About the Indiana Performing Arts Initiative

It’s All About the Kids


Claude McNeal Productions has partnered with professional artists within the Indianapolis community to create the Indiana Performing Arts Initiative--a program to increase local youth’s access to theatre training. This professional summer theatre training program for high school and college artists features professional actors, directors, designers and choreographers working alongside students to round out a unique opportunity for young theatre enthusiasts.



Students spend three to five weeks in specialized classes where they study acting techniques, character building, basic stage movement and song interpretation. Upon completing the workshop, students participate in a special final performance to showcase their skills and are provided opportunities to work on and off the stage with the professional theatre company’s annual Summer Stock production(s).

A Unique Training Experience

Since 2016 the high schools converging on downtown Indy to discover their theatrical paths are as far south as Franklin Central, as far west as Avon High School and up to Pike on the north side. The college pre-professional performers have represented IUPUI, Ball State, Butler University, ISU, Marian University, IVY Tech, the University of Evansville, Indiana University and the Chicago College of Performing Arts. The professional theatre performance and educational partners hail from Beef & Boards, Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre, The Phoenix Theatre, Theatre on the Square, IRT, ATI, The Lilly Theatre, Butler University, Anderson University, Ball State University, IUPUI, and Claude McNeal Productions.

Professional productions to date in include: Jekyll & Hyde:The Broadway Musical, Six Characters in Search of an Author, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, On Broadway, Pippin (2019), and coming soon, Cabaret!

A Brief History

The Performing Arts Initiative has been a long time coming. It was set into motion in 2004 when IUPUI Vice Chancellor Bill Plater put together English Professor Claude McNeal and Music Professor David Peters to “initiate” a plan for a performing arts entity. McNeal and Peters brought aboard Professor Ken Davis, then Chairman of the English Department, to help in the early stages. The three professors agreed that the need was great because Indianapolis is the largest city in America without a graduate or professional school level performing arts program. The organizing team agreed that for a city to be great in the arts, it must have a capability of teaching and training performing arts aspirants from kindergarten up to the highest professional level – Broadway!

Internships and Apprenticeships

Internship and apprenticeship opportunities are also available for students interested in theatre administration and production. Learning opportunities include production assistants, stage management, set and prop design and construction, marketing and production, box office operations, group sales and more. Explore current opportunities.

Our Team


Claude McNeal

C.E.O. & President

Jeff Owen

Mary Lou Szczesiul

Mary Lou Szczesiul

Associate Director

Jerry Panatieri

Production Assistant
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Zach Stonerock

ACT OUT Director

Josiah McCruiston

Summer Program Director
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