The Holidays Are a Time for Traditions, and Breaking Them

Teen Editorial Staff December 2022 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Aamina Mughal and Kyle Gerstel

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As we enter the depths of winter and the holiday season, art in Seattle is picking up a familiar festive theme—with a twist, of course. Tradition connects us to our heritage and identity, but it can also feel limiting. The ability to evolve traditions and create something new and interesting for the present is and has always been integral to art. Rest assured, there will be plenty of opportunities to revisit and reconstruct our favorite holiday classics this December.

Seattle Public Theater is bringing a Christmas classic to the mix with a revival of their A Very Die Hard Christmas, running from December 3 — 30. Similarly, A Very Drunken Christmas Carol is coming back to the Seattle Opera after a sold-out run in the 2021 season.

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Tan Dun Conducts His "Buddha Passion" at Seattle Symphony

Review of Tan Dun Buddha Passion at the Seattle Symphony

Written by Teen Writer Olivia Qi and edited by Teen Editor Kyle Gerstel

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Epic, exciting, and innovative, Tan Dun’s 2018 masterpiece Buddha Passion refuses to be categorized. It’s an oratorio—a huge musical work for orchestra and voices, typically religious and without costumes, sets, and staging—but it’s almost an opera as well. It’s Western classical music, but it’s also Eastern religious music. It’s sung in Chinese and Sanskrit by both white and Asian musicians in America. It’s ancient and avant-garde, simple and opulent, lyrical and percussive. The massive work, which calls for a full adult choir, children’s choir, symphony, five singers, and a dancer, is a patchwork of inspirations working in harmony to preach love, forgiveness, sacrifice, and salvation.

It’s little wonder that Buddha Passion is a fusion of many styles as the composer is a man of many labels. The Seattle Symphony describes the Chinese-born, American-based Tan Dun as a “shaman and showman,” and he’s also a prolific composer and conductor.

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The Bloody Madness of Seattle Shakespeare’s "Macbeth"

Review of Macbeth at Seattle Shakespeare Company

Written by Teen Writer Carly Callas and edited by Disha Cattamanchi

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“Life ... is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” ― William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Seattle Shakespeare’s Macbeth intensely portrays how the blind chase for power can wreak havoc on one’s life if left untamed. The story follows Scottish general Macbeth (Reginald André Jackson) on his quest to become king, following a prophecy from the weird sisters promising his ascent to the throne. With Lady Macbeth’s (Alexandra Tavares) help, he kills King Duncan (Charles Leggett) and spirals into insanity, plagued by the insecurity and shame of his deed. The cast interpreted the characters beautifully, but some of the special effects were distracting at times.

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An Educational Arcade

Review of Artificial Intelligence at MOHAI (Museum of History & Industry)

Written by Teen Writer Daphne Bunker and edited by Teen Editor Disha Cattamanchi

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At Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), Artificial Intelligence: Your Mind & The Machine currently resides in the special exhibit hall. It’s a quiet, secluded corner among MOHAI’s bustling attractions. An array of brain teasers, touch screens, sci-fi movie posters, and robot models line the room’s edges, while interactive puzzles and pillars of text fill the center. Created by The Relayer Group, this traveling exhibit explores the relationship between the human mind and computers, charting the development of artificial intelligence from its ancient roots. It’s a fun, worthwhile exhibit for both kids and adults interested in learning more about A.I., but it dulls in comparison to MOHAI’s other offerings.

The exhibit hall doors open to an olive green wall with a few lines of white serif text: what is the difference between a human mind and a computer? The exhibit quickly answers this question, leading visitors through optical illusions that perplex our eyes but go unnoticed by computers. Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s paintings of fish and fruit, arranged to look like portrait heads, hang on the wall. An A.I. would simply recognize these as fish and fruit rather than the portrait heads humans recognize. A Tower of Hanoi puzzle sits below, comprised of stacked rings that must be placed in ascending order without putting bigger rings on top of smaller ones. A program could solve it in seconds, but it might take you and a friend a bit of extra effort. As Artificial Intelligence explains, conversation around A.I. swirls with sensationalist claims that computers will render human minds obsolete. These first few displays clarify that the human brain and A.I. each have strengths and weaknesses; A.I. is not a looming threat to civilization, but a tool we use to solve problems. The rest of the exhibit builds off this foundation to further explain the relationship between “your mind and the machine,” getting into how A.I. functions, its heights and limitations, its representations in pop culture, and its history. There are touchscreen games, translators, and hands-on activities as the exhibit continues to tell the story of artificial intelligence.

