Actors ages 7-26 bring iconic characters such as Captain Hook, George Bailey, Ebenezer Scrooge and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz to life through the Bangor Area Homeschool Players. Their powerful ability to work together is all because of one particular person: homeschool graduate Danielle Hines of Bangor.
The deciding moment for Hines was during her involvement with a community production of “The Secret Garden” in the summer of 2016. It was her first time acting with a group, and she had already quickly become friends with the director and cast. She was having so much fun that she started to wonder why she hadn’t done something like that before.
After a moment’s reflection, she realized, “There were not a whole lot of opportunities growing up as a homeschooler to get involved in the arts with the community.”
It was then and there that she hatched the plan for a non-profit organization that could provide a venue for local homeschoolers to be involved in theater.
Once the idea was planted, she wasted no time in preparing to direct her very own production of “The Secret Garden”. Amidst a swirl of gathering scripts, finding rehearsal space and hunting down actors, Hines spread the word about the group through Facebook and word of mouth. She posted announcements for public auditions and found herself the proud director of 19 committed actors.
The Bangor Area Homeschool Players company was up and running by the fall of 2016. The whole process from start to finish occurred over four months, and around 300 people turned out on the first night of performances, with the night’s proceeds going to Child Evangelism Fellowship.
Fast forward to today and Hines has directed “Wizard of Oz”, “Peter Pan”, her very own hand-written play called “Prodigal”, an upcoming production of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, and more. Although some of the cast members have filtered in and out, many are return actors that can’t wait to start each season. With a smile, Hines says, “A lot of students look forward to new seasons to perform with their friends again.”
Second time leading actor Riley Azud says his favorite thing about play practice is “the people. Being surrounded by great people that share my interest and love for drama is a huge motivational boost and is very encouraging. It’s genuinely amazing to see each and every actor younger and older provide a unique take on their character and do such a great job.”
He goes on to say, “There are so many great people participating in drama, and strong friendships are mostly made when people with the same passions, such as acting, get together and pursue what they love.”
Terri Washington, mother of two veteran actors with the group says, “Being in this group has encouraged the kids to overcome not only shyness on the stage, but to go beyond their comfort level.”
These bonds shine through the acting on the stage, creating a group that knows how to work together and put on a show. All of the costume design is created by the actors themselves, and numerous locals volunteer their time through helping with set design, lights, practice space, flyers/programs and refreshments for the big night.
Hines’ favorite part of the whole production is “the night of the show where everything comes together. Vision comes alive on the stage.” The production is open to the public at no charge, with an optional donation to a charity close to Hines’ heart.
The company’s next production is “It’s a Wonderful Life” at 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Dec. 6 and 7, at Hermon Baptist Church ,with the proceeds going to Amazima, a program which helps educate and feed Ugandans.
As Riley Azud (a.k.a. George Bailey) says, “there is so much that goes on in this production — fear, depression, joy, loyalty, disappointment, and contentment.” All of these are put into action in a beautiful retelling of a classic tale.
Giving children the opportunity to act provides a way to channel their passions into art and a connection to people who share the same passions. Bangor Area Homeschool Player actress Rachel Vine says, “I really enjoy being involved in this program because it opened up a different side of me and gave me the ability to tap into something I never knew I could.”
Danielle Hines is providing a creative venue in the arts for homeschoolers, and the difference she is making will last far longer than the end of the season.
Feel free to contact Hines at her personal email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or look up the group on Facebook. The program is open to all aspiring actors.