I am one of those people who glorifies childhood. When I look back at my own childhood, from elementary school to summer camp, tree houses, playgrounds, games of tag, pillow fights, Saturday morning cartoons, grilled cheese sandwiches, hours of make believe alone in a swimming pool, I remember most the endless exuberance and zeal I felt seizing every moment of my day. I ran through my little rainbow Crayola coloured world with the constant intention of creating fun, of finding bliss, of experiencing joy, and from a decade’s worth of hindsight, it all seemed to get accomplished with so much more simplicity.
If I am being completely honest with myself and the world, I would say that my deepest desires as an adult likely propel me to attempt to recreate the intense feelings of uninhibited bliss, creativity and sense of self that as I child I took so wildly for granted. Thus, Flashquiz, an adventure concocted by Julia Lederer, Steph Berntson and Haley McGee that turned the Summerworks Playground into a grade school writing experiment, appealed to me ardently.
Lederer, Berntson and McGee create their shows through the use of timed writing exercises called “flashquizes,” during which they write on a given topic or theme, without stopping or self-editing, for six minutes. They also incorporate the writing of their audience members into their shows, and Flashquiz at the Playground, was certainly no exception. We were given two opportunities to write and filled out a very important questionnaire that seeks to identify our future selves. This led to one audience member treating us to a fantastic impromptu Show and Tell and a wide array of people read the writing that they had done during the flashquiz. One challenge we were given was to look at a Nursery School Class Photograph and to write a monologue in the voice of one of the children in the photo. I had the opportunity to read mine in front of the class and relished in the opportunity not only to perform, but to forge a deeper connection between myself and the experience that I was having.
There was much jubilant audience participation throughout Flashquiz, we sang Oh, Canada (in French and English), had a good old fashioned recess (with snacks provided!), and even relived our late 1990s school dances by singing along to Savage Garden’s “Truly, Madly, Deeply” and still not knowing the words to TLC’s “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls”- just like in seventh grade. Lederer, Berntson and McGee, who all have this vigorous, rapturous zest for life and theatre that is always captivating and contagious, also kept us entertained by performing monologues that they had written based on various themes inspired from grade school. The funniest were a trio of letters written in the style of eleven year olds writing letters to their future selves; they were simultaneously hysterical, heart rendering, poignant and completely absurd.
Flashquiz was the most fun experience that I’ve ever had in interactive theatre and I would jump at any chance to participate in any sort of writing and theatrical experiment that Steph, Julia and Haley are involved with. These girls really know how to put the playing back in the play.