With an eclectic ensemble of queer performers, including drag icon Lady Bunny and Pose’s Danielle Cooper, Playland is transdisciplinary in every sense of the word: music, dance, archival footage, tableaux, opera, and performance art are layered into an ethereal piece subverting all boundaries.
Artist-filmmaker Georden West’s debut feature is an expressionist and very queer bricolage, focusing on an atemporal night in the renowned Playland Café. Following its employees and others who have haunted the space, weaving together a tapestry of personal and community anecdotes across the bar’s existence.
The Playland Café, Boston’s oldest gay bar, was established in 1937 and was a vital queer hub in the city until 1998, when rampant ‘urban renewal’ projects led to its closure. Demolished but never forgotten, it acted as a meeting ground for an exceptionally diverse crowd — throughout its lifespan, it featured acts from drag performances to DJ sets and was connected to Pride rallies and underground gay newspapers. As a gathering place for outsiders, it was also a target for police raids and zoning.
Alluding to experimental works like that of Derek Jarman and Sally Potter, West has crafted an uncanny and inventive film that boldly transcends physical space, reminding us that though certain pioneering queer spaces may be gone, their memories cannot be erased.
— Sophie Tupholme, International Film Festival Rotterdam
Written, made, and performed by queer artists, Playland is an insider’s look at queer history. Thus, our cast and crew are dominated by a breadth of LGBTQ+ talent.
Ensemble cast members include: drag icon Lady Bunny, Pose’s Danielle Cooper, Alvin Ailey dancer Miranda Quinn, burlesque performer Maine Anders, fashion models Kelly Mittendorf and Constance Cooper, body-builder Mason Caminiti, and rising queer stars Aidan Dick, José Lapaz-Rodriguez, Gatekeeper Adrian, and Jet Sprat.