Gruesome Playground Injuries is a harrowing and humorous story about love, where internal and external pain are a measure of everything vulnerable when it comes to intimacy, timing and love. Over the course of 30 years, the lives of Kayleen and Doug intersect at the most bizarre intervals, leading the two childhood friends to compare scars and the physical calamities that keep drawing them together.


Rajiv Joseph is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and an award winning playwright. Rajiv has been called “daring, magnificent, and virtuosic” by the L.A. Times. He wrote Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (a 2010 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), Huck and Holden, Gruesome Playground Injuries, Animals Out of Paper, The Monster at the Door, and The North Pool. He is the book-writer and co-lyricist for the musical Fly, adapted from JM Barrie’s novel, Peter Pan. Rajiv Joseph received his BA in Creative Writing from Miami University and his MFA in Playwriting from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He served for three years in the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa. Rajiv has been awarded a United States Artists Grant, the Whiting Award, the Glickman Award, and the National Endowment for the Arts Outstanding New American Play grant. He was a writer on the Showtime television series Nurse Jackie.


When this very unique play was brought to me and I read it I wasn't too sure if I wanted be involved with it. Upon further examination I became very intrigued. The surface aspects of the play seem extreme; but as it went along patterns of behaviour began to make sense and to resonate. Two very damaged people both inside and outside love each other. However, this very love brings up many fears about love and commitment. That which they need the most is the thing they fear the most. They potentially could have a positive and healing relationship if they could just get past their fears of being capable of committing to that love and doing so in harmony not at opposing times. We see that the opposite of love is not hate but fear. We often punish ourselves without knowing why. I found myself rooting and hoping for these two. I also began to see many of my own injuries in these two which led me to a deep desire to understand why. We have dug deep inside this play and ourselves to comprehend the why; the pain and the humour. The play demanded much from the actors and I'm proud of their courage and wit. I hope you'll be able to care for these two as much as I have and maybe see a bit of yourself or others in them. We invite you into Life's Playground with all its sorrows and its joys.


Michael Germant as DOUG

Gina Leon as KAYLEEN


Avalon Short - Stage Manager

Avalon came from Calgary to continue her studies in theatre and comedy. While studying acting at Schoolcreative, she diversified and volunteered her time supporting school shows as a technician. Since her graduation she has been involved with local productions of Oleanna by David Mamet and Transit by Emilio Merritt. Avalon is incredibly excited to be part of the Vancouver Fringe and to work with such a talented, fringe-worthy cast and director.

Carolyn Woolner - Stage Manager

 Carolyn graduated from Schoolcreative, Institute of the arts after moving from Calgary to Vancouver two years ago. She has since stage managed and done technical work for shows like Transit by Emilio Merritt and Oleanna by David Mamet. She is very excited to be working on this thought provoking piece with a fantastic team around her.

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Jayme Cowley - Photographer

 Jayme is passionate about telling stories with compelling images. With a unique eye and dedicated commitment to his work, Jayme is a prolific painter of light, sound, and time.,

Produced by 

Michael Germant and Gina Leon


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Rajiv Joseph's ‘Gruesome Playground Injuries’ hits the Canadian stage at Vancouver Fringe Festival

 Production dates: Sept. 8-17, 2017 

Preview: Sept. 8, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. 

Opening Night: Sept. 9, 2017 at 4:45 p.m.  

A comic tale about love, pain and friendship

VANCOUVER, BC — What price would we pay in order to be loved? Island Productions presents a fresh new spin on Gruesome Playground Injuries, directed by Mel Tuck and starring Gina Leon and Michael Germant. Playwright Rajiv Joseph’s poignant and darkly comic tale about love, pain and friendship opens September 9th at The Cultch’s Vancity Culture Lab Theatre in East Vancouver.

 Gruesome Playground Injuries is a harrowing and humorous story about love, where internal and external pain are a measure of everything vulnerable when it comes to intimacy, timing and love. Over the course of 30 years, the lives of Kayleen and Doug intersect at the most bizarre intervals, leading the two childhood friends to compare scars and the physical calamities that keep drawing them together.

 Gruesome Playground Injuries received its world premiere at the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas in 2009. It premiered off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theatre two years later, prompting The New York Times to call Joseph “an artist of original talent.” His other plays include Animals out of Paper (Lucille Lortel Award nomination), The North Pool (Edgerton New American Play Award), Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Pulitzer Prize Finalist) and Guards at the Taj (Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award).

 Director MEL TUCK is a highly regarded pioneer of Canadian theatre, a director of international reputation and an innovator in acting training technique and philosophy. In a career spanning over fifty years, Mel founded nine theatre companies and has directed over three hundred plays across Canada. He headed the drama department at Ryerson University for thirteen years, the acting program at Banff and originated and ran the Gastown Actors Studio conservatory for twelve years. Mel holds a BFA from the University of Alberta and has been recognized in the form of three ACTRA nominations. Mel teaches Advanced Scene Study at Austin-Tuck Studios on Powell Street in Gastown.

