By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
From computer science to improv
Placeholder Image

 After a day of lecturing on the dry subject of computer science at Georgia Tech, Bill Leahy goes a step further than the typical Atlanta commuter in his quest to unwind.  

Instead of simply zoning out to satellite radio on the drive back to Covington, he lets loose in the unpredictable world of theatre improv found at Dad's Garage in downtown Atlanta.

Bill, however, didn't always have the theatre bug.

When he and his family first moved to Newton County in 1995, he worked as a manager for a Covington glass plant.

 His wife Jacki became a professional interior designer and for two years, Bill managed the design, construction and startup of a $46 million glass plant for the manufacture of perfume and cosmetics.

After managing the startup of the glass plant, Bill began his second career as a computer scientist - a far cry from a thespian.

"I had always been interested in computers," Bill said. "I had been programming since the 1960s."

When he completed his Masters of Computer Science at Georgia Tech in 1999, the faculty and staff at Georgia Tech were so pleased with his presentation and lecturing skills as a graduate teaching assistant that they kept a spot open for him in case he decided to stay.

It was not until his youngest daughter, Megan, graduated from college that Bill found himself frequenting Dad's Garage.

Though his older daughter Kelly had initially studied theatre at Northwestern, it was Megan and her interest in the theatre that provided the impetus for her father's involvement with Dad's Garage.

Megan began frequenting Dad's after studying geology at Georgia State University. She began as a volunteer and eventually worked her way up the chain to one of the sought-after ensemble positions.

One day, during a production involving computer science, the staff at Dad's asked her father to participate as a guest speaker.

"I had to give a lecture on computers," Bill said.

The experience was so tantalizing, however, that he eventually found himself volunteering quite frequently at Dad's Garage. He sold concessions and was taught how to operate the theater's lighting equipment.

During Dad's production of "Reefer Madness," Bill volunteered and found himself with a few extra responsibilities.

"They needed an assistant stage manager, and they didn't require a lot of experience," he said. "It was a blast."

Bill's continued involvement eventually afforded him many rewarding opportunity, such as the chance to participate in a production with his daughter.

"'The Jammer' was a production about the Roller Derby," he said. "I volunteered to be an assistant stage manager and my daughter acted as a Roller Derby contestant."

Another opportunity his involvement has afforded him is the chance to apply his improv training to the classroom.

"It's really quite an amazing vehicle to improve your performance," Bill explained.

In fact, aside from launching plays and providing volunteer opportunities, Dad's Garage also provides improv classes for professionals or managers who wish to enhance some aspect of their job performance. The service addresses professional skills such as team building, public speaking and thinking on one's feet.

What differentiates theatre at Dad's Garage from so many other forms of entertainment, according to Bill, is the vibrant unpredictably inherent with most of its shows.

"Frequently, our performances will be different every night," he said.

Bill and his daughter Megan, now a member of the ensemble, continue to volunteer and participate with Dad's Garage. For them, like everyone else involved with the theater, it's a labor of love.

"Everybody who is working at Dad's Garage is there because they want to be."

Currently, the theatre organization has a regularly running psychiatric-based improv show entitled "Ask Dr. Frapples." The show runs through Feb. 27, and tickets may be purchased online at