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Press Release

Eric Sloss

For immediate release:
October 5, 2005

Carnegie Mellon School of Drama Students Cut Loose During "Playground," a Festival of Independent Student Work

PITTSBURGH—For one unique week each school year, classes and productions in Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama take an intermission while student directors, designers, actors, technicians and playwrights collaborate on more than 40 productions of their own making. The end result is the Playground Festival, which showcases a single week's worth of rehearsals and culminates in performances and events staged in and around the Purnell Center for Performing Arts. Events include dramatic and musical performances, installations, mural projects and light shows. This year's Playground opens to the public at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, and continues through Saturday, Oct. 29, and Sunday, Oct. 30.

"Playground represents a unique opportunity for students in the School of Drama," said Elizabeth Bradley, head of the School of Drama. "We encourage them to innovate, collaborate and commit to experiences in theatre-making as diverse as their own passions and preoccupations. Students move beyond the structure of their ongoing training to take on the unexpected. Design students direct, actors design and technical students perform. The empowerment and sense of community that Playground week creates is exhilarating for everyone who participates or attends."

Now in its third year, Bradley's brainchild provides an outlet for the joyous creativity, risk-taking and innovation of independent student work. Students submit proposals for projects lasting no more than 45 minutes to Drama faculty members Dick Block and Catherine Moore and to student representatives who serve as producers for the Festival. More than 35 projects were presented each of the last two years, challenging the students to work in limited conditions with no performance venue, limited rehearsal time and no budget.

Thriving on the challenge of exceeding the standards set by prior festivals, the students head into an intense week of preparation and planning, creating theatre of their choosing. Projects range from original pieces to existing works. What unites the offerings is the passion the students bring to their staging. Students work within their chosen theatre specialization but often venture out into completely new areas.

"We are very much looking forward to sharing this special energy with returning alumni who will visit campus during Homecoming Weekend. Because of Playground's rotating schedule, our visitors can sample a show for 45 minutes at almost any time over the weekend. We hope many will join us for the adventure," said Bradley.

Projects developed by students for Playground have gone on to be produced in other venues across the country. This past summer, "Life in Plastic," a look at the idealization of women in American culture, was selected to be performed at the Samuel French Off-Broadway Play Festival in New York City. "The Salesmen," a loving homage to classic American silent films, was performed in Los Angeles. The LA Weekly described the production as "smartly choreographed," and the Tulucan Times proclaimed the production "shines with originality and ingenuity."

One of the leading conservatory training programs in the United States, the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama educates and trains the theatre artists who will become the collaborators, innovators and leaders of their profession.

All Playground performances are free. Tickets to performances and events will be made available through the School of Drama Box Office on Thursday, Oct. 27. For more information on Playground, visit or call the School of Drama Box Office at 412-268-2407.

For more information on the School of Drama or the College of Fine Arts, contact Eric Sloss at 412-268-5765 or or visit


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