Playground Studios is a Canadian design firm dedicated to creating playful, beautiful, imaginative and engaging live experiences. Our work crosses boundaries from the performing arts to private parties to major corporate events.
Beth Kates (Creative Director) is an award winning lighting, set, costume and projection designer and digital dramaturg for live performance, who started her career in rock and roll at 14. Her work has been seen across Canada and internationally. With Ben Chaisson she formed Playground Studios and developed several interactive installations, including The ToyBox. She has worked with acclaimed directors Jillian Keiley, Peter Hinton, Paul Thompson, Jonathan Christenson, Daniel Brooks, Kim Collier, Jackie Maxwell, Ravi Jain, Brian Quirt, Gil Garratt, and others.
Career highlights include Bury The Wren: a Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality & Carbon Reality Experience (co-created with Neil Christensen); Between Breaths Orchestral (Artistic Fraud Newfoundland), Silence (The Grand Theatre – London); Vigilante (Catalyst); Bigger Than Jesus (Wyrd), Same Same But Different (Nightswimming); I, Claudia(Crows Theatre); Love Me Forever, Billy H Tender (Jesse LaVercombe); Brimful of Asha (WhyNot / Tarragon); SEEDS, Mr. New Years Eve, 1837: a Farmers Revolt(The Blyth Festival), Alice in Wonderland, Ragtime, Pygmalion (Shaw).
In 2017, she was the first ever Digital Dramaturg hired at The Blyth Festival (or likely anywhere in Canadian Theatre) for Mr. New Years Eve. She is continuing this exploration into WHAT digital dramaturgy is on Quelemia Sparrow’s new work O’wet (Savage Productions). There are several projects in development, including a collaboration with Charolotte Cobeil-Coleman and Gil Garratt about trailblazing pilot Lorna deBlicquy (commissioned by the Blyth Festival), Transmissionswith filmmaker Lisa Jackson, the writing and crafting of a play about The Donnelly women, and an adaptation of Peter Brown’s My Teacher is a Monster.
Beth’s co- creation with Neil Christensen, Bury The Wren, premeired in March 2019. Starring Val Campbell, Bury The Wren an intimate performance about Annie Donnelly, examining the legenday story of the massacred Donnelly family from the 1880’s, it uses Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Carbon Reality to exhume from the grave a voice lost to history.
Her work at the University of Calgary (where she is an MFA candidate) involves looking at the future of the creation of performance, and the nature of performance itself as it intersects with technology.
As an early adopter of digital technology into her design practice, Beth is a trailblazing female projection designer, and has been an invited presenter at the Mid America Theatre Conference, PACT, FoldA, and the Wee Festival. She has taught at several Canadian academic institutions including York University, The University of Calgary and the National Theatre School. She is a three time nominee for the Siminovitch Prize in theatre (2009, 2012, 2018), as well as over 30 other nominations for her design work. Beth is a proud member of the Associated Designers of Canada and Canadian Institute of Theatre Technology. She is, most importantly, a mom to Aaron – who is often in the theatre and at University with her.