5 Questions With Nick Olwell '21

Nick remembers the first time he visited CM, where state championship Speech and Debate banner caught his attention. Two years later, Nick has helped them hang their third in four years, and he’s found other creative niches, too.
Nick, a junior, remembers the first time he visited CM. The state championship Speech and Debate banner in the gymnasium immediately caught his attention. He knew he wanted to hang his own. So, in the fall of his freshman year, he signed up for the team and saw Speech and Debate hang its second team banner that spring. Now, two years later, Nick has helped them hang their third in four years, and he’s found other creative niches, too.

Q: How do you define creativity?

A: I would say it’s the ability to express yourself. I’ve thought about a lot of different ways to phrase it, but I keep coming back to that.”

Q: Which faculty member at CM do you think encourages you to express your creativity the most?

A: I’d have to say either Dr. Corso or Ms. Porter. I’d say Dr. Corso because, from my time working with him in Thea-ter, he’s pretty loose when it comes to letting us develop our characters. Typically, every show has its own set blocks and scripts. But Dr. Corso  gives us a creative range that allows us to control our character however we want on stage. I’d also say Ms. Porter because of how she’s helped me explore the creative side of wri-ting at Open Mic events, which she moderates through the Writing Club.

Watch Nick perform as Philip Lombardo in the fall production of And Then There Were None:

Q: How do you think your experiences in Teaher, Writing Club, and Speech and Debate have challenged your conventional thinking?

A: When you take a test, a lot of the answers are black and white. There’s usually just one correct answer. But when it comes to reciting stanzas in poetry or scripted lines for Theater  or Speech and Debate, they can be portrayed in many different ways. Often times at night, I’ll just sit in my room reading one line over and over again, trying to think of different ways to say it or write it.

Q: What do you think is the difference between performing in Theater vs. Speech and Debate?

A: They’re both very similar. In both situations, you have to memorize a 
piece and act it out. But, in speech, you’re all on your own. You’re up there for 10 minutes and it’s your job to create a character, an environment, and an energy all by yourself. When you’re on
stage during a Theater show, however, you have a set behind you. You have talented cast members working with you too. All these help create an energy and environment for you to draw upon for your own performance.”

Q: How do you think the skills you've learned in Speech and Debate, Theater, and Writing Club will help you after graduation next year?

A: All those skills create confidence. When you’re performing, you’re going to mess up at some point.  But, you also have a job of keeping your compo-sure. So, being on stage has really helped build that confidence. I also think that every time you perform a different character, you  
keep a little piece of that character with you afterwards. Last fall, when I performed a really confident cha-racter as Philip Lombard in And Then There Were None, I think I actually grew more confident. So going out into the world and encountering pro-blems that maybe I didn’t have the confidence to solve before, I now see how they’re possible to overcome.”