As your school's Show Director, you are responsible for making sure your school follows the rules for your Cappies Show.
Please read (and, when requested respond to) Cappies emails.
Show Director Checklist
As you plan a Cappies Show, you may wish to keep handy the two-page "Show Director Checklist." A copy is provided in this Mentor Binder. This is especially helpful when you are doing this for the first time.
Selecting and Scheduling a Cappies Show
Depending on your Cappies program, your school will be allowed to have either one Cappies show (usually the case in large programs), or two Cappies shows (in smaller programs).
The show you select is up to you, within the limits set by the rules and the calendar set by your program. If your school does two major shows per year, and are in a program that allows only one of them to be a Cappies show, you will have to choose between them. Some schools select the major show of the year. Others select the show that includes the most students.
If another school in your program has a Cappies show the same as the one you wish to select (e.g., if you both are doing West Side Story), that is all right, but the critics from the two schools will not be allowed to review each others' shows
Your Cappies show must be at least 75 minutes long, of one scripted show -- or two scripted shows with a similar theme. (No festival of one-acts, please.) If the show you're planning to do is quite lengthy, you may need to set an early start time. Under the rules, if a show has final bows that start after 10:30 PM, it can be disqualified from some awards. (The goal is to enable student critics to have a good post-show discussion and return home by midnight.) It helps to have an intermission of 15 minutes or more, to enable the critics to have a good mid-show discussion, but the rules allow exceptions to this.
The performing cast must be at least half drawn from students in grade 9 through 12. There can be younger or older cast members in the show, or helping with the orchestra or tech aspects, but this will affect qualification for awards.
If you would like to have your Cappies show reviewed but not considered for awards, the rules allow that. If you would like your school to have a critics team but no Cappies show, the rules allow that too.
Eligibility for Award Categories
The Cappies have 33 award categories that are determined by the votes of the critics. Each of these categories has eligibility rules, along with guidelines for the critics to use when watching and scoring shows. Please read these pages carefully. If you wish, you are welcome to share them with your cast and crew, so they will know what critics are being encouraged to observe or hear.
In preparing for a Cappies show, and in the show itself, a cast and crew can feel a (gentle) taste of what it feels like to prepare and perform a critically-reviewed show in a professional theater environment. Some directors use the prospect of Cappies reviews as a way of encouraging performers and tech workers to take direction and rehearse seriously -- and to focus on aspects of their work that might be improved, as the date of the Cappies show approaches.
Show Updates and Schedule Changes
If your school application did not list the name of a Cappies show, please alert program officials as soon as you know its name. If at any point you change the Cappies show you'll be doing, that's all right, but you need to alert program officials right away about that. If you need to change the show date or time (e.g., to change a matinee to an evening performance), you'll need advance approval from program officials. Usually, that can be arranged.
If, for any reason, including weather, your Cappies show is canceled -- or if you learn that there is a substantial risk that your Cappies show may be canceled -- you must inform the Program Director immediately
Your Program Director may ask you and your students to participate in pre-show publicity, or to provide JPG photos to accompany published reviews. The Program Director may also ask your school to assist in regional publicity campaigns, for the Cappies or high school theater in general. If so, please work with your school's Show Director (and, perhaps, critics) in providing what the Program Director may request.
Presenting a Cappies Show
Please plan ahead for your Cappies show, and make sure you know what is expected. Each participating school is asked to designate a parent Booster, and that person can help -- as can your school's critics team.
A Cappies Show
If you and your students (and Boosters) wish, you can treat your Cappies show as a major event, with decorations, hallway entertainment, alumni receptions, the presence of administrators and faculty -- or you can treat it as just another show, except with Cappies critics present.
Don't forget to give your completed Award Category Eligibility form to the Editor Mentor, not later than 30 minutes before curtain.
If you "double cast" -- and intend to do a show with different casts on different nights -- you need to decide which cast will perform the Cappies show. You can do this any way you want -- by drawing straws, going with seniors, using your strongest cast, or some other criterion, but no school's show will be reviewed, or considered for awards, more than once.
If you intend any post-show recognitions, please wait to start that until after the critics have left the theater. (You may want to make an announcement about that.) The critics may not take part in any post-show audience discussion of the Cappies show.
If you plan any other special recognitions, whether at the start of the show or before intermission, please excuse the critics from those, as well. (If possible, you may wish to schedule those for a performance other than the Cappies show.)
Please provide a "Cappies room" for critics and mentors. It can be a school room, chorus room, cafeteria, or something like that. You'll need to make that room available 45 minutes before curtain and up to 45 minutes after final bows. It probably won't take that long, but it might. Make sure your school's security force realizes this.
Please arrange for the Cappies room to be secure, and locked, during the performance. If this is not possible, please alert the mentors, so they can advise critics to keep all valuables with them at all times.
Under the rules, your school is required to provide complimentary tickets to critics and mentors. You are encouraged, but not required, to provide excellent seats -- preferably center section, about rows five to seven. Do not seat critics in the first row or two -- that can distract your performers -- but make sure they are where they can see and hear well (even if sound and light problems arise), appreciate the intensity of the performances, and feel the energy of the audience response. At a musical, try not to seat critics too close to the orchestra, to make sure they can hear the vocalists well.
If you seat the critics elsewhere -- on the sides, in the back, or in a balcony -- you run the risk that they may not see and hear well enough to give full credit to all aspects of the show.
You need hold tickets for critics only until five minutes prior to curtain. If you have a sellout, you can sell any tickets set aside for any critic who arrives later than five minutes before curtain.
If you anticipate that providing sufficient Cappies tickets could be a problem, you might think about adding an additional show, or scheduling a special critics' performance, perhaps a dress rehearsal. Those might not be ideal performances to schedule as your Cappies show, but this is allowable under the rules.
