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Throughout his participation in Lafayette’s civil engineering program, Nick Groch ’01 found an “oasis” of creativity—exercising his gifts for writing and acting as he juggled technical coursework.

A decade later, Groch’s life continues to sway between art and science.

Groch, an architectural designer with Blackney Hayes Architects, Philadelphia, stars in the lead role in his first movie, the narrative short film, The Spade of Reason. Shooting was completed this summer, and it is slated for release in 2012.

Nick Groch '01 in scene from The Spade of Reason

Nick Groch '01 (left) in scene from The Spade of Reason.

“I love what I do,” says Groch. “When anyone asks, I say that I have two hobbies and one pays the bills. Ideally, I’d love to continue to do both. They’re both highly creative disciplines and both are highly technical.”

In his third professional role since graduation, Groch plays Caxton in the film based on writer Jim Cowan’s published story of the same name. Shot earlier this year in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley with local actors and crew, it was directed by Cowan and Karen Trionfo, an Emmy award-nominated producer and director also from the area.

The title comes from the work of 20th-century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein: “If I have exhausted the justifications I have reached bedrock, and my spade is turned.” At the heart of Wittgenstein’s text and Cowan’s story is the understanding that people reach points in life where reason ends, and they are forced to make choices and live with the consequences.

According to Groch, his character is a “kind, crazy person” who thinks God is sending him messages through chance events and numbers. “Over the years, Caxton gradually develops methods for collecting data that provide random texts,” says Groch. “Because of the way he acts and what he does, Caxton ends up in an insane asylum. While he’s there, he has a number of epiphanies.”

Nick Groch '01 as Caxton in The Spade of Reason.

Nick Groch '01 as Caxton in The Spade of Reason.

The role tested Groch’s acting skill. “This was a bigger piece than any I had done lately. The part called for a lot of introversion and introspection, which I really like doing on screen. I enjoyed the opportunity to present something authentic to the camera.”

Groch, who earned his master’s degree in architecture from University of North Carolina-Charlotte in 2005, is grateful for his employer’s flexibility, which allowed him time off for rehearsals and filming. “The firm recognizes that your life isn’t nine to five,” he says. “Everyone has something different they go home to every day. For me, that is acting.”

Groch is currently preparing for the architect registration examination. Having passed the first of seven exams, he hopes to be licensed by December.

Groch’s first acting role was as a protean in Lafayette’s production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He credits his Lafayette experience with offering the intellectual room to explore diverse interests.

“I was able to pursue acting, study engineering, take courses in literature, and participate in athletics and pep band,” he explains. “Because Lafayette had very strong programs in each of those areas and an atmosphere attentive to individual needs, I was able to balance all those aspects of my collegiate experience and do them relatively well.”

Read more about Groch, whose stage name is Nick Grock.

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