People from other eras might have thought those caught up in a cultural craze in the mid-1970s had rocks in their heads because of what they couldn’t keep out of their hands.
The Pet Rock.
Playwright Davis Gordon Gilbert brings the story of the rise and fall of Gary Dahl and his painted “pets” with “A Rock’s Story,” which starts a four-day run tonight in the Dow Arena Theater.
“In 1975, this guy named Garly Dahl decided after a night drinking with his friends that a rock was the perfect pet, and it was the weirdest thing that took off that should never have,” Gilbert said. “What this show basically is is the night where the three friends met, when he came up with the idea, and then the six months after, where he went from nothing to $1.7 million to nothing.
“Everybody loves a rag-to-riches story, and a rags to riches back to rags back to a little bit of riches is always good, too.”
Ironically, Gilbert’s foundation of the play mirrors the birth of the Pet Rock.
While preparing to give a speech to MBAs at Franklin University in Nashville, Gilbert was out having drinks with a friend, Gilbert and his friend, Dennis Ulrich, a member of Brazosport Center Stages. They talked about Dahl’s crazy, stupid idea that earned him a place in history.
“I decided to make Gary Dahl and his Pet rock the cornerstone of the incoming MBA student seminar welcome speech,” Gilbert said. “For a number of years, I was asked back to give the MBA introduction speech, and every year I continued to gather additional information about Gary Dahl and his Pet Rock, and that was 20 years ago.”
Becoming more and more fascinated with the story as time went on, the friends eventually decided a play about the pop culture craze would be a hit.
“I got involved at the Center and started doing plays,” Gilbert said. “I decided to take the story of Gary Dahl and his Pet Rock and see if I could take my own advice and make my own crazy, stupid idea of turning the Pet Rock experience into a full-length play.”
People who lived through Pet Rock pandemonium in the 1970s will enjoy seeing a new nostalgic perspective of this curious piece of history through a fresh and entertaining story. Those who are not as familiar with the Pet Rock and will be taken in by its peculiar popularity.
“I think it will bring in perspective to younger audiences who only have an idea of the concept,” said actor Jackson Kimbrough, who plays Dahl. “I feel like we’re filling the lines where people only have a vague idea, whereas this will give you a mostly accurate story and representation of how it caught on and kind of took the world at the time by storm.”
Performances of “A Rock’s Story” will be 7:30 p.m. tonight through Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Dow Arena Theater at the Center for Arts and Sciences, 400 College Blvd. Tickets are $5 and are available for purchase at bcfas.org, by phone at 979-265-7661 or in person at the center during regular business hours.
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