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Best written reviews for “The Seagull Project” performed by Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, Virginia. Reviewed on May 15, 2021.

These three short videos may be watched at: 





Zander Kuebler                                                                                  

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


Estranged cousins, apparitions, dead seagulls, oh my! Bishop Ireton High School's production of "The Seagull Project" showcased nuanced acting and smooth technical elements across three quirky yet gripping short films.


"The Seagull Project" is a student-produced compilation of three films based loosely on Russian playwright Anton Chekov's "The Seagull." Despite drawing inspiration from the same pool of characters, relationships, and plots, Bishop Ireton High School created three completely unique short films, each written and directed by the students.


The first of the shorts, "The Homework Club," was a touching discovery of friendship in the style of the similarly named '80s classic film "The Breakfast Club." The second, "Apa," was a look within an unsatisfied worker who learns about life from an apparition. And the third, "The Dead Seagull," was a comedic love story where the two lovers connect with the help of a talking dead seagull.


"The Homework Club" started the production off with a bang, weaving a revelatory friendship story between countless '80s movie vibes, including voiceovers, over-the-top expressions, and even a dance break. The story followed a group of four students who were forced to work together on an extra credit project, two of whom, Simone, played by Sophia Webster, and Bridget, played by Hallie Crawford, were a pair of cousins who had grown apart. Webster and Crawford both used subtle acting choices to demonstrate the history between the two characters, ranging from avoiding eye contact at the beginning of the show to disgusted eye-rolls when their characters were most fed up with one another. Their gradual emotional build-up and release were true-to-character and not overly dramatic, making the rekindling of their relationship more believable and inspiring.


Following the touching finish to "The Homework Club" was the much more nuanced yet equally powerful "Apa," written, directed, filmed, edited, and acted entirely by Gabby Pamor. There wasn't much dialogue in "Apa," but it wasn't necessary, as Pamor differentiated her dual roles of Ryn, a busy woman, and Apa, a bouncy apparition, with distinct physical choices. For example, Pamor used straight posture and quick movements for Apa and slumped posture and dragged out movements for Ryn. Ultimately, Gabby Pamor highlighted a completely different view on "The Seagull" with her "one-man" show.


The third and final production was "Dead Seagull," written and directed by student Maya Andersen. In the film, two lovers rebuild their dying relationship after Constantine, played by Kip Sisel, brings Nina, played by Maya Andersen, an advice-giving dead seagull. The concept is absolutely outrageous but worked because of the unfaltering commitment of the actors. Both Sisel and Andersen showed no hesitation in talking their hearts out to the seagull carcass, getting emotional and passionate despite the absurd circumstances. Their dedication made the short unbearably funny, a lighter supplement to the emotionally taxing endings to the two other films.


What made these three different productions flow together were the near-seamless technical elements. The technicians of Bishop Ireton High School recognized that, being very character-focused, none of these films called for extreme technical choices. They kept their choices simple and effective. For example, the videography of all three films (in order of film: Cory Crawford, Gabby Pamor, and Grace Constantian) was impressive but not overpowering. The videographers used clever panning and mirror shots, as well as multiple angles for each scene, to keep the progression of each story from becoming too slow or stagnant.


Overall, Bishop Ireton High School's "The Seagull Project" cleverly used different perspectives on Chekov's infamous piece to showcase talented acting and clean technical elements.

Isabelle Anderson

Thomas A. Edison High School


"We're not hurting, we're living," an eloquent line spoken in Bishop Ireton High School's production "The Seagull Project," perfectly encapsulates the message of their work. Based on Anton Chekhov's play "The Seagull," this production was an entirely student-written and directed effort consisting of three scenes with distinct takes on their source material. The first,  "The Homework Club," follows four students stuck doing a group project who bond despite their differences. The second, "Apa," tells of a girl followed by an apparition that convinces her to improve her life. The third, "Dead Seagull," follows two teenagers navigating their feelings for each other through the medium of a seagull corpse. While these scenarios may seem entirely different, they all strike upon the aforementioned idea of pain simply being a part of life, showing audiences the difficulties of navigating our relationships and identity as we grow up.


With these three unique plot lines, the commitment of every actor in this production was crucial in bringing it to life. In "The Homework Club," all four actresses created distinct characters: Sophia Webster's soft-spoken character Simone contrasted Hallie Crawford's confident character Bridget, with Jasmine Williams's angst-ridden character Masha and Charlotte Benson's bubbly character Nina doing the same. Because each actress made their characters so different, their eventual bonding was heartwarming and satisfying. In "Apa," actress Gabby Pamor played both the downtrodden Ryn and optimistic Apa, giving the characters a juxtaposing dynamic that also made Ryn's eventual adoption of Apa's ideas heartwarming. Finally, in "Dead Seagull," actors Kip Sisel and Maya Andersen adopted a campy acting style, giving their characters Constantine and Nina dramatic reactions to the titular seagull corpse that made this already comedic scene even funnier.


Aside from the actors, the impressive cinematography of each scene also added to the audience's immersion in the production. In all three scenes, the shots were filmed with a clear intention to enhance audience understanding of each character's emotions. In "The Homework Club," Camera operators Hallie Crawford and Cory Crawford filmed a wonderful montage that showed the growing friendship between the characters as they ventured their town. In "Apa," Gabby Pamor's cinematography and editing made her two characters (both played by her!) appear together in the scene's final moments to share a glance that cemented Ryn's adoption of Apa's optimism. In "Dead Seagull," the close-up shots of the actors by cinematographer Grace Constantian emphasized their intense reactions to the seagull corpse, again adding to the comedy of this scene.


Of course, none of these acting and technical successes would be possible without the commendable student writing of these scenes. Olivia Dedham's writing in "The Homework Club" was insightful and heart wrenching, delivering lines such as "we push away our childhood so fast because we think it makes us better" that perfectly struck upon the struggles of growing up. Gabby Pamor's work on "Apa" involved minimal speaking, yet the plot of her scene was entirely distinguishable due to her precise emotional direction. Finally, Maya Andersen's writing in "Dead Seagull" took much inspiration from Chekhov's original text, leading to a hilarious delivery of formal lines that contrasted the scene's wacky plot.


The work of every student involved in "The Seagull Project" is evident in all three scenes, which, when viewed together, deliver three unique yet cohesive takes on their source material that perfectly encapsulate the struggles of adolescence. Whether it be reconnecting with childhood friends or finding love over a seagull corpse, Bishop Ireton's production invites laughs, tears, and contemplation all in under an hour.


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