What Do We Take With Us?

Review of Samson by Pacific MusicWorks.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Spencer Klein, and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla!

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George Frideric Handel was born the same year as Bach: 1685. He was a German composer, though he travelled around all of Europe, and is most notorious for the oft-overused Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah (see the opening of Face Off). While Handel’s innovations in composition were important, they are drastically overshadowed by the revolutionary achievements of Bach. Handel’s contribution to music came in a much more subtle, but equally radical fashion: he made music a business.

Handel found great success in Italian opera; in 1705 he debuted the instant hit Almira and his influence only grew. The problem with Italian opera, however, was that it was both expensive and exclusive. The costumes are elaborate and few opera-goers in his adopted homeland of England spoke Italian. To solve these problems, Handel renovated and popularized the Oratorio, essentially an unstaged opera. Instead of blocking, singers simply stand up when it is their cue. Featuring mostly liturgical plots, Oratorios became vastly popular because of their relatively low cost to perform and the fact that they are sung in English.

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Embracing The Discomfort of American History

Review of Strange Fruit by Spectrum Dance Theater.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Eleanor Chang-Stucki, and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla!

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“Southern trees bear a strange fruit/Blood on the leaves and blood at the root.”

Originally a poem describing lynching in the American South, “Strange Fruit” was written by Abel Meeropol in 1939 and famously performed by singers Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. Strange Fruit, part of the Spectrum Dance Theater’s “Wokeness Festival,” drew its inspiration from this haunting song. This festival was to celebrate, as Donald Byrd, the Strange Fruit choreographer and Spectrum’s Artistic Director, calls it, “the notion of complete awareness.” In his Q&A after the show a few weeks ago, he described lynching, calling it “a method to keep black folks in their place and to assert white supremacy in the south.” Over 4,000 lynchings occurred over a 100 year period in America, so Strange Fruit was an important piece to create and distribute because so many Americans are still unaware of the history that forms our present day systemic inequities. The non-black U.S. population may be somewhat aware of this violence, but they cannot fully absorb the effect that it has had on black bodies, both past and present.

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Like a Hammer: Commanding Presence and Claiming Identity With Bold Color, Pride, and Expression

Review of "Like a Hammer" at SAM.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Sumeya Block, and edited by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes!

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Jeffrey Gibson’s loud, emotional, and thought-provoking exhibit "Like a Hammer" is filled with pops of color, ornate beading, chaotic shapes, celebrations of Choctaw-Cherokee culture, and nods to the LGBTQ+ community. Gibson creates a space for viewers to celebrate what makes them different and recognize the hardships society creates.

When I first walked into "Like a Hammer," I was met with bright colors, bold lettering, and various household items that had been repurposed into vibrant and chaotic installations. What immediately caught my eye was an ironing board covered in slashes of neon pink, yellow, and green and a massive flag sewn with patches of different textured fabrics. When I walked into the exhibit I could feel the energy of Gibson’s work animating the room. I could taste the joy, hardship, and care exuded in every stitch and pop of color. What particularly caught my eye was a bright colored travois or parfleche, a large container pulled by horses that is most commonly made by Native American Women. Jeffrey Gibson's "Like a Hammer" exhibit at SAM. Photo by Natali Wiseman.

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Art That Isn’t Theater

Teen Editorial Staff May Editorial

Written by Teen Editor Anya Shukla!

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It’s the final stretch: only one more month until school ends! We on the Teen Editorial Staff are right there beside you, crossing off the days on the calendar. But with the end of school comes testing—every teen’s worst nightmare. At terrible, terrible times like these, we have to turn to our only source of happiness: procrastination. And we have a great lineup of art for you this month, guaranteed to help you forget about the mountains of homework you have waiting for you at home. To really change things up, we’ll be exploring the various types of art Seattle has to offer—music, visual arts—sans theater. That’s right. No theater. Crazy, right? That’s because May also means getting ready for Mother’s Day… AKA perfect gift time. What can you give someone who already has it all? Well, there’s nothing better than spending time together at a show: what other gift could give your mom the night of her life and show her how cultured you are? Luckily, we’ve got you covered with classics, guaranteed to appeal to your mother’s more…elevated artistic sensibilities. Shows like Handel’s Samson with Pacific MusicWorks, Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen at The Henry, or Like A Hammer at SAM will be surefire parent-pleasers. And, if you want to get your mom pumped, try Laser SZA at the Laser Dome at Pacific Science Center. Best of all, you can give your mom the Mother’s Day she’s been dreaming about, all while pretending your schoolwork doesn’t exist. That’s what we call a win-win.

