In the Spotlight


“I‘m about to take the biggest step I’ve ever taken in my life. I’m moving to Los Angeles to become an actor. I’m getting an agent and going for it. Reaching this decision wasn’t easy.

Over the past four years, I’ve enjoyed rich academic study abroad courses in India, Jamaica and London. I was a tutor in the Writing Center for five semesters after absorbing what I learned in a mind-blowing class with English Professor Dr. Irene Williams. The trip to India, studying religious diversity, was the hardest trip I’ve ever done — I lost 15 pounds — but it was also one of most important. I learned that in every religion, there are contradictions and people who contradict every religion. I spent five weeks at the Daraja Academy, a young girls’ school in Kenya created by a USD alumnus. I took courses to become Catholic, getting confirmed in Founders Chapel.

But it’s theater that defines me. I was so sure that on the first day of freshman classes I declared it as my major. I was a dancing skeleton, a kalaka, in USD Professor Evelyn Diaz Cruz’s “Muertos” play my first semester. My sophomore year I played Schmendiman in “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” an idiot who comes in and makes people laugh for a few minutes.

When I didn’t get cast in the next play though, I kind of questioned my desire. I didn’t audition for anything in the fall of my junior year. I took a biology course during Intersession, the first time I hadn’t taken a trip anywhere in January. I contemplated just majoring in English, perhaps with a minor in theater arts, or adding sociology as a major.

What kept me on course was a slight change of scenery. I was asked to do a bit part as a door boy for a MFA program play. I had maybe eight lines, but it didn’t matter. It really showed me where I was at — and where I wanted to be.

I came back and auditioned for the fall undergraduate production of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.” Based on two characters in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” it was a play where the main characters are on stage the whole time. I got the part of Guildenstern. I was so happy.

I came back my senior year and because I’d racked up so many units, I learned I could graduate early. The Guildenstern role changed that. I took three classes and focused on the role. After a January trip to New Zealand, I auditioned for this spring’s “The Mail Order Bride,” and landed another solid role.

I think that to be a good actor, you need to have a good understanding of yourself, where you’re coming from, who you are. The reason I love acting, the reason I love theater and why I’ve stayed in it the whole time is that it ties so closely with the journey that is this life. You’re always trying to figure out, ‘Who am I? What makes me work the way that I do? Why are things this way?’

Theater arts always answered those questions for me.”

— Carr Cavender ’11, BA/BA 
Theatre Arts/English

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *