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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.

21Nov

Best written reviews for “Argonautika: The Voyage of Jason and the Argonauts” performed by Annandale High School in Annandale, Virginia. Reviewed on November 19, 2022.

Riva Jain

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

 

Paintings of the goddesses Hera and Athena tower over a wooden ship. Full, heavy drumbeats echo against the walls. Solemn voices murmur the beginning of a centuries-old tale. Coming to life in the auditorium of Annandale High School is a spellbinding production of Argonautika: The Voyage of Jason and the Argonauts.

 

Penned by Mary Zimmerman, Argonautika premiered in 2006 at the Lookingglass Theater in Chicago, Illinois. Based on a Roman poem of the same name written in the third century BC, the show recounts the ancient story of Jason and the Golden Fleece, following Jason, the heir to the throne of Iolcos, and his crew of heroes as they brave the wrath of storms, monsters, and kings in their search for the Golden Fleece.

 

The cast maintained a rhythm throughout the production that lent it an epic-like feel. Whether pounding spears against the ground in unison, rapping during a roll call, or dancing through the story of the women of Lemnos with eerie synchronicity, actors carried a beat that allowed the show to maintain an intense energy, both in solemn and joyful moments.

 

Jessup Gravitt's Jason was a grounding force throughout the story as he resolved to find the Golden Fleece and encouraged his crew with clear diction and earnest passion. Gravitt's heartfelt portrayal made his shift to a flawed, tortured man in the ending scenes of the play emotionally impactful. Macy Best's Athena commanded the stage with a masterful use of focused, direct expression. Watching over the proceedings of the play with owl-like eyes and posing sarcastically in response to others' exclamations, Best moved with purpose and intent. Best also showed off incredible deadpan comedic ability, punching out sarcastic one-liners with skillful comedic timing.

 

Kaya Thomas's Medea stole the show. Thomas initially depicted Medea as a girl madly in love with Jason, giggling as she spun in circles. Thomas went on to show incredible range as she battled with the decision of whether to help Jason in his quest, pacing across the stage frantically. The tension in her portrayal of the role culminated in the final scenes of the play, where she collapsed to the ground, desperation in her eyes as she tried to rub away the bloodstains that were on her arms. Bilal Hammod Majzoub's portrayal of Hercules was full of charming swagger as he flexed his muscles in slow motion and blustered through introductions. However, when Hercules's companion Hylas (Adam Michelman) died, Majzoub brought to the stage a compelling depiction of grief as he stumbled from place to place, screaming his voice raw.

 

The lighting for the show, orchestrated by Sandy Rocha, Maple Shawish, Mikolai Crowl, and Nicholas Vargas, complemented and elevated the storytelling. The colors of the lighting changed to represent both the setting and tone of each scene, cycling between pinks to represent sunrises, deep blues for nighttime, and angry reds to show moments of tension. The costumes, designed by Phoenix Alvarado Diaz and Macy Best, were as symbolic as they were beautiful. The bloodstain on Medea's dress, which was initially heart-shaped to represent how it was made by an arrow of love striking Medea, slowly grew in size throughout the show as Medea was torn further and further apart by the choices she made for love.

 

Mystical, bold, and resonant, Annandale High School's production of Argonautika was full of heart, skill, and the magic of a well-told story, truly making it an unforgettable voyage.


Mira Singh

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

 

Two drums thundered out from the stage.  Spotlights tracked the cast as they marched through the aisles towards the set, where two golden goddesses, Hera and Athena, stood tall and regal. The opening scene of Annandale High School's production of Argonautika: The Voyage of Jason and the Argonauts started off as grand as the tale it told.

 

Premiering in 2006, Argonautika is adapted by Mary Zimmerman from the famous Greek myths, originally collected and combined by ancient Latin authors Gaius Valerius Flaccus and Apollonius Rhodius.  The story follows Jason and his crew aboard their boat, the Argo, as they set off on a quest to find the Golden Fleece.

 

Striking a perfect balance between humor and heartbreak, the cast of Argonautika showed incredible range. Jason's Argonaut crew started off with an excited, wonderfully chaotic rap-style roll call, with Bilal Hammod Majzoub's Hercules showing off his dumb yet hilarious personality.  Later on in the show, Majzoub's happy confidence skillfully turned into anguished cries as Hercules searched for his abducted friend. Kaya Thomas' Medea began the second act as a giddy young girl swept up in love, but quickly and expertly matured to become a broken-hearted, empty woman as she frantically but futilely scrambled to wipe love's blood off her once-pure white dress. Macy Best's Athena, who previously complained about the stupidity of love, ended up compassionately explaining to Nhi Nguyen's Hera how Medea's actions showed her human nature as they both put a fresh gown on Medea, restoring her purity in a sweet moment.

 

The entire cast of Argonautika paired their fantastic timing with amazingly expressive body language.  Best's Athena, standing sharp and straight, provided hilarious deadpan commentary.  Nguyen's Hera, in perfect contrast, moved as smoothly and gracefully as one would expect from the Queen of Heaven, charming the other characters with her charismatic front.  Timothy Hurd's King Pelias supported his humorous exclamations with equally funny jumps and dances.  Kathleen Tran's Rumor, though only onstage for a short while, stole the whole scene with her mischievous movements and cunning grin as she weaved her way around her castmates.

 

The cast's wonderful acting was brought together by equally strong technical elements.  Maple Shawish, Sandy Rocha, Nikolai Crowl, and Nicolas Vargas' changing colors of the cyclorama lights helped set the tone and timing of each scene:  creeping red emphasized the air of violence, swirling pink guided the atmosphere towards love, and shifting blues signaled the descent from day to night.  Phoenix Alvarado Diaz and Macy Best perfectly depicted the metaphorical blood on Medea's hands by having it progressively ooze from her chest onto her white dress, creating a strong visual of her ever-bleeding heart.

 

With stunning visuals and passionate acting, Annandale High School's production of Argonautika conveyed a wonderful picture of the dramas and tragedies of Ancient Greece.

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