Featured Faculty
CofC Home Page The Students Special Thanks Feedback
Focus on the Faculty News Release Focus on the Faculty Flyer

Highlighting the Research and Expertise of College of Charleston Professors

Professor Patrick Harwood
Department of Communication


Professor Laura Turner

Professor Laura Turner

Theatre Professor Helps Us Find Our Inner Child
By Alison Mays

If you would have asked Laura Manning Turner as a child what she wanted to be when she grew up she might have answered "a vet." But she soon discovered the joy music and theatre brought to her life. At the age of 6, Turner began playing the piano and by middle school turned it into a profession.

In her first performance on stage, Turner was cast as the Wicked Witch in "The Wizard of Oz." After a tragic moment on stage when her fake nose fell off and stuck to Dorothy's shoe, Turner decided her role would be best played behind the scenes in the orchestra or writing and directing plays.

Luckily at the time of her debut performance, the theatre needed a pianist. Because Turner was the only one in the play who didn't have a solo she took on the role as the pianist for the play. At that point her music and theatre came together and she began working with local theatres around Charleston.

Her love for theatre at a young age helped Turner decide on the direction she wanted to go in life. After high school, Turner headed north to New York University where she earned her B.F.A in Dramatic Writing and a M.F.A in composition for Music Theatre.

After college Turner taught at the University of Northern Iowa, the Conservatory of Dance and Music in Connecticut, and also at the Russian Pedagogical University in St. Petersburg, Russia where she taught courses on American Theatre.

Being a native of Charleston, Turner thought it would be nice to return to her hometown and be closer to her family. At the College of Charleston Turner is now an Associate Professor of Theatre where her teaching specialty is Theatre for Youth.

In her beginning years at the college, Turner helped create the Theatre for Youth program which is a concentration within the theatre department. Today, she teaches many theatre education classes such as Children's Theatre, Creative Drama I and II, Creating Musical Theatre, and Introduction to Theatre.

Lately, Turner has been working with others in the department on starting a graduate program which will allow people to become certified to teach theatre.

Through the years Turner has written and directed several musicals for young audiences including "The Wizard of Wartville," "World Song" which won a national playwriting competition, "Glow: The Story of Marie Curie," and also "Mars Quest," "Stories from America" which she wrote with her Children's Theatre class, and also "Redcoats," her most recent play that she has written.

With every show Turner writes and directs she said she is able to expand her comfort zone with things she might not know. "The great thing about writing new plays is researching subject matter that you don't really know a lot about," Turner says.

For Turner, teaching has its ups and downs, but what keeps her coming back every day is being able to be around the people who are at some of the best times of their lives.

Turner says the college years are the time when students discover where they are going in life and by teaching you get to be a factor in what they choose to do in their life.

"I find it very rewarding to help someone discover what really makes them excited and finding what they want to do with the rest of their life," Turner says.

Turner's students say they enjoy coming to her class because she enjoys what she does and she is great at it as well.

"I love Laura," junior Gabe Wright says. "Every class with her is always different."

When Turner's not busy writing plays or grading papers, you can find her in her garden. She said when she's in her garden she is able to relax and do a lot of thinking. Now that her children are older they are starting to become very excited about gardening.

When asked what her greatest achievements are so far, Turner answered with a smile and said her two beautiful daughters, Eliza and Lindy.