Danville senior writes, directs his own play

By Mike Beas

The aspiring high school history teacher made his writing and directorial debut with three showings of “The Clockmaker” last month inside the Danville High School auditorium.

Senior Hunter VanBebber even stretched his acting legs — ok, wings — in each with 15-second cameos as the play’s dragonfly puppet.

Not that he needed additional responsibilities.

“Every year, the high school puts on a student-directed show, so from the beginning I wanted to be the student who does it as a senior,” said VanBebber. “It was really magical to see what I had written come to life, but it was very taxing on my sleep schedule.”

As for his trio of 15-second jaunts across the stage while wearing his most-dragonfly-ish ensemble, VanBebber can only shrug.

“I needed someone to puppet the dragonfly, and no one volunteered to do it,” he said.

VanBebber, whose personality most certainly leans more in the direction of doing his own thing, began writing “The Clockmaker” during his freshman school year at Danville with the hopes of concocting something uniquely special.

He continued to tweak the creation as time went on, making additions here and subtractions there. VanBebber admits to not completely finishing his writing until Feb. 8, just eight days prior to the first of the play’s three showings.

VanBebber, whose 4.0 grade point average places him in the top 15 of his class academically, has been writing stories since kindergarten. The objective with his latest was to alter, even if only slightly, the world around us and the way people think.

“The Clockmaker” took the stage Feb. 16, 17 and 19.

Danville senior Hunter VanBebber wrote and directed the student play in February and will play King Sextimus in “Once Upon a Mattress” in April. (Photos provided by VanBebber)

VanBebber first became interested in theater before the start of his freshman year.

“I was going through the booths for school clubs, and thought, ‘I could do that and enjoy doing it,’” he said. “And, I am very much enjoying it.”

After graduating from Danville High School later this spring, VanBebber plans to attend Ball State University where he’ll major in history education.

He’s confident he can make a difference.

“I think it’s a job that can keep me from getting bored, and I like kids,” said VanBebber. “It’s an issue I see a lot that people don’t enjoy school, and I feel I could bring back some enjoyment. At least in my class.

“And I think our past is very important in how it shapes our present and our future.”

VanBebber has acted in many plays as a high schooler. The next will be, “Once Upon A Mattress,” scheduled for April 28-30 at DCHS. He will play King Sextimus.

Once at college, VanBebber may or may not get opportunities to direct and act. Either way, he plans to channel his creativity in an entirely different direction by creating a novel combining — wait for it — an old-school western that includes wizards.

“Oh, yeah, the wizards will be riding horses, and will probably be turning into horses,” said VanBebber. “That will definitely happen at least once.”

Talk about breaking new ground.