Inside a recently swept Black Box theater on Wednesday evening around 7:30, the dust has settled. Two students actors arrive and head to their dressing rooms.

It’s two days before opening night for Gruesome Playground Injuries, and Gavin Scheurch ’18 of Norwalk Conn., who plays Doug, is eager for the curtain to rise.

“My favorite part is going to be performing it for a live audience,” says Schuerch ’18, a dance major.

Actors are always interested in audience reaction but this play is unusual. The play, by Rajiv Joseph, follows the “decades-spanning relationship of two made-for-each-other masochists who, between them, manage to slice, bloody, bruise and/or mutilate most parts of the human anatomy,” said The New York Times in 2011.

Schuerch’s favorite scene is when Doug vomits into a trash can to make Kayleen, who had hurled into the can herself, feel comforted.

Kayleen is played by Charlotte Karlsen ’20 of Portland, Ore., a double major in politics and rhetoric.

Gruesome is the first play of the Bates season, so “we haven’t had a lot of time,” Karlsen says. “It’s been pretty intentional, purposeful, and focused work — really fun and exhausting as well as a great artistic endeavor and challenge.”

In Kei’s program notes, director Keila K. “Kei” Ching ’18 of Honolulu, a dance and theater double major, wrote that the play “initially resonated with me because it was about friendship that lasted and grew despite distance and time, similar to some of the relationships I’ve had in my life.”

On the eve of the play, Kei has second thoughts. “What I really want to say with this play is that it’s about vulnerability and having the vulnerability to expose one’s wounds to one another. I think that is the real heart of the show.”



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