written and directed by Alicia Haymer

In this world premiere production of HEAVY, written by Alicia Haymer, two 11 year olds in a southern Black neighborhood hatch a plan to keep their best friend from moving away. When they go missing after a visit to the neighborhood witch, we learn the secrets of their family and how they deal with loss and forgiveness.

When I started writing Heavy five years ago, I was in a place of desperation. Black men were being murdered at the hands of the police, and my heart was breaking watching it all unfold. That’s when I decided that my art would be my protest. I wanted to combat the “Black fear” with Black love, Black humanity. I started by writing what I know. Heavy is a love letter to my childhood, my neighborhood, and my family. It’s not based on real events, but heavily influenced by real people that I love dearly. I hope when you experience this story you see the human struggles that unite us all, and the absolute love that raised me. 

– Alicia Haymer, Playwright

Alicia Haymer

Playwright, Director

In the many years that Alicia has been on stage in Nashville, she’s worked with Nashville Children’s Theater, The Amun Ra Theater, SistaStyle Productions, Tennessee Women’s Theater Project, Destiny Theater Experience, and the Nashville Repertory Theater, among other wonderful play houses in Nashville. Alicia is always grateful for any opportunity to express herself with creative authenticity. Keep up with Alicia on her website http://www.aliciahaymer.com, and follow her on Instagram @alicia.haymer.

Josh Inocalla


Josh is an actor, writer, comedian, filmmaker, and high school dropout from Vancouver, Canada. His Actors Bridge credits include Tiny Beautiful Things and fight coordination for When We Were Young and Unafraid. He has performed with Ingram New Works, Kindling Arts, Theater Bug, Nashville Shakes, Nashville Childrens Theater, Spontaneous Comedy Fest, Mutual Aid Society, The Party, Netflix, HBO, and PBS. Josh began his acting career by writing and producing his own work on stages in Nashville including The East Room, Cult Fiction Underground, Exit/In, The High Watt, and Basement East. He teaches Filipino martial arts, writing workshops, and creates interactive learning programs at the university level. You can find him on Instagram at @instocalla.

Nikki Staggs


Nikki is a visual artist and actor currently residing in Nashville TN. Her credits include Experiments in Robotic Gestures (robotic artist), That Woman (dancer), ChaShama Gala (installation artist) The World Over (lots of characters), Farside (visual artist & graphic designer) Memphis (ensemble), Relativity (solo exhibition artist), Holes (Zero), Bud Not Buddy (Bud), and more. Follow her on Instagram @art_by_nikkita

Alaya Walton


Credits include: Co-Star, Fatal Attraction (TV Series, Dir: Chad Cunningham/TV One Network); Co-Star, BET Her Presents: The Couch (TV Series, Dir: Vivica A. Fox/BET Her Network); Lead, The Wrong Real Estate Agent (Film, Dir: David Decoteau/Lifetime Movie Network); Supporting, The Wrong Stepfather (Film, Dir: David Decoteau/Lifetime Movie Network); Shelly, Heavy (Actors Bridge Ensemble); Silvy, GEN (Kervigo Ensemble NY); Connie [Understudy], Tangerine Sunset (Sacred Fools Theater Co.); Nina, Women and Wallace (Defiance Theater Co.); Martha Cratchit, A Christmas Carol (Cupcake Theater). A published fiction writer and young actress of nearly sixteen years from Alpharetta, Georgia, Alaya is thrilled to return to the stage in her Nashville debut in this heartwarming world premiere play. Keep up with Alaya on her instagram pages @msadubbs and @alayalwaltonfanpage, as well as her future book releases under the pen name, Ally Lee.

Nina Hibbler Webster


Nina is an actress, singer, model and voiceover artist and has performed in over 25 film and theatre productions. Nina has worked with Nashville Repertory Theatre, Street Theatre Co and Destiny Theatre in several productions like Fences, Sweat and Yellowman respectively. Other credits include: Like It Was Yesterday (Strongwill Ent), Across: The Father Tolton Story (Bolder Pictures); voiceover in Bessie Coleman: Queen of the Skies (Jupiter Ent); CVS, Shoney’s, Dollar General; RH Boyd Publishing, Fiera Cosmetics, Lifeway, Rest Duvet, among others. Nina is excited about performing in her first production with Actors Bridge! Keep up with Nina on Instagram @ninahibblerwebster or at www.NinaHibblerWebster.Com.

Shawn Whitsell


Shawn is a playwright, actor, director, producer and founder of the Destiny Theatre Experience. He has worked with Tenneseee Playwrights Studio, Nashville Children’s Theatre, Nashville Repertory Theatre, Dream 7 Productions, Monument Theatre Company, SistaStyle Productions, Nebraska Repertory Theatre and is honored to be working with Actors Bridge Ensemble again. His acting credits include A Raisin in the Sun, Our Town, Dreamgirls, Ragtime, The Laramie Project, The Colored Museum and Angels In America. Shawn tours “23/1,” his one-man show about solitary confinement, which the Nashville Scene called “The Best Blend of Theatre and Activism.” Shawn facilitates a variety of workshops, ranging from drama to spoken word to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Shawn is the proud father of Destiny and Zayn. Find him on Instagram: @shawnwhitsell.

