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Friday, February 18, 2011

AWOL - A Brief Overview

It was a extremely difficult decision to move from California back to Georgia.  I was going to be leaving my young daughter behind and I wasn't sure when I would see her again.  I was going to a familiar place but that didn't mean that I knew all the same people and that those same people were the same from when I knew them. I was going through a difficult phase in my life and it was hard to find courage to do hard things that I knew, ultimately, would be better for me.

It took courage to respond to the ad AWOL put in the paper.  I didn't know anyone in the organization, which was weird for me and Savannah.  I sent Kesha my headshot and resume and, for some reason, why surprised when she called me in for an interview.  To say that I was uncomfortable at first would be a fair assessment.  I was the only white guy there.  The show that I was aiming at working with wasn't going to pay a lot (To quote Kesha from the interview "We can't pay what you're worth." with a sincere smile), and it was going to have a lot of hip-hop. I like the music and I'm familiar with the style but the most that I can boast is a Jay-Z station on my Pandora.  But I wanted to do it.  I wanted to be there.  I wanted to work with the kids, all of whom are blessings.  I think, with all of the students, it brought me a little closer to Scotland.  Corny though that may sound.

That's something nothing like art can provide.  Brought me a little closer to Scotland even though she was 3,000 miles away.

What's more, who I was and where I came from didn't matter so much.  It was more important what I was going to do with the kids.  I was greeted with nothing but love and respect from Tony Jordan, DaVena Jordan and Lakesha Green.  I was welcomed into a family without an audition or painful consideration.  Its one of the great honors of my life.

The rehearsal process was different.  No, it was bizarre.  It was going to go on for six months before any of the hard technical elements were going to be added.  The kids worked hard.  Harder than most adults I know and certainly harder than most kids their age.

"Situations" was such a beautiful experience.  We had worked on the project for so long that it was a surreal experience walking into the Trustees Theatre on Broughton Street to start pulling everything together.

One student stood out to me.  In the shortest period of time, she had the entire show memorized.  The whole thing.  And as actors dropped out for one reason or another, she moved up in the ranks.  She was brave, braver than most of the other kids.  She went from having no lines in the show, no significant role, to having the most crucial part in the entirety of the project.  In the first show, in the first moments of the show when she started to speaking, I had to fight back tears.  I was so proud of her.  I was so happy for her.

All of the children were impressive at one point or another.  I don't have the space to talk about all of them, but probably will talk about them as time wears on in other posts.

AWOL, Inc. is a phenomenal organization that changes the lives of all those involved.  It reaches out to at-risk youth and engages them creatively, stimulates them with positive energy and encourages them to take responsibility and empowers them with their own artistry.  If you have the time, visit their website at to learn more and find out how you can support them!

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