A new horror play created
by Indianapolis teens.

Shrapnel Sponsored By:

The year
is 2042

When eleven
adolescents escape…

...the horrors of Central State Hospital for Mental Health & Wellness (est. 2025), they think the worst is over. However, as dangerous side effects from an experimental new treatment dubbed "The Closet" begin to surface, they must band together to reclaim their bodies, minds, spirits, and selves.

Utilizing an ensemble cast and interspersed with historical intermezzi, shrapnel, or The Closet Play asks: How do we come back to ourselves after trauma? Can we create unity while recognizing individuality? And what's next for queer youth after "The Closet"?


Princess Grace Award Winner

Mikael Burke

Mikael Burke is a freelance director, deviser, and educator based out of Chicago. Before he became a Princess Grace award-winning director who has woven himself deeply into Chicago’s theatre and theatre education scene, he was one of the foundational creators of React’s unique style of educational theatre. It is his personal mission to make theatre that brings the marginalized to the foreground.


Paul Michael

Paul Michael Thomson is a Chicago-based actor, playwright, and interdisciplinary scholar. He co-founded The Story Theatre, an original-works ensemble company, in 2018, and is currently enrolled in a PhD program in African-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Score & Sound


Brian Grimm is a cellist, composer, and music educator based out of Madison, WI. He is well known through his work in the avant-garde music scene in Wisconsin, his self-owned label GrimmusiK Records, and his widespread score work for theatre and dance productions, including shrapnel’s haunting soundscapes.

There are no statewide anti-discrimination laws for LGBTQ+ youth in Indiana.

We asked our actors– students from dozens of schools across Central Indiana– what issues they witness, and face, every day. Homophobia and transphobia in schools were toward the top of the list. While protection and positive change may come from the people in charge of the schools or in charge of the state, we have found that students listen best to their peers.

Change in the everyday attitudes toward queer youth in our communities and schools can be a peer-to-peer experience. The stage, and this story, can be a positive step toward acknowledging, respecting, and protecting queer youth in our schools and communities.

See the



3151 Kirkbride Way
Indianapolis, IN


18 & Under | Free
General Admission | $15

Shrapnel began production in September 2021, with a goal of opening school and public performances in Spring 2022. Join us at our opening preview weekend November 12-14 to learn more about this project, give your feedback, and see the whole performance brought to life.

Preview Performance Dates

Nov. 12th


Nov. 13th


Nov. 14th


March 2021

React staff started working with theatre director Mikael Burke on a concept for a play to address homophobia.

June 2021

React's application for funding was approved by the Glick Fund, and we hired Mikael Burke as the play's director and Paul Michael Thomson as the playwright.

August 2021

Rehearsals began! Mikael and the cast explored the complex history of psychiatric treatment of LGBTQ+ individuals, including conversion therapy.

September - October 2021

Rehearsals continued as Paul Michael added to the script. Mikael and the actors determined the cry of the play, the main plot line, and the characters' backstories.  The play was officially renamed as "Shrapnel, or the Closet Play.

November 2021

Shrapnel is holding a soft opening for friends, family, and community partners.

February 2022

React will hold open auditions as we re-cast the Shrapnel play for touring school groups.

April 2022

Shrapnel performs at the Phoenix Theatre. Educators and community organizations are especially encouraged to see the play as they consider booking a performance for their students.

Fall 2022

Shrapnel performs for school groups!  Schools can attend at Central State or the Shrapnel cast can come to schools.

Project Timeline

Learn how ‘Shrapnel’ took shape over the past year, from first concepts to the final bow.

the Production

The first 50 donors to support this project at the $50 level or above will receive a limited-edition shrapnel t-shirt. Will you help us ignite the spark today?

Our goal is to bring shrapnel to Indiana schools as a creative and educational field trip experience. Your support helps keep the cost of admission and travel low for school audiences, and ensures that React can continue to make shrapnel a high-quality production for its public and school performances.

Hear from former student, Elliot Waples, why they believe shrapnel: or The Closet Play is so essential.

A Look Behind the Curtain

Take a look behind the scenes and meet some of the minds who shaped this production.

Behind the Process

with Mikael Burke

Music & Score:
Behind the Process

with Brian Grimm

Behind the Writing Process

with Paul Michael Thomson

Rehearsal Story

with Mikael Burke

Why This Story Matters

with Mikael Burke