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FOCUS ON 21st CENTURY LEARNING

The Cappies is a writing and awards program that trains high school theatre and journalism students to be expert writers, critical thinkers, and leaders. Student critics vie to be published in local media outlets by attending productions at other schools and writing critical reviews.

THROUGH THE CAPPIES

Theatre and journalism students are trained as critics and attend each others shows. Cappies students discuss and learn about theatre production. Throughout the year, newspapers publish the reviews with the students' bylines. At the end of the year, Cappies student critics decide who among their peer performers and technicians should be recognized for awards at the end of the season with glamour and excitement.

HOW IT ALL WORKS

Each participating school selects a show to be attended, and also forms a team of 3 to 9 student critics and 2 adult volunteers in the fall. Shows may have between 20 and 90 critics in attendance. Critic teams and mentors gather in a private discussion room to perform pre, mid, and post show discussions. The technical and performance aspects of the show are discussed with provided documentation from the host school.

After each show, with adult oversight, the mentors and program director select the best written reviews to be sent to local press outlets. All the reviews are also sent back to the performing school.

At the end of the season, a Tonys-like celebration occurs, where all nominated shows perform a cutting or the critics' choice song, and the final Cappies awards are presented with a trophy by regional critics and peers.

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14Nov

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, Arlington, Virginia, November 9, 2019

Maddy Rubin

Langley High School

 

"Groovy" is not a word normally associated with Shakespeare, but HB Woodlawn's re-imagining of A Midsummer Night's Dream evokes images of the bard in bell bottoms. One of William Shakespeare's most popular works, A Midsummer Night's Dream has been delighting audiences since the 1590s, and HB Woodlawn's production is no exception.

 

A Midsummer Night's Dream follows two pairs of young lovers into the woods, where they are led astray by the hijinks of the fairy king Oberon (Beth Fleming). As they make their way through the forest of neon trees, a miscommunication between Oberon and his companion leads to a love spell forcing both gentlemen to fall in love with a single girl and compete for her affection. The puppet-master of this calamity is the mischievous fairy Puck, played by Leah Hall. Hall's expert portrayal of the impish forest spirit had the audience in stitches as she gallivanted across the stage, wreaking havoc on the lives of the four young lovers.

 

An additional plot line is that of the Mechanicals, a troupe of actors who venture into the woods to rehearse for their production of Pyramus and Thisbe. Begrudgingly led by the self-absorbed actor Nick Bottom, played by Lex Garcia, the Mechanicals find themselves at the mercy of Puck, who transforms Nick Bottom's head into that of an ass. Garcia's portrayal of the outlandish actor was spot on, and he wasn't afraid to make an ‘ass' of himself- both figuratively and literally. In addition to his excellent comedic timing, Garcia also demonstrated a profound understanding of the bard's language and brought the text to life with his humorous physicality. The final act of the show, which consists of the Mechanical's production of Pyramus and Thisbe, was met with near constant laughter. Notable performances include the role of the wall, played by Eva Turner, who garnered attention with her over-the-top stage presence.

 

Aiding the performances of the cast was the engaging and imaginative blocking, which utilized every inch of the black box theater. Directed by Caroline Alpi, the production took pride in turning Shakespeare on its head for a modern era. Swords were replaced by lightsabers, the moon by a disco ball. This was aided by an innovative sound design (Mary Katherine Musick, Cameron Davis) that features the greatest hits of the seventies, including a notable rendition of "Dancing Queen" by the fairy court. The costumes, designed by Thomas Granger and Katie Rau, further transport the storyline away from Athens, and into the era of groovy bell bottoms and polyester suits.

 

Intimate and interactive, HB Woodlawn's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream is a seventies fever dream come to life, and a dream you'll never want to wake up from.


Grace Hodges

Teen Theatre Company

 

Lovers whisked away from the warmth of their embrace, hopeless actors who may never see their hard work materialize, and a troupe of fairies blissfully performing Dancing Queen? This isn't your grandmother's Romeo and Juliet; this is HB Woodlawn Secondary Program's hilarious and witty portrayal of A Midsummer Night's Dream!

 

A whimsical comedy performed by millions; A Midsummer Night's Dream was penned by renowned poet William Shakespeare in 1595/96. The events follow the escape of four desperate Athenian lovers, the shenanigans of six riotous actors (the mechanicals), and the mischievous actions of the magical sprite Puck. One may shiver at the thought of having to perform Shakespearean lines in front of an audience, but instead of seeing it as a disadvantage, the actors of HB Woodlawn Secondary Program used their emphasized physicality and vivid interactions to keep the audience fully engaged during the Shakespearean lines and plot, never allowing a single moment to be dull.

 

Gripping the audience's attention from her first appearance to final bow, Leah Hall superbly executed the role of the high-spirited and sly sprite Puck. With hilariously exaggerated facial expressions of confusion and satisfaction, heightened by skillful acting and high levels of energy, Hall evoked a powerful feeling of child-like wonder inside the hearts of the audiences.

 

Strutting onto the stage as the determined yet slightly dim-witted Helena, Vivienne Blouin impressively delivered every bit of energy she held into her difficult lines, never confusing the audience as to what mattered the most to her- winning back her one and only love. Blouin showcased tremendous range of emotions, always surprising the audience as to what side of her they would see next.

 

Of course, the show would not have been completed had it not been for the uproarious Lex Garcia, who stole the show as the spotlight-hungry and quick-witted Nick Bottom. Using his stomping feet, exaggerated bouncing movements, and booming voice to prove his point, Garcia harnessed remarkable comedic timing that had the audience's sides splitting throughout the entire show.

 

Though her role as a wall was limited to the end of the comedy, Eva Turner's portrayal of Snout the Tinker left the final moments of the performance hysterically engraved into the audience's memories. With her (not-so-secret) winks to the audience and comically seductive delivery of her lines, Turner harnessed her role as an inanimate object and manifested it into an object that had the audience grinning ear to ear. Though only performing a handful of lines, Wes Riggs impeccably transpired the warmhearted yet slightly controlling Egeus with the little bit of time that was available. With humorously animated expressions and movements (including a tear-jerking meltdown on stage), Riggs proved to the audience that no role is too small to show the world what you've got!

 

Behind the whimsical story telling stands the outstanding production crew that pieced their unique talents together. Utilizing the groovy 70s feel of the set with neon plaid wallpaper, while still possessing the enchanted feel of the mysterious forest with illuminating glow-in-the-dark trees, the set (Zoe Travers) and prop design crew (Mirek Jungr, Amelia Myers, and Lily Shirley) were consistent with Shakespeare's minimalistic style towards sets, while still being able to transport the audience into the dazzling world of the mystical forest.

 

As Puck bid adieu to the crowd, it was clear that no ruse or magical blossom was needed to make the audience fall deeply in love with the characters of HB Woodlawn Secondary Program's comedy, a Midsummer Night's Dream.

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