Underground Theatre production ‘Gruesome Playground Injuries’ interlaces lives of characters

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Two people, over the course of 30 years, continue to intersect in bizarre ways, according to UIndy Events. This is the plot of the University of Indianapolis Underground production “Gruesome Playground Injuries,” created by playwright Rajiv Joseph, directed by senior theatre education major Kristen Newlin and performed on Dec. 10 and 11, according to UIndy Events.

According to Newlin, this production is about two friends named Kayleen and Doug who grow up together on a 30-year journey. Kayleen, played by junior theatre major Kathryn Rohlfing, and Doug, played by freshman history secondary education major Morgan Henry, continue to be brought together through tragedies or other accidents in their lives, according to Newlin. 

Photo by Kiara Conley

“It [the play] kind of shows how friendships and relationships evolve through time … how the baggage people carry with them and the trauma that we carry, how that evolves us through time and what that brings to relationships,” Newlin said. “It’s just really about these two friends’ lives through 30 years and how they change and how their life ended up really.”

The play jumps around through increments of time that show the two friends at different ages, such as one scene where the friends are 8-years-old and another featuring them as 23-year-olds, Newlin said. Rohlfing said that it is Doug who continues to bring the friends together through his injuries. 

According to Rohlfing, she had to focus on developing the relationship between the two characters. She said that they had to focus on the relationship first and foremost due to these characters knowing each other for 30 years. 

Newlin said that along with directing, she was also in charge of designing the play. She said that she designed the costumes, set and lighting design for the play. According to Newlin, the play had a quick turnaround with around five weeks to rehearse.  

“Overall, it’s been working out. I start[ed] tech week on Sunday [Dec. 5,] so that’s kind of getting into the show, preparing for the show next weekend. So it’s just been a fun process to kind of get to do all that stuff on my own and see what’s in my head come to life,” Newlin said.

Rohlfing said that she auditioned for the play back in late September to early October. However, she said both she and Newlin had to wait on working with the play due to both of them participating in the “Taming of the Shrew” play in late October. She said she was excited to perform it live as well as perform in her first dramatic role.

“This is my first lead dramatic role … There are a lot of comedic elements to the show but it is a drama at its base,” Rohlfing said. “I’m really excited to go out there and portray, because this character is very complex, nothing in this show is straightforward and as it seems. Everything has a complexity to it.”

Newlin said she was excited to perform this play for an audience, and because of COVID-19 last year, everything was live-streamed instead of being performed live. She said that this was also her first real production she has done. 

“I’m just really excited for people to sit there and watch everything, so that is a big excitement for that part,” Newlin said. “But behind the scenes, I’m just ready to see everything become realized. It’s like a big machine, so when every part is perfectly put into place, that’s when you really see the show come together…”

Photo Gallery by Kiara Conley

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