Class of 2015: Brunswick senior sees world as not so black, white

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BRUNSWICK — Little about Garrett LeRoy hints that he cannot see in color.

The Brunswick High School graduating senior rides a 1989 blue, red, and gold Yamaha Radian YX600 motorcycle, and his clothes don’t clash.

But LeRoy is “100 percent” colorblind, and has been since birth.

“I’ve never seen anything but a lot of grays and black and white,” he said.

But he does not see his condition as a disadvantage, either.

In fact, a speech he gave on colorblindness last year rocketed him to runner-up in the Maine Forensic Association’s speech competition, and got him a qualifying spot at the National Speech and Debate Association competition in Kansas City. 

The speech, cleverly titled “50 Shades of Gray,” “was really about the idea … of the things that we are born with versus the things that we acquire,” he said.

“The one question I get a lot is, ‘if you could have the chance to see in colors, would you?’ People are often confused when I say no, I kind of am glad I am the way I am,” he said.

“It was, no pun intended, eye-opening for some people. To me, I look at all the benefits that it has given me: literally and figuratively a different way of looking at the world.”

LeRoy’s path into speech was a little different than most. He joined the BHS speech and debate team because of a lifelong passion for theater, although he has never done a school play.

Instead, ever since third grade, LeRoy has been performing at the nonprofit community theater in town, the Theater Project.

It started with a summer theater games camp taught by Al Miller, who is now the director of the Theater Project.

“I was so hooked I decided to try out for the play coming up that fall, which was ‘Jack and the Beanstalk,'” he said.

Since then, LeRoy has performed in more than 20 productions, including the recently-concluded “Voices in the Mirror,” which he described as a “Saturday Night Live by teens.” He has also started a weekly open mic.

“I like the small atmosphere,” he said. “… It’s kind of been like a second home for me, especially during sophomore and freshman years, when I was having a hard time acclimating to high school.”

On more than one instance, he said, he’d go to the theater early after school, “just to talk to whoever was there” about what was going on in his life.

“One time I just went early to take a nap on the couch in the green room … I felt much better by the time rehearsal came around,” he said.

He says parting with the Theater Project will be one of the hardest things about leaving Brunswick.

“Once you’re part of the family, it’s hard to say adios,” he said.

Next year LeRoy will attend American University in Washington, D.C., where he plans to study business.

Before he goes, though, he will once again travel to the speech and debate nationals, this year in Dallas, to perform a speech called a “humorous interpretation.”

“It’s actually a 10-minute play for four people, but the nature of humorous interpretation … is that it’s me talking to myself for 10 minutes in different characters,” he said.

The play, called “No More, Mr. Nice Guy,” is about a man who lives in a town where it’s illegal to be nice. The action revolves around two detectives bringing him in and interrogating him.

LeRoy said it’s important to be able to embody the perspectives of four different characters at once.

“Every single time I do it there’s something new that happens,” he said. “I’m four different people in that play and each one has kind of become its own person.”

It’s likely to be an eye-opening performance.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Sidebar Elements

Brunswick High School senior Garrett LeRoy at the Theater Project, where he has performed in more than 20 productions.

Brunswick High School graduation

Commencement exercises for the Brunswick High School Class of 2015 will be held Friday, June 12, from 7-9 p.m, at Watson Arena at Bowdoin College.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.