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The Terrific Trashiness of "Terrifier 2"

Review of Terrifier 2

Written by Teen Writer Valentine Wulf and edited by Teen Editor Aamina Mughal

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Terrifier 2, directed by director and special effects artist Damien Leone, is not particularly well-written, compelling, or even all that terrifying. Gross, yes, but not scary. The characters are flat, the dialogue is bad, and the plot is absurd; it fails to build any suspense and therefore lacks the stakes that make a psychological horror film scary. But Terrifier 2 is not a psychological thriller, nor is it pretending to be. And that’s why it’s fantastic.

Terrifier 2 is the follow up to Leone’s equally incomprehensible Terrifier, which starred the killer mime, Art the Clown. In Terrifier 2, Art once again goes on a Halloween rampage, this time hunting the 12-year-old Jonathan (played by appropriately cast Elliott Fullam) and his teenage sister Sienna (played by the not at all appropriately cast 44-year-old Lauren LaVera). Though it was originally intended for a one-week limited theatrical run, audience demand led to it being extended for several weeks, and I managed to score tickets for Terrifier 2’s closing weekend. Despite viewers allegedly throwing up and fainting in theaters due to the extreme violence, the audience I sat amongst did nothing of the sort. Instead, we all shared several guffaws as we watched a killer mime try on novelty sunglasses, go for joyrides on a tiny tricycle, and peel a woman’s arm in half like string cheese.

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Dancing To Our Humanity

Review of BODYTRAFFIC at Edmonds Center for the Arts

Written by Teen Writer Amelia Stiles and edited by Teen Editor Audrey Gray

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An intertwined collaboration of classic styles and modern ideas drives compelling stories, as told by the dancers of the Los Angeles contemporary dance company, BODYTRAFFIC. The four-part program, presented at Edmonds Center for the Arts on October 26, uses aspects of mid-20th century music and dance to display BODYTRAFFIC’s style and technique while combining modern acting with inventive ideas. In this show of immensely imaginative pieces, the dancers use their bodies to tell emotional and innovative stories of human experiences. Although the impact of the storytelling fades as the final piece is performed, the company’s breath-taking technique is never absent.

Eight pairs of feet peek out from under the rising grand curtain, posed and placed evenly across the stage. Soon, the dancers turn into a gallery of silhouettes as the curtain disappears and the stage fills with light. The music of the famous 1940s jazz singer, Peggy Lee, opens the show’s first piece, A Million Voices. The dancers’ intricate and playful movements aptly convey the rhythmic quirkiness of jazz dance. Quick head turns, subtle heel raises and small articulations of their hands, paired with exaggerated facial expressions, give the piece a cheeky attitude. The upbeat music of Peggy Lee added excitement and peppiness to the dancers, with joyful sounds of a saxophone animating their high-energy motion. The dancers interact with each other in brief moments of tender romance with intimate lifts or quick swing duets. Comedic stories grasp my attention throughout, with water-filled wine glasses being dumped on the dancers by their fellow performers, avant-garde costumes inspired by ‘40s fashion, and theatrical expressions that create a lighthearted scene. The charming comedy soon shifts when the extravagantly dressed dancers clear the stage and one dancer remains. He repeats a locomotive action, moving his limbs in circles like wheels of a train but staying in one place onstage, as if he is stuck in the same movement. His repetitive actions soon turn harsh and rigid as he unexpectedly starts losing his balance and falling to the floor, the soulful lyrics of “The Freedom Train” by Peggy Lee amplifying throughout the theater. He personifies the train in the song, being held back by the obstacle of his own body. After the music ends, he continues this battle with himself in silence. Without the distraction of any music, the audience is pulled into his emotional battle, hearing every breath, fall, and footstep on the stage. It’s an almost uncomfortable experience—the audience has no choice but to endure his painful conflict with him. With the silence and the vulnerability of the solo dancer, I started questioning why the last ten minutes of cheeky jazz was paired with this distressing ending phase. The audience witnesses a moment of solitude where personal struggle and hardship is brought to the surface, directly after seeing a social scene where joy and love thrive. The piece captured how easily personal struggles can be hidden in the chaos of a community, compared to how someone can really struggle on their own. BODYTRAFFIC in A Million Voices choreographed by Matthew Neenan, performed at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in LA. Photo by Rob Latour

