The Playground Theatre is Now The Nerve

Oct 1, 2020 • by Jenna Valyn

So, How Did We Get Here?

Flashback time. Picture this. It’s 2013, and Chris and I are chilling in Chicago talking about dreams and aspirations when it hits us. We are going to start a theatre company. Boom. And we are going to call it The Playground. Double boom. Our reasoning behind choosing this name came from a totally authentic place. We wanted this theatre to be our personal playground. A place for us to explore and grow. And we did grow. We’ve continued to learn and grow as artists and business owners for the past six years.

Claire, Bender, and Brian sit in a circle smoking and laughing in The Nerve's production of The Breakfast Club.
promo from The Nerve's debut production of The Breakfast Club (2014); photo credit: Britanny Hackett

However, we finally reached this point where we realized the name The Playground didn’t really represent who we were anymore. Not to mention the fact that we continued to get asked the same question, “Are you a children’s theatre?” Of course, those of you who know the types of shows we do and our propensity for dropping the F-bomb know that we are absolutely NOT a children’s theatre 🤬. But hey, from our name alone, you would never know that we weren’t about to put on a production of Peter Pan or something 🧚 .

The cast of The Tutors sit on a table in a Library
promo from The Nerve's production of The Tutors (2018); photo credit: Knack Creative

And thus, the topic of rebranding was on the table. So, we did what anyone would do. We went to and started looking up words that we associated with our brand. Raw. Gritty. Bold. Risk-taking. And wouldn’t you know it? We stumbled upon the word “Nerve,” and we were like, “WAIT. Hold the phone. That’s fucking it.” We are The Nerve. Our shows hit a nerve—they get under people’s skin. And let’s face it, sometimes you are all thinking, “The NERVE of these people. Could they say the word fuck more in a show?” Oh, and btw, the answer to that question is yes, yes we could.

But I digress. Our new name was born! And with the help of our good friend and branding expert Gerrad Wise, we dumped the old name, logo, and color scheme for a new and improved identity that captures who we are now.

A group of overworked assistants hanging out in an industrial office space
promo from The Nerve's production of Assistance (2019); photo credit: Knack Creative


So, here’s what you can expect. Honestly, besides the new name and look, everything else is going to be the same. We still plan on taking risks and telling stories that are raw, real, and relevant. 2020 may be a shit show, but the one positive that has come from being able to spend more time at home has been having the headspace to really work on this rebrand. It felt like the perfect time to set new intentions and send as much good energy out into the universe as we could muster. This pandemic will be over one day, and we can only hope for the sake of every human on this planet that day will be very soon.

Until then, what can we do? Theatre can’t happen in the traditional sense right now because we understand that wouldn’t be safe. So now we have been forced to get creative and start thinking outside the box. And that’s just what we are doing. We are thinking and we are thinking. We aren’t sure when our next show will be and whether it be live, live-streamed, or prerecorded. But rest assured that we aren’t going anywhere. You will see us again even if it’s on your computer screen. We are going to continue to create. COVID be damned.

Stay tuned, friends.

PS... get even more info about our rebrand in this article.

Jenna Valyn - Co-Founder and Artistic Director at The Nerve in Dayton, Ohio

Jenna Valyn

Co-Founder & Artistic Director @ The Nerve