‘The Tipping Point’ Play to be presented to teens regarding decision-making

Published 9:38 pm Saturday, January 27, 2018

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Elijah Brown as Eli, back points out Bailey Angel as Jessie, not pictured, to Michael Ross as Marcus.

Students in local schools will have the chance to see a play written by local playwright Liz Orndorff, which focuses on how the decisions made can impact their lives.

“I was interested in the tipping point,” Orndorff said. “All these kids, they hear about ‘No drugs,’ their whole lives. It’s a cliché, ‘Drugs are bad. Don’t use drugs.’ But at some point, they move into the area of action and they make that decision.”

That’s the point she wanted to focus on for “The Tipping Point.”

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The 40-minute play focuses on a high school student, Eli, and how the decisions he makes impacts his life and others.

The play came about after Mimi Becker, executive director of the Danville-Boyle County Arts Commission, approached the Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Police Director Kathy Miles.

Becker said, “The Arts Commission wanted to become more involved in using the arts to work on community issues.”

They wanted to find a way to use the arts to help people think and question some of these problems facing the community. The next step was to bring Miles in.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Michael Ross as Marcus, left, and Elijah Brown as Eli, right.

Miles said, “We had an interest in doing something different with prevention and education that wasn’t just hitting people over the head with ‘Don’t use drugs.’ As you watch this, you’ll see, this is getting below the surface and making you think.”

It all goes back to the decisions you make, Miles said, which is an important part in prevention.

“It just came together, like synergy,” she said. “I remember saying, ‘This sounds so exciting. If we can get to every high school student and this is a way you can do it.”

They connected with Orndorff.

For research, Orndorff visited the Isaiah House and listened to the stories of the men in recovery. She also met with two women locally who are recovering addicts.

“As Liz always did, she did a great job with the background, contextual research,” Miles said. “We appreciate them speaking with her.”

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Jacob Johns as Jack, left, Elijah Brown as Eli, center right, and Bailey Angel as Jessie, right.

Speaking with the men and women in recovery was key, Orndorff said.

“We talked about the tipping point … There were a lot of things in common and one of them was, their lives were falling apart,” she said. “I started seeing, yea, if you have a lousy home life, that’s going to contribute. But what about the kids that don’t have a lousy home life?

“I kept zeroing in on the decision-making and how you have forces influence how you make a decision and that’s what you have to learn to deal with.”

The main character, Eli, is not a “goody-goody boy,” Orndorff said, but a teen trying to make a little extra money by dealing certain in-demand items on the side.

“I wanted to give him something to do that wasn’t right, but you could see why he did it,” she said. “I gave him that and a family that was putting too much responsibility on him.”

That was something Orndorff said she heard a lot; it was a common link in both of the women she spoke to.

“Both of them are raising family members because the parents aren’t there,” she said.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Bailey Angel as Jesse, left, in The Tipping Point, talks about the dominos that Eli, played by Elijah Brown, center, balances can topple as Jacob Johns, Jack, right, watches.

The play is “magical realism,” which Orndorff said she believes the teenagers will understand better than most adults do. She wanted to break the dimensions, she said.

Orndorff said she selected the actors; in the past, she had worked with Elijah Brown and Jacob Johns and thought they were good actors. She saw Michael Ross perform in Grease, at West T. Hill and wanted to bring him in. Then she needed a fourth, an actress, and asked Brown and Johns if they knew someone that would work. Both recommended Bailey Angel.

Ross is a DHS graduate, who is currently working and is planning to attend college to pursue music education. His character Marcus is a friend to Eli.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Jacob Johns as Jack, left, and Elijah Brown as Eli, right.

Brown, who is homeschooled, is a junior from Stanford and plays the main character Eli.

Angel is homeschooled and is a senior from Harrodsburg. Her character Jessie is part of the magical realism — she is only seen by two of the three other characters.

Johns is from Lancaster, and has recently graduated fromo his homeschool program. His character, Jack, is the antagonist. Johns is working on a physical fitness certification. He plans to move to New York to pursue acting.

Students from Boyle County High School, Danville High School and John W. Bate Middle School will get to watch the performance. Other schools have been invited as well, Becker said.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Bailey Angel as Jesse in The Tipping Point.

Miles said the schools were great to work with, but scheduling had been tricky for some.

After the performances, the actors will have a “talkback” with students, answering questions.


A public performance of The Tipping Point will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at Gravely Hall. The performance is free. It recommended for middle school and older.