You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
ISSAQUAH APR 20 – MAY 22, 2022 | EVERETT MAY 27 – JUN 19, 2022
Please enjoy diving deeper into the world of the “Peanuts” characters, the history of the comic strip, and how Village Theatre brings it all to life on stage.
Dramaturgy for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown is supported in part by
As we forge ahead into a more aware and inclusive world, it was of the utmost importance to me for everyone to see a piece of themselves on this stage. Not just physically, but emotionally and yes, even mentally. What better production to take on this task than You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown?
At first glance, we often recognize Charlie Brown and the gang as simply the iconic Peanuts comic strip and shorts we know and love. In a deeper look, we realized that these kids are parts of all of us (intentional on Charles Schulz’ part) on the cusp of discovering how the world works and how do we find and navigate our happiness though it. The characters have a way of acknowledging their shortcomings by asking introspective questions, usually prompted by their peers, but never losing that true sense of self.
I hope this production allows you to reconnect with that childlike optimism and steadfastness that was there before your happiness was influenced by the outside world. May it remind you of dreams that may have taken a back seat to responsibilities. May it stir up the gumption to ask, “Why?” and not just accept what’s given. Even through some trying times Charlie and friends are able to find small pockets of joy, leading us to a better understanding of what happiness truly is or can be.
Please allow every element of this show to spark a continued practice of finding your happiness. Find it as often as possible. It can be as simple as flying a kite, singing a song, or just watching the stars. Whatever it is, make it a priority. We sometimes forget to do that as we grow in age but having Charlie, Sally, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder and Snoopy around sure is a great reminder!
JIMMY SHIELDS (Director) As an actor, Mr. Shields has performed at Village Theatre, Tacoma Musical Playhouse, and ACT Theatre. As a director and choreographer, his work has been seen at Showtunes Theatre Company, Seattle Rep, The 5th Avenue Theatre, Village Theatre, Theatre Puget Sound, and Tacoma Arts Live. “I try to lead everything I do with love and patience. We get so much more done that way. I hope you leave anything I do feeling just a little bit more loved on.
When the musical, You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown opened Off-Broadway in 1967, the artists involved were already in the challenging position of portraying American icons. The Peanuts comic strip was a daily feature in newspapers across the United States. There were published books and TV specials, not to mention a myriad of Peanuts toys and other merchandising.
Since the 1960’s the Peanuts world has only grown; more comics, more characters, more books, games, toys, TV shows, and movies. As storytellers in 2022, the artistic team at Village Theatre was conscious of stepping into this ever-expanding Peanuts legacy—and we faced the exact same question as the original musical production, “How do you portray American icons?”
Now, that’s a very interesting question. There’s an assumption that iconic characters will be both recognizable and representative. There’s a lot of diversity to be found in the U.S., but, historically, there has not been a lot of diversity represented in the Peanuts comic strips. Charles Schulz told stories and created characters that were based on his childhood as a young white boy growing up St. Paul, Minnesota. They are wonderful stories and beloved characters, but it’s impossible for a single mind to portray the diversity of the American experience—by definition a single world view is not diverse.
The beautiful thing about researching the seventy-year legacy of Peanuts, is that one can mark the moments when the imaginative world expanded as a result of other creative minds interacting with it. When a teacher prompted Schulz to introduce Franklin (the first black Peanuts character) in 1968. When, in 1979, the educational filmstrips created for elementary schools introduced Dolores (the first Latina Peanuts character). In 2016, when an Off-Broadway revival of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown cast a racially diverse group of actors as the Peanuts gang. Or, even more recently, when the Apple iPad program, Procreate, added a feature that allows anybody to animate themselves as a Peanuts character.
Words like diversity, inclusion, and representation are at the forefront of long over-due conversations currently happening in the American theatre/film/entertainment industry. The history of Peanuts is just one small example of why these conversations are so urgent and so exciting. The genius of Charles Schulz created an iconic world, but diversity didn’t start to happen until there were multiple artists playing inside that world. The Peanuts world is richer because of this and, hopefully, it will expand even more in the years to come. When multiple voices can bring multiple perspectives, then a story gains a new depth. When jazz blends with show tunes and gets layered on top of classical piano, then the soundtrack for the story gains a new vibrancy.
