BWW Interview: Talking with Jessica Aquila Cymerman of Gruesome Playground Injuries

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BWW Interview: Talking with Jessica Aquila Cymerman of Gruesome Playground Injuries

This February, Untold Wants Theatre's production of Gruesome Playground Injuries will play at the Vancity Culture Lab. Written by Rajiv Joseph, this production revolves around main characters Doug and Kayleen who meet multiple times throughout a 30 year time period. Each time they reconnect, new issues are brought forth into their relationship with one another. These new issues also bring big decisions that have to be made regarding their future together. This play will make you laugh, warm your heart, and show you how complicated relationships can be! This month, I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the directors of the show: Jessica Aquila Cymerman about GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIES' upcoming shows taking place from February 5th - 15th!

1) What are you most excited to show the audience in this production?

Jessica: I'm most excited to get the audience to laugh. This play is actually really funny. There's a lot of vulnerability and heart, and . . . injuries of course. But because the characters are kindred spirits, their reparté is sometimes cutting and infectious. I'm most excited to show them the lighter side of a lifelong friendship/love where everything that can go wrong does. We all need a laugh right now.

2) What do you hope people will take away after seeing the show?

Jessica: I hope they take away something relatable from what they see. We go to the theatre to see ourselves. Yes, we go to learn different perspectives, and have our horizons broadened, for sure. But we're always seeking something universal. I hope people take away a bit of validation that they've been seen, and reflected. Also, there's an interesting aspect of this show, which is this is a love story, but a complicated one. It's not what we're typically fed. And I think that will resonate with audiences as well.

3) With the original production premiering in Houston in 2009 and Off-Broadway in 2011, is there anything new you are bringing to this production that is different from the others?

Jessica: In this production, we're really focusing on the backstories of the characters: What makes them not be able to be together, what in their family life, social or economic or societal situations shaped them to be the types of people that express emotion or vulnerability through injury? Our amazing actors, Éanna and India, have done extensive backstory research to build these characters so specifically, that hopefully their choices in the scenes will fill in those questions of why. That way, the audience will be able to see the justifications for the events that take place, and we can all delve deeper into understanding this story.

4) What is your favourite part about Gruesome Playground Injuries?

Jessica: Each time the characters see each other again in a new scene, they say "Hey again." And it just tells me so much about all the time in between, and carries all the things they want to say to each other but can't. So I guess my favourite part is the simple things that say so much. This play is full of them!

5) Why should people come see your show?

Jessica: We're truly ringing in a new decade with this piece! This play has a lot of empathy, which is what we all need right now, as we venture into the new '20s. Not to mention, the play will be performed around Valentine's Day, as well. And because it's a darker, alternative love story, I think a lot of people will like the fact that it's almost anti-valentine's day..."palentine's day" if you will.

Gruesome Playground Injuries is playing at the Vancity Culture Lab from February 5th to 15th. Tickets start at $20 + service charges for opening night and $15 + service charges for the preview on February 5th. Tickets are available at

Photo: (L) India Rose Shaw as Kathleen and (R) Eanna O'Dawd as Doug

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