The Catholic University of America

April 20, 2015

Deceased Drama Professor Honored by the Kennedy Center

  Rosalind Flynn and Patrick Tuite, chair of the Department of Drama, hold a recent $10,000 award honoring longtime drama professor John Carr.

Longtime Catholic University drama professor John C. “Jack” Carr, who taught at CUA from 1965 to 1994, was recently honored posthumously with a Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award and a $10,000 grant that will go to the Department of Drama.

The Inspirational Teacher awards were created in honor of Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim to honor teachers who made an extraordinary impact on the lives of their students. Carr’s grant will benefit the drama department’s M.A. in Theatre Education program.

Carr was nominated for the award by Rosalind Flynn, head of the master’s program who earned her bachelor's degree from CUA in 1978.

"I was so thrilled about the Inspirational Teacher Award — both for the lasting honor for my teacher, mentor, and friend, Jack Carr, and for the award money that will benefit students in the Master of Arts in Theatre Education program,” said Flynn. “I am absolutely certain that Jack would be so pleased that his inspiration helped future theatre educators."

In addition to teaching at Catholic University, Carr was an alumnus who earned his M.F.A. in 1953 and a doctorate in education in 1965. Carr also taught for the University of Maryland and Prince George’s County public schools, served as a consultant to the Kennedy Center on arts and education programs, and wrote columns for the Los Angeles Drama-Logue and the Capital newspaper of Annapolis, Md. He passed away on Dec. 19, 1999.

Flynn first met Carr as an undergraduate when she signed up for his course, “The Teaching of Theatre.” In her essay nominating him for the Inspirational Teachers award, she compared his teaching style to the “Yes, and …” improvisational theatre technique in which an actor is presented with an idea and builds upon it to further the action.

“Everything he offered in that class about being a teacher was something that I believed in at my core; he gave it the words and the ways,” Flynn said.

Later that year, Carr offered Flynn a position in the University’s Summer High School Drama Institute. When she said she didn’t feel ready, he responded simply: “Nonsense. Of course you are.”

In the years to follow, Carr continued to guide Flynn in her career. He edited her 290-page dissertation and recommended her for teaching positions or lecture opportunities whenever he could. When he retired, he recommended that Flynn take over his classes.

“Each offer would catch me by surprise, but if I ever expressed concern about being prepared for the opportunity, he’d always repeat what he said back in 1977: ‘Nonsense. of course you are,’” Flynn said. “I hope I’ve played my part and embodied the ‘Yes, and …’ approach to his offers, adding to them and making new offers to my own students.”

Carr was one of 13 honorees selected by the Kennedy Center this year. All award recipients are showcased, along with the people they inspired, on the Kennedy Center website at




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