Lead photo credit: Mariya Georgieva on Unsplash.

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Make Believe Earns Explosive Audience

Review of Make Believe at Tacoma Arts Live.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Rosemary Sissel, and edited by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes!

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Spidey's Make Believe: Magic of Your Mind mentalism show is audience-adored and fascinating. The Tacoma Arts Live stop on his international tour sells out to an audience more diverse in age and race than most Tacoma shows, and prompts not one but two standing ovations. Though Spidey seems rather reliant on certain terms (“international acclaim,” “wicked sorcerer,” “Apollo Theater,” and “ultimate magic trick,” being especially prominent) he more than earns all the love we (all the audience members) give him. Casual, composed, witty—and indubitably magical, Spidey is a sensation.

A series of Spidey-themed clips open the show, taking so long that one may wonder if the mentalist will actually appear. (He does.) Strutting in over the Ghostbusters theme, he looks appraisingly out at all of us, waiting for clapping to quiet. At last, he speaks.

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Meet the Spookiest Family in Edmonds

Review of The Addams Family - A New Musical at Edmonds Driftwood Players.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Katherine Kang, and edited by Teen Editor Huma Ali!

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One family full of darkness, two love birds, three “normal” people coming to visit, and four walls being broken, The Addams Family from the Edmonds Driftwood Players is a musical full of mystery, drama, and humor. In their cozy theatre, where every seat has a good view, the stage is set with all natural hues. The iconic intro comes on, and you can’t help but snap along to the familiar beat of the song.

This engaging musical captures the story of Wednesday Addams, (Megan Acuna), daughter of proud parents Morticia, (Tamara C. Davis), and Gomez Addams, (Doug Knoop), and older sister to the troublesome, but soft-hearted, Pugsley Addams, (Catherine Craig). Wednesday, the beloved princess of the family, has fallen in love with Lucas Beineke, (David Naber), who is different from her family—a more average suburban boy. No one knows about the couple except Wednesday’s father, Gomez, who has never kept a secret from his wife, Morticia. This tension only continues to grow as the polar families meet to have dinner. Wednesday has only one request for her family: one normal night. “Normal is just an illusion,” Morticia points out. The Addams Family - A New Musical by Edmonds Driftwood Players. Photo by Dale Sutton

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A War With Identity

Review of Promise at Dawn, presented at Stroum Jewish Community Center’s Seattle Jewish Film Festival.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Eleanor Cenname, and edited by Teen Editor Hannah Schoettmer!

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Promise at Dawn revolves around the idea of war. Based on the memoir of Romain Gary, the film, included in Stroum Jewish Community Center’s Seattle Jewish Film Festival, portrays both physical and metaphorical manifestations of war that ultimately support the central theme of identity.

The film opens to a shot of a city in Mexico—the streets congested with people with the painted faces typical of The Day of the Dead. A lone car pushes its way through the packed road. A woman exits the car, her severe expression a stark contrast to the raucous celebration around her. She enters a building where she calls for her husband, Romain. She finds him slumped on a balcony, a bandage around his head, and they leave for the hospital. In the car, the woman begins to read the papers Romain, an author, had been writing when she found him and his voice sounds as the screen floods with the view of a boy walking down a snow-covered street. The film cuts to a place of the past—the story of Romain’s life with his Jewish mother and the wars that drive his story.

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Questions Better Left Unanswered: A Doll’s House, Part 2

Review of A Doll's House, Part 2 at Seattle Repertory Theatre.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Kendall Kieras, and edited by Teen Editor Huma Ali!

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A Doll’s House, Part 2, starts with a door. Written by Lucas Hnath in 2017, the play begins with the same door Nora Helmer shut on her children and husband fifteen years earlier. Now, instead of slamming the door, she is entering it, announcing a return she hopes will be brief.

In those first moments, entering a door once exited, the audience knows exactly what they are in for—a tying up of loose ends as only a sequel can, and an attempt at addressing all the unanswered questions taking shape in those she left behind fifteen years ago.

