10 Years Since The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

In 2010, I was in the midst of reinventing myself–or, at least, reasserting myself. This was still in the depths of the Dark Times, when life had fallen apart for me like it had for so many during the Great Recession that began just a few years earlier. I took the time to reacquaint myself with the sorts of things that I loved doing: art, drama, music; and I remembered the joy that came from creating new things and new interpretations of things. Sometimes, even in the darkest moments of your life, you can find a spark of joy that guides you through.

For me, some of that spark came from my time with the drama kids at Middle Georgia. On a lark, I auditioned for the fall musical production (I was never much one for auditions, but a friend convinced me that it would be fairly painless). I hadn’t performed in much of any capacity since my days at Kennesaw, studying under Prodan Dimov and playing improv games with some of the other “more outgoing” SWORDsters, but I was really digging Neil Patrick Harris’s “Doctor Horrible” in the eponymous Sing-Along Blog so I walked in, delivered his opening monologue, sight-sang a few bars (a skill I never really kept up with since high school), thanked them for the opportunity and left.

In my experience, performing arts departments tend to be like little nepotistic cliques: they’ll self-select from auditionees who are already established in the department. They do not let in outsiders. You could imagine my surprise, then, when the parts were posted and I was cast as Mitch Mahoney, a hard-assed probationer performing community service who plays a double role as the conniving half of one of the contestant’s Odd Couple-styled homosexual parents. Talk about range!

While I’m not going to let this article become a synopsis of the show (you can look it up just as well, but I highly recommend seeing it if you can) I just wanted to take a moment and recognize the hardworking men and women who helped put that show together, and to thank them for helping pull me out of a rather difficult time in my life. They helped me get back on track, as it were, and figure out where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do with my life. There’s nothing quite like the joy of creation or the thrill of putting on a different identity and getting to explore it for a little while.

Thanks, y’all. I hope you’re all out there being amazing.

Life is random and unfair. Life is pandemonium.

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