True diversity has to include more than just optics. It requires a multiplicity of experiences coming together to reflect a world that is fascinating, funny, complicated, complex and, frankly, just BIGGER than any single perspective can convey. That’s a world that we can all identify with because it’s the world we all live in; both universally recognizable and continually surprising. That’s the Peanuts world we invite you into today. Come play with us!
SONJA LOWE (Dramaturg) has a BA in Theatre from Seattle Pacific University and a MLitt in Dramaturgy from the University of Glasgow. She currently serves as the Literary Manager at Taproot Theatre Company and has contributed dramaturgical research to other Seattle theatres, including She Loves Me (Village Theatre) and Pipeline (Seattle Public Theatre). Sonja has also assisted in the development of several new scripts, including stage adaptations of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
Selected text drawn from the Charles M. Schultz Museum website
On the morning of Sunday, February 13, 2000, newspaper readers opened their comic pages as they had for nearly 50-years to read the latest adventures of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the “Peanuts” Gang. This Sunday was different, though; mere hours before newspapers hit doorsteps with the final original Peanuts comic strip, its creator Charles M. Schulz, who once described his life as being “one of rejection,” passed away peacefully in his sleep the night before, succumbing to complications from colon cancer. It was a poetic ending to the life of a devoted cartoonist who, from his earliest memories, knew that all he wanted to do was “draw funny pictures.”
The poetry of Schulz’ life began two days after he was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on November 26, 1922, when an uncle nicknamed him “Sparky” after the horse Spark Plug from the Barney Google comic strip. Sparky’s father, Carl, was of German heritage and his mother, Dena, came from a large Norwegian family; the family made their home in St. Paul, where Carl worked as a barber. Throughout his youth, father and son shared a Sunday morning ritual reading the funnies; Sparky was fascinated with strips like Skippy, Mickey Mouse, and Popeye. In his deepest desires, he always knew he wanted to be a cartoonist, and seeing the 1937 publication of his drawing of Spike, the family dog, in the nationally-syndicated Ripley’s Believe it or Not newspaper feature was a proud moment in the young teen’s life. He took his artistic studies to a new level when, as a senior in high school and with the encouragement of his mother, he completed a correspondence cartoon course with the Federal School of Applied Cartooning (now Art Instruction Schools).
As Schulz continued to study and hone his artistic style from the late 1920s through the 1940s, the genre of comic art experienced a great shift. The full-page comics of the 1920s and 30s afforded artists the space to reflect the Art Deco details and sensibilities of the day, including the highly stylized illustrations of Dick Tracy and Little Nemo in Slumberland. Newspaper editors in the late 1940s and 50s, however, promoted a post-War minimalist model, pushing their cartoonists to shrink strip size, minimize pen strokes, and sharpen their humor with daily gags and cerebral humor for an ever-increasingly educated audience. Schulz’ dry, intellectual, and self-effacing humor was a natural fit for the evolving cultural standards of the mid-20th century comics.
Two monumental events happened within days of each other in 1943 that profoundly affected the rest of Schulz’ life; his mother, to whom he was very close, passed away at age 50 from cervical cancer; and he boarded a troop train to begin his army career in Camp Campbell, Kentucky. Though Schulz remained proud of his achievements and leadership roles in the army for the rest of his life, this period of time haunted him with the dual experiences of the loss of his mother and realities of war.
After returning from the war in the fall of 1945, Schulz settled with his father in an apartment over Carl’s barbershop in St. Paul, determined to realize his passion of becoming a professional cartoonist. He found employment at his alma mater, Art Instruction, sold intermittent one-panel cartoons to The Saturday Evening Post, and enjoyed a three-year run of his weekly panel comic, Li’l Folks, in the local St. Paul Pioneer Press. These early published cartoons focused on concise drawings of precocious children with large heads who interacted with words and actions well beyond their years. Schulz was honing his skills for the national market. The first Peanuts strip appeared on October 2, 1950, in seven newspapers nationwide. Although being a professional cartoonist was Schulz’ life-long dream, at 27-years old, he never could have foreseen the longevity and global impact of his seemingly-simple four-panel creation.