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CAUGHT Up In Lies

Review of CAUGHT at Intiman Theatre.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Olivia Sun, and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla!

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Chinese-American playwright Christopher Chen blurs illusion with reality and time with space in his innovative piece CAUGHT, presented by Intiman Theatre at 12th Avenue Arts. CAUGHT (which ran March 7-March 30) is Chen’s rejection of conventional categorizations of art, a highly inventive artistic work that crosses between theatrical performance, visual arts exhibit, and artist talkback.

Walking into the theatre space, I step onstage to observe a small arts gallery, consisting of everyday objects that hint at the push-and-pull dynamic between Chinese and American culture. The performance begins with a TED talk-esque speech by dissident artist Lin Bo (Justin Huertas), who describes how the post-Tiananmen climate in China had inspired him to set up an imaginary protest against the Chinese government—an act that ultimately leads to his imprisonment. Before we know it, Chen seamlessly switches the setting to that of a journalist’s office, where Lin Bo is questioned again and again about his imprisonment, until the truthfulness of his account unravels. Chen shifts the scope of the performance yet again; now, two performers (Jonelle Jordan and Narea Kang) act out an artist’s interview that explores how truth and lies manifest in our culture. Chen changes the location once more, to a scene “after the show” where two actors discuss their motivations for creating CAUGHT and come to realize that they had been lied to by someone they had thought to be truthful. By the end of the performance, we are left questioning the authenticity of stories told by journalists, historians, and artists alike. What we believe to be the truth is simply based off the stories we hear and share all around us. CAUGHT at Intiman Theatre. Photo by Naomi Ishisaka.

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Dry Land: A New Age of Theater Production

Review of Dry Land at Seattle Public Theater.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Lucia McLaren and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson!

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Dry Land, a play written by Ruby Rae Spiegel and directed by Anita Montgomery, is based around abortion: a controversial, yet largely ignored topic. Dry Land tells the story of Amy (played by Libby Barnard) and Ester (Madilyn Cooper), two high schoolers on the same swim team. It’s soon made clear to the audience that Amy is pregnant, and she’s struggling, with Ester’s help, to find a way to end her pregnancy without anyone finding out. The two of them go to desperate measures, all the while trying to keep their friendship. Taking on a controversial topic like abortion is a bold choice by Spiegel, though it’s clear that those working on the show know that this story is one that needs to be told.

When I first arrived in the theater, I was struck immediately by the composition of the audience. I was one of only a few teenagers watching the play, which seemed strange to me because of how the play focused on the struggles of young people when obtaining abortions. Though this certainly doesn’t mean that this topic is not important to adults, it was interesting for me to consider whether this theater experience was the first time that some of the audience members had really been exposed to how abortion relates to teens in such a direct way. Dry Land at Seattle Public Theater. Photo by John Ulman.

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Wake Up, Get Woke!

​Written by Teen Editor Hannah Schoettmer!

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Good news—it’s April now, so there’s pretty much a guarantee that it won’t snow again (and after February’s Snowpocalypse, we’re all ready for that). Temperatures are heating up, some early seasonal flowers are blooming, and Seattle residents are finally starting to emerge from hibernation. But leaving the den is difficult, so we’ve lined up a selection of art that’s sure to help you wake up. For theater enthusiasts, we’ve got A Doll's House Part 2 at Seattle Repertory Theatre, The Addams Family Musical at Edmonds Driftwood Players, and Dry Land at Seattle Public Theater, which cover a range of topics from family drama to the struggles of unwanted teen pregnancy. If you want to catch a movie, try the Stroum Jewish Film Festival, a film series that explores Jewish and Israeli identity held at a variety of venues in and around Seattle. There’s also Strange Fruit at the WOKENESS Festival by Spectrum Dance Theater, a dance festival that aims to push against assumptions surrounding race, gender, and culture. With all this variety, there’s sure to be something to catch your eye, so wake up, get woke, and go see some art!

The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 5 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog and manage the TeenTix Newsroom. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

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The Intimacy of Discomfort at [lavender]: a self portrait

Review of [lavender]: a self portrait at On the Boards.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Kendall Kieras, and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson!

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I have this idea of what someone who’s never lived on the West Coast thinks Seattleites get up to on a typical Tuesday. Visions of hipster tech executives swirl around in their head, and they dream of crowded rooms full of performance art with the kind of convoluted self expression attributed only to Pacific Northwest pheromones.

