‘A Quick 5’ with Clare A’Hearn, winner of the Cappies ‘Maryland Theater Guide Returning Critic Award for 2021


Clare A’Hearn, winner of the 2021 MD Theater Guide Returning Critic Award.

“The Cappies is a writing and awards program that trains high school theater and journalism students to be expert writers, critical thinkers, and leaders. Student critics compete for publication in local media by attending productions at other schools and writing critical reviews. At the end of the year, Cappies’ student critics decide who among their fellow performers and technicians should be rewarded for awards at the end of the season with glamor and gusto.

Founder Emeritus Mark Beachy was a proud supporter (and still is) of the Cappies. MD Theater Guide continues this tradition by supporting and publishing reviews of these up-and-coming writers. We are also honored to have an award in our name – Maryland Theater Guide Returning Critic Award.

Last year’s winner is Clare A’Hearn, a senior from McLean High School in Fairfax, Virginia. She performed in six productions with TheatreMcLean (Drama Department of McLean High School). She was also head of publicity for TheatreMcLean for two years and is the Cappies reviewer for TheatreMcLean this year.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into acting. Why do you think theater is important?
I am currently a senior at McLean High School. I first became interested in theater in elementary school by acting in productions at my school. Initially, the theater was a space where I could connect with other people and that’s why I was drawn to it. I think theater is important because it connects people. It establishes an environment where creativity is embraced and different perspectives and experiences are welcomed.

What have been the challenges for your high school drama department during the pandemic?
Our Spring 2020 production has been cancelled. It was a disappointing moment for our department, however, our costume manager was able to sew masks from fabric purchased for the show. Fortunately, during the 2020-2021 school year, we were able to set up several productions using a combination of live streaming, pre-recorded virtual shows, and filmed plays performed on our stage. It was difficult to balance COVID safety precautions and trying to communicate relationships on stage, but returning this school year, our department is currently rehearsing our third production and we have learned to overcome these challenges.

Do you prefer theatre, writing or public relations?
I prefer public relations. I run advertising for my school’s department and it allows for the most creativity between managing social media accounts and graphic design. I am able to decide how to present the show to the audience and make an impression on the audience before production even begins. It also allows me to communicate with the widest audience. Thanks to PR, many more people can see the billboards by walking past or scrolling through the photos I took on our Instagram account.

Will your college studies focus on theatre?
I don’t plan on studying anything theater-related in college. I am pursuing a concentration in environmental policy. However, I hope to be able to get involved in the marketing aspects of the theater department at the college I will be attending next year.

What was it like winning the Maryland Theater Guide Returning Critic Award for 2021?
Winning the Maryland Theater Guide Returning Critic Award last year was incredibly exciting. Cappies was a very unique experience during the 2020-2021 school year as we were virtual only and weren’t able to attend as many shows as in previous years. This made the prize even more exciting as I wasn’t sure what to expect.

MD Theater Guide wishes Clare every success in her future endeavours!

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