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The Subdued Desire of "Decision to Leave"

Review of Decision to Leave at the Northwest Film Forum

Written by Teen Writer Olivia Lee and edited by Teen Editor Yoon Lee

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“If she’s young, beautiful, and foreign, does that make her a murder suspect?” This is the question Decision to Leave (2022), the latest film from enigmatic South Korean director Park Chan-wook presents, never giving a straight answer and throwing off both the characters as well as the audience.

Insomniac Detective Hae-joon (Park Hae-il) is indifferently married to his wife Jung-an (Lee Jung-hyun) and by the way he commits to his investigations, you’d think he’s married to his work. He wades through each day lifelessly until a mysterious new case arises; a man’s mangled body is discovered at the foot of a climbing rock. Hae-joon is electrified by the new case and begins to wonder how the man died. Was it suicide? Was he pushed? He meets the deceased man’s wife, the alluring and suspicious Seo-rae (Tang Wei), and their attraction towards each other grows stronger and eventually beyond professional boundaries, blurring the truth about her husband’s death.

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Experimenting with Environmental Anthropology in "Laboratory for Other Worlds"

Review of Laboratory for Other Worlds at the Bellevue Arts Museum

Written by Teen Writer Olivia Qi and edited by Teen Editor Aamina Mughal

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Climate change is real and dangerous, but you do not need this article to tell you that. There is an abundance of scientific knowledge about environmental collapse, so why is it so hard for our society to develop cultural responses and policies that prioritize the environment? Patte Loper, the artist behind Laboratory for Other Worlds at the Bellevue Arts Museum, takes French philosopher Bruno Latour’s stance: we need art to translate scientific data into political knowledge. In the “Laboratory”, Loper experiments with connecting the human world and other worlds of plants, animals, spirits, and land. She uses her distinct visual language to encourage unity between humans and nonhumans, proposing a spiritual solution to climate change.

“There is another world but it is in this one,” reads the Paul Éluard quote on the wall facing the exhibit’s entrance. Entering the exhibit, I understood that Loper’s art belongs to that other world, the world of nature. Loper’s three Paintings for Trees (2022), which look like silver scraps on sticks, hang on a wall behind little sculptures of clay, cement, glass jars, dirt, and wood. These little sculptures are Plant Companion Devices (2022), a Painting for Plants (2021), and Lichen Incubator (2022). The Plant Companion Devices are relatively small and made of clay and sticks, and some have a tangled mass of cardboard reminiscent of tree roots. The Lichen Incubator drips water through bendy tubes into glass flasks for a rock or piece of wood. Patte Loper's Laboratory for Other Worlds, The Mattress Factory (Pittsburgh, PA) 2019-2020. Photo courtesy of Mark Woods Studio.

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Review of Little Shop of Horrors at the Village Theatre

Written by Teen Writer Elle Vonada and edited by Teen Editor Kyle Gerstel

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Warning: Spoilers ahead!

Village Theatre’s production of Little Shop of Horrors brings the classic horror comedy to life through thoughtful set design, choreography, and blocking. Little Shop of Horrors opened in 1982 as an off Broadway production with book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and a score by Alan Menken. Broke botanist Seymour Krelborn (Kyle Nicholas Anderson) has a breakthrough growing a fantastical plant. Seymour thinks his financial issues have been resolved when the plant attracts customers to the store he works at, Mushnik’s Flower Shop. However, the plant grows a mind of its own, and things go awry.

