Reading Native Zara Makes NYC Theater Debut as Lady Bracknell in “Earnest”



New York, NY: New York-based Filipino-American actress René Zara is making her Off-Off Broadway debut this month, starring as Lady Augusta Bracknell in Oscar Wilde’s rollicking comedy The Importance of Being Earnest directed by Janani Sreenivasan playing from October 19-28, 2023 at Under St. Marks Theater in New York City.

René Zara stars as Lady Bracknell in The Importance Of Being Earnest at Under St. Marks Theater, NYC Oct 19-28 PHOTO: THEGINGERB3ARDMEN

The Importance of Being Earnest stands today as perhaps “the most perfect comedy in the English language.” (London Telegraph) Wilde’s madcap farce is populated by eccentric, over-the-top characters entwined in ridiculously precarious social situations. Most formidable amongst these characters is Lady Bracknell, played in this production by Filipino-American Zara. Bracknell rules over the plot, imposing her Victorian upper-class beliefs on the young lovers in the play, standing solely in the way of their happiness.
While Bracknell is typically cast in film and on stage as a grandiose “gorgon” of a dowager, director Sreenivasan wanted to go in a different direction. She was thrilled to receive an audition from Zara, a 5’2″ film and stage actress who in her demeanor and vivacity helped the director reimagine Lady Bracknell as “Napoleon with a parasol.” 
“Her audition was hilarious – and immediately I began seeing the role in a different light.’ says Sreenivasan, “She showed us this incredible energy, mastery of the language, and the power that is needed in the role – and it was so exciting that all of this came in the form of an actress with Asian heritage who shares certain key experiences with me.”

Xander Jackson as Jack Worthing and René Zara as Lady Bracknell and Sunita Deshpande as Gwendolen Fairfax in The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, directed by Janani Sreenivasan, October 19-28, 2023 at Under St. Marks Theater, 94 St. Marks Place, NY, NY. PHOTO: Nathan Ma

Zara was thrilled to be cast as Lady Bracknell, “I’m incredibly grateful to Janani for the opportunity to play this iconic role,” states Zara, saying, “This is not a case of my being asked to just portray a stock character, but to interpret this role through my own experiences as the daughter of an Asian mother and as someone who has lived with a dual cultural identity. That type of opportunity to bring my own truth to a role is truly unique.”
Director Sreenivasan explains, “It was incredibly important for me to create an accurate representation of the population of New York as I see it every day within this cast. I wanted a production that imagined these classic characters across a range of different backgrounds and identities. And I couldn’t be more pleased with how each and every cast member, no matter their origin, is bringing their own experiences to these roles.”
Ms. Zara also points out that the play being staged during the month of October is also significant as it coincides with Filipino American History Month, a monthlong commemoration of the Filipino experience in America.
“My mother originally hails from the Panay island of the Philippines and it is such a joy to represent and carry on that heritage every day, “ Zara says, adding, “and to find myself among such a beautifully diverse cast and crew is just a delight.”
Raised in a supportive family of performers in the Boston suburb of Reading, MA, René started her stage career at the early age of 8. Zara’s father, Gil Bergeron, was an exceptional pianist and her mother, Rebecca, always encouraged her daughter’s talents for performing. Zara says of her vocal talents, “I was always convinced that my pipes came from my mother’s side of the family—” adding with a laugh, “we Filipinos know how to belt!”
A lifelong stage actor René Zara has appeared in productions of Bye, Bye, Birdie, Noises OffPeter PanNunsense! and Ruthless! The Musical. Zara’s film career began in 2017 when she was cast in her first leading role in the award-winning short NamasteIn 2020, René launched her own production company, Tiny Frog Productions, under which banner she wrote, scored, directed, and played the title role in the award-winning short film, Mrs. Osbourne.

René Zara as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, directed by Janani Sreenivasan, October 19-28, 2023 at Under St. Marks Theater, 94 St. Marks Place, NY, NY. PHOTO: Nathan Ma

Zara is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA* and has appeared in numerous film, commercial and TV projects. She appears in an upcoming feature film opposite Kevin James directed by critically acclaimed filmmakers The Kinnane Brothers. [*As a member of SAG-AFTRA, which has been on strike since July 14, 2023, René is not allowed to mention any past or future projects shot by AMPTP member studios by title.]
René is also a film score composer, vocalist, and songwriter, fronting the popular Boston-based band, Bed By Nine. Growing up in a family of musicians, René quickly became a multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, piano, and percussion. In 2010, she had the opportunity to work with Grammy-award-winning musician Imogen Heap, culminating in a performance alongside her at London’s Royal Albert Hall of Zara’s choral arrangement of Heap’s hit song “Hide and Seek.” Her arrangement continues to be featured in the West End, Broadway, and touring productions of the Olivier and Tony award-winning play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. René’s work can be found online at

Performance Details
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, directed by Janani Sreenivasan, October 19-28, 2023 at Under St. Marks Theater, 94 St. Marks Place, NY, NY 10009. Live streaming Oct 21 and 27, 2023. For tickets or more info:

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