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Student Led One Acts: Playwrights’ new work to be performed at Storefront Theatre


It’s time for one of Park Tudor’s most beloved theatre traditions: the student led play. A tradition started by Brooke DeBettignies ’13 to create space for students to produce and create work which is meaningful to them, student-led productions demonstrate Park Tudor Theatre’s commitment to fostering integrity, leadership, and collaboration. These productions are an integral part of our performance calendar, offering a diverse line-up of theatre in an intimate setting.

Dedicated to supporting original and contemporary pieces of performance through a ‘bare essentials’ production format, the student-led One Acts draw primary focus to artistic and intellectual exploration of scripted work. Its ensemble-centered approach to performance provides real-world learning opportunities for student artists, and thought-provoking experiences for their audiences. As part of our mission to connect students with professionals in the theatre community, this year the student-led One Acts will be performed at the Storefront Theatre in Broad Ripple.

Senior Gage Holle and sophomore Alyssa Gaines have each written new plays, and they are currently in the midst of leading their acting and production teams through rehearsals, getting ready for the first of PT’s theatrical performances of the new decade.


Money Island, by Gage Holle 20
When Gage was nominated by fellow thespians as the student director for 2020, he knew he wanted to direct a play that incorporated a large cast, so he could give as many students as possible a chance to participate. He also knew it had to be a funny- his quick wit, love for exaggerated character, and passion for comedy are just some of his strengths as a director and performer. When tasked with finding the right script to fit the bill, he was at a loss- nothing felt ‘right’. Never one to balk at a challenge, he decided he’d write a play over the summer.

Gage has a history of being proactive and ambitious in theatre; he understands the grit it takes to work through the creative process in order to find his authentic voice, and he’s well versed in the editing process. He drafted and redrafted his script for Money Island, working closely with theatre faculty, as well as professional actor, Warren Jackson ’91, to refine his narrative and define character arcs. The result is an uproariously funny, irreverent, and altogether mischievous murder mystery that students have loved working on. As Gage gets closer to graduation, Park Tudor knows he is ready for whatever career he chooses, because he is unafraid to make original work and he has the resilience and responsibility to follow through with his creative aspirations.  

What was your inspiration for writing the play?
I have always loved writing so I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to be able to write a play for my classmates to direct, produce, and perform.

What do you want your audience to walk away feeling?
I want my audience to have had a comical experience where they leave enjoying the show.

What have you learned about yourself from the experience?
I have learned that I am really good at listening and compromising my original vision. I thought I was a lot more stubborn but I’ve actually had really good conversations with my teachers and actors over lines that we’ve agreed to change.

What does the Student Led production series mean to you?
Student-Led has meant a lot to me the last 2 years and it’s amazing that I’m able to add my body of work among the many great plays they’ve put on over the years.


Fireworks, by Alyssa Gaines 22
Only when Park Tudor Theatre received IRT’s promotional material for 2020’s Young Playwrights in Process (YPIP) competition, did we realize that our very own Alyssa Gaines, Youth Poet Laureate for the city of Indianapolis, won the 2019 competition with her play, Fireworks. YPIP is an annual playwriting competition for Indiana students in grades 6-12. The competition was created in 2005 through the Margot L. and Robert S. Eccles Trust, and sponsored in collaboration with IRT. YPIP encourages middle and high school students across Indiana to create plays for live theatre that reflect and challenge their world. Alyssa is no stranger to social change, using her command over language to push and pull hearts and minds. Having turned her lyrical prowess to playwriting, her play will be sure to leave the audience with a new perspective about how young black students experience grief, growing up, and the pressure to succeed.

Alyssa has embraced the opportunity to produce her work with bravery. Knowing that the language she uses in her poetry has power, she sought advice and reassurance about how to use it on stage. Be prepared to be confronted and uncomfortable, and reflect on why a word, written in lowercase but spoken in a scream, can make an audience feel weak and strong in the same breath. As she navigates bringing her language to life, she’s found a production concept that ties her narrative together: she’s chosen to include spoken word poets who will greet the audience as they enter the Storefront’s gallery space, where Park Tudor Fine Arts will host an installation.  

What was your inspiration for writing the play?
My inspiration for writing Fireworks was first witnessing and taking in the amount of deaths of young, black people within my community, and then analyzing the way that young black kids who are grieving within my community are expected to handle these deaths and return back to their normal lives. I remember when Matthew McGee and Manny Johnson died, each instance respectively rocked my community, and I was reflecting on the different ways everyone had to cope with that; not only because the boys were so young, but also the sheer tragedy of their deaths. You see people criticize the schools in Lawrence Township and the students in the school get labeled as “bad” kids, when really a lot of kids are grieving and not being given the space to do that in a healthy way. My inspiration when writing Fireworks was to stir empathy for the kids who have to deal with such tragedy at such an early age, to humanize them, and to make audiences really say to themselves that something must be done.

What do you want your audience to walk away feeling?
I want my audience to walk away, not only feeling empathetic toward the characters, but feeling empathy for all of the black children who keep dying and to walk away seeing their humanity. I want to stir something within my audience members that makes them say “this isn’t right,” and to take that a step further and have these important conversations about this problem that is very real and close to home and how we can fix it.

What have you learned about yourself from the experience?
I would say that I have learned a lot about the story of Fireworks. I am constantly discovering new things about my story and finding new things in the writing and learning from the way that other people interpret it, but I have also learned a lot about the way that writing and directing work hand in hand for me. Directing has made me a better writer and vice versa.

What does the Student Led production series mean to you?
The Student Led production series means to me amplifying student voice and showcasing the stories we have to share and we feel are important in the way that we find to be most impactful. It means that Park Tudor values what students have to say and supports us in our growth in fields we are passionate about, helping us develop work that is important to us and also to our communities.

Performances: Storefront Theatre in Broad Ripple
Wednesday, January 22, 2020 7pm
Thursday, January 23, 2020, 7pm
Rated PG- mature language and content; parental guidance strongly recommended
Total run time: 90 minutes

There will be a short talk-back at the end of the evening where we interview our student playwrights and directors talk about their inspiration and experience producing these works. Come celebrate and elevate our students’ work as we transfer these fantastic one-acts to a professional theatre. Mark your calendars, as there is limited seating and this one always sells out!

*Parking behind Storefront Theatre is free. If there are attendants in the lot, just tell them you're going to the theatre. There is ADA access on College Avenue (in the old Crackers entrance). For more information about the venue, you can visit . Their upcoming production of 1980 (Or Why I'm Voting For John Anderson) opens on April 24, 2020.