[lavender]: a self portrait fulfilled this vision. It encompassed all which is beautiful, yet utterly inaccessible about Seattle culture. Certainly, it was bold in its existence, but shedding the elitist pretense required to fully enjoy it was a daunting task. It was performed at Oxbow, a damp, concrete room full of twenty-something hipsters. As I entered the performance space, keyon gaskin, who wrote the piece, gave me hand-bound book with a lavender paint smear on the front, full of poetically deconstructed musings. Every poem felt distinctly as though it was conceptualized at two am—the kind of thing you’d write before passing out in bed.

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Bugging Out at Hugo House

Review of Hugo House's Literary Series

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Tova Gaster, and edited by Teen Editor Huma Ali!

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Since everything is in a constant state of change, a huge variety of media can be shoehorned into the theme of “Metamorphosis”. This theme was stretched to its artistic breaking point at the Hugo House’s Literary Series, an evening of readings by acclaimed authors Benjamin Percy, Vanessa Hua, and Keetje Kuipers, as well as a musical performance by vocalist-producer-composer-improviser-goddess Sassyblack.

The Hugo House’s Metamorphosis literary series event specifically referred to Franz Kafka’s iconic story of the same name, in which a man is inexplicably transformed into a hideous beetle. Beyond the mutable theme of change and transformation, an insectoid motif crawled throughout several of the pieces. From author Benjamin Percy’s tale of a girl haunted by cockroaches and smoke, to Sassyblack’s repetition of “straight buggin-out” over spacey recorded beats, this reading was not an event for entomophobes—google search: person who fears insects.

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Moisture Festival Is Raucous, Retro Fun for All

Review of Moisture Festival.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Erin Croom, and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson!

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Seattle’s own Moisture Festival labels itself a vaudeville variety show. But what exactly does that entail? In all honesty, even after attending the event myself, there is no easy answer. With dozens upon dozens of acts in the festival as a whole, and an outlandish lineup of comedians, acrobats, clowns, and more, each show in the four-week run is a unique collection. The lineup caters to all audiences: there are family-friendly shows in the evenings and more risqué performances later in the night.

The festival’s home, Hale’s Palladium, is a brightly painted structure on the backside of the modern and hip Hale’s Brewery. At its entrance, we were greeted by a man in a gaudy orange astronaut costume and a nametag labeling him Zee. Zee scanned our tickets with a smartphone app—the last piece of modern technology we would see for the duration of this event—and ushered us inside. The Palladium is a much humbler and informal venue than such a name might suggest, with an exposed wood ceiling studded with lights of all kinds stretching over many rows of chairs facing a low stage. An acrobat’s swing is tied up in the rafters, foreshadowing acts to come.

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One Addiction at a Time

Review of American Junkie at Book-It Repertory Theatre

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Alison Smith, and edited by Teen Editor Hannah Schoettmer!

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American Junkie starts in the middle: Tom Hansen, our narrator played by Ian Bond, is shooting up heroin after having done it too many times. Losing most feeling in his limbs, Tom barely manages to call 9-1-1. This leads him, bitterly, to rehab. Adapted by director Jane Jones and Kevin McKeon from Tom Hansen’s memoir of the same name, American Junkie follows two time periods: one of Tom’s entry into rehab and stumbling towards recovery; the other of his childhood, adolescence, involvement with the Seattle punk scene, and everything else leading up to his 9-1-1 call. American Junkie, which had its last performance at the Book-It Repertory Theatre on March 10, is not an uplifting story of recovery: rather, it’s a portrayal of the stranglehold of addiction, as seen through one man’s funny, honest, and wry internal monologue. It’s also a portrait of Seattle before the tech boom, and of the punk scene before Nirvana made it famous. Poised for the current moment, where opioid addiction is ravaging whole communities, American Junkie is a moving, visceral portrait of addiction and the dirty underbelly of Seattle.

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Not Your Grandma’s Improv Show

Review of Boom Bap at ComedySportz Seattle

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Spencer Klein, and edited by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes!

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My name is Spencer and what I’d like to do, is talk about Boom Bap with all of you! It’s my new favorite show at CSz if you wanna know, why read my review and see!

