Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to see the new Off-Broadway play, B*tch, presented by The Theatre Project. The play centers on a family in dire straits: financial debt, struggling business, personality conflicts and differences, and desperation. As a last resort, they turn to dogfighting to solve their growing list of problems. But, as is often the case with desperate decisions, they get in way over their heads.
I’m not going to reveal too many specifics about the play, because what I really want to happen is that all you New Yorkers go to their website, buy tickets (FYI – $1 of every ticket sold goes to the ASPCA), and go see it for yourself. Be aware that it’s a grim portrayal of reality, but it’s a reality nonetheless. And a reality, at that, that needs to be exposed for what it is: gruesome.
The theater itself that the play is in is quite small, a space on the third floor of the building that houses The Players Theatre. I imagine, because of this limitation, among other decisions made, there are no live dogs in the production. But there’s some great use of very clever props to suggest the presence of the dog (whose name is Hilary) in certain scenes. Speaking from a theatrical standpoint, they managed to create, on what I imagine was a limited budget, a very realistic setting. Most of the action takes place in a dingy office at the Debenedetto brothers’ (Junie, Mitts and Davy Dollar$) salvage yard.
A chain tied to a fence indicates Hilary’s presence outside in the salvage yard itself. Dogs chained to fences outside in yards? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it folks? A regimented eight-week training session is instituted by the brothers’ Uncle Knee Co (a name we assume is earned by his regular profession: busting people’s kneecaps). After the eight-weeks are over, and after we’ve learned about lots of betrayal between family members, Hilary is taken to fight. The aftermath of which literally rips the family apart.
But the bottom line of this play is exactly what I try to tell people everyday about pit bulls. The dogs are doing what they have to do, what their natural survival instincts are telling them to do. The real beasts in the dogfighting are not the dogs, but the people who fight them. The greed, selfishness, and disregard for human decency drive them to inflict all sorts of abuse on these animals, who respond in the only way they know how. B*tch forces its audience to witness, first hand, the cruelty of the dogfighting world and allows them to sympathize with Hilary – the real victim out of all six characters in the play.
The world needs to know that pit bulls, whether they’ve been used in dogfighting, or are household pets like my own, are not the villains, but rather, the victims. To help me finalize this point, I’d like you all to watch this video my friend David shared on Facebook. Please note: there are some disturbing images in this video. If you are uncomfortable with such imagery, you will not want to watch this video.
It is clear from her condition that Belle, like Hilary in B*tch, is a victim of abuse. What may not be clear from this video, and more directly asserting mine, and the play’s, point is this: the dog that did this damage to Belle? That dog is a victim, too.
Our government needs to be more vigilant towards this kind of animal abuse. Until that happens, we can only hope that there continue to be plays, movies, books, TV shows, etc., that expose the horrors of dogfighting.