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Rain and Leaves, with Hints of Snow

Teen Editorial Staff November 2022 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Disha Cattamanchi and Yoon Lee

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Welcome to the “Thursday” of the year! November isn’t exactly the Wednesday of the week, but it definitely isn’t Friday either. As we float towards the weekend of the year (December), the local arts scene too begins making the shift from fall to the holiday season. Various arts events of holiday spirit now coexist with cultural exhibitions that redefine the giving season, culminating in a Mariah Carey-esque thawing as the festive fun begins. So please you, enjoy yourself this November with productions of all kinds, holiday-themed or not!

Thanksgiving season is a time to reflect on our cultural identities, identifying how they will shape our futures. American Art: The Stories We Carry, an exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, does just that, highlighting a diverse array of experiences that give new meaning to the term “American.” The exhibit opened on October 20th, and is a fun way to spark conversation with family and friends as you trudge about Seattle’s art scene in the remaining fall weather.

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Behind the Art of "Beyond the Mountain"

Review of Beyond the Mountain at the Seattle Asian Art Museum

Written by Teen Writer Olivia Qi and edited by Teen Editor Esha Potharaju

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There’s a mountain of historical Chinese art, and many people are familiar with its loose inky style. But what lies beyond the mountain? The answers, present in the Seattle Asian Art Museum’s Beyond the Mountain exhibit, are thought-provoking performance art, painting, photography, and multimedia installations. The exhibit is organized around five themes and five artists. The themes are combinations of a traditional motif and concepts gaining traction in the modern world, with names like ink/protest, artifact/culture, proverb/nature, landscape/cityscape, and landscape/escape. Beyond the Mountain shows how contemporary Chinese artists react to a modern world while staying rooted in tradition. Furthermore, it shows how their Chinese art breaks national boundaries, becoming internationally relevant in the face of globalization.

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A Trip to the Depths of Seattle Through Music

Review of Shred Flinstone, Sailing Camp, Shudder, and Miss Prince at the Vera Project

Written by Teen Writer Calvin Lundin and edited by Teen Editor Disha Cattamanchi

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On a random Wednesday night in the middle of October, the last thing most people would expect to do is to see a four-band punk show. Nonetheless, the Vera Project hosted just that, with bands from Seattle and across the country. The lineup included 3 Washington bands—Miss Prince, Sailing Camp, and Shudder—and the New Jersey trio, Shred Flintstone. Though the crowd was small, each band brought their A-game, powering through high-energy (and high-volume) sets that had everyone in the room bobbing their heads, cheering loudly, and eventually, moshing.

The night began with Miss Prince, a five-piece band that came straight out of the 90s grunge scene. With long hair blocking their faces, Miss Prince delivered a set of punk-infused hard rock tunes with solid melodies and organ solos, bringing a psychedelic vibe to the performance. Though the crowd left an awkward amount of empty space around the stage, the band wasn’t fazed, jumping around with happy faces and an undeniable aura of pure confidence. Miss Prince’s performance certainly made an impression on me; after their set finished, I kept an eye on Instagram to find out when they’ll play next.

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Appreciating the Details in "The Great Jheri Curl Debate"

Review of The Great Jheri Curl Debate at East West Players

Written by Teen Writer Poppy Lang and edited by Teen Editor Yoon Lee

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The Great Jheri Curl Debate at East West Players explores the relationship between Veralynn Jackson (Julianne Chidi Hill) and Mr. Kim (Ryun Yu), and many different forms of racial bias.

Award winning playwright Inda Craig-Galván created a heartfelt, whitty and incredibly written play that East West Players performed beautifully. Directed by Scarlett Kim, this piece is a meditation on racial bias, overcoming certain preconceived notions, and creating a beautiful relationship.

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Exploring the “Uncomfortability” of Radio III / ᎦᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᏦᎢ

Review of Radio III / ᎦᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᏦᎢ at On the Boards

Written by Teen Writer Miriam Gaster and edited by Teen Editor Yoon Lee

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Radio III / ᎦᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᏦᎢ is most easily described as “beautifully uncomfortable,” though this barely brushes the surface of what the performance really is.

