The Asante Children’s Theatre of Indianapolis, IN (ACT) is a youth development organization committed to enriching the lives of young people so they become empowered citizens of the world.

ACT was created in 1990 with a dual purpose:

1. Respond to the fact that fewer and fewer school-age youth are introduced to and involved in the arts on a regular basis

2. Celebrate the unique traditions of African and African American performing arts.

Instructors and mentors use acting, dancing, singing, and storytelling to develop meaningful life skills helping youth prepare for their role in college, work and society. Our overarching goal is to sponsor a “Culture of Excellence” that encourages our participants to be the best they can be at all times. The achievement of producing accomplished entertainers and quality productions results in empowered youth, well-rounded citizens, enriched family lives, strengthened family bonds and a more vibrant community.

Our Story

The Asante Children’s Theatre (ACT) has created extraordinary theatre experiences that educate, challenge and inspire young artists.  In 1990, it was created by Deborah Asante to provide a safe place of self-discovery and empowerment.  We celebrate the unique traditions of African and African American performing arts.  In 2003, a volunteer Board of Directors was established and a 501(c)3 status was granted.

ACT is now a place where youth and adults work side by side learning and building confidence in acting, singing, dancing, storytelling, writing, teamwork, obedience, respect of authority and how to quickly resolve conflict.  Our artists perform at various community events and theatres around the State of Indiana.

We offer 4 programs:

Our Operating Principles

  • To rescue at-risk youth and provide a safe place for them to develop into productive citizens
  • To develop a strong work ethic and sense of self-sufficiency in our youth
  • To enlighten, educate and empower youth and families through the provision of accessible and affordable family entertainment
  • To preserve the traditions of African and African-American performing arts
  • To build leadership and develop a clear understanding of character development both on and off stage
  • To encourage thinking, creativity, inquiry and self-confidence
  • To improve the communication and life skills of all youth participants
  • To encourage goal setting, creative problem solving, task completion and honoring commitments
  • To advocate the appreciation of art
  • To ensure our youth participants stay in school and graduate on time
  • To enlist the humanitarian themes of African traditions and promote self-respect and a sense of responsibility to self, family and community.
  • To develop an appreciation of all cultures by inspiring pride in our African heritage
  • To provide a safe haven for youth to explore diverse cultural experiences and new ideas
  • To expose youth to educational and diverse cultural experiences
  • To foster a culture of volunteerism and philanthropy

Meet the Staff {this section is currently under revision}

Keesha Dixon

Keesha Dixon
Keesha DixonExecutive Director
Arts Administrator,  Performer, Vocalist, Drummer (Yoruba flava), Textile Artist, Youth Development Pro, and Teaching Artist

Some of my highlights

My Favorite Production
Abena and the Python – I was asked to be the executive director in 2005. Before that, I had been the costume designer since 1992.   I truly enjoyed that opportunity.  I was able to explore and create a visually pleasing artistic representation of the script by combining textiles and other resources at my disposal.  Both times I had the opportunity to costume “Abena and the Python”, I had such a good time blending colors, textures, and patterns to convey “Africa” albeit, I have never been. The wedding scene featured vibrant metallic and green fabric on Abena and The Prince.  The warriors were the most intricate to costume.  This play was true eye candy.  The actors “loved” their costumes and the audience commented on how colorful and professional the production was on every level.

  • Romeo and Juliet Set In Africa
  • The Wiz
  • Tribute to Curtis Mayfield

My Highest Accomplishment
So far, my son, John L. Buckley, III.  I am so very proud of the man he has become.  He is an alumnus of ACT and has volunteered his talents from time to time.  Next, I am equally proud of my transition from the world of employment and training to arts administrator, teaching and performing artist.  I believe, through the work that I do, I am building a legacy.  My “highest” accomplishment will come when the future of the Asante Children’s Theatre is financially secured.
My Role at Asante
At ACT, we are like kids in a sandbox. We roll around, we play, we create, we have fun. I make sure there’s a box and that there is sand in it.

Seriously, I plan, direct, and coordinate the day to day operations of the organization with the help of staff. I focus on fund raising, financial management, marketing, human resources, community outreach and board recruitment.

Off Topic Favorite Things to Do
I don’t have a favorite thing, I have favorite things:  I love to play my drums.  That’s when I commune with my ancestors. I love to ride my motorcycle. That’s when I commune with nature. I love to sew and crochet. That’s when I create wearable art with my hands. Cooking and driving are on the list too 🙂

Deborah Asante

Deborah Asante
Deborah AsanteFounder/Artistic Director
Actress, Writer, Director and award-winning Storyteller. Deborah has dedicated her life to teaching and sharing the value of culture and heritage through the performing arts.

Some of my highlights

My Favorite Production
Star Midnight has been in my heart for years to write and produce. I’ll never forget when I heard someone in the audience commented negatively about one of our performers skin color. They didn’t see the beauty I saw in being black. Star Midnight breaks down barriers that have plagued our community and culture for centuries. I am grateful that we were able to accomplish such an important issue for other young people to see and know it’s alright to be different.
  • Star Midnight
  • Step N’ Stand Tall Blues
  • Middle Passage

My Highest Accomplishment
When I became a mother to Terrance Asante-Doyle I knew that was my highest accomplishment. I am so proud of the man my son has grown into and his two beautiful daughters. Family is very important and if it were not for the support of my family, ACT would not have been possible. I am proud to keep the quality of ACT’s projects at a high standard and producing Star Midnight.
My Role at Asante
I am challenged everyday to pour excellence into our youth. It is my job to find creative ways to excite, empower, grow and cultivate world class artists.
Off Topic Favorite Things to Do
Trains and traveling. I love to get on a train and travel across the country, exploring new site and gaining new experiences. It’s important for artists to step away and get refreshed to create. In my pass time I like to see the world.

