Play reviews printed in Montgomery section of newspaper
Seniors Elizabeth Albert and Anuja Shah were both published in Montgomery Extra section of The Washington Post yesterday, Nov. 17, for their reviews of Winston Churchill High School's performance of "West Side Story."
Albert and Shah are part of the Critics and Awards Program (Cappies), a program devoted to the coverage of high school theater. Founded in Northern Virginia by Bill Strauss in 1999, the program develops its members into theater critics through seminars at local newspapers. Each participating school chooses one production for critical review. Theater directors and faculty mentors then organize discussions among the student critics, edit the reviews and submit them to local newspapers, which commit to publish the best ones.
As part of the program, Shah and Albert were required to attend a seminar at The Post to learn the subtleties of theater reviews. Shah said that these sessions aided her in writing her review. "[The seminars] really helped because I knew the guidelines well," she said.
Blair's first year in the program is off to a promising start. The reviews of Churchill's production of "Westside Story" were both Albert and Shah's first. Albert said that being in the Cappies program has been a new and entertaining experience for her. "It's a really cool concept," she said. "I like the idea of getting high school theater similar attention to high school sports and working on your writing at the same time."
Part of the Cappies mission statement is "to enhance, celebrate and add excitement to high school theater across America." Blair technology teacher and stage crew chief, John Kaluta, heads the Cappies program at Blair, and it was through his urging that Albert and Shah entered the program.
Although the program satisfied their desire to draw attention to high school theater and become better writers, Shah and Albert both agreed that the Cappies program does have a downside. "It's students critiquing other students and that can get a little touchy," Albert said. "You can't write anything negative and if you do it has to be general. It's hard to convey how you actually felt about the production because you can't go to any extremes."
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