People are often surprised that I am an actor. I can be quiet and shy, very different from the boisterous personality associated with most actors. In a lot of ways this is exactly why I love acting- pushing myself outside of my comfort zones and seeing how far I can go.
My sophomore year of college I decided to participate in a study abroad program that would be held in Pontlevoy, France. It seemed like the perfect fit for me- my two favorite subjects in school, French and theater! I didn’t even pay attention to the content of the classes that I would be taking because it seemed so serendipitous. When I ended up getting to France I felt completely overwhelmed and was ready to return home immediately. Although I had done theater all my life, I only acted in broad musical theater productions and the techniques I was learning in France were the exact opposite- personal and honest.
My LeCoq physical theater classes were the most difficult for me. Jacques Lecoq was a French actor whose Lecoq acting school in Paris is considering among the best in the world. His theater has an emphasis on physicality, clown and improvisation. Three subjects I had little experience with and coincidentally three of my least comfortable acting areas. Our Lecoq class was first thing in the morning and I dreaded getting out of bed. Every day I would wake up, stare at my ceiling and imagine what torture the morning would bring.
The class itself was fairly simple- we would warm up for thirty minutes and then spend the next two hours physically training. The physical training exercises were deceivingly simple- most were uncomplicated mime exercises that required very little talking. In hindsight, one of the secrets to the exercises, and the class in general, was that there was no right way to do them. I would get so bogged down with wanting to be perfect or trying to show my professor exactly what I thought he wanted to see, I was never able to focus on the simplicity of the exercises. The only way to learn from this class was for me to make mistakes, but I was so focused on doing everything right I refused to let myself make any.
I constantly sabotaged myself by waiting as long as possible to take my turn during exercises. During all these activities I was too scared and self-conscious to go first and I would try to delay performing as long as possible. The more people that went, the more I terrified I got. My classmates would often use up all the initial ideas I had, leaving me desperate for new ideas. Then I would see classmates critiqued which scared me even further. I always hoped that the professor would decide to move on to the next exercise by the time it would be my turn, but most of the time I would have to get up and do it. At this point I was completely psyched out, had no confidence, and usually had no ideas.
I was truly miserable and I kept forcing myself into failure. It’s hard to say what turned this downward spiral around. I would like to say that it was a personal revelation or a newfound confidence, but realistically I probably had a great idea for an exercise and I wanted to get my ideas out as quick as possible. For the first time I found myself getting better results. I decided to start trying to perform earlier and getting my ideas out faster. Even if my ideas were completely wrong, and they usually were, I found that embracing the wrongness and using the criticism as a lesson was constructive, as opposed to my previous learning model. I started applying this technique to all my classes and I found my performances improving and my self-esteem rising. And more importantly, I felt like I was actually learning.
Fast forward to two years later. I am in my final semester at UW, back home in Seattle. I am taking a very similarly structured class full of improvisation and physicality, and plenty more discomfort. But this time I wasn’t afraid to be the person to volunteer. I knew my first ideas and instincts could potentially be wrong, but I also knew that the worst thing that could happen is I would make a mistake I could learn from. I saw plenty of my classmates fall into the same pitfalls I used to- refusing to participate until the very end and stressing themselves out in the process. I learned to find a good balancing of being the first to volunteer and taking my time to observe other peoples’ attempts, but never waiting until the end.
I can’t say this applies anywhere besides my theater class, but it definitely helps me when I get nervous about taking a big first step.
My name is Nic Morden and I am a member service representative at the Wallingford branch and an intern with the marketing department. I started with Verity in early 2015 and although I am new to the credit union industry, it feels like a great fit! I graduated from the University of Washington in 2012 with a degree in theater and in my spare time I am a managing producer and actor at my theater company, The Horse in Motion. My theater company particularly focuses on experimental processes and spaces to deconstruct classic works of theater. I find the combination of working full time at Verity during the day and creating theater in the evenings to be surprisingly complementary and incredibly fulfilling. I also love seeing films, jogging and spending time with my roommates in whatever time I have left.