Meet Our Majors

Meet some of our theater and performance studies majors.

Christina Carrera ’22

Hometown: Silver Spring, MD
Major: theater; minor: Urban & Environmental Policy (UEP)

What was your motivation to major in theater?

Theater has always been such an integral part of my life, but surprisingly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to pursue it in college. One of my high school teachers was an alumna of Oxy’s theater department, so she offered to take me on a tour of Keck Theater shortly after I committed. I also had the opportunity to do a class visit to “Introduction to Performance” during that same campus visit. Attending that class, meeting faculty and seeing Keck’s signature stage for the first time sparked a realization in me—I just knew I had to be involved with the department.

Can you describe your working relationships with theater professors? Are there any standout classes you’ve taken?

The theater professors here at Oxy are absolutely wonderful—they are so engaging and encourage one to think outside of the box. Some standout classes for me include Sarah Kozinn’s “Productions in Times of Crisis” and Will Power’s “Acting 2: Scene Study.” Taking Sarah’s class during the COVID pandemic was eye-opening as it contextualized how theater continues to be a tool for capturing the human experience—even when it has to be virtual. I had never dabbled in solo performance before taking Will’s class, but his intimate knowledge of the genre and enthusiastic feedback on my work made me gain a newfound respect for the genre and helped me add a new skill for my resume!

As an intersectional performer, it is refreshing to see that diversity is reflected not only in my peers but also within the faculty.

What do you find most compelling about studying theater?

Studying theater at Oxy opened my eyes to other aspects of theater-making I was never exposed to in high school. Taking classes such as “Introduction to Design,” “Introduction to Technical Theater” and “Costume Construction” not only allowed me to work on new skills in a nurturing environment, but made me gain newfound respect for the holistic theater-making process. I truly never realized how much work went into a production until I was building sets and creating costumes myself.

What are your ambitions post-Oxy and how has the liberal arts approach helped to shape these ambitions?

Thanks to an internship I had during my junior year, I now not only want to act professionally but also work for an arts education advocacy nonprofit organization in the near future. Studying theater through a liberal arts lens changed my whole perspective on art in general and made me realize how much I personally want to work to ensure that everyone can have access to art-making.

What is the “vibe” of the theater department?

The best word I can use to describe the theater department’s vibe is close-knit! I felt like I belonged as a theater major when I took an intro class my first semester of college—and I wasn’t even declared yet! As an intersectional performer, it is refreshing to see that diversity is reflected not only in my peers but also within the faculty. The time I’ve spent with professors and other theater students during field trips, class, rehearsals and labs is unlike anything else I’ve experienced in high school and truly has been one of the highlights of my Oxy experience.


Kai Morfín ’22

Hometown: Tucson, AZ
Majors: theater, philosophy

Can you describe your working relationships with theater professors? Are there any standout classes you’ve taken?

I have found that the professors in the theater department strike a balance between mentorship in classroom experiences and treating you as though you are a working professional during rehearsals or tech crew experiences. They are actively involved in their respective areas of theater, both inside and outside the Oxy community, and they exhibit an enthusiasm for their work that is contagious for students. One class in the theater department that stands out to me is “Children’s Theater,” where we learn how to teach storytelling to children. We go to local elementary and middle schools each week to guide them, by way of things like character-based acting exercises, through the process of performing a story for their peers.

What do you find most compelling about studying theater?

I am most compelled by the wide range of performance theories that exist with regard to acting because there seems to be no majority consensus or right answer. There are many different schools of thought when it comes to the fundamental questions concerning how one actually acts, and I find it fascinating to learn about them and put them into practice during rehearsals. In doing so, I have found that I am able to mix and match different elements from different styles of acting, working towards a practiced system that works best for me.

Professors in the theater department strike a balance between mentorship in classroom experiences and treating you as though you are a working professional during rehearsals or tech crew experiences.

What are your ambitions post-Oxy and how has the liberal arts approach helped to shape these ambitions?

I aim to act in a sustainable and personally fulfilling career, working towards what I believe is good for the craft of acting. I aspire to learn as much as I can about acting so that I may put out work that I believe in, work that promotes a constructive message. I have often heard that professional actors are just very good at observing people and breaking down their behavior so, in this sense, a liberal arts education has given me a more robust understanding of the many facets of a person’s experience. Obviously my degree in philosophy has cultivated in me an introspective and inquisitive mindset, and through various language, music and science courses, I have been exposed to a wide range of thought patterns and creative minds that I am able to collaborate with.

Do you have any advice for a student considering a major in theater?

Take a diverse assortment of classes across the whole department. I say this because, first, it is quite possible that you will find another aspect of theater that you are drawn to, and second, because any person who works in theater is at a great advantage if they are proficient in multiple aspects of it.

What is the “vibe" of the theater department?

