PlayGround Festival at York University

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playGround Festival is an annual three-day fringe theatre festival held at York University in the Joseph G. Green Studio Theatre. This Theatre @York festival is entirely student-run, and exclusively showcases the work of York University Theatre majors. playGround festival wrapped up their twenty-fourth season on the 12th February 2016. It is a unique educational opportunity for York University Theatre program students, with limited faculty involvement and influence.

Mandate

The mandate of playGround festival is redefined each year, with each new set of artistic directors. The 2016 mandate of the festival is as follows: “playGround 2016 is a festival for artists willing to experiment and push beyond personal boundaries in pursuit of developing their own authentic voices. It is a place for students to discover and foster their own work, and grow in a community of other student artists. For this year’s festival we are not looking for “good” stories, we are looking for YOUR stories”. [1]

Theatre Student Opportunities

Though the productions in the festival lineup are not marked for theatre classes, many production positions are filled by students completing practical components of their theatre production classes. These positions include the technical director, head stage manager, and lighting and sound designers for the individual productions in the festival. These production opportunities provide practical experience in a professional theatre setting. [1]

The technical director, production managers, and head stage manager of the festival apply for these roles and are selected by faculty members. They fulfill these roles as a part of their program, gaining practicum credits. They are marked and mentored by faculty members. [2]

Select first year theatre students are assigned to playGround’s running crew and assessed on their performance as part of their first year stagecraft class. Part of the assessment criteria for the head stage manager is their ability to lead and train the running crew. Consequently, the head stage manager plays a role in assessing the running crew members, by giving feedback to the stagecraft course director. The stagecraft course director, in turn, marks the running crew members using the head stage manager’s criticism. [3]

Much like the technical director and head stage manager, lighting designers and sound designers fill these roles as part of their theatre production class requirements. Lighting designers and sound designers select the shows they work on, and their designs are assessed for their respective design classes. The short productions in playGround festival give these budding designers a taste of the amount of work required to design lighting and sound designs for the professional theatre.

Each year, playGround festival has two artistic directors. Instead of being selected by faculty members, the artistic directors of playGround Festival are selected by the previous year’s artistic directors. The artistic directors base their selections for the next festival on the applicants’ ability to work together and unify their visions. Between eight and ten students applied to be artistic directors for the 2016 season. The artistic directors are not assessed on their performance for any classes, nor are they paid. [4]

The playGround Legacy

Committed to showcasing new, experimental works created by York University Theatre Program students, playGround festival is an ideal place to premiere new student works [2]. It is a supportive environment that also provides student work with ample exposure. A number of works that premiered at playGround utilize the feedback given to them, further develop their works, and tour other venues. Love Broke, from the 2015 PlayGround festival lineup, did just that. From February 19th-20th 2016, "Love Broke" was a part of the PIECE of MINE Festival, part of OCAD’s Black Future Month.

Exposure for the works in the festival is also provided by coverage by student periodicals. Artichoke Magazine, the magazine of Winters College at York University, as well as Excalibur, “York University’s student newspaper”, covers playGround festival. Unfortunately, PlayGround festival is not archived in video format. [5]

In addition to providing exposure for York University theatre program students’ work, playGround festival helps in the creation of these works. The festival’s artistic directors mentor those creating the works in the festival, frequently attending rehearsals. As well, the production managers of the festival aid in booking rehearsal spaces in York University studios. [6]

Ticket Revenues

All proceeds from the playGround festival are allocated to renting the venue, Joseph G. Green Studio Theatre in the Centre for film and Theatre at York University. Students are not paid for the involvement in the PlayGround festival. [7]

References

  1. Apa, Megan. "On Being the Artistic Director of Theatre @york's 24th Annual PlayGround Festival." Online interview. 17 Feb. 2016.
  2. Apa, Megan. "On Being the Artistic Director of Theatre @york's 24th Annual PlayGround Festival." Online interview. 17 Feb. 2016.
  3. Apa, Megan. "On Being the Artistic Director of Theatre @york's 24th Annual PlayGround Festival." Online interview. 17 Feb. 2016.
  4. Apa, Megan. "On Being the Artistic Director of Theatre @york's 24th Annual PlayGround Festival." Online interview. 17 Feb. 2016.
  5. Apa, Megan. "On Being the Artistic Director of Theatre @york's 24th Annual PlayGround Festival." Online interview. 17 Feb. 2016.
  6. Apa, Megan. "On Being the Artistic Director of Theatre @york's 24th Annual PlayGround Festival." Online interview. 17 Feb. 2016.
  7. Apa, Megan. "On Being the Artistic Director of Theatre @york's 24th Annual PlayGround Festival." Online interview. 17 Feb. 2016.

Apa, Megan. " On Being the Artistic Director of Theatre @york's 24th Annual PlayGround Festival. " Online interview. 17 Feb. 2016.

Name:playGround Festival at York University
Location:Toronto, ON
Category:Post Secondary
Latitude:43.612217
Longitude:-79.409180