Student directors produce profound final farewells

The Concordia Courier


By Madison Zuniga | 4/21/2023


The Theatre Department invites you to attend the joint showings of two one-act plays directed by graduating seniors Ashlyn Laning and Desiree Sarkis. By addressing gender roles and feminism and exploring the dark reaches of Hell in their productions, they provide a powerful conclusion to the 2022-2023 Theatre catalog at Concordia.

Sarkis, a double major in Theatre and English, leads the production of Susan Glaspell’s

“Trifles,” originally performed in 1916. Detailing the investigation of a murder through the

eyes of midwestern housewives, “Trifles” exhibits an important perspective from the first-

wave feminist movement. “A major challenge was trying to find a well-written one

act/short play that supported the number of actors and resources we had available,” said

Sarkis, “We searched through many, and I’m excited to share ‘Trifles’ with audiences!”

Laning, a Theatre major with an emphasis in technical design and production, directs “No

Exit” by philosopher and novelist Jean-Paul Sartre. The classic existentialist work debuted

in 1944, and Laning brings it to life at Concordia. “The process of directing this play started

months ago,” she said, “In December, I read ‘No Exit’ and immediately was excited to share

this with audiences.”

Theatre Professor Tony Vezner commented on Laning and her contributions. “Ashlyn is a bright and creative person. She has worked in almost every area of theatre design and technical

theatre and it is great to see her branch out into directing where her artistic instincts have

served her very well.” Vezner cautioned that “No Exit” is a play intended for mature

audiences, but affirmed that it would be “a thought-provoking production.”

Laning described months of research on the play, playwright and time period. “Each day in

rehearsal, and each week in our production meeting, I could see the growth towards the

final product…I love getting to watch the bigger picture become clear. It is so rewarding to

get to watch fellow peers, creatives and friends make discoveries. That is why my love for

stage management and directing has brought such joy into my life.”

Concordia’s Theatre Department provided both Laning and Sarkis with important

opportunities and experiences during their time here. “I came to Concordia with the goal of

learning to direct,” said Sarkis. “I am inspired by the ability to tell a story, one I relate to or

one who belongs to someone completely different, to share something with an audience

that maybe they’ve never seen, heard or felt before. I love how our Theatre Department

uses several different directors, so I was exposed to many styles and approaches to

the process.”

“Getting to work so closely with all of the staff and faculty has taught me so much inside

and outside of the classroom,” said Laning. “The amazing collaboration between the

production team, cast, and crew was a great place to foster creativity and really showcase

our love for the craft. I am so grateful that we not only get to have a deep connection with

our Theatre faculty here at CUI, but also get to learn from outside professionals.”

As graduating seniors, Laning and Sarkis are both preparing to enter their professional

careers. “My current plan is to go back to working in Entertainment at Disneyland while I

find plays and theaters to intern/assistant direct at in the OC/SoCal area,” said Sarkis. “But

who knows what will happen! This field is unpredictable.”

“I am excited to continue working as a Stage Manager and Sound Board Operator/Designer

in Orange County or at home in Las Vegas,” said Laning. “There are so many exciting

opportunities ahead and I am so excited to see where the industry will take me.”

Opening night will be on Thurs., April 27 at 7:30 p.m., with three subsequent

performances the following Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Concordia students receive free

tickets with the promo code CUISTU. Add a thought-provoking event to your Friday evening

plans, or enjoy a 2 p.m. matinee on the weekend!

For more information about Concordia’s Theatre program, visit the Theatre page on

Concordia’s website, or contact Department Chair Lori Siekmann at




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