A Will to Survive


Written by Ryan Keebaugh

“A Will to Survive” is a rock opera that deals with helping people face, navigate, and overcome life’s challenges using the theatrical arts. The play is performed by the members of “A Place to Be” studio and has recently been performed locally at Woodgrove and Loudoun Valley High Schools. An upcoming performance will be held at Hylton Theater at George Mason University on Nov. 12.

“A Will to Survive” is based on the life of Loudoun Valley student, Will Robinson, who took his life at age 17 on January 14, 2016. Will lived in Loudoun County and attended Loudoun Valley High school. Will loved people, music, and being curious about life. He left many behind many beloved friends and family members, who were moved to help spread the word, that it’s never too late to seek help. Will’s own mother plays the role of his mother in the play.


The goal of “A Will to Survive” is to spread the word that overcoming depression, self-acceptance, and any mental illness, is more than possible in a 40-minute rock type opera. With a touching and sensitive script, this play is meant to inspire and inform teens that there are many good ways to handle the challenges life throws at you, even when it seems like it’s too much too handle. The original score was written by Cedric Dinapilis, a music therapist, and is performed by local high school students.


“A Place to Be” is not your average theater. The staff of this organization specifically focuses on casting actors with different types of disabilities such as Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Down’s Syndrome, and they also cast local students who just love to perform. Coping with self-esteem and bullying issues is also covered in the performances. The main goal of “A Place to Be” is to inspire teens to try and overcome their challenges and to feel comfortable and accepting about themselves.