Ithaca College’s faculty challenged him. “School was tough,” Michael Sullivan ’16 recalled. “I thought theatre would make me feel super comfortable, but it was hard to break out of my shell.” A class on Shakespearean theatre at Ithaca College’s London Center required the students to make masks and perform in them—and Sullivan found his breakthrough opportunity.
“I grew up in a creative household. My mother sews, and we did crafty projects together,” he recalled. This mask project was his first, but it was a natural extension of the craft projects he had done at home, and the Shakespeare assignment launched a new passion.
Other assignments tweaked his interest as well—such as a cabaret show. “I love the queer arts, especially drag performance—at least, my version of drag,” he said modestly. The experience wasn’t what he expected, but he wore the makeup, experimented with different clothes, and made head pieces, which was not so different from making masks. “This turning point in my life was not so much a single moment but more like a lot of dominoes falling at once,” Sullivan described.