Vali Forrister


Credits include: Morris, The Nether (Actors Bridge Ensemble), Sarah, Time Stands Still (Actors Bridge Ensemble), Lil’ Bit, How I Learned to Drive (Actors Bridge Ensemble), Sally, Talley’s Folly (Actors Bridge Ensemble), The Elven Queen, The Hobbit (Nashville Children’s Theatre), Titania, Robin Goodfellow (Nashville Children’s Theatre), Maggie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (ACT1). Vali is the co-founder and producing artistic director of Actors Bridge Ensemble. She teaches the Meisner Technique at Actors Bridge and Lipscomb University. She created Act Like a GRRRL in 2004 and Big GRRRL in 2008 and remains Goddess-in-Charge of both today. She was named “Theaterati of the Year” by Jef Ellis at the 2019 First Night Awards. She has received the First Night Star Award, the Louisa Nelson Award, Nashville Business Journal’s Women of Influence Award, and Vanderbilt’s Women Mentoring Women Award. She was in the Leadership Nashville class of 2014.

Daryn Jackson

Stage Manager

Credits include: Carol, Oleanna (Lee University), Josephine March, Little Women (Springhouse Theater), Lizzie Curry, The Rainmaker (Springhouse Theater), Miss Casewell, The Mousetrap (Springhouse Theater), Shelby Eatonton, Steel Magnolias (Springhouse Theater), Gwen Landis, The Fifth of July (Act1), Lanie, Two Rooms (Act1) Ingram New Works (Nashville Rep)
Assistant Director, The Music Man (Springhouse Theater). A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Lackland Theater).
Director: The Rules of Comedy (Springhouse Theater), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Springhouse Theater), The Real Inspector Hound (Springhouse Theater), When We Were Young and Unafraid, Actors Bridge Ensemble)
Stage Manager: Twelfth Night, (Red Clay Theater), Much Ado About Nothing, (Springhouse Theater), It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play, (Springhouse Theater), Anne of Green Gables (Springhouse Theater)
Producer, Twelve Angry Men (Springhouse Theater)

Kat Tierney- Smith

Stage Manager

Credits include: Madea’s Farewell Play Tour (Tyler Perry Studio’s); Kodachrome, The Vagina Monologues, How to Catch a Flying Woman, Citizen: An American Lyric (Actor’s Bridge Ensemble); The Whale, Les Liasons Dangereuses, End of the Rainbow (Actors Express); Of Mice and Men, Time Between Us, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Serenbe Playhouse); All Childish Things, Tigers Be Still (Aurora Theatre), John Adam’s A Flowering Tree, The Remarkable Farkle McBride, Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra); Angry Fags (7 Stages); Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood, Body Awareness (Synchronicity Theatre).  Kat has been a part of the Nashville theatre scene since 2017 and is pleased to call ABE her home base.

Paul Gatrell

Scenic Designer

Credits include: Director, The Diviners, These Shining Lives and Now, Then, Again (Belmont University); Set Designs, Kodachrome, Citizen, and Sailor’s Song (Actors Bridge Ensemble); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, and King Lear (Nashville Shakespeare Festival); Peter and the Starcatcher, Little Women, Argonautika, Three Sisters, and Rumors (Belmont University) Light Design, The Flick, The Nina Variations, and End Days (Verge Theatre); 36, Argonautika, Big Love, and Dancing at Lughnasa (Belmont University). Paul is currently a Professor of Theatre and director of the BFA Directing program at Belmont University. He holds an M.F.A. from the University of Georgia in Design and Technology and a B.S. in Theatre from Lindenwood University.

Richard K. Davis

Lighting Designer

While he has worked on various Film, Television, and Concert touring projects, his specialty resides firmly in lighting for Theatrical and Dance.  Such varied projects include “Peter and the Star Catcher”, “42nd Street”, “Godspell”, “Urinetown” (Belmont University), “The Wizard of Oz”, “Rock  of Ages” (Hillsboro Players), “Detroit 67’’ ,  “Kodachrome”, “Citizen”, “Eurydice”, “Marisol”, “Men on Boats”, “Outside Paradise” , ”The Warrior”, “The Piper”, “Atlanta” (Actor’s Bridge Ensemble), “Les Misérables” ,“Guys and Dolls” (MTSU), “American Idiot”, “The Addams Family Musical” (Circle Theatre) “Twelfth Night”, “The Suppliants” (Vanderbilt University), “The Holbert Suite” (Nashville Ballet), “Coppelia”, “Giselle”, “Swan Lake”, and “Carmen” (Dance Theatre of Tennessee) as well as “Dracula” and “Regarding Henry” (Film). 

Leah Spurlock

Lighting Designer

Credits include: Ensemble, Urinetown; Ensemble, Godspell; Herself, Sondheim on Sondheim; Mrs. Potts, Beauty and the Beast (Belmont University, performing); 42nd Street, Into the Woods, And The World Goes ‘Round (Belmont University, lighting). After a couple years of learning lights and running the board at Belmont University, Leah is honored to have been brought on to this incredible show for her debut in lighting design! Leah is currently finishing up her junior year at Belmont University working toward a BFA in Musical Theatre.

Dee Benn

Costume Designer

Dee Benn(she/they) is a native of Knoxville, Tennessee where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Carson-Newman University. She started costuming while performing in college musicals and fell in love! You can catch her tye dying vintage clothes and interning with The Nashville Reperatory Theatre in their design program! You may have also seen her designs in “The Naughty Tree” presented by Oz Arts earlier this summer! This will be one of her last projects as she is heading to Brooklyn, NY to peruse her dreams! Wish her well and Enjoy the show!