No one is ever prepared to write their first review for The Cappies, a high school theater and journalism program that trains students to review school productions. Instead of being filled with opinions, my head was overflowing with uncertainty and questions: Where to start? Whom to mention? What to say? My doubts evolved into the conviction that I wasn’t a writer. During the past two years, this program has helped me overcome this doubt and create a foundation of confidence.
Bill Strauss and Judy Bowns founded our program after the Columbine tragedy to celebrate the unacknowledged talent in high-school theater. The top four reviews for each event are published in school or regional newspapers. This is an incredible confidence-booster. At the end of each year, the critics vote for the best actor, tech crew, musical, et cetera. In May, the theater community flaunts its spirit at a gala celebration. It’s difficult to describe the elation when big names gather to recognize the accomplishments of high-school thespians and writers.
Although I didn’t realize it at first, this program has developed my writing skills. By the end of my second year, I was quickly popping out ideas and reviews. This program has also opened my eyes to the incredible talent on high school stages. However, witnessing exceptional high-school productions is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the talent can improve future performances. Critics analyze aspects of a production. Applying these observations to my performance has improved my acting. On the other hand, it’s a huge reality-check. The extraordinary talent I’ve observed has dissolved my dream of surviving in the theatrical world. The realization that I cannot be the best in everything has forced me to focus on other strengths, including the fine arts and academics.
Sitting at my computer attempting to write my first review, I would never have guessed that The Cappies would be so life-changing. I have not only grown as a writer and performer, but I have matured into a young woman gaining confidence.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.