Senior theater major Erika Walker discovered a love for theater late into her highschool career. “I never went into theater until my junior year of high school, which is unlike a lot of other theater students here,” Walker said. “Because a lot of people have had theater experience growing up or in community theater, but I never did that when I was younger.” Although she did not officially begin performing on stage until high school, Walker did perform for her family when she was younger. “I would do little shows and sing Disney songs in my living room growing up,” Walker said.
Walker said that starting theater in high school is different from most theater students, who start very young. “I was always very theatrical with my actions and behaviors and my physicality as a kid,” Walker said.
Walker added that most of what she learned about acting was from attending Keene State. Her first Theater and Dance (TAD) production was William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” as a first-year student, which she described as the “perfect starting point,” and went on to say, “his words are essentially music.”
Walker described the bond that she has with theater department chair Kirstin O’Brien as getting “closer and closer.” O’Brien and Walker first worked together during TAD’s production of “A Year With Frog and Toad” in the spring of 2020.
“[Walker] brought out an energy that I don’t think most people naturally have. Her energy is very very contagious,” O’Brien said. O’Brien described Walker as getting more confident as an actress and as a student. “She is very dedicated,” O’Brien said. “She asks beautiful questions and that’s one of my favorite things as a professor and a director, is if you are not afraid to ask a question. It means that you care.”
Walker said that O’Brien has been there for her and drives her to do her best.
“Kirstin has changed my life around honestly. She’s been my motivator the past three years that I have been here. Ever since I was a freshman. She has provided such guidance and preparation for life after college,” Walker said. “She’s made me think so much and she’s made me feel so much with my heart mostly. And she’s been the person driving me to do my best everyday, whether it be acting or just everyday stuff.” Walker and O’Brien are currently working together for “Fun Home,” a musical adaptation of the graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel. The performance follows Alison Bechdel’s childhood relationship with her father and her experience with coming out. Walker is set to play Joan in the upcoming play. “I was excited to see it come to life and I think it’s really important for the world that we live in today,” Walker said.
Walker has appeared in a show almost every semester since her first year at Keene State. There was only one semester where she missed a show. “The only semester I have not been in a show since my freshman year was fall of 2020, the first semester post COVID-19. It was one of the darkest semesters I had because I was not involved with a show. Everything felt very grim,” Walker said.
Post-graduation, Walker said that she is aiming to obtain roles in films. “I really want to act in film a lot. I want to get more into film rather than stick with theater. I feel like having learned theater and having done theater for the past four years, I feel like I’m ready for that transition into film acting,” Walker said.
Nicholas Brazil can be contacted at