GINA LEON (Kayleen) was born Johannesburg, South Africa. She is a Vancouver-based actress, visual artist and art and voice teacher. She studied Theatre and Art History at the University of Toronto, Visual Art at the College of Art and Design in Sydney, Australia and Acting at the New School for Drama in New York City. Her abstract paintings have been showcased in Vancouver and New York (The William Bennett Gallery and The Rockefeller Center). She has most recently been seen on stage as Laura in the iconic Glass Menagerie and as Donna in The Dreamer Examines His Pillow at the PAL Studio Theatre. Gina has appeared on Bravo’s Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce, FOX’s The Killing, and the Lifetime film Twist of Faith.

 MICHAEL GERMANT (Doug) was born in Moscow and raised in Montreal. He has a degree in language from Concordia University and has studied at Acting Studio Montreal, UBC, VFS, Michael Howard Studios and Austin-Tuck Studios. His short film Legally Speaking which he wrote, produced and starred in premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May and is currently on the festival circuit. He performed alongside his co-star Gina in John Patrick Shanley’s The Dreamer Examines His Pillow and Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. Michael has appeared on screen in SyFy’sHigh Moon, Showcase’s Continuum, Warner Bros. Television’s Legends of Tomorrow and Arrow,and FOX’s War for the Planet of the Apes.

 Island Productions is a Vancouver-based independent theatre and film production company. Celebrating four years of theatre since its inception in 2013, past productions include Bachelor Holiday by Academy Award winner Alan Ball, Seminar by award-winning Broadway playwright Theresa Rebeck, The Dreamer Examines His Pillow by Tony and Oscar winner John Patrick Shanley, Kathleen Tolan's A Weekend Near Madison, and Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. Film-wise, Island Productions’ short comedy Legally Speaking premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May and is currently on the festival circuit.

 Gruesome Playground Injuries runs for six shows between September 8th - 17th. Tickets are $14. September 8th Preview tickets are half-price at $7. The Vancity Culture Lab Theatre is located at The Cultch at 1895 Venables St, Vancouver, BC V5L 2H6. Tickets go on sale starting August 3rdat


Vancity Culture Lab Theatre (The Clutch) 


Gruesome Playground Injuries — A fresh new spin on Rajiv Joseph’s darkly comic tale about love, pain and friendship. What price would we pay in order to be loved? Gina Leon (Bravo’s Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce, FOX’s The Killing) and Michael Germant (SyFy’s High Moon, Showcase’s Continuum) star in this hilarious and heartbreaking love story about the intimacy between two people who allow their defenses to drop and their wounds to show. The show is a part of the Vancouver Fringe Festival’s Dramatic Works Series. 


Written by Pulitzer Prize Finalist 

Rajiv Joseph

Directed by

 Mel Tuck


Gina Leon and Michael Germant

Produced by 

Island Productions 


September 8th-17th, 2017

Opening Night: September 9th, 2017 at 4:45 pm



September 8th   7:00 p.m. – Preview (HALF-PRICE)

September 9th  4:45 p.m. – Opening Night

September 10th 8:40 p.m.

September 14th 7:00 p.m.

September 16th 5:50 p.m.

September 17th 1:40 p.m. – Closing Night


Vancity Culture Lab Theatre @ The Clutch

1895 Venables St, Vancouver, BC V5L 2H6


General Admission $14

Preview September 8th $7

*$5 Fringe membership required for all Fringe Festival Shows 


Michael Germant, Actor and Producer


This nicely understated production [of The Glass Menagerie] directed by Mel Austin-Tuck lets you hear all its grace notes. [...] Gina Leon makes those moments really count when Laura literally can’t stand to attend typing class or answer the door for her gentleman caller. Her scene with that character, played with quiet confidence by Michael Germant, is genuinely charming.
— — Jerry Wasserman, Vancouver Plays
Gina Leon balances Donna’s frailty of a woman in love with the quick-wit and harsh truths she presents to her motley family [in The Dreamer Examines his Pillow]. Germant’s languid movements and quiet monotone reflect an internal emptiness the character is trying to fill. It’s a very strong performance. […] It’s a powerful, melancholy script presented by a strong cast. Plays like this that make you appreciate the vibrancy and creativity of our independent theatre community.
— — Zoe Grams, Vancouver Presents
Director Mel Austin-Tuck deserves a lot of credit for this praiseworthy production [of The Glass Menagerie]. The handling of the sensitive candlelit scene between the gentleman caller and the fragile Laura was strangely moving, allowing Michael Germant and Gina Leon the opportunity to expand their character’s nuances.
— — John Jane, Vancouver Presents
[Seminar’s] final dialogue between Leonard and Martin, allowed both actors to shine. Michael Germant provided a layered version of Martin. He shifted from an angry victim who demands his money back to an artist in search of a mentor.
— — Michael Groberman, The Jewish Independent


The play explore themes of self-harm, bullying, depression, pain, regret, eating disorders, unrequited love, missed timing, and dysfunctional family dynamics.

