John Spiegel has served in the state guard, knows Ed Helms from “The Office” and has a scholarship named after him for theatre. So, what brought him to Piedmont College?
“I was looking for a place that focuses more on theatre,” he said.
Speigel has been a part of Piedmont College for 12 years and has been directing and helping shows in the theatre department.
Prior to teaching at Piedmont, Speigel worked at Presbyterian College. The involvement of theatre at the college was more of an extracurricular activity —there was not a major or minor at Presbyterian at the time Speigel was there. He wanted to go to a place that had a spot for theatre, and he found Piedmont College.
“Piedmont was looking to grow their program and make it more prodigious,” he said.
He wanted to help students who had a drive for theatre, and Piedmont College had the opportunity Speigel was looking for.
However, theatre wasn’t always his passion. In his undergraduate years at Davidson College, Speigel was a theatre and pre-med major.
“I had every intention in going off and being an emergency surgeon,” he said.
His primary focus was geared to the medical field. There are always small changes in people’s lives that alter a person’s life trajectory, and that exact moment happened to Speigel. During one of his years at Davidson, he couldn’t get into a chemistry class in time, which was a requirement for his major. He would have to wait an entire year to take the class. So, he decided to explore theatre, and he had an opportunity to get a summer job in the field. At that moment, he decided to do professional theatre because of how theatre had a place for him.
Speigel has done all aspects containing a theatre, such as a costume designer, director, sound designer and more. One of the things he is known for at Piedmont is his stage management. One of his best-known works was stage managing the musical “Metropolis” brought from West-End London. He had this fantastic opportunity during the time he was a Davidson College.
“This was a chance to see how the professional theatre worked,” he said.
That experience inspires a class he teaches at Piedmont called stage management, where he shares what he learned in London.
Speigel has learned and collected so much when growing up, including working with several celebrities. He knew Ed Helms and Bryan Baumgartner when they went to Westminster. Baumgartner was a class below him, and Helms was about three years below him. Spiegel also had a growing connection to Helms because he was his little brother’s best man at his wedding.
In addition to teaching, Speigel has a heart for service.
“I’m with the State Guard, and it’s part of the Georgia DOD,” he said. “I felt like I want to give back to be supportive of the community we’re in.”
He had a friend who was doing it in New York and suggested John’s idea because Georgia had one, so he joined.
Spiegel’s influence in theatre has a lasting legacy as the “John Speigel Theatrical Artist Award” is named for him. This scholarship is from the SETC; the Southeastern Theatre Conference is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and dynamic membership organization serving a diverse constituency and reaching out across ten states* in the southeast region of the United States and beyond. It gives excellent opportunities to theatre students to enhance their careers.
“It’s a $1,000 scholarship that’s given to a student either graduated or undergrad student for them to use it to pay for equipment, software, or additional licensing and training.”
There weren’t scholarships for design tech types at this big event, so John helped arranged that for the opportunity of all those students to have a jump start for their careers.
Spiegel has accomplished many things in his life, but it hasn’t stopped yet. “You never know what the future holds.”