BANGS — Bangs High School theatre student Ray Vasquez runs the lights for the one act play “Blood Wedding,” which the cast and crew will perform in state UIL competition May 4.

Vasquez came up with a dessert analogy to describe the state contest.

“I picture being at state like, you’ve got a chocolate fudge cupcake — and that’s just being there,” Vasquez said. “And placing is the frosting on top of the cupcake. And then winning state is having that red shiny cherry on top.

“But even the chocolate fudge cupcake is still good.”

The Bangs production, under the direction of theatre teacher Billie Harvey, has advanced through several rounds of competition — zone, district, bi-district, area and regional — to make it to state competition in Round Rock.

This will be the fourth trip to state UIL competition for a Bangs High School production. Bangs’ last trip to state was in 2017, when six cast members of the current “Blood Wedding” production participated. Bangs’ production in 2017 was “The Balken Women” and netted a third-place finish.

“Blood Wedding” is a tragedy by Spanish dramatist Federico Garcia Lorca and written in 1932. The play — essentially about a woman and the two rival suitors who love her — was adapted by Nelly Cuellar-Garcia, who will be present to watch the Bangs cast perform in Round Rock.

After advancing through the previous competition levels, one might think they don’t need to practice any more before heading for state.

That’s a false assumption.

At a rehearsal in the high school auditorium one recent afternoon, cast members recited their dialogue with seeming perfection. Harvey worked the cast, stopping the action frequently to give critique and instructions.

After rehearsing several scenes, the students sat on the edge of the stage and talked — sometimes with introspection, sometimes with humor — about the play and their upcoming state competition.

“When you step into that character, she’s very torn,” Cyia Martinez said of her character, known only as Bride. “She’s the young woman who is being fought over by Carlos Perkins, Groom, and Brock Bettis, who plays the only character with an actual name — Leonardo.

Cast and crew members called out words, sometimes in unison, including “excited and “breathtaking” when asked about making it to state.

Yes, they’re nervous, and yes, they still have to work hard.

Is it work or fun? “Fun work,” a cast member answered.

Senior Erika Owen, who plays Mother, made the trip to state in 2017 as a sophomore.

The experience is “awesome” and “breathtaking,” Owen said — and it was tiring to be at the state competition in 2017. That day, the cast and crew had a 22-hour day when they performed “The Balken Women.”

“This is going to be a whole different ballgame for all of us, because (in 2017) we were all an ensemble,” Owen said. “None of us were the leads, really. It’s going to be different because we have a lot more leads and we have a lot more pressure than we did my sophomore year.”

Owen’s Mother character has a son, played by Carlos Perkins and identified as Groom.

“You embody that whole character so you kind of forget what else is going on, and you’re just focusing on that scene,” Owen said. “As a teenager, we’re all friends and then I get into a scene where I’m with my son. I actually feel like I’m a mother to him.

“It’s hard to show age because you have to walk a little bit different to show that you’re a little bit older. I put a rock in my shoe to walk different.”

Owen said she has to lower her voice to play the Mother character. “I love doing these scenes with my son,” Owen said.

Bettis added, “on stage and off stage, you’re that character.”

Bettis also competed at state in 2017. “The first time I went was obviously a very scary experience, but I had some leaders who helped me through the experience,” Bettis said.

“Now that I’m a leader, it’s more of a rush. It’s a very scary experience but it’s amazing to go to state. It’s awesome.”

Junior Corbin Freeland plays Father.

“I’m anticipating for it to be a very difficult journey,” Freeland said. “We’re very blessed to have gotten as far as we have. We’ve all worked for it. We’ve worked real hard.”

Junior Trenedi Deal, who plays Neighbor, is another cast member who competed at state in 2017. Deal’s older sister, Kenedi, was also in “The Balken Women” production.

“I was kind of watching her and seeing how she handled it,” Deal said of her sister. “And now that I’m going with more of my friends that I’ve known for a long time, I think it makes the experience even greater because I’ve grown up with all these people and we get to share this experience together. I think it will be a lot of fun.”

Junior Solis, who plays “Moon” in the play, was also a member of the 2017 production. “I went to state my freshman year and it was an amazing, fun experience and a journey,” Solis said.

“This year I feel like we wanted it so much, we fought for it so much, and we helped each other and pushed each other to our limits. I’m just so excited to go to state with these people so they can experience what I experienced my freshman year.”

Solis said the theatre students enjoy coming to rehearsals. “We never want to leave. We make her stay,” Solis said, referring to Harvey.

“The Balken Women” cast member Bristan Lawrence, who plays “Servant” in “Blood Wedding,” said, “I think the best way I can describe it is, five parts panic, a hundred percent overjoy. The first year I went, I didn’t really know anyone as a freshman and I didn’t really talk to anyone.

“And from them, just hearing about it constantly — now, (“The Blood Wedding cast) gets to see it and know how much fun and work goes into it.”

Jayce Thedford, who plays two characters — “Cousin” and “Fate” — said this is his first year at Bangs High School. “They kind of just invited me in,” Thedford said of the theatre students. “I’ve always loved theatre, but coming to Bangs and being part of this crew, and these friends, it enhanced that love for theatre that I now have.

“I’m just super thankful that they’ve allowed me to journey with them to state, because they would tell me about it, and I said ‘man, that sounds so fun and awesome,’ and now I’m ready to experience it.”