Radio III is a contemporary dance and music performance created by Elisa Harkins, Zoë Oluch, and Hanako Hoshimi-Caines. The piece explores themes of colonialism, and the cycle of life in the past, present, and future through an Indigenous lens. The dances and score portray an Indigenous reaction to the way colonialism affects the way we think about life, death, and the limits put on our perspective. The show’s venue, On the Boards, was an excellent fit for the nature of the performance; the stage is minimalistic in a way that directly complements the performance. Walking into the theater, an open-white space and a foggy haze in the air greets the audience, welcoming us into a dream-like state.

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Vesper: Morality and Mortality After the Apocalypse

Review of Vesper film at the Grand Illusion Cinema

Written by Teen Writer Aria Sanya and edited by Teen Editor Audrey Gray

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When our communities break, do we fight, lie, trick, and steal? Help each other out? Or do we flee the situation completely? Vesper (2022) is a French-Lithuanian dystopian film directed by Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper. It tells a story of a young girl navigating an inhospitable Earth while dealing with classism, relationships, morality, and survival. After an effort to combat an ecological disaster using genetic engineering goes wrong, most life is destroyed by bioengineered bacterial organisms, plunging the planet into “the new dark ages.” The upper class hedges itself off in affluent areas called Citadels, where they enslave artificially created, humanoid creatures called Jugs. The Citadels control food and resources, so the poor are forced to scavenge for food and to rely on the wealthy for genetically modified seeds that yield only one harvest each.

Vesper (Raffiella Chapman) is a curious 13-year-old girl struggling to survive in a community where resources are scarce and monopolized. She is incredibly intelligent with a natural talent for biohacking, an ability that she utilizes throughout the movie to experiment on plants and produce food and medicine. Vesper has a genuine heart but is polluted by the naivety of youth. Her tenacity is tested throughout the movie, when the condition of her paralyzed father (Richard Brake) grows increasingly worse, and a mysterious stranger (Rosy McEwen) offers a poisonous promise that could hold the key to Vesper’s survival. Film still from Vesper directed by Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper

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Las Mariposas: How a Rebellion Spread its Wings

Review of In the Time of the Butterflies presented at Book-It Repertory Theatre

Written by Teen Writer Joelle Walworth and edited by Teen Editor Audrey Gray

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The play opens to a lively set, filled with bright colors. Music pulses through the floorboards. The separation between the audience and the actors shrinks, and we are brought into the powerful, resonant story of four brave sisters. Directed by Ana María Campoy, the play In the Time of the Butterflies showcases the story of Las Mariposas and their rebellion against the Dominican Republic’s dictator Rafael Trujillo. Las Mariposas were four Dominican sisters—Dede (Beth Pollack), Minerva (Jasmine Lomax), Patria (Aviona Rodriguez Brown), and María Teresa Mirabal (Sofía Raquel Sánchez)—living during the tyrannical reign of President Trujillo. They helped lead the rebellion against his dictatorship, and three of them were eventually killed for it—their legacy, however, still played a role in Trujillo’s downfall. Based on the novel by Julia Alvarez and adapted for stage by Caridad Svich, the production by Book-It Repertory Theatre effectively conveys the events of Las Mariposa’s rebellion, but falters in operating as a theatrical piece.

One blatant issue with the piece is that as the sisters mature, the play’s events seem to have minimal effects on them. The sisters experience imprisonment, harassment, and horrors beyond imagination, but quickly after these events transpire, the characters return to their original disposition as though they had not encountered these evils at all. This flagrant lack of character growth is most noticeable in María Teresa. As a child, she was spunky and cheerful, always wanting new dresses and shoes. Her immature attitude surrounding clothing continues throughout the story, right up until her death—while Las Mariposas are driving before they are stopped and killed, María Teresa remarks on wanting a new bag. In some ways, this can be interpreted as a demonstration of how the sisters’ core values still hold true throughout all circumstances. However, in this scene, María’s materialism came off as shallow and fit the atmosphere poorly. Her childishness contrasts sharply with the mature and solemn María Teresa we see when she is actively participating in the rebellion. This inconsistency rendered attempts at understanding her emotional growth from child to adult near impossible. Her inconsistent nature could have been used thoughtfully to show the effects of Trujillo’s tyranny, but instead it makes it difficult to understand her character because she acts like two entirely separate people. Sofía Raquel Sánchez in In the Time of Butterflies at Book-It Repertory Theatre, Photo by Anthony Floyd

