Our students don’t just learn acting technique and storytelling: they learn resilience, they learn perseverance, they practice self-empowerment.

In 2012Self-Empowerment Theatre was born. We stopped doing pre published fairy tales and started to take on social issues that kids face today. Through our devising process, students aren’t just actors, they are artists.

who is young actors theatre (YAT)

YAT is more than a youth theatre: it’s a training ground.

Our past social issue productions

Since 2005, YAT has been developing
and honing our approach to
social issues performances.

We have created performance pieces on bullying, the effects of technology on health, violence, the importance of education, gun control, dating violence, and more. We have performed for schools, community groups, and conferences all over Indiana. In 2017, we created a performance piece about heroin abuse that caught the attention of our community. With generous support from Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, we are expanding that project into Love Over Dose.

We first introduced the devising process when we realized that in this age of social media, scripts written even just five years ago were dated. Devising allows us to have significant student input about what is happening today, what issues concern them right now, and what they want to do about it. Instead of just being performers, our students began to have a creative voice what story was being told, what it should say, and how it should say it.

Our executive Director:

Justin's Story

The opioid crisis hits us close to home. Executive Director and former YAT student, Justin Wade, spent years as a homeless heroin addict on the streets of Indianapolis. Now with years in recovery, Justin is committed to helping young people find a different path. He believes that young people have the power and the voice to end this crisis that nearly took his life.

Read Article

Love Over Dose is made up of a cast of 18 high school students who live in the Indianapolis area.

These students have been working together since January of 2019, diving deep into research and collaboration. Separated into three casts and assistant directors who will perform throughout 2020, these young people will bring a challenging and inspirational message of hope to students across Indiana.

the team

18 high school students: by youth for youth

Georgeanna Smith Wade

Director

Georgeanna Smith Wade

Director

X
Georgeanna Smith Wade
Director

Georgeanna Smith Wade is the Artistic Director of Young Actors Theatre. She began her career at YAT as an assistant to Justin in school programming before becoming a Director. She became the Head Acting, where she began to work on the development and implementation of Self-Empowerment Theatre. As the Associate Artistic Director, she created and implanted The Court, YAT’s social issues performance group that has performed all over the state. She has been the Artistic Director since 2017, where she manages the day to day operations and artistic programming at YAT.

A cum laude with high honors graduate of the Jordan College of the Arts at Butler University and the Phoenix Theatre’s Meisner Training Program. She is the former Executive Artistic Director of the award winning organization, NoExit Performance, which NUVO Newsweekly has called “Indianapolis’ most adventurous theatre group.” When Georgeanna took the helm of NoExit, the company grew from two members to nine, increased the annual operating budget from $5,000 to $50,000, began producing full seasons, and boasted some of the most critically acclaimed of any performance group in Indianapolis. She is also a co-founder of Summit Performance Indianapolis, Indy’s first professional women focused theatre company. She continues as a company member of NoExit and continues to work as a free lance actress throughout the city. She was named one of IndyStar's Top 15 to watch in 2015, as well as being named as on of 2013’s “Most Compelling Performance Artists” by The Examiner. She was a recipient of the Indiana Arts Commission’s Arts in the Park grant in 2016. She received numerous collegiate awards and studied in St. Petersburg, Russia with internationally renowned director Alexander Anisimov. She was formerly a lead actor/interpreter at the Children's Museum. She has studied with Brian Bedford, Dan Kamin, Anne Bogart, Kristin Linklater, Joe Goode, and more. A former dancer, she has trained at the Academy of Dance Arts, the Jordan Academy of Dance, Gary Geis Dance Company, and Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre. She has been seen onstage at the Children's Museum, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, NoExit, Q Artistry, Eclectic Pond, Defiance Comedy, SiteLines, Susurrus Dance, among others. She is a published author on the topic of creating museum programming for actors (IMTAL journal), as well as a featured presenter at the International Museum Theatre Alliance conference. An experienced director, Georgeanna’s work has been praised by critics city wide. She has previously worked with students at Pike High School, Fishers High School, Heritage Christian School, the Project School, Christel House Academy, and Herron High School. Georgeanna is also a certified Pilates instructor and a Black Belt in Taekwondo.

Lillian Crabb

Project Manager

Lillian Crabb

Project Manager

X
Lillian Crabb
Project Manager

After growing up in Indianapolis, Lillian attended Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where she studied the History of Art with a focus on Baroque painting and sculpture. She served as the costume designer for the Opera Theatre of Yale College for three years and designed costumes for several other theatrical productions. After two years in the jewelry and diamond industry in Boston, Lillian has returned to Indianapolis to dedicate herself to the local arts community. At Young Actors Theatre, she is working to expand the scope of Self-Empowerment Theatre by handling day-to-day business needs; she is also YAT's grantwriting powerhouse. Her spare time is spent on the textile arts, including knitting, quilting, and tatting.

Graeme

Assistant Director

Graeme

Assistant Director

X
Graeme
Assistant Director

Emma

Assistant Director

Emma

Assistant Director

X
Emma
Assistant Director

Katya

Actor

Katya

Actor

X
Katya
Actor

Mira

Actor

Mira

Actor

X
Mira
Actor

Lucy

Actor

Lucy

Actor

X
Lucy
Actor

Bethany

Actor

Bethany

Actor

X
Bethany
Actor

Paula

Actor

Paula

Actor

X
Paula
Actor

Eli

Actor

Eli

Actor

X
Eli
Actor

Angus

Actor

Angus

Actor

X
Angus
Actor

Ellie

Actor

Ellie

Actor

X
Ellie
Actor

Hannah

Actor

Hannah

Actor

X
Hannah
Actor

Sadie

Actor

Sadie

Actor

X
Sadie
Actor

Reese

Actor

Reese

Actor

X
Reese
Actor

Georgia

Actor

Georgia

Actor

X
Georgia
Actor

Francesca

Actor

Francesca

Actor

X
Francesca
Actor

Sofia

Actor

Sofia

Actor

X
Sofia
Actor

Lily

Actor

Lily

Actor

X
Lily
Actor

Sidney

Actor

Sidney

Actor

X
Sidney
Actor

Jesse

Actor

Jesse

Actor

X
Jesse
Actor

Kat

Actor

Kat

Actor

X
Kat
Actor