Heart-felt, Humorous Farewell Marks Sincell's Retirement from GC

For more that 30 years Ben Sincell, Professor of Speech and Theater at Garrett College, has shared his trademark enthusiasm and energy with his students. Skills that he taught in the classroom and in the theater included not only those of the fine and performing arts but also those of wielding circular saws, hammers, and sewing machines. In addition to teaching stage and theater crafts, he also shared his considerable technical skills with the Garrett Lakes Art Festival in all of its productions.

Now, after fostering the talents of hundreds of students and supporting community arts, he is retiring.

Sincell’s colleagues at Garrett College had no intention of letting him slip out quietly - quite the contrary. But rather than the traditional farewell banquet that often marks the conclusion of a well-served career, the faculty and staff mounted a musical production that the retiring professor will probably not forget – ever.

Commandeering Sincell’s own domain, the Garrett College Auditorium, the men and women who have known, respected, and worked with him prepared to present “The Rocky Horror Sincell Show,” which would shine a flashlight (no one knew who to work the spotlights) on his dual vocations of teaching and performing magic.

Perhaps with a bit less finesse than Sincell would require of his students, the group wrote the skits, designed the costumes, and created the props and stage sets under the co-directors Terry Kasecamp, professor of Psychology, and Ann Wellham, Dean of Marketing.

Donning a wig thick with hair, Jim Allen, Interim Dean of Instruction, created the role of Ben Sincell in this parody of his career struggling to educate an improbable assortment of students played by Garrett College faculty. In frustration, the on-stage professor resorts to attempting to magically create the perfect student. And how did that work out for him? Not so well.

Jane Avery, Artistic Director of Our Town Theatre (OTT) in Oakland, has worked closely with Sincell for years. Together they have given his students the opportunity to develop their acting and stage craft skills through apprentice-like experience with mounting OTT productions.

Avery attended Sincell’s retirement ceremony. “The spoof that the faculty of GC put on for Ben was a hoot. Lighting it with flashlights and worklights - because there was no Ben to light it - was so clever, and there were so many moments that celebrated Ben and his many years of service. It was hilarious when he was supposedly electrocuted and that’s why his hair turned white! Priceless!”

In addition to humor, Sincell’s retirement event provided time to recognize his contributions to Garrett College, his students, and the Garrett County community chronicled in a PowerPoint presentation created by co-director Kasecamp. On behalf of the faculty, Allen presented Sincell with a vase that was made for him by Garrett College art professor Ron Skidmore.

Avery summed up the reasons that Sincell will be missed at Garrett College. “Ben Sincell is a fine magician, but his magic extends far beyond sleight of hand or Abracaddabra. He is a gifted artist – especially in scenery and lighting design – he makes anything that I direct look ten times better than it really is. Ben performs wonderful magic on stage and even more wonderful magic in the classroom. I’ve taken classes from him – he‘s a superb instructor – lots of great discussions – lots of creative thinking – lots of hands-on learning,” she said.

The colleagues of Ben Sincell all agreed that he contributed much to Garrett College and that his absence will be felt.