By: Sophia David (Editor-in-Chief ‘21)
Liz Carlson-Guerin is the new FCS drama teacher! Although she and Terry Guerin, the former drama teacher, share a last name, Liz is fairly confident that they are not related. To avoid confusion she emphasized that students should feel free to call her Liz. This year, along with directing plays, Liz is teaching Contemporary Stage: Making a Scene, a character study class, and the Intro to Acting Class.
Before coming to FCS Liz was “desirous of a community that was really committed to one another.” This is Liz’s first time working in a high school, and she is really excited to be at FCS because of “the beautiful community and the sense that everyone is committed to being together, working together, and loving and caring for each other.” She explained that communities like this have not been present at many of the other places she has worked: “I have spent a lot of time working in really large universities, where you can feel really disconnected from the other people who are sharing space with you.”
Liz had originally hoped to work in government and studied political science in college until she happened to take an acting class and suddenly realized her passion for theatre. “I was so enthralled by how compassionate, open, and caring everyone was for one another. They were asking interesting complex questions of one another, and they were willing to tangle in the unknown. I found that to be so much more exciting that the dry American government classes I was taking.” She continued to follow this path after college and began to work at a variety of higher education institutions, including Kenyon College, Temple University, and other places around Boston and Providence, RI. She has also worked as a play director in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.
Now at FCS, Liz is very appreciative of the program that Terry built up during her time here. She explained, “There is already a beautiful idea of ensemble that Terry brought into this community and championed. That is something I find really valuable. It is one of my core values as well.”
When asked if she had any goals for the theatre program at FCS, Liz responded that she hopes to deepen the value placed on “ensembles.” She explained this further, saying, “The idea of ensembles is about the whole community. It is about everyone working together towards a common goal. It applies to theatre because everyone has really distinct talents and roles to play, but they all feed the final project. In theatre this value is important because people all do different jobs. Some people’s contributions are really obvious and others are working just as hard, but the audience does not see it.” She hopes to encourage not only actors to involve themselves with theatre, but also those who might engage in other ways, such as playwriting, directing, and design.
One way Liz will be working to advance this goal is through the fall play this year, which is Love and Information by Caryl Churchill. She described the premise of the play as “a really fun play text to work on because it asks the company to make all these decisions about what the play’s about and what’s happening in each scene. It’s really collaborative. I like to work on things that invite everyone in the process to have a voice and opinions and get to say yes to all those things. I like to make something unique that reflects all the people who made it.”
“A limitation is just a way to make an innovation.” This was Liz’s primary response to the impact that the Pandemic has had on the ways in which people learn about and experience theatre. Although COVID-19 has undoubtedly negatively impacted the world, she notes, “It has really been awesome, even in the first couple weeks of class, to see the ways students are working around, through, and with the limitations.” She thinks that, in many ways, these limitations make us stronger, giving us confidence that “I can do it and make this work, no matter what you throw at me.” This attitude, she believes, “is one of drama’s core skills and why drama education is so important.”