Young, Wild, and Free with Young Actors Theatre

Children’s theater grows up this month in three edgy performances.

Georgeanna Smith went into this season of Young Actors Theatre with specific instructions from her boss: Do what you did when you were directing adult theater for NoExit Performance, he told her, but do it for kids. Don’t dumb it down. They’re ready for the challenge.

Known for her avant-garde productions, Smith, now the associate artistic director at YAT, reached out to two of Indy’s most innovative theater artists: Ben Asaykwee of Q Artistry and Michael Runge of Know No Stranger. Along with Smith, they will direct three shows this month that will be like no children’s theater the city has seen before. Here, a look at the strange things happening at the Athenaeum Theatre.

Hansel and Gretel

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Directed by Ben Asaykwee

Setting Outer space

For 3rd–7th graders

Theme Kids face so many distractions from electronic devices. How can they use their creativity to avoid going down the wrong path?

Unusual features “I set it in the strangestplace I could think of and went from there,” Asaykwee says. “Our costumes will probably light up or glow in the dark.”


January 16 at 6 p.m.;
January 21 at 7 p.m.;
January 23 at 3 p.m.


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Directed by Michael Runge

Setting A modern school

For 3rd–7th graders

Theme How can you use what makes you different to change the world for the better?

Unusual features Big, whimsical visuals. “We’ll have lots of wigs that may or may not come to life,” Runge says. “It’s going to be like a live cartoon.”


January 16 at 1 p.m.;
January 22 at 6 p.m.;
January 23 at 6 p.m.

Snow WhiteSnowWhite

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Directed by Georgeanna Smith

Setting A Gothic fairytale world

For 8th–12th graders

Theme The darkness of jealousy, and how it can ruin you.

Unusual features “Our magical props,” Smith says. “Flying birds and bleeding apples.”


January 14 at 7 p.m.;
January 16 at 8 p.m.;
January 23 at 8 p.m.

Admission to all three plays is free for those 18 and under. Adult tickets are $15.