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.”