[Gruesome Playground Injuries] came from a conversation with a friend who I have known all my life, but hadn’t had any idea about the amount of injuries he had gone through. As he was telling me about all these injuries at different stages of his life. I thought, man…you could write a memoir and every chapter could be an injury. And then I thought of how injuries could chart an experience, a relationship, a lifetime. And that kind of brought me down the path of writing this story about Doug and Kayleen.
— – Playwright Rajiv Joseph
Irresistibly odd and exciting…This darkly humorous drama is Rajiv Joseph’s most satisfying work.
— – NY Daily News 
I’ve always been interested in human nature and codes of behavior, how we come to make choices — moral ones, ones about love or family — and how primal forces like longing, or desire or a hunger for faith can take us to wild places.
— – Playwright Rajiv Joseph
The great thing about Rajiv’s writing is you can take one sentence and that one sentence is as beautiful as the whole piece; it’s like the gift that keeps on giving.
—  – Jennifer Carpenter
This wondrous strange two-hander finds as much humor as horror in the play’s bizarre events.
— – Variety 
Mystical, arresting, and quirkily amusing.
—  – Washington Post
[Gruesome Playground Injuries] is about missed love, it’s about pain and regret. These are things that almost everyone in humanity has some experience with.
— – Playwright Rajiv Joseph
I’m of mixed race; my father is from Kerala, India, my mom is from Cleveland, where I was raised. Growing up, I feel like I’ve been equally a part of both worlds. Being mixed-race has always been a part of my identity and although, on the one hand, there might be a sense of always feeling a little bit like an outsider, I feel blessed to have grown up belonging to two different races and cultures. I feel somehow a part of both worlds.
—  – Playwright Rajiv Joseph

Michael Germant (playing Doug) was born in Moscow, Russia. Gina Leon (playing Kayleen) was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. They too have wrestled with these respective polarities – alienation and belonging. In the world of Gruesome Playground Injuries, we have two characters in a shared sense of these two dynamics.

 How do we measure internal pain? It is often the impetus for escapism or a barrage of protective mechanisms that prevent us from moving towards the very thing that draws us together… LOVE. What happens when internal pain is externalized? In this case, it’s a sequence of injuries and externals. As these externals unravel in the course of a lifetime, we learn that love is a possibility, but first, we have to understand what we are most afraid of… We have to learn to embrace the unknown fractured past and the unknown future. For Doug and Kayleen… They are afraid of what they are actually being drawn to, because underneath all the externals, they are seeking love and approval. They are drawn to the thing they fear, because historically it has been damaged.

 Kayleen's sensitive stomach - We digest and process our pain both literally and metaphorically. Kayleen vomits to expel psychological and emotional toxicity. Joseph handles Kayleen's “sensitive stomach” in a manner that illustrates the torment, violence, and vulnerability of feeling things deeply.

Doug’s succession of physical injuries - is he just a daredevil? Is he riding a bike off a roof and climbing telephone poles to prove a point and to garner attention? Or is he injuring himself for the sake of love? In spite of Doug growing up in a functional nuclear family, something is missing for him and he’s left with a need to fill it. That need leads him to self-destruction.“My very first injury was a playground injury. At seven years old a bully swung and nailed a plank to my leg, which I didn’t remove until I got home. At nine I was beat up by five boys and got a dislocated shoulder, a black eye, a cut lip, and a few internal bruises. At ten, while trying to outrun my sister, I ran off a cliff and broke my leg in three places. At eleven I drowned in a creek and was resuscitated by a neighbour. At twelve, after a boy ran over my sister with his bike, I beat him half to death until my hands were mangled and bloody. At fifteen I was bullied and strangled by someone old enough to know better. At sixteen, after being shot at accidentally while duck hunting, I fell backwards into a slew and almost drowned. At twenty one, following a failed rape on the highway, I had an emotional breakdown and was found in a ditch by the road. At twenty three, while I was announcing a classical music program on the radio, my lung collapsed. Over the next seven years, the same lung collapsed six more times. This were my childhood and adolescent injuries…to name a few. I feel like this play is the story of my life.
— – Director Mel Tuck
The dramatic question that [Gruesome Playground Injuries] explores is why do we hurt ourselves to gain someone else’s love or affection. The play is like a prism of memory that is disjointed and connected through something that is not necessarily time, but emotion, sensation and pain.
— – Playwright Rajiv Joseph