Give 'em Hell by Madeleine Brown
Inspired by real-life student activism, Give 'em Hell retells the final school year leading up to the 2012 closure of Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational School (PCVS) in Peterborough, Ontario.
Breaker starts Grade 10 only to discover that her high school will close at the end of the year. She is called to action by student activist group Raiders in Action, and encouraged to heed that call by an imagined version of political satirist Rick Mercer (who may or may not have something to do with her recently deceased grandma). Over the course of the school year, Breaker must overcome her fear of being a leader as she guides the student body through history-making protests. And save the place where she finally belongs–while discovering just who she is.
Give 'em Hell explores the power of youth activism, the perils of self-discovery and what it costs to stand up for a cause.
Run time: 75 minutes
Suitable for students 12+
Content notes: The play includes references to and shows one incident of homophobia.
Produced by Theatre Direct/4th Line Theatre/Prairie Fire, Please/Peterborough Museum and Archives, Peterborough, Ontario, September 2023
Production note: The world premiere production was site-specific and staged in the auditorium of the high school on which it was based. The play lends itself to production in a school auditorium or school building in general.
Cast size: 11 actors
Male roles: 2
Female roles: 3
Other roles: 6
Casting notes: The teenage roles should be played by teenagers. The teenage roles, with the exception of Breaker and Bode, may be played by actors of any gender. The playwright is open to adjusting character names and/or pronouns as written to allow for it.
"Funny, poignant and exhilarating." —Istvan Reviews
"A fast-talking window into a tenacious teen protest...pleasantly subversive." —Intermission Magazine
"Playwright Madeleine Brown has written a bracing play about student activism and their enthusiasm for a worthy cause. She has written the students with compassion and care. The adults are written with wit and a bit of tongue in cheek. She has also captured the grinding bureaucracy and how the stalwart students coped." - The Slotkin Letter