Collaborative. Students are constantly aiding each other in the creative process, from constructing sets for mainstage productions, to directing and writing pieces for other students, to creating costumes for shows. It is very easy to get involved in a department-wide production, and many students are consistently rotating, or doubling up on, which roles they assume in the department.


Noa Carlson ’22

Hometown: St. Paul, MN
Majors: theater, biology

What was your motivation to major in theater?

I had been going back and forth on whether I wanted to major or minor in theater until it came time to declare at the end of my sophomore year. In the end, it wasn’t really my mind that decided, it was more about how much I had already involved myself in the theater community and how much I had been enjoying it. I was working as a stage technician on the Performing Arts Facility (PAF) crew, I had acted in a mainstage production and a senior comps performance, I assistant stage managed the fall show my sophomore year, and I had been taking many theater classes along the way. I think I intuitively knew that I loved being in the world of theater, it just took me a while to learn that it would mean I would be majoring in it!

Do not hesitate to get involved in whatever facet of theater you enjoy the most, and especially, do not stop yourself from trying something new.

Can you describe your working relationships with theater professors? Are there any standout classes you’ve taken?

It is always a pleasure to work with the theater professors at Oxy, because they each give a different perspective to the field. Whether it be Brian and Aubree in Production and Technical Theater, or Sarah and Will in Acting and Theater History, they each present their expertise in an engaging and thoughtful way, making it a pleasure to learn from them. It’s always easy to talk to the professors about any creative ideas you have, or just about life in general. They’re a very easy-going crowd! 

A standout class that I have taken at Oxy is “Acting 2: Solo Performance” with Will Power, which says a lot because I took that class over Zoom during Fall 2020. Professor Power was able to translate his work and knowledge of solo performance in a way that was accessible through a computer, which was incredible! From that class I learned so much about the method in which I enjoy telling stories and what it takes technically to perform them independently. In fact, it was such a powerful class for me that it inspired a large portion of my senior comps project.

Can you describe your senior comps project?

My senior comps project is an independent project that I have been working on since summer. It is the creation of a solo theatre piece using the style of verbatim theatre, and the creation of devised monologues to tell a story centered around the questions: ‘What does it take for land to become home?’ and ‘Is a connection to the land the same as calling it home?’

What are your ambitions post-Oxy and how has the liberal arts approach helped to shape these ambitions?

My ambition is to start a new adventure, in a new place, outside of academia (for a while), whether it be an apprenticeship in stage management or involving myself more in the field of biology, specifically pathology. The liberal arts approach at Oxy has fueled my love of active learning and engagement with the community, and I aspire to continue that pursuit of knowledge and engagement as I enter ‘the Real World.’

Do you have any advice for a student considering a major in theater?

Do not hesitate to get involved in whatever facet of theater you enjoy the most, and especially, do not stop yourself from trying something new. I had never worked with sound and lighting before Oxy, and just through pure curiosity about what a Stage Technician does, I applied for the PAF crew my first year. And now, I have been on the crew for four years, and I still love it! Basically what I’m saying is that you never know what choices will stick, so you might as well take some chances.


Natalya Nielsen ’22

Hometown: Solvang, CA
Major: theater

What was your motivation to major in theater?

I was motivated to major in theater because it is the only thing I could truly envision dedicating my life to. I wanted to go to school and have a career in something I am passionate about and find fulfilling. Growing up taking drama classes and performing in plays and musicals inspired me to continue my journey into a career in theater. 

Can you describe your working relationships with theater professors? Are there any standout classes you’ve taken?

I have many strong relationships with professors in the department that I have been able to form during my time at Oxy. Being able to work with professors both in classes as well as mainstage performances creates opportunities to forge strong working relationships that I have definitely benefited from. The nature of theater classes in general, whether it be “Acting I” or “Intro to Tech,” lends itself to hands-on work with your professors. 

I find the most compelling thing about studying theater is the vastly different opportunities and career paths you can pursue...The opportunities a BA degree in theater creates are endless.

What do you find most compelling about studying theater?

I find the most compelling thing about studying theater is the vastly different opportunities and career paths you can pursue. By studying theater you can prepare to become an actor, a director, a playwright, a costume designer, a makeup artist, a set designer, a stage manager, a lighting technician. You can decide to work for a theater company or work in community outreach programs or become a drama teacher or create spaces to foster new work in theater. The opportunities a BA degree in theater creates are endless. 

Do you have any advice for a student considering a major in theater?

My advice would be to go for it. Where I lived growing up, there was often a joke about a degree in theater leading to waiting tables. I often felt nervous or discouraged about pursuing a degree and a career in theater. However, in coming to Oxy and having the support and guidance of the department I have never regretted my decision and look forward to what the future holds. 

What is the “vibe” of the theater department?

The vibe of the theater department is extremely welcoming. Both the faculty and students are kind and genuine. I have always felt that Keck Theater itself has been such an oasis, sitting at the top of campus for the theater students. The atmosphere of the department really creates the opportunity to be creative and form lasting relationships with professors and students alike.

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