The art scene in Dayton is continuing to grow with the addition of The Playground Theatre, a not-for-profit movement Jenna Burnette and Christopher Hahn founded to bridge the gap between theatre and film.
“We know in this day and age people are more likely to go see a movie than a play,” the cofounders said. “Our plan is to perform staged adaptations of popular films, contemporary plays and brand new works.”
The two co founders were living in Chicago when the plan for The Playground came about in 2013. Jenna had interned for Profiles Theater and both participated in several acting intensives. While there, the idea of building a theatre company started to form. Not satisfied with where life was taking them, one night the idea of starting a theater company came to mind. The two started bouncing around ideas and the more they talked about it, the more excited they got. These Dayton natives decided it was time to return home and start it here.
The two approach theater with a very simplistic vision: focusing more on the imagination. Thus the name: The Playground. They wanted to encompass their view of acting by focusing on the imagination, much like a child.
“A child at play has nothing but their imagination driving them,” Jenna said.
The less props, costumes, or sets, the better. They believe wholeheartedly in the situation they have created within the imagination, wanting the main focus to be on the actor and the story. Eventually they want to have a permanent theater location downtown, but for now are renting space where they can find it.
“We are the voice of a younger generation and we want to approach theatre in a new way,” Jenna said.
The Playground’s first production they plan to bring to the stage is The Breakfast Club later this year. Their hope is that the well known film will generate interest and attract a new audience. The Breakfast Club will not be showing until later this year and they’ll be treating it as a fundraiser instead of selling tickets. Casting for the show will begin in late August. They hope to give opportunities to those that are aspiring actors and those that want to explore their artistic abilities.
“We hope to inspire our community,” they said. “We really want to encourage people to be bold and fearless. In life, we think it is important to take a chance, get outside of your comfort zone, and hopefully make some discoveries about yourself.”
Jennifer Osterday – It’s easy to become numb to all the exhibits that come through the Dayton Art Institute. Even I have walked through and thought, “OK, cool art. Now let’s get to Leo’s Bistro and eat.” But something about Dayton Celebrates Glass immediately caught my eye.
Maybe it’s because I saw the Chihuly exhibit more than ten years ago at DAI and fell in love with the beauty of glass. Maybe it’s because when you hear a piece of art in the exhibit weighs more than 1,100 pounds you get a little intrigued. Or maybe it’s the fact that artist Stephen Powell will personally drive his glass work from KY to Dayton in the backseat of his car to ensure it’s set up just right with lighting. I’m gonna say it’s all of the above that has me saying you NEED to check out “Dayton Celebrates Glass.”
Nicole Nett – I agree completely- I think for many people in the area, that particular Chihuly exhibit was a perfect and dramatic introduction to studio glass. Fans of that exhibit will be pleasantly surprised to see several of his pieces in this one. What I particularly enjoyed was the way that the pieces were grouped. There were definite differences in the areas, but they all flowed seamlessly through the various artists and time periods.
JO – When I went to a preview of the exhibit, Christopher Ries, one of more than 12 artists that is featured in the exhibit, spoke. Ries immediately won bonus points when he started his presentation by sharing his love of the city of Dayton and calling the DAI a “special jewel.” Well, Dayton is the gem city after all.
Between cameras, mirrors, telescopes and that iPhone in your hand all the time, glass is just about everywhere. Ries just has a way of looking at it differently than the rest of us. He’s known as a classical reductive sculptor, dealing with large blocks of glass that can be up to 4,000 pounds and spending more than a year sculpting it down just right. His Sunflower IV piece that has gotten a large amount of attention is one of his pieces at the exhibit.
NN – What makes his type of glass art different is that it is reductive. Which means, he’s taking away glass, much like a sculptor would take away bits of marble or clay. Much of the glass we see in exhibits such as this are blown glass. The shapes take form by adding material, or growing from a starting point. When listening to him speak about the process, it was pretty interesting, however, it is difficult to understand the true art of it until you see it in person. Sunflower IV is a piece that you can look at, and continue to look at, maybe even come back to it, seeing something new every time. You’ll first be impressed by the sheer size of it, then as you walk closer, you realize the clarity, depth and detail of this
JO – When you look at any of the glass he sculpts, you’ll see how different it can look from various angles, “That’s the beauty of glass as I see it,” he said. I agree. It’s honestly one of the reasons I love art in general. All it takes is looking at something from a different angle for something to come alive. Glass does this in a very obvious way.
If you need a little boost to get you to the exhibit, Dayton Glass Day on Aug. 9 is the perfect solution. They’ll be having glass artwork made on the premises and you can even make your own glass mosaic magnet that will be showcased during Oktoberfest. It will be free to members and $15 for adults.
So as my friends said after we left the exhibit, “Stay glassy, Dayton.” We’re pretty proud to have this outstanding artwork in our city for a bit.