Pontius Pilate, Dr. Seuss, and Me (Part 2)

Pontius Pilatus / Gemaelde 16.Jh. - Pontius Pilate / Paint./ 16th cent. - Ponce Pilate / Peinture du XVIe siecleThis is part two in a memoir that began in this post here.

I oddly wanted this.

I don’t know when this experience changed for me, but the idea of coming in second or third or fourth to another grad student (or worse an undergrad) in auditions felt beneath me. I was Scott freaking Southard and I wanted to be the super grad student! I wanted to be the one that professors would talk about after graduation. A living benchmark for the program. Yeah, I wanted future conversations in the office around history to be like: “Was that before or after Scott was a student here?”

Preparing for the auditions with that lousy script was the equivalent of eating a meal you hated, but promising yourself you were going to eat every drop and love it. Yeah, you were going to smile through the awful meal. Again and again. And I did. I memorized every bit I could of the audition script, bit my tongue as I acted it out in the mirror.

And when the day of the audition came about, I felt ready. Some of my friends thought I was a little crazy for caring so much and maybe I was. Who knows? My brother was an actor when I was growing up, so maybe a part of me wanted to prove it was no big deal and I could do it too. Yeah, I admit there might have been other issues at play in my head. I honestly admit it.

I thought I did great but when the roles were handed out I was not Ponitus Pilate, I was given the second biggest role, that of Caiaphas. I was told in confidence by the theater professor that he only gave the other student Pilate since he had actual acting experience in his past. I could live with that answer! It’s like I was the secret best (but still the best don’t forget).

And that evening I was almost gleeful as I started to highlight the script… until I realized what I was going to be doing and saying.

“Oy vey.” Continue reading

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Pontius Pilate, Dr. Seuss, and Me (Part 1)

Pilate in his big sceneRecently, I happily discovered that a picture of me wearing a fur coat and brown tights was finally off the internet.

The picture was from 1998 and for over 15 years it has dogged me on the worldwide web. With a few scrolls down through my name on any search engine (pass the covers of my books and headshots; you know, the important stuff an author cares about), there it was, always waiting for me.

Me in tights.

“Hello Scott, want to see your legs?”

When I signed up for the graduate-level course in Medieval Literature (at Michigan State University), I was expecting a challenge.

Actually, I was expecting a massive challenge!

I heard rumblings from past students of the class, everything from translating to long writing assignments. While I love diving into classic literature, I have to be in the right mood for the older, more historical entries. I’m not the kind of person to relax with Chaucer on a Sunday morning (even though I do have a pic of him on my wall and I did once mimic his style in a very long short story). At least Chaucer can be a little bawdy and playful, but you have to earn the Chaucer in such classes. And usually that due is paid by Caedom and Margery Kempe.

Medieval literature, the literary equivalent of a hairshirt.

But it was required for my MA, so what could I do? I decided to put my own writing aside for a semester and accept my fate.

However, as we got closer to the start of the semester, my fellow students and I started hearing from the professor. This year we were to do something different, something special. It was obvious the professor was thrilled and he wanted us to feel that way as well. Maybe with another group of students he would have gotten a bigger reaction, but typically bookworms (i.e., graduate students in English Literature) don’t usually like to be thrown on a stage.

Yes, I said “stage.” See, we were not going to be studying Medieval Literature, we were going to be performing it! Watch out Broadway! Continue reading