Larsen shares her love of theater


Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Dr. Dawn Larsen rehearses with students for the upcoming FMU theatre production “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” in the Hyman Fine Arts Center.

Rachel Baggett, Staff Writer

Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Dr. Dawn Larsen not only teaches the students at Francis Marion University about writing, acting and directing plays, she has been immersed in these arts since birth.

Larsen’s career in the arts did not come as a surprise because she grew up in a family full of directors and actors. Her first ever performance on the stage was at the age of two in one of her mother’s plays, and she has kept acting ever since. Along with plays, Larsen has also appeared in commercials and several independent films.

Besides acting, Larsen also explored the other side of the camera and took on directing. For the five years she has been at FMU, she has directed several plays, including “The Vagina Monologues,” which is performed every March to raise awareness of domestic violence.

“Whatever you are directing you interpret the script and in an educational instance you get to choose the script you want, and you choose the script that sort of speaks what you want to say to the world,” Larsen said. “You are shaping this whole thing to say something to the world.”

In 1997, Larsen became the owner and operator of a theater troupe called the Hard Corn Players. Much like the traveling troupes of actors in the early 1900s, the Hard Corn Players would travel around to different states and perform plays for the local residents.

During the 10 years that she was the operator of the troupe, Larsen wrote several of the plays that the troupe would perform which are referred to as a Toby. The Toby they most frequently performed of hers was “How Now White Cow or You Can Put Your Shoes In The Oven But That Don’t Make Them Biscuits, A Toby Show.”

After quitting performing full-time to start a family, Larsen began teaching because she liked studying play history and teaching people what she had learned from experiences. Some of the classes she teaches include Script Analysis and Theatre History.

Outside of classes and the world of theater, Larsen said she also really enjoys the outdoors. Some of her favorite outdoor activities include camping or kayaking.

It was this love of the outdoors that drew her to the week-long art event, Burning Man, which is held in a desert in Nevada. Larsen found the event so rewarding that she goes back to the event each year and selects several junior or senior students from the Fine Arts department to go with her.

“That experience, for all the students I’ve taken, has absolutely changed their lives,” Larsen said. “You’ve got to get out into the world and experience the world, and it lets them do that. It’s an amazing experience for them and for me.”

Larsen said that she would like to go back to acting full-time one day, but in the meantime she is enjoying teaching at FMU. When asked what she her favorite part of the university was, she said she really liked the size of the university allowed her to get to know her students.

“I like the fact that in the major classes that I’m teaching there are about 15 students and that I know every one of them and we have a real personal relationship, “Larsen said. “In a bigger university . . . you never really get to know those students or mentor them, and I’m just really fortunate to have had a lot of really great mentors along my way. Those people really shaped who I am, and I hope that I can do that for the students here as well.”