playGround, the annual juried fringe festival of York University’s Department of Theatre, celebrates its 20th season with two dynamic programs running Feb. 14 to 17 in the Joseph G. Green Studio Theatre, 139 Centre for Film & Theatre atYork’s Keele campus.
Well-known for its uncurbed spirit and risk-taking mindset, playGround is a student-produced seedbed for the next generation of theatre artists. It showcases original works conceived, written, performed and produced by up-and-coming playwrights, directors, designers and actors from all levels ofYork’s undergraduate theatre program.
Meg Moran and Meara Tubman-Broeren, both fourth-year students studying devised theatre in the Department of Theatre’s Creative Ensemble, are the co-artistic directors of this year’s edition of playGround. With the help of a peer jury, they selected the most promising ideas from the almost four dozen proposals submitted.
“Not only does the festival showcase the work of emerging artists of our generation and community, it also deals with what’s important to us as students right now,” said Tubman-Broeren. “What unifies all the pieces is our mandate, which is to foster innovative and experimental theatrical work which engages its audience and ignites thought and discussion.”
“Producing the festival has been a challenging and lengthy process, with its share of ups and downs, but overall it’s been very rewarding,” said Moran. “This is a unique opportunity for us as students to work so independently. It’s been a real learning experience for Meara and me.”
The old adage:, “when you want a job done well, give it to a busy person”, rings true for this duo. In addition to their work with playGround, they are collaborating with other members of the fourth-year Creative Ensemble on a show slated to run March 27 to 30. Moran is also assistant-directing the upcoming Theatre @ York production of Edward Bond’s Restoration, which will run March 18 to 24. And Tubman-Broeren is performing in a physical theatre adaptation of Shakespeare’s King John, which will be playing downtown this summer.
playGround 2012 ranges from light comedies to dark dramas, and from staunch realism to dance theatre. Here’s an overview of the featured productions:
Meatis a dystopic romance in which a young doctor’s morality is put to the test when his work forces him to explore, sacrifice and examine what it truly means to be human.
Belly Dollis imagined and choreographed as a unique melding of traditional belly dance and theatrical performance.
The Doorstep – In every relationship, there are conversations. These conversations are intimate, emotionally driven, and personal, and have the potential to be the beginning, or the end, of something beautiful.
Old Townexplores the nature of familial responsibility and sibling dynamics framed within the question: When is it time to grow up?
The Watching Gameis a raunchy comedy revolving around people watching.
A Working Womanfollows the story of a prostitute on the precipice of a life-changing decision.
Emerging Artists Collective – “Alowbrow commentary on highbrow art”, exploring the challenges and pitfalls faced by the current generation of young artists.
Womb – What if we weren’t told the whole story? Before there was Adam and his wife, Eve, there was Adam and his equal, Lilith. Womb explores the possibilities of a world where Lilith was the first mother.
Danny and Annielooks at the different ways love comes in and out of our lives.
Drafts – Everybody is looking, but is anybody really seeing?
Wonder’s Lost Where Wonder’s Found – A woman winds her way through the ridiculous annals of compulsion and the heart-aching longings of loneliness while seeking to remember the miracle of life.
The Abstraction – Two men in a gallery contemplate an abstract work of art and decide what it means to each of them.
The Vagina Dialoguesis a verbatim piece composed of interviews withYorkUniversity students about the misconceptions and mysteries surrounding the vagina.
Da Capoexploresa composer, his muse and the various layers of their relationship through movement.
Cracked – At the end of her life, Ida Hookman must finally face the consequences of her self-obsessed lifestyle and defend her autonomy in the process.
Emerging Artists Collective presents a new devised work that examines the artist’s place in the city of Toronto.
Each program is presented three times over playGround’s four-day run. Series A plays Tuesday, Feb. 14 and Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 7:30pm, with a matinee Friday, Feb. 17 at 1pm. Series B has a matinee Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 1pm, and runs Thursday, Feb. 17 and Friday, Feb. 17 at 7:30pm.
Moran and Tubman-Broeren encourage patrons to purchase their tickets in advance, as performances do sell out. Tickets are $7 per show and are available through the York University Box Office website or by calling 416-736-5888.