by Rajiv Joseph

 In the fall of 2018, we produced our first full-length production: Gruesome Playground Injuries by Rajiv Joseph. We picked this show from our selected scenes at our Launch party as we loved the intimacy of this story.

With a non traditional casting, our production was able to develop new depths as we watched two best friends struggle not only with the changing dynamics of love, but also with the complexities that arise with growing up queer.

nolaNOW Theatre presents: Gruesome Playground Injuries was fantastic and featured some of the best acting I’ve seen in a while. Brava!!
— AJ Allegra, Artistic Director of Nola Project
The acting, set design, the efficiency and brutality of the play itself, all worked to create a moving and immersive experience. I struggled to even take notes in order to write this review
— Review from Big Easy Magazine

To read Big Easy Magazine’s full rave review, CLICK HERE!

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From the director—

When I first read Gruesome Playground Injuries back in 2011, I found the play so profoundly challenging. I was immediately drawn to the gory, “gross-out” moments that Doug and Kayleen share with one another. These moments made me recall the first time I got a black eye, and how my friend spent a solid five minutes staring in awe as colors began to sprout from the wound. The physical, mental, and emotional pains that come with growing older are not truly individual experiences, despite our best efforts to hide the more grotesque truths of living in a human body. To me, injuries are deeply intimate, and our closest relationships grow through being honest about our pain.

In my earliest conversations with nolaNOW, we discussed a non-traditional casting of Doug. (In our production, she is known as D.) I revisited the play to see how this choice would alter the story, and I found that it didn’t change the heart of the narrative. Instead, it added another layer to the relationship that D and Kayleen share. Growing up queer is a confounding experience, with more questions asked than answers provided. (I still recall bringing home my first boyfriend at 14 and my brother pulling me aside to say, “I thought you were a lesbian,” to which I replied, “Sort of.”)

Sharing pain is an uncomfortable truth of being part of the queer community, and it’s this that makes the recasting of Doug so important to me. Imagining a straight male character as a queer woman offers a small reflection of my own experience, and the experiences of many queer people I know and love. For the first time in my life, theatre and television are shifting to more truthfully represent people of marginalized identities and social backgrounds. Embracing these identities through various narrative forms is vital to our growth as a culture. After all, love as well as heartache knows no gender or orientation. Pain belongs to us all.

-Cuba Hathaway