The continuing popular appeal of Peanuts stems, in large part, from Schulz’ ability to portray his observations and connect to his audience in ways that many other strips cannot. As each character’s personality has been fleshed out over the years, readers came to intimately understand Linus’ attachment to his Security Blanket, Charlie Brown’s heartache over the Little Red-Haired Girl, Schroeder’s devotion to Beethoven, Peppermint Patty’s prowess in
sports and failure in the classroom, and Lucy’s knowledge of … well … everything. The rise in Snoopy’s popularity in the 1960s had a direct correlation to his evolution from a four-legged pet to a two-legged, highly-imaginative, and equal character in the strip, which allowed Schulz to take his storylines in increasingly new directions. Schulz’s understated genius lay in his ability to keep his well-known and comfortable characters fresh enough to attract new readers while keeping his current audience coming back for more. His humor was at times observational, wry, sarcastic, nostalgic, bittersweet, silly, and melancholy, with occasional flights of fancy and suspension of reality thrown in from time to time. When Schulz announced his retirement in December 1999, the Peanuts comic strip was syndicated in over 2,600 newspapers worldwide, with book collections translated in over 25 languages. He has been awarded with the highest honors from his fellow cartoonists, received Emmy Awards for his animated specials, been recognized and lauded by the U.S. and foreign governments, had NASA spacecraft named after his characters, and inspired a concert performance at Carnegie Hall. And still today, the Peanuts Gang continues to entertain and inspire the young and the young at heart.
Source: “Charles M. Schulz Biography.” Charles M. Schulz Museum. Published 2022. URL: https://schulzmuseum.org/about-schulz/schulz-biography/
October 2, 1950: The first Peanuts comic strip, and the first time Charlie Brown is called, “Good ol’ Charlie Brown”. Also the first appearances of Shermy and Patty.
October 4, 1950: The first appearance of Snoopy.
December 21, 1950: Charlie Brown first appears with his signature shirt.
May 30, 1951: The first appearance of Schroeder.
August 16, 1951: Charlie Brown is first called a “blockhead”.
September 4, 1951: The first appearance of Snoopy’s doghouse.
September 24, 1951: Schroeder starts playing his piano
March 3, 1952: The first appearance of Lucy.
May 27, 1952: Snoopy’s thoughts are shown in a thought balloon for the first time.
June 6, 1952: First time someone says ‘Good grief.’
September 19, 1952: The first appearance of Linus.
October 19, 1952: The first time Snoopy dances on two legs.
November 16, 1952: The first time the football gag is pulled by Lucy.
December 3, 1952: Charlie Brown is first called a “wishy washy character”
April 6, 1953: The first time a baseball knocks Charlie Brown’s cap off.
May 30, 1953: Lucy falls in love with Schroeder.
December 16, 1953: The first time Schroeder celebrates Beethoven’s birthday.
June 1, 1954: Linus first appears with his security blanket.
July 13, 1954: The first appearance of “Pig-Pen”.
May 31, 1955: Linus first shows symptoms of withdrawal being deprived of his blanket.
April 12, 1956: Charlie Brown first gets his kite stuck in a tree.
June 28, 1957: Snoopy first walks on two legs.
April 26, 1958: Charlie Brown’s baseball team win their first game while Charlie Brown is at
home in bed sick.
December 12, 1958: Snoopy first sleeps on top of his doghouse, rather than inside it.
March 27, 1959: Lucy opens her psychiatry booth in the comic strip.
May 26, 1959: Sally is born.
October 26, 1959: Linus first mentions the Great Pumpkin.
April 25, 1960: After hugging Snoopy, Lucy says, “Happiness is a warm puppy”. Peanuts
merchandise bearing the phrase and variations on it became very popular in the 1960s.
August 22, 1960: Sally falls in love with Linus.
November 19, 1961: The Little Red-Haired Girl is first mentioned.
September 5, 1962: Sally’s first day of kindergarten, only three years after she was born.
