We are pleased to report that one of the most uplifting nights of the year in the Washington, D.C. metro area came off flawlessly Sunday night, as the 13th annual Cappies Gala at the Kennedy Center honored hundreds of high school theater performers, crew, mentors and peer critics for their amazing work during the past school year.
It is hard to imagine anything that could surpass an event like this for stirring the soul to a refreshed confidence in the future of our species. For those unaware, the Cappies program has evolved over more than a decade to recognize and elevate the theater arts in area high schools. It is organized to train student critics who write reviews of school plays and musicals which are published in a number of places (including in the News-Press for the schools in our distribution area).
The reviews call the general public’s attention to, and help to hone the skills of the theater arts programs. The critics improve their writing and critical skills, and everyone involved benefits. The bottom line is that high school theater arts get more of the attention they deserve, attention too often, frankly, restricted to sports.
But while sports can be credited with building character, they are much more a form of inoculation into a militaristic, war-like culture. As intense as they can be in a youth’s early years, they seldom continue for any but a tiny fraction beyond high school, and the demands they make on anyone trying to succeed at the college level or beyond are so extreme as to seriously call into question their worth (except to the institutions that profit from them).
On the other hand, theater and related music and arts programs develop skills that last a lifetime, empowering those who cultivate them to lighten the hearts and inspire the spirits of people of all ages and cultures for as long as one desires to go on. They are not inoculation into the prevailing culture, but often are its poignant critics providing riveting and conscience-grabbing exposes of injustice and insensitivity, and on behalf of respect for and the beauty of all human creatures.
So, hail the Cappies! The winners are listed on their website, and there were plenty from around here. McLean High’s production of Arthur Miller’s unrelenting “A View from the Bridge” was a favorite. Plays like that were matched by other dramatic cultural critiques, including George Mason High’s “The Elephant Man,” Robert E. Lee’s “The Laramie Project,” Walt Whitman’s “Frankenstein,” Washington-Lee’s and Langley’s “The Crucible,” Woodbridge’s “The Miracle Worker,” Hayfield’s “The Children’s Hour,” Georgetown Prep’s “Farenheit 451,” and Chantilly’s “I Remember Mama,” and West Potomac’s “Inherit the Wind.”
Then there were the amazing, happy musicals with some remarkable production numbers, many performed last Sunday night. Westfield High’s “Crazy for You” was the big winner. But, actually, the biggest winners were all of us.