Carra studied biology at Harvard through 1931 and attended medical school in Rome. While at Harvard he directed plays for the drama club and went to Yale Drama school. Never an actor, he directed, wrote two plays, and helped author two textbooks on drama directing. He became a professor and head of Carnegie Mellon University's drama department. In the summers, Mr. Carra directed, and had a hand in resurrecting the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, becoming the festival's artistic director in 1966. There, he directed each of Shakespeare's 37 plays.