January 29, 1963: First suggestion that Snoopy might be a beagle.
July 6, 1963: It is confirmed that Snoopy is a beagle.
March 14, 1965: The Kite-Eating Tree is named.
July 12, 1965: Snoopy starts writing, with his signature, “It was a dark and stormy night.”
October 10, 1965: Snoopy first appears as the World War I Flying Ace.
March 4, 1966: The first appearance of Woodstock.
August 22, 1966: The first appearance of Peppermint Patty.
July 31, 1968: The first appearance of Franklin.
July 15, 1969: The Little Red-Haired Girl moves away.
June 22, 1970: Woodstock is named.
May 27, 1971: The first appearance of Snoopy’s alter-ego Joe Cool.
July 7, 1971: Sally first talks to the school building.
July 20,1971: The first appearance of Marcie.
October 13, 1986: Sally states her first philosophy.
March 30, 1993: Charlie Brown finally leads his baseball team to victory.
September 27, 1994: Charlie Brown learns his pen-pal is a Scottish girl named Morag.
September 4, 1999: The final appearance of Schroeder’s piano.
September 12, 1999: The final appearance of Schroeder.
October 24, 1999: The final football gag.
October 31, 1999: The final reference to the Great Pumpkin.
November 5, 1999: The final appearance of Franklin.
December 13, 1999: The final appearance of Lucy.
December 27, 1999: The final baseball strip
January 1, 2000: The final appearance of Linus and final strip with typed text.
January 2, 2000: The final appearances of Peppermint Patty and Marcie.
January 16, 2000: The final appearance of Woodstock.
February 6, 2000: The final appearances of Sally.
February 13, 2000: The last Peanuts comic strip and final appearance of Snoopy & Charlie Brown.
February 14, 2000: Peanuts strips start to be republished in newspapers as “Classic Peanuts.”
Source: “Peanuts Timeline.” Peanuts Wiki: Good Grief. FANDOM Comics. Accessed April 2022. URL: https://peanuts.fandom.com/wiki/Peanuts_timeline
“Charlie Brown must be the one who suffers because he’s a caricature of the average person. Most of us are much more acquainted with losing than winning. Winning is great, but it isn’t funny.” — Charles M. Schulz on Charlie Brown
“Charlie Brown (called Chuck by Peppermint Patty and sometimes referred to as Charles by Marcie) is a major character in the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. He has been hailed as one of the best cartoon characters of all time, and he has become one of the great American archetypes.
In terms of personality, he is gentle, insecure, and lovable. Charlie Brown possesses significant determination and hope, but frequently fails because of his insecurities, outside interference, or plain bad luck. While he can be smart, he over-thinks things and this often gives him a tendency to procrastinate, as well as give him his ‘wishy-washyness’.
Charlie Brown inherited a massive number of traits from Schulz, right down to his first name. His nickname ‘Charlie’ and his last name ‘Brown’ were given for Charlie Brown, one of Schulz’ coworkers at the Art Instruction Inc. He and Snoopy are the only characters to appear in every TV special and movie.”
