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Shunned is a coming-of-age story following Levi Yoder, a young man just getting a peek at the outside world after having returned from his Amish rite of passage known as Rumspringa. When a family tragedy occurs, Levi must decide whether he will be baptized as Amish and remain with his parents on their farm or pursue a new dream and leave his traditional life behind.


Act I
The Amish community faces growing pressure from the outside world, with the growth of technology and the incursion of tourists into their lives, curious about how they live. One Amish community in Northern Indiana is being plagued by barn burnings. Levi Yoder, a young Amish man, suspects Amos Bontrager, shunned from the community and living as Gary Smith, is the culprit.

Levi saw a rehearsal of a play, Our Town, at a barn theater while delivering produce. Intrigued by what he saw, he wants to see more plays and then write plays, to reveal to the world what the Amish are really like, but he knows his father, Aaron, would not approve.

One of the customers at the Yoders’ produce stand is Mark Cummings, who owns a bed and breakfast in nearby Shipshewana. Mark and Levi strike up a friendship, because he is someone Levi can talk to about theater, and Levi always shows Mark the wonders of nature on the Yoder farm.

Levi reveals his interest in theater and his friendship with Mark to his father. Aaron tells Levi Mark is gay, which Levi did not understand before. He forbids the friendship and also Levi’s interest in theater, since it is too worldly. Levi agrees.

A customer accidentally leaves behind a tube of lipstick at the produce stand. Mary, Levi’s sister, finds it, and, in a fit of laughter with Levi, she mimicks the Englishers, or non-Amish, customers. She paints her lips, removes her bonnet, and hikes up her skirts, and she and Levi are consumed with gales of laughter. Unfortunately, their father, Aaron, discovers her and decides she must be shunned for four weeks. She cannot speak to anyone, cannot see her beloved horse, and has to take her meals alone.

Levi tries explaining to his father that there was no sin in Mary’s heart, and that they were just funning, to no avail. Furious at his father for shunning his sister, Levi decides to take his Rumspringa, go into New York with Mark and his partner, and see theater.

Act II
Levi returns home. As Levi and Mark relive some of the more-memorable moments of their New York trip together, Gary Smith happens by. Gary, the shunned Amish young man, full of bitterness and hatred for the Amish community, torments Levi and Mark, because he knows Mark is gay. Mark offers to get psychiatric help for Gary, infuriating him even more. Gary swears he will seek revenge.

Levi’s father welcomes Levi home and washes his feet, and they plan together Levi’s future there on the farm, now that he will be baptized an Amish man. They share a meal together, and the family goes to bed, anxious for the next morning when Mary will rejoin the family, and they will be complete again.

That night, Gary returns to the Yoder farm and burns their barn. Mary runs out to the barn to save her horse, but he is overcome with smoke and falls on her. They both die.

Aaron learns the truth, that Gary was infuriated at Mark and Levi, that Levi went away to see theater in New York , which Aaron forbade, and he went with the “abomination,” Mark, with whom Aaron forbade Levi from further friendship.

Levi, devastated by his sister’s death and disillusioned with his father, decides to leave the Order. He is afraid of living among the Englishers, but Levi remembers his teachings, that sometimes God’s path is revealed to us even when we don’t understand it. Levi’s path in life will be away from his beloved farm and parents.
All the characters in Shunned are, in some way, shunned themselves, emphasizing the overriding theme of the universal feeling of isolation. The play presents a realistic portrait of Amish life and philosophy, and problems facing the community in today’s world.


Shunned is powerful Amish drama.

–Citizen Times

4F, 4M (3F, 4M with doubling)

Levi Yoder – An Amish man, 19, clean-shaven, indicating he is single.

Aaron Yoder – His papa, 40ish but aged by decades of hard work in the sun. He wears a beard but no mustache, indicating he is a married Amish man. Very religious but surprisingly bawdy. He has all the power in his family, so there is no need for him to be loud or abusive. He is leading his family the best way he knows how, which sometimes breaks his heart.

Mary Yoder – Levi’s younger sister, 18.

Katherine Yoder – Levi’s mother, 40ish.

Mark Cummings – An “Englisher,” or non-Amish townsperson.

Gary Smith – 20, neighbor of the Yoders.

Sarah Miller – 50 to 60s, an Amish neighbor of the Yoders.

Female Customer – May be doubled by the actress who plays Sarah Miller.

An autumn day in Northern Indiana, near Shipshewana; the present.
Scene I: Two weeks later. Scene II: The next morning.

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Even in a world of smartphones and instant communication, the life of the Amish remains something of a mystery. The fine new drama Shunned, getting its world premiere at Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre in Mars Hill, peels away some of those layers to reveal that all is not what it seems with these quiet and reserved people.

Written by Larry Parr and ably directed by Jessica Phelps West, Shunned benefits from a superb cast that includes SART regular and standout Chris Allison as the tough family patriarch Aaron Yoder, who is determined to keep the old-world Amish traditions, no matter what the cost.

The story mostly involves his teen son Levi (Allen T. Law), who must choose between family and faith or exploring the great outside world he knows nothing about. Levi’s growing interest in theater, and his friendship with gay innkeeper Mark (Iain Alexander), presents a growing split with Aaron.

Rounding out the family are mother Katherine (Traci Gardner), once a famous painter, who gave up art to marry but was never really accepted as an equal. The innocent antics of playful daughter Mary (Shelby Folks), eventually lead to a family crisis.

Another solid SART veteran, Kay Galvin, is the aging Sarah Miller, an Amish gossip who has wormed her way into this family, and Daniel Henry is a one-time community member now banished and anxious to seek revenge.

Throughout Parr’s story is the threat of being shunned— thrown out of the Amish world temporarily or for good. It’s a powerful punishment for these simple people whose lives are built around their religion and close relationships. The play starts quietly but builds in intensity. There’s a big plot twist that turns this bunch upside down.

Allison’s strong performance as Aaron dominates the show, but the others are equally believable, with Law getting most of the lines and dramatic moments. Alexander’s smaller performance as the gay Mark is another solid turn.

Shunned is a fine beginning to the 40th professional SART season which will see two more world premieres at historic Owen Theatre at Mars Hill University.

Authorized Materials must be purchased from Stage Rights as a part of your licensing agreement. Your materials will be sent to you digitally by your Licensing Representative. 

The Authorized Materials/Production Package for Shunned are all fulfilled digitally and consist of: 

Acting Edition

Stage Manager Script