Liberty Bell senior stages play to raise money for Cambodian students
By Ann McCreary
Liberty Bell High School senior Hannah Hogness has a passion for chemistry and theater, and has found a unique way to combine the two.
Hogness is directing a play at The Merc Playhouse in Twisp this weekend, with the goal of raising money to help start a chemistry program at a high school in Cambodia.
The play — John Lennon and Me — and its fundraising mission are Hogness’s senior project, which grew out of her experience teaching English last summer in Cambodia.
Her father, physician Christopher Hogness, traveled to Cambodia to teach medicine for two weeks as a volunteer at a teaching hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Hannah, 17, also went to Phnom Penh, along with her brother Sebastian, 15, and mother, Leesa Linck, where they taught English as volunteers at Goldstone School, a private school for Cambodian children funded through donations.
Students at the school, for grades kindergarten through 12, studied math, Khmer, English and history, but no sciences were taught, Hogness said.
“I asked what they were trying to plan on getting done in the sciences in the future. They wanted to start biology and chemistry,” said Hogness, who plans to major or minor in chemistry at Seattle University.
“It got me interested in wanting to give something back to Goldstone,” she said.
In talking with Goldstone School officials, Hogness learned that $500 would pay for a teacher from the school to go to Singapore for training to teach chemistry. Her hope is to raise enough money from tickets at her play to provide that funding.
“Any other proceeds will be sent to Goldstone as well for laboratory equipment and supplies, like textbooks, beakers and chemicals,” Hogness said.
Directing a play fulfills another personal goal, Hogness said. She has performed in many plays since she was young, and wanted to expand her experience in theater.
“I’ve always done drama, and I wanted to do something more than act in a play. I wanted to direct a play,” she said.
She has chosen to produce John Lennon and Me by Cherie Bennett, a full-length play about a teenage girl with cystic fibrosis “and her imaginative tale of life in a hospital,” Hogness said. The play is described as both hilarious and heartbreaking.
The play stars seven Liberty Bell students and Danbert Nobacon, who teaches drama at Liberty Bell.
Hogness said the production is a “readers’ theater” approach, in which cast members will read their lines, but involves more movement and acting than a traditional readers’ theater.
“I like to call it an advanced readers’ theater,” she said.
In order to eliminate the cost of renting The Merc Playhouse, Hogness said, “I worked out a deal with The Merc where I’ve been working on technical parts of other productions.”
Performance times are Friday and Saturday (May 8 and 9) at 7 p.m. and Sunday (May 10) at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students, with all proceeds going to Goldstone School.