu or call 895-ARTS (2787).