The new SUNY Oswego Blackfriars Student Production, “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead,” envisions that the gang from “Peanuts” has grown up -- and just like growing up in real life, it isn’t always pretty. 

The show will run as a free virtual production March 19 to 21.

After C.B. (names in the play are changed for copyright) loses his beloved dog, he starts wondering about the afterlife, and what awaits humans following death in the play written by Bert V. Royal. 

“‘Dog Sees God’ is a show about confronting one’s own identity,” said Giovanni Ayala-Martinez, the show’s director. “It is a production that challenges the audience to look within themselves, to ask, ‘Who am I?’

“We see C.B. go through all of these changes after his dog dies, where he’s questioning life itself, questioning the afterlife,” Ayala-Martinez continued. “Then he begins to question who he is, and what he holds close, and that’s when he starts to explore his sexuality, and all the mishaps come after that.”

The Blackfriars Student Production (previously known as the student honors production) utilizes a cast and crew of almost entirely SUNY Oswego students. This can create a unique experience for the audience, while providing extremely valuable experience for the students involved in the production. 

“Ever since I was a freshman at SUNY Oswego, I wanted to do the student honors production,” Ayala-Martinez, a senior dual major in theatre and creative writing, noted. “I always wanted to be a director, and I actually directed [and wrote] a show my senior year of high school.”

To participate in the productions, students must go through an interviewing process to gain a role within the show. For his submission, Ayala-Martinez emphasized how he would work with the cast and crew to make the show come to life.

Collaborative effort

“I think my directing style is very collaborative,” he said. “I like to direct a show where I ask my actors’ opinions, what they think they’re doing, and what they’re contributing, what their characters are contributing to the production. I like to think we’re building the show together, rather than I’m telling them what to do.”

The show is intended for mature audiences only and contains many intense themes. According to the show’s website, the production deals with “frank discussion of LGBTQIA+ identity, eating disorders, depression, mental health, extreme examples of verbal homophobia and suicide.”

“I’d like the audience to take away a bit of self-reflection,” Ayala-Martinez said. “Our world is so structured, and strict… but it’s not like that all the time.”

Ayala-Martinez thinks the current state of the world makes the production ever more relevant.

“I think now is the best time to introspect, and think … how can we move forward so that we’re being more accepting, and being more caring, and just sharing a little bit more love with each other after this pandemic,” he said.

The cast consists of Nick Sweet as C.B., Anastasia West as C.B.’s Sister, Evan Piccolo as Matt, Jared Mills as Van, Abby Hines as Van’s Sister; Philip Jones as Beethoven, Bayana Burnell as Tricia and Shy Sims as Marcy.

The show will feature a 7:30 p.m. opening night on Friday, March 19, with showtimes of 2 and 7:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, March 20 and 21. 

"Dog Sees God" is free to view, but tickets must be acquired from the SUNY Oswego box office in advance via