Source: “Charlie Brown.” Peanuts Wiki: Good Grief. FANDOM Comics. Accessed April 2022. URL: https://peanuts.fandom.com/wiki/Charlie_Brown
“Sally is the complete pragmatist. There is a certain charm when she fractures the language: ‘By golly, if any centimeters come in this room, I’ll step on them!” — Charles M. Schulz on Sally Brown
“Sally Brown is a major female character in the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. Sally was introduced to the strip in 1959 and her final appearance was February 13, 2000. She is the younger sister of Charlie Brown…Since her older brother is the protagonist of the strip and she starts out as a baby, we initially view her through his eyes: she’s a kid who needs protecting and guidance, who is too rambunctious, and who is undependable. As she grows into her own, Sally becomes a kind girl who is creative and sentimental. She shares some of her brother’s worst tendencies to procrastinate, but is more cheerful than he is. She is somewhat aimless, but enjoys being a kid and tries to avoid the minimal responsibilities that entail. She’s the classic little sister who is too immature for her eight-year-old sibling, but she has a highly developed sense of what’s just and cares deeply for her loved ones—particularly her perpetual crush, Linus van Pelt…
Like her older brother, Sally has a good heart and a strong moral sense. She is extremely sensitive to the unfairness of life. Charlie Brown usually goes to Lucy in her psychiatric booth when he is feeling depressed, but Sally prefers to confide her troubles to the school building, which is very protective of her and will drop a brick on anyone who does not treat her nicely. Sally has a lot of trouble in school. For one thing, she has a problem with malapropisms, both in speech and writing. For example, she says ‘violins broke out’ rather than ‘violence broke out,’ or ‘controversial French’ instead of ‘conversational French.’ One of the strip’s running jokes is the unintentionally humorous school reports she gives at the front of the class, which are frequently inspired by malapropisms and end with her feeling humiliated as all of her classmates laugh at her…
Sally has wanted Charlie Brown’s bedroom for years. Every time he either leaves home for a while (such as going to summer camp) or talks about leaving, the first thing she always wants to know is if she can have his room while he is gone. A few times, she has actually begun to move her possessions into her brother’s room when she thinks he is never coming home, as in one incident from May 1976 when Charlie Brown floats away on his pitcher’s mound after a heavy rain (when Charlie Brown does come back, Sally tells him that she supposes that he wants his room back) when he fails to come after falling ill during a baseball game in the strip from July 10, 1979, (Sally writes a get well card to Charlie Brown telling him she moved into his room and then she sold all of his stuff).
Being Charlie Brown’s little sister, she refers to him as ‘big brother,’ having called him by his full name only on very rare occasions.”
Source: “Sally Brown.” Peanuts Wiki: Good Grief. FANDOM Comics. Accessed April 2022. URL: https://peanuts.fandom.com/wiki/Sally_Brown
Lucy van Pelt
“Lucy comes from that part of me that’s capable of saying mean and sarcastic things, which is not a good trait to have, so Lucy gives me a good outlet. But each character has a weakness and Lucy’s weakness is Schroeder.” — Charles M. Schulz on Lucy van Pelt
“From her earliest moments as #1 fussbudget in the early 1950s to the empowered member of the “Peanuts” Gang who embodied the movement toward equality in the 1960s, 1970s, and beyond, there is no mistaking Lucy. Whether she’s sharing sage advice from her psychiatric booth, contemplating against Schroeder’s piano, or running from Snoopy’s dog lips, Lucy can be counted as crabby, bossy, or even rude at times. But, within it all, there is a young lady who is confident, compassionate, and ready to tackle anything—literally!
…Though she’s often dismissed as simply bossy or crabby, there’s more to Lucy than strong opinions. She dispenses sound advice for just five cents and looks out for her brothers, Linus and Rerun. She’s confident, strong, and positive she’ll make a great president or queen one day. Her biggest weakness is her unrequited love for Schroeder… *sigh*. Never fall in love with a musician.”
Source: “Lucy! Fussbudget to Feminist.” Charles M. Schulz Museum. Published 2022. URL: https://schulzmuseum.org/lucy/
Linus van Pelt
“Linus, my serious side, is the house intellectual, bright, well-informed which, I suppose may contribute to his feelings of insecurity.” — Charles M. Schulz on Linus van Pelt
“Linus van Pelt is a major character in Charles M. Schulz’ comic strip Peanuts. He is Lucy and Rerun’s brother, and the middle child of the van Pelt family. Linus always means well and tries to smooth over any storms that arise amongst the gang. One of his sources of frustration is his sister Lucy, who always belittles him, particularly over his security blanket. In spite of his insightful nature, he has a naive belief in the Great Pumpkin. He is Charlie Brown’s best friend…
Linus was eccentric from the start. As a baby and a toddler, he had a fascination with building impressive structures, mostly with blocks and playing cards… His appearances and his sentences were small, but both would increase as he started leaving the house more, often being told incorrect facts about the world by Lucy, which he would believe and get scared of. Linus’ age would quickly accelerate, stopping upon being just slightly younger than the rest of the characters. Despite his youth, Linus is incredibly smart, acting as a philosopher and theologian, often quoting the Bible. He is kindhearted and caring, and he listens to the problems of others by the wall or elsewhere and, if not a joke, he would have something helpful to say or do…In contrast to his advanced intellect, Linus has two of the strangest traits out of the entire cast… The first is his belief in The Great Pumpkin, which started on October 26, 1959. Apparently started by the confusion of Santa Claus and the commercialization of Christmas poisoning children’s minds, he solely believed that the Great Pumpkin would rise from the pumpkin patch he finds is most ‘sincere,’ before flying around the world to bring toys to all the good children.
