Top 6 Things You Didn't Know about Dog in the Manger

Lope De Vega, 17th Century Badass/Honey Badger

6.  Slapstick! Literally

The term slapstick comes from a device used in commedia dell’arte. It features two wood slats and a handle, when the two slats are hit against each other it produces a slapping noise. It has been used for centuries to stage hilarious hijinks. Perk up your ears to here it used in Dog in the Manger!

5. Super-Heroic Costume Design

French photographer Sacha Goldberger created this gorgeously detailed interpretation of the Green Lantern as a 16th century portrait model. In fact, he did a whole series of comic book and Star Wars heroes. This series influenced some of costume designer, Karen Gilmer’s gorgeous designs. 

4. The Scenic Design was Inspired by Cartoons

Animation background artist, Maurice Noble, inspired an infusion of whimsical fun into Dog in the Manger’s scenic design. Noble was a prolific, Oscar winning artist who did work for Disney, Warner Bros, MGM, and a number of Dr. Seuss films. 

3. The Play is Set in Naples

This is the Plaazzo Reale Napoli (Royal Palace of Naples) Located on the Western coast of Italy, Naples was under the rulership of Spain for two centuries. Fun facts about Naples: it is located right next to Mount Vesuvius, the Neapolitan people rebelled against the Spanish Inquisition coming to town and the city is credited with inventing pizza. Thanks, Naples! 

2. Dog in the Manger is Not About Dogs

Okay, you probably already knew that, but the title is actually comes from a fable that dates back to ancient Greece. Although it is typically attributed to Aesop, there is no mention of it in the original Greek descriptions of his work. The story does appear in John Gower’s 1390, Confessio Amantis:

Though it be not the hound’s habit
To eat chaff, yet will he warn off
An ox the commeth to the barn
Thereof to take up any food.

1. Lope de Vega was a 17th Century Badass

Lope de Vega’s career began early. By the age of five he was reading and writing Spanish and Latin, and by 12, he had written his first play. At 14, he dropped out of school to join the military and fought at sea with the Spanish Armada. When his wife cheated on him, Vega got into a fistfight with the woman’s family.  Yes, her family.  The fight was so epic, he ended up exiled from Madrid.

But much like the majestic honey badger, Vega took his exile in stride. It wasn’t long before this John McClane of Spain was back in the Spanish Armada, fighting the English. During one devastating battle, Vega’s ship was one of few to return back to port, and afterwards he was allowed to return to Madrid, where he focused on his writing.

He found his writing being heavily influenced by religion, so he did the logical thing and joined the priesthood. He sort of skimmed over the whole vows of celibacy part of the deal, however.  Vega had a number of affairs, and eventually took even a wife and had children.

In his 73 years of life, Vega wrote about 3,000 sonnets, 3 novels, 4 novellas, 9 epic poems, and about 1,800 plays.   (For comparison: Shakespeare only has 40 plays attributed to his name, and that’s if we count the lost ones.)