Jim Wren, associate professor and coordinator of the performance program in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance, was interviewed by the News & Record about his directing role in a recent play, “Gruesome Playground Injuries.” The play, which was performed in downtown Greensboro and Winston-Salem, was a one-man, one-woman performance that chronicled the intertwined lives of childhood friends Doug and Kayleen, both of whom had repeated injuries on a playground as kids. These injuries turn into a continuous theme for the next thirty years involving different circumstances of “real life.”
“Each has a desperate need for the other that can’t necessarily be articulated or easily explained,” said Wren. “There is a deep connection between these two broken people, even though they sometimes don’t see each other for years at a time.”
The performance told the story in seven scenes but in a nonlinear fashion, as to give a bigger picture of their relationship to the audience.
“It moves forward in 15-year increments but then jumps back 10 years,” Wren continued. “It’s interesting theatricality that allows the audience to have moments of discovery that weren’t apparent before. Things have a heightened meaning that might not have made much sense in a previous scene.”
As well, to avoid confusion, each scene opened with a projected supertitle that gave the characters’ age and nature of the injury. Another device used by the actors was to put their injuries in full view of the audience.
“There are no breaks or blackouts,” Wren stated. “Part of the action is that they step to the side of the stage, wash the blood off and apply new injuries. It’s another level of the story that’s playing out in front of us.”
“Gruesome Playground Injuries” was performed by the Paper Lantern Theatre Company at the Triad Stage UpStage Cabaret from February 27 through March 9, as well as at the Hanesbrand Theatre in Winston-Salem on March 13-16.