Student draws on troubled past as lead role in Carrie the Musical
The pain and humiliation that victims of bullying are subjected to every single day is something that theatre senior Caitlin Dunlap knows all too well.
Standing center stage as she takes on the role of Carrie in the MSU Theatre Department’s production of Carrie the Musical, Dunlap connects with her character as she recalls past experiences of being bullied throughout middle school.
“I have never played a character that I have understood so fully before,” Dunlap said. “I just trust myself so fully with this role and I never have any doubts.”
As a result of the Guest Artist Initiative presented by the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Dunlap is among the MSU theatre students who has collaborated with Artistic Director of New York Theatre Barn Joe Barros. As the guest director and choreographer for this production, Barros said the musical is very ambitious because it focuses on human relationships and the consequences of bullying.
“Rather than being a supernatural horror story about a girl who has magic powers and kills people, Carrie is a cautionary tale about a girl who was pushed past her boiling point because she is teased and bullied,” Barros said.
Carrie’s destructive behavior results from the humiliation she experiences among her peers and Barros said the show is designed to remind the audience of modern-day tragedies that stemmed from harassment and bullying.
“It’s not that different from what happened in Columbine or Virginia Tech or any recent school shootings. While Carrie has superpowers, those superpowers parallel to the guns and weapons that people bring to school as a result of the bullying they receive,” he said.
Barros said the production raises the question, “what does it cost to be kind?”
“Ultimately, the message is that we can make the world a better place if we acknowledge people and treat them with respect,” he said. “It’s just so much easier to be nice.”
As Dunlap is able to relate to Carrie so well, she said she hopes that her performance will help the audience understand how their actions can impact the lives of others.
“I really want to make Carrie a sympathetic character and have the audience identify with her,” Dunlap said. " I’m hoping that people will watch this performance and realize that we are all part of the problem.”
Carrie will play at Wharton Center Oct. 10-19.