Jessica Bogart Departs Masters, Leaving Students With Newfound Confidence

Annie Rubinson, Blogger

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As an educator in the theatre world, Jessica Bogart frames her teaching style as ‘leap and the net will appear,’ a philosophy she hopes encourages her students to take risks and make new discoveries about themselves. “I feel the most proud when I watch a student make a daring choice, accomplishing something that they did not know they were capable of,” she said. It is those ideals, according to her many students and cast members, that make Bogart an excellent contribution to the Department of Performing Arts. And it is also for those reasons that the Masters community is devastated to see her go.

“As soon as I came to visit Masters, I knew it was a place where I’d love to begin my career as a teacher,” Bogart said, describing her earliest impressions of the school. After working as an actor and director both on Broadway and in regional theatre, Bogart decided to explore theatrical education when her children became old enough to attend school. Eventually–through a mutual friend of Chris Briante, director of Drama at Masters–she connected deeply with the Masters campus, and became involved with teaching Musical Theatre Workshop, Public Speaking, Middle School Drama and Dance Technique classes, and directing various Middle and Upper School Productions.

“Directing Spring Awakening was a highlight, as far as life moments go,” Bogart said, reflecting upon her fondest memories Masters. She emphasized that this production was not only a powerful experience for audience members, exploring difficult themes and addressing contemporary issues, but also an incredibly emotional and meaningful period for the cast and crew: “Students expressed to me what that journey [of Spring Awakening] meant to them, and the gratitude they felt,” she said. “The way in which they articulated it to me was extremely moving, and I felt incredibly grateful.”

“She adds an insane amount of professionalism and optimism into the performing arts community,” Junior Leah Cunningham, cast member of Spring Awakening, said, describing her experiences working with Bogart on the production. “She just fills the room with her presence, and is such a good influence on the students.”

“I think that the only reason I am the performer I am today is because she has instilled so much confidence in me,” Ariana Copland, sophomore student of Bogart and cast member of Spring Awakening, said. “She brought out the inner performer that I’ve always had the potential to be, but was never able to unlock.”

Bogart shares her hopes for the future after her departure from Masters: “I’m looking forward to implementing what I’ve learned here into whatever it is I do next.” Although her exact path remains undecided, she hopes it will be a culmination of all of her theatrical experiences to this date; such as writing, directing, teaching and performing. Although she is excited for the new opportunities ahead, Bogart remains wistful about her exit from Masters. “The students have really made their way into my heart, and have been such great teachers to me,” she said. She said that she was especially impressed with her students’ hard work when her advisee, Sabian Grier, was elected Class President, and when the cast of Spring Awakening made the choice to dedicate their final performance to the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Click here to see the students’ dedication on their closing night.  

Bogart leaves one final piece of advice to all students: “The Department of Performing Arts at Masters is filled with some of the more magnificent people and artists I’ve worked with in my career. Don’t leave this magical place without working with as many of them as you can!”

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