The second and most famous, and downright signature trait is his security blanket. Ever since its introduction on June 1, 1954, he has carried it with him over his shoulder in most of his appearances even when others make fun of him for it. Without it, Linus is inexplicably paranoid, and ends up fainting, shaking, sweating, and showing other traits of intense sickness and worry.
Lucy makes numerous attempts to break Linus of his blanket habit, and Snoopy tries to steal the blanket for himself, but Linus would never let up. The blanket makes for a peculiar multi-tool for Linus, as he can use it as a whip, a parachute, and as a means to grab long range objects. Linus is extremely accurate when using his blanket as a whip, being able to hit a falling nickel in the air without warning.
Linus became a valued member of Charlie Brown’s baseball team. He is usually seen playing second base; however, he has on occasion played as Pitcher in place of Charlie Brown when he has been unwell. Usually, when Linus is pitcher, the team wins the game.”
Source: “Linus Van Pelt.” Peanuts Wiki: Good Grief. FANDOM Comics. Accessed April 2022. URL: https://peanuts.fandom.com/wiki/Linus_van_Pelt
“I kind of like Schroeder. He’s fairly down to earth, but he has his problems too. He has to play on the painted black piano keys, and he thinks Beethoven was the first President of the United States.” — Charles M. Schulz on Schroeder
“Schroeder is a major male character in the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. He is distinguished by his precocious skill at playing the piano, as well as by his love of classical music and the composer Ludwig van Beethoven in particular. Schroeder is also the catcher on Charlie Brown’s baseball team and the object of Lucy van Pelt’s unrequited love.
Schroeder was introduced as a baby on May 30, 1951. In the September 24, 1951 strip, Charlie Brown makes an attempt to show the infant how to play a toy piano, but is quickly embarrassed when Schroeder completely outclasses him. However, his love for Beethoven specifically did not begin until October 10 of that same year.
Schroeder is an accomplished musician, although his piano is only a toy, and the black keys are merely painted on to the white keys. In one strip, Charlie Brown tries to get him to play a real piano, but Schroeder bursts out crying, intimidated by its size.
Ludwig van Beethoven is Schroeder’s favorite composer, as revealed in the February 27, 1955 strip…Every year, Schroeder marks Beethoven’s birthday on December 16, although in a series of strips from December 1957 he forgets the date, is in shock when he finds out about it the following day and feels terrible for several days afterwards…
Another distinguishing character trait of Schroeder is his constant refusal of Lucy’s love. Lucy is infatuated with Schroeder and frequently leans against his piano while he is playing, professing her love for him…In a story arc where Lucy and the rest of her family have moved out of town, Schroeder becomes frustrated with his music and mutters disbelievingly that he misses her. Despite his constant animosity towards her, Schroeder would come to realize that Lucy has unwittingly become his muse and he cannot play without her. In the December 16, 1984 strip, Schroeder kisses Lucy on the cheek, but when Lucy turns around, she sees Snoopy instead. Believing Snoopy was the one who kissed her, she runs away screaming, while Schroeder calls for her to come back.
Schroeder is a member of Charlie Brown’s baseball team, often seen as a catcher (notably as far from outfielder, Lucy, as possible). In this capacity, he has often been shown to provide backhanded compliments on Charlie Brown’s pitching. Also, he will run through a list of complicated signals, only to end up with something to the effect of, ‘Just throw it down the middle. He’ll hit it out no matter what you throw, anyway.’ Schroeder lives on 1770 James Street, which was revealed in the August 14, 1952 strip. He mentions that the street number is easy to remember because it was the year that Beethoven was born.”