Ryan L. Bennett

Ryan L. Bennett
Ryan L. BennettACT Alumni Coordinator
Visual storyteller and renaissance man of film, music, photography, theatre and fashion. Always artistically stepping outside of the box to shock, entertain and educate.

Some of my highlights

My Favorite Production
The Wiz was in my first season with ACT. I was amazed by the talent, both on stage and behind the scenes. There was such an outpour of support from the community. Director James Benn, Choreographer Iris Rosa-Artis, Vocal Director Rosemarie Bigbee all made that production so memorable for me. They pushed me above and beyond what I thought I could do. Other favorites include:
  • Middle Passage
  • The Motown Story
  • Caught Up

My Highest Accomplishment
Working on the set of the Academy Award Winning film, Training Day with Denzel Washington was by far my highest accomplishment to date. As a graduate of Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida, I made the move to Los Angeles, California in 2001. During my two years in LA I was blessed to be offered a position with the Warner Brother’s production. That was my first “gig” in LA. Since then I’ve worked with a variety of productions like Bringing Down The House, Bruce Almighty, The Parkers, Food Network and a NYC based production company, Globalvision. During my time in NYC I was the Senior Producer for a United Nations documentary in Switzerland and a documentary on Barack Obama airing in the states and South Africa. Upon returning to Indianapolis I was awarded fashion designer of the year, taught video production to teens, produced two nationally syndicated television shows and was listed in NUVO as one of Indianapolis’ Top 30 Under 30. I owe it all to God.
My Role at Asante
In 1995 my journey with ACT began. I saw a performance of Motown at Indiana Black Expo’s Summer Celebration and was blown away that kids my age were commanding the stage. I auditioned to be an Academy member and fell in love with the performing arts. As my eyes were opened to all the intricate people and jobs it takes to produce a successful production, my butterfly nature began to take over. ACT awarded me with the opportunities to costume productions, be an assistant director, writer, filmmaker and work with marketing and technology committees. I am extremely grateful and humbled to work underneath the genius of Ms. Deborah Asante as her assistant. Her patiences, creativity and will to produce excellent art has made an impact on my life.
Off Topic Favorite Things to Do
In the little spare time that I have, I love to cook and travel. Hot yoga is one of my favorite pass times. It’s always great to get centered after a big production.

 

Vincent Howard

Vincent Howard
Vincent HowardMusic Director
I am a musicologist.  I thrive at putting music to bands, vocal groups, and solo singers and making them a polished act before an audience.

Some of my highlights

My Favorite Production
Out of these productions, I would say my favorite would be Curtis Mayfield Story.  The songs selected was some of my favorite from this artist and it also introduced me to songs that I wasn’t familiar with by this fantastic artitst, from his “New World Order” album.  The choreography was, as always, very well executed.  I believe my favorite was Superfly.  This was also a production that my former executive boss, Dr. Eugene White, was a part of, as the introductory speaker to one of our shows.
  • The Motown Story
  • Star Midnight
  • Blues Fest

My Highest Accomplishment
Putting together the Kwanzaa Community Choir.  To me the best performance from this group was when they performed “What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas” sung by our adult advanced singers and lead by native performing artist Renee King.  The harmony that was achieved in that song mirrored that of the Emotions.
My Role at Asante
My task is to make Ms. Asante’s vision come to life in the aspect of music.  There’s been a few times that her idea requires more talent that’s currently available to us, but somehow we pull it off and make it happen.
Off Topic Favorite Things to Do
Spring/Summer:  Ride my mountain bike on the bike trails throughout the city.  Wintertime: Play my PS3.  I also enjoy a good game of chess.

LeToryia Gowdy

LeToryia Gowdy
LeToryia GowdyPrep4Life Facilitator
An outgoing, loving and vibrant young lady that loves challenges and achieving every goal set before her.

Some of my highlights

My Favorite Production
My favorite production would have to be Star Midnight! Not only was it my favorite because I was Star, but it really stretched me as a performer. I’ve always been strong in singing and dancing and this play really helped me achieve new heights with my acting ability.
  • The Wiz
  • The Motown Story
  • Step N’ Stand Tall Blues

My Highest Accomplishment
I think my highest accomplishment was when I choreographed the Tribute to Michael Jackson. That was a big show and I really used my creative juices to come up with all the different concepts for the different dances. It was a really fun show and the talent was awesome!
My Role at Asante
My job is to get you moving. Rather you’re a seasoned dancer or you have two left feet, it’s my responsibility to make you feel comfortable moving to music.
Off Topic Favorite Things to Do
I love to go shopping and going to the movies. But all in all I like having an all around good time with friends and family.

 

 

 

Here’s The Good Stuff.

Check out a few highlights from previous shows.

Permalink

Madame Walker Theatre

Permalink

Abena and the Python

Contact Us Now

Get active with ACT today.

Stay in touch for more information on tickets, auditions, programs, support and job opportunities.

Contact Us Now