When you walk into Atlas Theater in Fremont, WA, the jokes start before the show does. Above their cash register is a dollar bill hanging on the wall with the caption “The First Dollar That CSz Seattle Ever Framed.” CSz Seattle, of course, refers to the Pacific Northwest’s iteration of what is a national league of competitive improv referred to as “Comedy Sportz”.

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Dance-Dance Deconstruction: Why FP2: Beats of Rage Is So Awesome

Review of FP2: Beats of Rage at the Grand Illusion Cinema.

Written by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes, and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson!

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FP2: Beats of Rage at Grand Illusion Cinema reminded me why I love movies. So much character has been put into every shot—at one point I thought I could see the reflection of the filmmakers in the cinema screen. The screen, by the way, was tiny, but it was balanced out by the small size of the room. In fact, the whole theater had a sense of closeness, partially because the will call and concessions had to be managed by the same person, but also because the room was packed. The crowd was lively—they laughed at all the jokes, pointed out all the green screen flubs, and made me feel as though I’d stepped into a tight knit group of friends. Everyone seemed to know someone there; even the person introducing the movie called out a few regulars and had conversations with them.

The story revolves around a tournament for a video game called Beat-Beat Revelation, typically abbreviated to just Beat-Beat, which is absolutely not just Dance-Dance Revolution. That would be silly. This game is the primary way in which conflicts are resolved in this post-apocalyptic society, and the tournament serves as a way to determine who will rule over the FP (Frazier Park), which is filled with this world’s hottest commodity: booze. When the Beat-Beat player known as AK-47 threatens the freedom of all those who just want to have a good time, the legendary Beat-Beat ninja JTRO is forced to come out of hiding in order to secure alcohol for his people.

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Sound Off! Launching a New Generation of Performers

Review of Sound Off! at MoPOP.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Serafina Miller, and edited by Teen Editor Huma Ali!

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Sound Off!, a music competition hosted by MoPOP, showcases the talent of local artists and bands under the age of 21. The event’s atmosphere is enhanced by being hosted in the Skychurch, where the high quality space and materials allow for professional performances by the contributors. This year’s music came from a wide range of genres and exemplified the unique influences of each performer and how they will come to change the music scene in the following years.

The Finals consisted of three bands and one individual artist who advanced from the semi-finals held earlier in February. Of the talent presented in the Finals, each had a distinctive style and sound that drew upon and combined various different genres. The musical ability of each group was atypical of what is expected in such young artists, and the fact that the entirety of the material performed was original, was even more astonishing.

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When A Mother Outlives Her Son

Review of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater by Early Music Seattle and Whim W'Him.

Written by Teen Editor Hannah Schoettmer, and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla!

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The Catholic Mass is generally structured around the reading and interpretation of a passage from the Bible. At many of the churches I’ve attended, there’s a service after the Sunday Mass for the kids, where they lead you into a classroom and break down the scripture, as well as teach you the general tenants of Catholicism.

It was in these Sunday school settings that I was first presented with an interpretation of the Virgin Mary. She was said to be a feminine ideal, a figure of compassion and mercy. A Jewish girl selected to be Jesus’ mother due to her openness to God’s will, the Virgin Mary is often held up as a symbol of purity and goodness in humanity, as she was born into an ordinary family and lived an ordinary life up to her “choosing.”

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Fire Season Uncovers the Brutal Realities of Rural America

Review of Fire Season at Seattle Public Theater.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Olivia Sun, and edited by Teen Editor Hannah Schoettmer!

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“What’s past is prologue.” We hear these words of Shakespeare spoken again and again throughout the play, but does it mean that tomorrow is a fresh start? Or does it reveal that history is doomed to set the scene for one’s inevitable fate? As Fire Season draws us into a series of interconnected narratives in a deserted rural Washington town, we are invited to interpret Shakespeare’s classic quote for ourselves.

Fire Season, written by Aurin Squire and directed by Kelly Kitchens, captures the bleak stories of a few residents in a forgotten rural town. Squire shines light upon the struggles of drug addiction, poverty, abortion, and racism that are so often overlooked in the thousands of rural communities across the country. Fire Season is the third production in Seattle Public Theater’s 2018-2019 season #Confronting America, which reveals our nation’s most pressing problems through diverse perspectives.

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