Source: “Schroeder.” Peanuts Wiki: Good Grief. FANDOM Comics. Accessed April 2022. URL: https://peanuts.fandom.com/wiki/Schroeder
“Snoopy’s whole personality is a little bittersweet. But he’s a very strong character. He can win or lose, be a disaster, a hero, or anything, and yet it all works out. I like the fact that when he’s in real trouble, he can retreat into a fantasy and thereby escape.” — Charles M. Schulz on Snoopy
“Snoopy is a major character in the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. He is the pet beagle of Charlie Brown (his best friend) who cares for him. Snoopy is blessed with a rich, Walter Mitty-like fantasy life. Along with Charlie Brown, Snoopy is the only other character to appear in every movie and special. Snoopy is loyal, funny, imaginative, and good-natured. He is also a genuinely happy dog. A running gag within the strip is that he does a ‘happy dance,’ which annoys Lucy because she believes that nobody can ever be that happy. However, Snoopy just thinks Lucy is jealous because she is not capable of being as happy as he is. The only thing that truly upsets him is a lack of supper. Snoopy, being a dog, has a strong hatred of cats, often making rude remarks to the cat next door (who usually attacks him and destroys his doghouse) and in one series of strips writes stories for a magazine which just point out that cats are stupider than, and inferior to, dogs.
Snoopy loves root beer and pizza, hates coconut candy and listening to balloons being squeezed, gets claustrophobia (which keeps him out of tall weeds and even his own doghouse), and is deathly afraid of icicles dangling over his doghouse. One of his hobbies is reading Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel War and Peace at the rate of ‘a word a day’…Snoopy also loves sleeping and being lazy – a trait which often annoys Frieda. Snoopy often lies on top of his doghouse and sleeps, sometimes all day long. In one strip, Charlie Brown refers to him as a ‘hunting dog,’ because he always hunts for the easy way out of life.
Snoopy has a broad and vivid fantasy life, often delving into many alter egos…The most famous of his role plays is The World War I Flying Ace. When assuming this personality, Snoopy dons goggles, a flying helmet and a scarf, and climbs on top of his doghouse (which he claims is a Sopwith Camel). His primary imaginary enemy is the Red Baron. Another well-known imaginary role is ‘Joe Cool,’ in which Snoopy puts on a ‘cool’ look by putting on sunglasses and leaning against a wall doing nothing.
Snoopy has also imagined himself as a self-proclaimed ‘famous’ writer (although after a brief early success, his extremely short ‘novels’ are never published, and the two-paragraph one that managed to get published failed to sell), a bow tie-wearing attorney (who once defended Peter Rabbit), a hockey player, an Olympic figure skater (who used to skate with Peggy Fleming before he became ‘big time’), and as a world-famous grocery checkout clerk who operated from the top of his doghouse in an apron. He also imagined himself as an astronaut, claiming to be the first beagle on the moon in his delusional dreams.”
Source: “Snoopy.” Peanuts Wiki: Good Grief. FANDOM Comics. Accessed April 2022. URL: https://peanuts.fandom.com/wiki/Snoopy
The Pursuit of Happiness
Charles Schulz’ Peanuts comic strip appeared daily in American newspapers from October 1950 to February 2000. For almost 50 years, the “Peanuts” kids were staples in American life and their youthful voices became part of a long-standing tradition of comedy that offers commentary for and about its audience.
Indeed, it seems that much of Schulz’ humor reflects a somewhat wry perspective on the world in general and American culture in particular. In a society that relentlessly celebrates success and achievement, the hero of the Peanuts comic strips is consistent in his failure. In a country where the “pursuit of Happiness” is enshrined as an “inalienable right,” the “Peanuts” characters are perpetually pursuing things that are always just out of their reach.
Author Bruce Handy writes that, “In [Peanuts], no one gets want they want and everyone is thwarted, not only in love, but also on the baseball field or in the classroom or, where Snoopy is concerned, in the skies over World War I battlefields….the quintessential ‘Peanuts’ catchphrases are “Rats!,” “Good grief!,” “I can’t believe it!,” and “Augh!’”
