“It is the first thing that has utilized the most of me,” senior Elizabeth Carrier said in reference to her theatre arts major. “It takes all of a person to step into a character and tell their story truthfully.”
In the four years that Carrier has attended Taylor, she has been involved in every Taylor production. And, as of this past J-term, she has even directed a Sondheim Review consisting of 29 solos, duets, trios and group numbers.
Although Carrier is now fully immersed in the Taylor community, her journey to Taylor was much different from the average student’s, as she was not even a Christian until the December of her senior year of high school. Carrier’s relationship with theatre was an idol in her life before she came to know Christ, which hindered the concept of her identity in theatre.
The feeling of being lost reigned ever-present in Carrier’s mind as she struggled to redefine her identity.
“Theatre was my entire self-worth, which is a destructive relationship to have with anything,” Carrier said.
However, Carrier found her identity in Christ through a group chat she was placed in, titled “Prayers Etc.” In a time where Carrier needed to see the light, the people in this group chat provided encouragement to her, which was what sparked her interest in Christianity.
Another monumental portion of Carrier’s coming-to-faith story was when, as she sat in her high school AP Literature class and dissected Emily Dickenson’s poem, “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” she noticed her classmate pull out a Bible. The boy proceeded to show Carrier the references to the Bible that Emily Dickenson made in her poem, and because Carrier was not a devout Christian, she felt poorly for not understanding the correlations that this boy brought to her attention.
In response, Carrier took action and began to attend a youth group weekly, as she had a newfound passion and drive to know God.
“I wanted to know what he was talking about. I wanted to understand it more. I had never considered the Bible as something that would be useful to me,” Carrier said. “When I realized all of my theological hang-ups were really based in nothing, I didn’t have any reason to keep running from God.”
Although Carrier had found Taylor by way of her growing faith in Jesus Christ, she had yet to fully restore her relationship with theatre. In fact, Carrier came to Taylor as a journalism major. She quickly realized that theatre had the potential to push her in the best of ways through the utility of both her brain and her body.
“Taylor’s pursuit of excellence in all areas when they’re putting on a production was something that was so new and intoxicating to me,” Carrier said. “I didn’t think that there could be a place for me where I could have this relationship with theatre in a way that was healthy and God-honoring, but at Taylor, I learned that there was.”
Carrier is now graduating from Taylor with a theatre arts major and a focus in directing. In the future, Carrier intends to pursue theatre education with the ultimate goal of directing.
The theatre arts major was created for students to get an education of all elements of the theatre, including everything from technical skills to stage management to direction and design. In essence, a theatre arts major gives students the broadest sense of the theatre.
“Emotional intelligence, text analysis, communication and leadership all come together in directing in a way that, in my experience, hasn’t solely come together in performance,” Carrier said.
While Carrier attended pre-college at Carnegie Mellon University, she pursued a focus in musical theatre which helped her realize that she longed for a certain sense of academia that she hadn’t found simply through performance. As a second-semester senior, Carrier is fulfilling her need for a level of academia through her practicum at the Commons Theatre in Alexandria, Indiana. At the Commons Theatre, she is doing dramaturgical work, which involves the deep and wide work of a production.
However, the past year of Carrier’s education has been altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has influenced her classes, Taylor productions and current practicum. Though Carrier has had every reason to be disappointed in current circumstances, she has taken every opportunity to rejoice in the positives.
“So much of theatre is about intimacy, vulnerability and connection between people. Now there are so many barriers to that,” Carrier said. “However, there’s something to be said for the fact that a lot of the time, limitations bring more creativity than we think.”