This month’s spotlight shines on Danbert Nobacon — band performer, actor, director, stage manager, playwright, promoter, producer, sound designer, light technician, set designer and teacher (to name just a few theater-related accomplishments).
Danbert’s passion for the stage started in England when he was with the band Chumbawamba, but after moving to Twisp in 2011, it has evolved into acting and working behind the scenes at The Merc Playhouse and the Liberty Bell Drama Company. Danbert comments about his gradual, yet persistent, involvement into the theatrical world: “When we were in a band, we would occasionally meet people who were into theater. They would do performances outside in the walkways. I always thought theater people were a bit … well … I didn’t quite get it until I did it. People call it the magic of theater.”
Danbert first discovered The Merc’s theater magic in 2011 with A Christmas Carol, where he played the ghost of the future — and that led to an extensive resume of time spent on our stage. He has been cast, in lead or supporting roles, in The Merc’s productions of Miracle on 34th Street, I Hate Hamlet, Murder by The Book, The Real Inspector Hound, and The One Act Play That Goes Wrong.
Somewhere along the way, Danbert saw an ad in the newspaper that Liberty Bell was hiring a high school drama teacher. He applied and, in 2014, directed Mirificus High at The Merc, one of two plays co-written by students in the drama class. The second one was Brain Circus. In 2016, when English teacher Kelly Grayum was looking to add an elective to his schedule at Liberty Bell, it made sense for Danbert and Kelly to join forces. The first show they co-directed was Footloose.
The high school program has evolved mightily since then. The Merc now happily partners with the Liberty Bell Drama Company to bring their productions to the stage. Each fall, Danbert and Kelly co-direct one-act plays. In the spring, the drama company produces a musical. Kelly directs and Danbert builds the set as well as assisting with the behind-the-scenes elements of the show. Danbert and Kelly have discovered that, through the process of putting on a production, the students’ progress, in terms of sense of accomplishment and self-confidence, is immeasurable. The two instructors have come to realize that the lessons of theater cannot be taught; they must be experienced. Directing for Liberty Bell has piqued Danbert’s interest in the behind-the-scenes aspects of theater, which include set building, sound designing, stage managing, and tech operating.
When asked about the value of community theater, Danbert responds, “I think it’s an amazing thing to have a community theater — in this day and age in particular — when so much entertainment is at the tips of our fingers with the click of a button. Performing is the oldest art form, because way before the ancient Greeks, people probably gathered around a campfire and entertained each other by pretending to be someone else. I think it is who we are as homosapiens.”
Regarding theater involvement, Danbert comments, “If you have the slightest bit of interest, I would recommend getting involved. It brings something out of you as a person. I never saw myself as a naturally expressive person, but being in the theater has expanded my horizons of what performance can be.” He further describes how involvement in theater is impactful, saying, “That feeling when you're doing the show and have confidence, energy, and adrenaline – it’s different every night. Even though it’s the same words and the same people, it’s almost like surfing and you’re riding a wave. The audience is reacting. You can’t understand it until you do it, the joy that it brings.”
Thank you, Danbert, for the joy you continue to bring to The Merc Playhouse and your tremendous work with the Liberty Bell Drama Company.