The musical You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown reflects this comedic characteristic of the Peanuts comic strips. Throughout this show the pursuit of happiness is constant and it is this continuous chase that produces so many of the play’s comedic situations. Charlie Brown wants to fly a kite, Lucy wants to be a queen, Schroeder is on a mission to create Beethoven Day, and Sally and Snoopy are chasing rabbits, etc. In the play none of the characters ever quite achieve the goals that they are pursuing.
However, it’s interesting to note that in the final song of the musical what they DO achieve is…happiness. It’s a happiness that looks very different from the frenetic energy of the previous scenes. This is a happiness that comes when they are sitting still together at the close of a day. It’s a happiness that’s found in little things that you don’t have to chase down. Things like crayons, ice cream, pencils, learning to whistle, or telling the time.
In a very quiet way, You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown re-defines the “American dream” version of happiness for the Peanuts Gang and for the audience. Maybe, just maybe, happiness doesn’t come from the things that you pursue.
Handy, Bruce. “It’s Once Upon a Time, Charlie Brown!” The Peanuts Papers. Literary Classics of the United States, Inc. New York, NY. Copyright 2019. Pg 22-33.
The Measure of Good
The musical You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown is based on the Peanuts comic strip created by cartoonist, Charles Schulz. It opens with a simple, straight-forward statement of the show’s main theme; an upbeat song that’s quite appropriately titled, “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.”
In a series of beautifully comedic contrasts, the opening number alternates lyrics praising Charlie Brown’s virtues with spoken lines talking about his failures. So, which is true? The lyrics or the lines? The show’s answer is both. And that’s the whole point. “Being good” is different from “being good at…”
Charlie Brown, himself, would be the first to list all the things that he is not good at (flying kites, playing baseball, writing book reports, etc.) But when his friends sing that he’s good, they recite an entirely different list (humility, nobility, a sense of honor, kind, trusting, thoughtful, brave, and courteous.) According to the kids in the “Peanuts” Gang (who are known for being brutally honest), it is entirely possible to be “a good man” and “a complete failure.” They have no problem listing the two things side by side.
In a world that trains us to measure our worth by our accomplishments, this is a radical idea. It’s a truth that creates both the joy and sometimes the sadness of the Peanuts stories. Because we know Charlie Brown’s true worth, but we’re not sure the world will ever recognize it. In a tribute to Charles Schulz’s work, the clinical psychologist, Dr. Peter D. Kramer, reflected on this particular theme and how it relates to the “football gag” in the Peanuts comic strips.
“The first football-gag cartoon involving Lucy appeared in 1952, in a Sunday strip with ten frames, enough space for her to fool Charlie Brown twice. The doubling is necessary because the poignancy is in reiteration. The joke is about ignoring experience. The joke is about who each one is. Charlie Brown is trusting to a fault—or a virtue. He prefers to trust, however often his faith is betrayed. Giving fellow humans the benefit of the doubt is a fine if painful way to live. “Don’t! Don’t!” we cry to Charlie Brown, and then we’re glad he does.
We, too, take pratfalls. We, too, may be better for taking them. There’s solace in that observation, and food for thought, too, about what’s right for us. If betrayal is the way of the world, how should a person live?” 
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, consistently affirms that the measure of good is not about successes. As the script walks us through a day in the life of Charlie Brown, we watch Charlie Brown fail at any number of things. By the end of the day, he has accomplished exactly nothing, and yet his friends can still offer him the exact same truth that they offered him at the beginning of the day.
“You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.”
2 Kramer. Peter D. “Nonsense!” The Peanuts Papers. Literary Classics of the United States, Inc. New York, NY. Copyright 2019. Pg 51-63.
A dramaturg is a dedicated person on the creative team whose primary task is to support the play’s development by asking key questions, starting conversations, researching, providing context, and helping the artists as they work together to tell the intended story.
Since each piece of theater is unique, the role of a dramaturg is further defined on a project-by-project basis. Each process requires a customized approach that begins with a deep understanding of the play and of the generative artist’s goals.
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