Jason Bannister of Searsmont said he knows how fortunate he is to be one of the few middle school performing arts teachers in Maine. His classroom at Troy A. Howard Middle School is filled with costumes and props for the school’s annual musical — this year’s show was the Broadway Junior version of “The Music Man,” which explains the Prof. Howard Hill suitcase pushed up against one wall.

While his head swims with the details of explaining life in a small Iowa city 100 years ago and helping sixth- through eighth-graders bring it to life, there is another time and place pressing upon on him as well — a late 19th-century home in Norway. Bannister is the artistic director of Mid Coast Actors Studio, and the new troupe’s first production, Henrik Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler,” will begin rehearsal soon for a Memorial Day weekend premiere.

“It’s always been my dream to direct my own company, although this is pretty close to it,” he said, gesturing around the classroom.

Bannister’s last adult directing gig was in 2007, during Northport Music Theater’s premiere season when he helmed “Golf: The Musical.” He has performed with the Belfast Maskers, playing Marc in last spring’s “Art”; and in last year’s independent production of “A Christmas Carol” at the Camden Opera House. So starting a new group is not something he is doing in a vacuum.

“It’s definitely not to take away from the theaters that are here; there is a lot of theater in Midcoast Maine and a lot of opportunities,” he said.

What is missing most seasons, however, are the classics and that is what Bannister hopes to focus on in MCAS, “although I’d also love to do ‘Amadeus’ or ‘Death of a Salesman,'” he said. For now, given the fledgling nature of the enterprise and the vicissitudes of the current economy, he is looking toward works in the public domain … and there are plenty to choose from.

“Molière, Oscar Wilde, Shaw —  we might end up being the company that just does public domain shows, but there are so many great ones,” he said.

When Bannister found himself in the company of some fine local actors during “A Christmas Carol,” he began to think about what it would be like to create his own company, not just to direct but also to perform with. For one thing, it might give him the opportunity to act alongside his wife, Danielle Bannister, who has made quite a splash with the Maskers, for the first time since college days.

“I’m 35. If I’m going to do this and sustain it for a long time, I’d better get to it,” he said.

“Christmas Carol” colleagues on board for the troupe’s maiden voyage include John and Elaine Bielenberg, Christine West and Marie Merrifield, who will play the title role. Originally, Danielle was to be Hedda but dealing with some health issues has taken priority and she and Merrifield switched roles.

“And I think it’s going to work well; Marie was great at the last reading and Danielle’s a great Elvsted,” he said.

Bannister’s original impulse was to do a very simple set and perhaps modernize the setting, but with the Bielenbergs on board, John offering to design a set and Elaine handling the costumes, the staging will be more traditional.

“So it’s already morphed into something different and that’s fine,” he said.

The group has embraced another of Bannister’s impulses wholeheartedly, that of living up to its name.

“We’re doing the Stanislavski thing, working the script and looking for the beats and objectives … We’ve had some really rich discussions so far,” he said.

The actors have thus far gotten together once a month since January; West was to be out of town for the next session but planned to attend via Skype, “she’s so excited about it,” said Bannister. Plans are for the typical six weeks of rehearsals although, like many a local troupe, the company will not get on their performance stage with set until production week.

“There’s a band concert the week before,” explained Bannister who said he is putting “Hedda Gabler” on the middle school’s cafetorium stage because access to it is one of his perks as a TMS teacher and because it is one of the few performing spaces in the area affordably accessible to the public.

“Hedda Gabler” will be presented Friday and Saturday night and a matinee Sunday, May 25 through 27. Friday and Saturday evening, June 4 and 5, the production will move to the Reading Room of Camden Public Library, where Merrifield is a librarian.

“This is very off-the-cuff, maybe we’ll only do it once or twice. But there might be enough excitement and interest that we continue every year and even find our own space,” he said.

To keep tabs on Mid Coast Actors Studio as it gets closer to realizing its dream, visit the group on its Facebook page.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or dernest@villagesoup.com.