You'll need to provide show programs to all mentors and critics. You can give them any other materials you'd like, about anything you think they should know about your show.
If you wish, you may speak to the critics before the show. During and after the show, you can only speak to them if you're invited, to answer specific questions they might have.
Critics Decorum and Safety
Please remind your cast and crew that, before or after the show, they may not socialize with any critic. Nor may they do so -- including phoning or emailing -- until the critic has submitted a review (or the final deadline has passed). Afterwards, they may have social contacts with a critic who may be a friend, but should never discuss anything said in the critics' discussion, including Critics' Choices and scores. Cast and crew must not inquire about Critics' Choices, which will be posted only after all Critics have voted for Cappie nominations and awards.
Please remind your Booster to help you prevent flash photos during a Cappies Show, which can sometimes be a problem. You might want to make a pre-show announcement, and usher enforcement of the rule if anyone takes a flash photo. This is not a Cappies rule -- just a strong suggestion. It is well-known to any theater director that flash photos can be very distracting to performers, causing them to break concentration and keeping them from doing their best onstage. Flashes can also interfere with the concentration of (and be annoying to) the audience -- and critics. Video cameras can also distract performers and critics, and you might consider only allowing them in locations where they do not affect the performers' concentration and the audience's view of the show.
Program officials will forward reviews of your Cappies show directly to you, usually on the Sunday night or Monday after your show.
It is against the rules for a Show Director, or any other teacher, parent, or student from the performing school, to discuss any review (published or not) with a critic
A Critics' Choice is not a nomination, but rather a decision to place a candidate on the year-end award ballot.
Between 7 and 10 days prior to award voting, the Program Director will send you an email, listing the Critics' Choices for that year's Cappies show (or shows). This is to confirm name spellings and correct obvious errors only. You will be asked to email any corrections.
Participating in Awards
If your Cappies program includes awards, the critics will gather to vote online for "Cappie" nominations and awards, after the final shows have been reviewed. To qualify as an award voter, a critic must have submitted reviews for a minimum number of shows. That minimum can be between 3 and 5 reviews, depending on the program.
The critics vote through a combination of evaluation scores, nomination and award points, and tie-breaks. A complete description of the Cappies voting system is in the rules, and a summary can be read on the Cappies web site, on the "Rules & Forms" page.
The non-performing categories include marketing and publicity, sound, lighting, make-up, costumes, sets, props, special effects and/or technology, stage management and crew, choreography, orchestra, and creativity (which includes student directing, composing, playwriting, lyric-writing, and musicianship).
Depending on the Cappies program, there can be from three to five critics' awards, including critics team, and individual critic awards determined by gender or year in school.
As Show Director, you may, if you wish, name up to four students as Cappie Commendees. Their recognition (and award items) will depend on your Cappies program. Your Program Director will advise you about this. You should wait to name your Commendees until after nominations are announced. You are encouraged, but not required, to select Commendees who are not nominees.
Your Program Director may ask someone from your school to pick up awards items for your Nominees and Commendees. You may wish to ask for assistance you're your school's Booster with this task.
Nominations and Awards
Nominations are announced within one to two days after the voting. Most Cappies programs post the nominations online. Awards are announced at the Cappies Gala.
If you have concerns about letting your show be evaluated for awards by student critics trained by the Cappies, through a voting system managed by the Cappies, then the best plan is not to submit your show for awards evaluation.
Attending a Cappies Gala
If your program has awards, the year will end with an awards ceremony, which may or may not be identified as a Cappies Gala.
No matter where the awards go, students at your school will have a wonderful time at the Cappies Gala. And then it's on to next year!
Letter From A Show Director
"So, what's the point?"
A colleague who was considering joining the Cappies program asked me that question. He wanted to know if it was all about who gets the Best Play or Best Musical trophy. Or who gets bragging rights over what school for the most nominations or awards. The politically correct answer: No, of course not. The truth: Some people (students and teachers alike) tended to think that way during the course of the first year. My view: It's nice to get that kind of attention (including from school administrators). It's nice that someone cares. But Cappies is about more than the trophies and glamour of the Gala night.
What's the point? Recognition for the students, for the local programs, and for theatrical education in general. If the best way to get this is to imitate the second most watched television show annually (the Oscars) and create an interest for people to root for a particular program as well as come to more productions, then I'll go for that. Awards, "best this and that," golden trinkets – for better or for worse, this is what raises the interest of our society. So we do that, and the result? Recognition for this year and sold-out shows for next year. The danger is when someone actually makes the mistake of attributing quality based on the number of trinkets won. If you are able to eliminate that thinking among your students and communities, then you have what the Cappies Gala should be: a celebration of the arts rather than a competition for gold-plated metal.
The point should be about giving high school students more journalistic experience and arts training than most so-called critics get before their 30s. The point should be everyone in the community recognizing the hard work and dedication put forth by the theater arts students of a particular high school. Work during the entire 180-day season as opposed to the 60- or 75-day season of most sports. The point should be recognition for a particular school's continual dedication to excellence in Theater Arts over several years. The point should be to get people in those seats that are perennially unfilled, so that the students feel their endeavors are worthwhile. The point should be to foster the growth of future actors, designers, directors, composers, and writers to interpret our society and an audience to support them.
The point is that the Cappies is the best idea to put that deserving spotlight on high school theater arts that I have ever experienced. It works – when you go about it with the correct philosophy.
I hope the Cappies brings your school's theater program all the recognition it richly deserves. I hope some administrators who always attend every sporting event tell you they actually read the review in the paper and are kicking themselves for not seeing your show. I hope your next show sells through the roof. I hope your kids are proud of who they are and what they can do. Because that is the point.