"I learned more about drugs in that one hour than all the times they've talked about it at school."

- Student
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What is it

Created by high schoolers and theatre professionals, Love Over Dose is a play that takes
a new approach at the Opioid Crisis.

The Play

Alex’s sister Riley is dead of an accidental overdose, and Alex is alone in the hospital bathroom with a bottle of Riley’s pills. Alex must decide what path to go down: take the pills and follow Riley? Take the pills and numb the pain? Or find a different path?

Through memories, movement, and a compelling story by the creative team at Young Actors Theatre, a cast of six actors bring to life a story of loss and love that can happen anywhere, and does happen everywhere.

The Campaign

In 2018, the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust granted Young Actors Theatre funds to support an original play about the opioid crisis. It’s a subject close to our hearts for two reasons:

130 people die from opioid overdoses every day in the USA

Indianapolis’s overdose rates are even higher than the national average

Our cast has devised a play to navigate this issue through a fictionalized story based on months of rigorous research. Throughout 2020, Love Over Dose will perform for at least 5,000 students, who will leave with more knowledge about opioids and empathy for those most affected.

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our process

Four Steps: Research, Devise, Rehearse,  and Perform



We spent four months meeting from experts from all corners of the opioid crisis. Probation officers, first responders, scientists, advocates, people in recovery, physicians, and people whose lives have been profoundly affected by the loss, pain, and recovery. We took notes, we asked questions, we journaled, and we studied.



We spent four months just playing. We took everything we learned and we started to play. We tried ideas, we experimented, we started over, we threw spaghetti at the wall and noted what stuck. Out of that process came our story, and out of that story, our script.



We moved the experimenting to the stage: how can we bring this story to life in a way that will reach students across Indiana? How can we reach the kids who thinks they've heard it all? We rehearsed for four months rehearsing. We worked with professional artists, we performed for test audiences. and focus groups.



We concluded our rehearsal process in January of 2020, and currently perform in venues and schools across Indiana. Partnerships include the Basil Theatre and the Historic Athenaeum, the Phoenix Theatre and Cultural Center, the Indiana State Museum, Managerial Health Services, and more.

why this project?

This is personal for us.

Love Over Dose is a campaign of Young Actors Theatre (YAT) in Indianapolis. YAT was founded in 1976 by NYC actress, Charlotte Kaufman.
In 2005, former student Justin Wade, took over and grew the organization.

Justin believes that theatrical training has the power to transform a young person's life, and teach them the tools they need to achieve to become their best vision of themselves. After creating Self-Empowerment theatre in 2012, YAT moved our focus away from just providing excellent theatrical training: we also create original social issues performances that have been performed for thousands of students across the state of Indiana on topics including bullying, dating violence, gun control, anxiety and depression, and more.

Love Over Dose hits close to home for us for two reasons:

• Our Executive Director, Justin Wade’s personal experience as a homeless heroin addict in Indianapolis for ten years.

• In Indiana the number of opioid poisoning deaths increased by 500% since 1999.

attend a performance

Bring yourself or
bring an entire school


Face the crisis head on by providing your 6th-12th grade students with an honest dialogue about drugs, led by their peers. YAT’s original play Love Over Dose isn't a group of adults preaching to children. It is is peers conversing with peers with one goal in mind: this crisis stops with their generation, now.

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Join us for performances at venues including the Phoenix Theatre and Cultural Center, the Basile Theatre at the Historic Athenaeum, and the Indiana State Museum throughout 2020.

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