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The Scarlet & Black

Jax Seiler

Photo by Ohana Sarvotham.

The thumping stage, the beaming lights, the excited silence of the crowd. After hours spent pouring over props, scripts and roles, Jax Seiler `22 prepares to engage, enthuse and entertain a crowd of parents and relatives eager to watch their kids’ ideas come to life. 

Seiler is a senior member of the Neverland Players. Neverland “players” turn stories written and composed by students at the local Davis Elementary School in Grinnell into frequently moving, always-funny skits, creating a lighthearted and happy-go-lucky environment. Seiler has performed with this group since his first semester on campus. 

“It is just genuinely a lot of fun when you get the skit, and you just start throwing spaghetti at the wall with ideas. What could work here, what are some things we’ve done in the past, what are some things we haven’t done? What are other groups doing that we want to do?” Seiler said. “Just throw it at the wall, whatever sticks, sticks, and it ends up ridiculous every year.” 

 A notable performance for Seiler was the Grant Trilogy, aptly named after its author. Three images with no title, coherent plot, or relation to each other were converted to full skit performances. 

“What the hell is going on here? Neverland can be very straightforward. This story has a pretty basic plot structure and you just kind of do it straight.” Seiler said. “Those can be fantastic. Those are adorable. They’re good. They’re excellent. And then there’s things like what was referred to as the Grant trilogy.” 

Seiler’s theatrical pursuits are contrasted sharply by his lengthy background in the STEM field. Having grown up in southern Illinois, Seiler went to a math and sciences oriented boarding school in Aurora for three years (described as “Grinnell with fifteen-year-olds”). While attending, the opportunities afforded led him to declare a computer science major.  

Alongside his affinities for theater and computer science, Seiler is pursuing a linguistics concentration and works as a Technology and Research Consultant at Kistle Library. His responsibilities revolve around assisting library patrons and organizing library resources. 

Seiler is also vice president of the student organization Duels and Games (DAG), which focuses on foam sword fighting and games. He started participating in DAG after a falling out with his first-year friend group. Soon after, DAG helped him learn to be more outgoing and has since become a meaningful part of his social life. 

“Yeah, it’s just beating the hell out of each other with swords and just relieving stress after a long week,” Seiler said. “I am very glad I found DAG because my post grad plans all involve DAG members at the moment. Anyone here can hopefully see that DAG has a long and storied tradition.” 

One of Seiler’s most recognizable passions is his beloved (and sometimes excessive) hobby of knitting. He’s been knitting on and off for years, using monthly subscriptions for yarn and string. Several years ago, Seiler became co-president of the Fiber Arts club, which focuses on providing students with instruction, access, and feedback to knitting, crochet, embroidery and cross stitch. 

“It did exist my first year and then I took it over the second or third year, and we’ve been working on sort of dragging it back from the brink,” Seiler said. “I think we’ve got it in a good spot and I’m comfortable handing it off. We have a couple of people who semi-regularly come and it’s nice to just have something like that on campus.” 

Overall, with this unique combination of plays, games, knitted garments and code, Seiler has had varied and fulfilling experiences at Grinnell College. In contrast to his hometown, Grinnell gave him the opportunity to explore himself and reevaluate his sense of identity.  

“I was a lot more introverted and yes, awkward. Who isn’t awkward as a first year? I’m glad that I had that safety bubble to hop out of and get a lot more comfortable being loud” Seiler said. 

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