Student-driven play to tackle subjects of self-harm, friendship

Dolapo Adeyemo, Contributing Writer

In a bid to relate messages about self-harm, students from the theater arts department will present “Gruesome Playground Injuries.”

The play’s opening night is set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Globe Studio in the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

“Gruesome Playground Injuries” is about two friends, Doug and Kayleen, who have a history of self-harm.

According to the university website, Doug and Kayleen keep meeting each other at odd times, leading them to compare scars and the physical calamities that keep drawing them together.

Director Frank Monier, a senior theater arts major, described the play as a “very intense dark comedy” with about eight scenes.

This is Monier’s first time directing a play. He said taking on a directorial role was  “super challenging,” but a great experience overall.

Though the play was directed, produced and designed by students, Monier said his professors still motivated him.

“I knew I wanted to direct a play before I graduated from college, because in college it’s OK to mess up, but in the real world it’s not,” Monier said. “I went to my professors and told them this is what (I wanted to do.) We developed the plan and how to execute (it.)”

Students started designing the play over a year ago. The actual show took five to six weeks to put together.

Monier and Connor Lewis, a theater arts major who plays Doug, said working on the play has been exhilarating and exciting, because it is student-driven.

Lewis said taking on Doug’s character was interesting for him.

“(Doug) is a caring person, but in his own way. He causes himself a lot of self-harm because of his enjoyment of pain,” Lewis said. “There are things about him that remind me of myself and other things that do not.”

Alyssa Hilbert, a theater arts major who plays Kayleen, said it has been eye-opening to play the character.

“I have found a lot of ways that I relate to her, and it’s been fun to bring elements of my life to the character,” she said. “Being part of the play has been a lot of fun.”

Part of what made the play an interesting experience for Hilbert was seeing how the students work together and learn from each other.

“I think students will like this show because there are funny, touching and intense moments that inspire connections with those we care about,” Hilbert said.

 Monier said the play is one which people will be able to connect with.

Lewis, on the other hand, thinks students will enjoy seeing the elements of friendship portrayed in the show.

“I think students will like the aspects of friendship and how sometimes it’s a struggle to keep up with. Sometimes it’s worth it, and other times it may not be, but we fight for it all the same,” Lewis said.

Dolapo Adeyemo can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]