Homegrown fest gone to the dogs

Roy Ness has the perfect vision of how Trevor the Dog's musical begins. There's real dogs and people on stage mingling. Some of the dogs are in costume dancing with their owners to music.

Roy Ness has the perfect vision of how Trevor the Dog’s musical begins.

There’s real dogs and people on stage mingling. Some of the dogs are in costume dancing with their owners to music. Others are skijoring. Everybody is having a good time.

Suddenly the crowd of dogs and owners clears and there’s Whitehorse’s best-known dog, Trevor, tied up on a chain.

“Trevor’s story has all the elements of a musical,” said Ness describing his Homegrown Festival piece, Dogtown: the Trials of Trevor the Dog.

“There’s a love story, there’s good guys and bad guys and a divisive issue.”

Trevor and his troubles rose to fame last summer when the Rottweiler-Shepherd cross was put on doggy death row after he lunged and attacked a handful of people.

The court case between the city’s Humane Society, which wanted to rescue Trevor, and the city’s bylaw department, which wanted to destroy the dog, gained international attention.

“There were people who wanted to kill him and people who wanted him to give him another chance and others who wanted to save him at all cost,” said Ness.

Last fall, Ness, a local actor and writer, decided he wanted to put the story to music and build a play around Trevor’s story.

Ness thought Whitehorse’s Homegrown Festival would be a perfect opportunity to try out one of the scenes before an audience, he said.

“I want to generate interest and see how it goes over,” said Ness who’s been a regular at the Homegrown Festival.

He chose, perhaps, the most dramatic scene of all, the courtroom scene.

There’s judge Von Rail (a spoof on territorial judge Ron Veale) who suffers from a rare condition of “spooneritis,” a condition in which the first letters of words are reversed. He’s played by Ness.

Then there’s bylaw officer, Don Jailer and the canine psychologist who works with Trevor, Hab Lusky. Then of course, there’s Trevor, played by Doug Mayr.

There’s no real dogs in this short 15-minute play, but Ness is hoping in the future there will be.

The satirical spoof isn’t all slapstick – there’s still a serious message underlying the play, said Ness.

“It will make people think about how we treat animals, but also how we treat each other.”

Dogtown is one of 23 productions featured in this year’s Homegrown Festival.

The event will feature a smattering of new works by dancers, poets, comedians and dramaturges.

Winluck Wong will feature a couple scenes from his play Mind Block, which won him the people’s choice award at last year’s Nakai 24-hour playwriting competition.

Since then, Wong has polished up work on his sci-fi thriller.

Mind Block is a unique look into the workings of the human brain from the perspective of two talking brain neurons.

“We always take for granted we’re one single entity when there’s an entire world going on in there,” said Wong.”

“I wondered what would happen if each blood cell had a personality, that they were self-aware – how they would they interact?”

The two neurons, played by Wong and Carrie Anne Bruton are tasked with making sure the “host” (the body of the man they are part of) survives the night.

It’s a dramatic thriller using elements that are rarely seen on stage. That’s because sci-fi theatre is often so difficult to visually produce, said Wong who took part in the last two seasons of Nakai’s Homegrown Festival.

Wong had a tough time deciding how he would set the stage to make it appear as though the two actors were inside a brain.

The end result involves clever lighting and two laptop computers, said Wong.

Mind Block runs next Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday in the black box room of the Guild Theatre. Dogtown runs next Saturday and Sunday at the black box room.

Contact Vivian Belik at vivianb@yukon-news.com

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