- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Who could have known that an old car garage in Indian Head in the 1940s and 50s would become the center for arts in Indian Head?
For the past eight months, the Black Box Theater, which has hosted concerts and theater performances, has set dark. Now they’re back in business.
“We’ve gotten bond bills for construction,” said Evelyn Hungerford, whose father owned the Black Box Theater in the 1940s and 50s when it was an automotive garage. “We had been waiting for the town to clean up the second floor, where they had items stored.
“My aim has always been when the town gave us the facility was to create a place where instructors could teach and perform. That’s what we went after,” she said. “Our goal is to make the stage more performance friendly.”
Shiela Draper was named executive director of the Indian Head Cneter for the Arts in April. Draper, a longtime performer at the Black Box, the Port Tobacco Players (since 1965) and the Hard Bargain Players for the past 12 or 15 years. Draper was also a field educator and administrator with the Maryland State Department of Education for 13 years.
“When they offered me the position, I saw it as a way of bring two parts of my life together,” Draper said. “Having performed at the Black Box Theater, I know what a wonderful facility it is.”
Draper noted that many of the goals the board of directors have are her goals as well.
“My first thought was, ‘let’s get something going,’” she said.
Draper said that for the rest of this season and next season, once renovations are concluded, “That will expand our capacity to do community events for children, youth and adults as well. We’re not only concerned with the performing arts, but we want to have artists display their work here. We also hope to have storytimes for mothers and toddlers.”
Draper added she also hopes to work with Charles County Public Schools to bring children to the Black Box Theater to give them experience with the arts.
“We also want to focus on children who may be disadvantaged,” she added. “Our hope is to apply for a grant to help fund that program and to work with the school system to identify those students. We’re also considering offering a mentorship program after school working with children on their reading, writing and speaking skills. We are aware of grants out there.”
“It’s so exciting to be combining my two loves,” Draper said. “Working with children in a theater setting is such a value to a community. It’s so much more than entertainment.” she said.
Hungerford said the facility was only shut down for about eight months.
“We were able to do off-site performances during that time thanks to the Port Tobacco Players in La Plata.
“They hosted us, sponsored us and let us use their amenities,” Hungerford said. “The Jaycees also sponsored us and hosted us on St. Valentine’s Day for “All That Jazz.”
“We’re getting ready to host the Hexagoners in August at Port Tobacco Playhouse in La Plata,” she added.”They do political satire in the Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. area. All of these things are to help us raise money. We’ll be having theatrical productions for adults and children in the fall.”
“When you think of what was an auto dealership and a garage, its metamorphis is really amazing,” Draper added. “The plan is to have the upstairs available as a dance studio and exercise room. Being able to expand will help us grow and obviously in terms what we can offer, like workshops, dances and the visual arts.”