This is not a dog. Or Ceci n’est pas un chien.
Made ya look, didn’t it?
The dog in the photo on this blog, artistically frozen in mid walk, stands outside the 72nd Street Subway Station, making passerbys (like this producer-blogger) do double takes. It’s one of my favorite pieces of art that has been dropped onto New York City streets. (Remember those crazy cows? What the udder was that?)
The piece is called “Stray Dog” by Tony Matelli, and from what I heard, there are a few of these lost puppy dogs roaming ’round the city.
So why did it get my attention, and how can we take its street techniques and apply them to the stage?
Here’s what I love about it . . .
It’s not a dog.
(This is where you think I’m acting like a snobby French surrealist.)
But seriously. It’s not a dog.
It’s a seeing eye dog.
Matelli could have put stray dogs all over the city and it still would have gotten attention, double takes and even some blogs like this. It would have been enough to get attention. But it wouldn’t have been enough to inspire your imagination.
But making his dog a specific type of dog, Matelli added another layer to the piece that can take you down a rabbit hole of mystery and wonder. And boy did he choose the right qualifier. A seeing eye dog . . . without a master? Where is the master? What happened to separate them? The possibilities are endless. You could write a play about it, couldn’t you?
When you’re creating characters, get specific about what kind of character they are. Add layers. Add levels.
Don’t make your character a fisherman. Make him a 3rd generation lobsterman from Maine.
Don’t make her a CEO. Make her the first female CEO of an auto company.
In other words . . . don’t just make your characters . . . make your characters unique.
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