Student directed ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ hits the stage

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Laughter filled the studio theater Thursday night as the audience was treated to a performance of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest,” directed by Carlmont seniors Tessa Bagby and Jasmine Zang.

This is the sixth student-directed play in the past seven years and the second Carlmont drama production of the year.

“I’m thoroughly impressed with them,” said drama teacher Nancy Martin. “The fact that they took on such an ambitious production without much parent involvement is exceptional. Not only are they two of the best actors I’ve ever had, they’re also two of the best directors I’ve ever had.”

Although auditions were called in January, Zang and Bagby have known each other for much longer.

“Jasmine Zang is one of my best friends in the entire world,” Bagby said. “I’ve known her since sixth grade; we’ve known we worked well together since eighth grade. We became really close friends 10th grade, and now in 12th grade, we’re co-directing ‘The Importance Being Earnest.’”

Bagby and Zang were in Carlmont drama all four years they were in high school. Both knew they wanted to direct together, even going as far as to plan to direct in 11th grade, which later was moved up to 12th grade.

“While I haven’t agreed with her on every decision regarding the show, we’ve always found a way work it out,” Zang said.  “At the end of the day, there is no one I’d rather direct with.”

According to Bagby, in addition to showing up to rehearsal for 8 hours a week minimum, they also were heavily involved in the logistical aspects of the production.

“We’re coordinating every aspect of the show which I found fun,” Bagby said. “However we are still students, so we have to do homework, extracurriculars, college applications, and family, on top of directing and producing. There are points where I just wanted to focus all my energy on the show, but it is important to maintain a balance.”

Zang and Bagby weren’t the only ones working hard, the actors had to put in time and effort as well.

“The rehearsal process was very fun; we were able to try out various different things and they would give you specific criticisms and suggestions, which I think helped us as a cast,” Carrie Welter, a senior who performed Cecily Cardew. “The material allows a lot of room for interpretation and using the language in your own unique way.”

Many participants in the production felt that is was a valuable and fun experience.

“Being in a small cast, we are all a lot closer, which makes everything easier,” sophomore Layla Zipkin who performing as Lady Prism said. “It has been a friendly environment to work in and just a lot of fun.”

The production was warmly received by audience members, as evidenced by the laughter that complimented the play.

“It’s really well done,” said “Wedding Singer” director Stephanie Wozniak. “The jokes were well executed, they understood the material, and on top of that, the performances were great.”

Being Carlmont seniors, both Zang and Bagby will be leaving Carlmont and heading off to college where both will continue to study theater.

“I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that I’m doing theater with my life,” Bagby said. “I’ve been trying to convince myself that I have other interests that are more lucrative but, to be completely honest, I don’t.”

Tickets are still available through Sunday. Student tickets are $12; adult tickets are $15. They are sold at the door or online at www.carlmontperformingarts.com.

“This whole process has been stressful, but the good has very much outweighed the bad,” Zang said. “There is no doubt in my mind that I would love to do this again.”

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