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Frights and Thrills for the Creative Spirit

Teen Editorial Staff October 2022 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Audrey Gray and Esha Potharaju

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A rush of autumnal spirit thrums in the air. The transition from September to October is jarring—all of a sudden, the wind picks up, carrying the aroma of fall spices, and Halloween seems just around the corner. Throughout the local art scene, creative minds are preparing for this transition, setting up spooky productions of well-known favorites and spine-tingling selections of film and art that are sure to offer you a new vision into what the human mind is capable of creating. This October, seek out some new frights and thrills to get your blood pumping and rejuvenate your spirit, curated by the Teen Editorial Staff here at TeenTix.

If you’re eager to experience how the classic monster-laden iconography of Halloween manifests in the mind of Shakespeare, visit Center Theatre for Seattle Shakespeare Company’s taste of cackling witches and cold-blooded murder in their production of the world-renowned play Macbeth. If you’re riding on that wave of spooky theater but are looking for something a bit more lighthearted and punchy, drop by at Village Theatre to watch Little Shop of Horrors, based on the cult classic 1960s film of the same name. The show is jam packed with comedy, rock, romance, and carnivorous, borderline predatory plants.

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Stories Like "Where We Belong" Belong on More Stages

Review of Where We Belong presented by Seattle Rep

Written by Teen Writer Anna Melomed and edited by Teen Editor Kyle Gerstel

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Where We Belong is a story told by one person, but it features countless different perspectives. Meet Madeline Sayet, the playwright and performer of the piece. Her Mohegan name translates to “Blackbird” and over the course of the play, Sayet learns to soar through life. She is the daughter of the medicine woman of the Mohegan tribe, an Indigenous tribe nestled in the emerald forests of Connecticut. Her community is her family and a large part of her identity.

The audience learns that several things make up a soul: a name, a family, and a passion. A passion is an incredibly strong thing: when a person discovers their passion, it changes their life. It is a thing we can fall back on no matter what goes wrong.

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The Immersive World of MAGMA SLIT

Review of MAGMA SLIT exhibit at the Henry Art Gallery

Written by Teen Writer Lily Fredericks and edited by Teen Editor Aamina Mughal

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Equal parts enthralling and bewildering, your queries will spiral as you immerse yourself in Donna Huanca’s MAGMA SLIT. Transporting the viewer from the mundane reality of Seattle traffic and tedious routine, Huanca provides a reprieve from the ordinary, casting the viewer into a cathartic land of discovery. Residing in the Henry Art Gallery, MAGMA SLIT consists of four expansive paintings depicting each season, bringing life to their formerly inanimate white backdrop. These paintings emerged from an array of digitally printed photographs from Huanca’s life, which were stitched together and transformed into the paintings. Huanca coated these foundations with vivid strokes of paint, hues primarily corresponding with their associated seasons: warmer tones depicting summer, cooler ones characterizing winter, and a flurried blend of both expressing the transitory seasons of spring and fall. Echoed with hints of life, these paintings display glimpses of the photographs of people and natural textures concealed within them, providing a real life connection between the audience and Huanca’s abstract world.

In the middle of the exhibit lies a stage. Down the center, a line of six steel sheets with alternating reflective and opaque sides create a transcendent mirror effect. This allows you to simultaneously view slivers of the paintings behind you, before you, and even catch glimpses of yourself. Cast against the vibrant settings of the paintings, viewers are further immersed in Huanca’s surreal world by becoming part of it. This deepens the viewer’s connection with the exhibit through encouraging them to relate Huanca’s pieces to themselves. Donna Huanca, Installation view of Donna Huanca: MAGMA SLIT, 2022, Henry Art Gallery, University of Seattle, Washington. Photo: Jonathan Vanderweit courtesy of the Henry Art Gallery.

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The Interpretations and Identities in Choir Boy

Review of Choir Boy presented by ACT Theatre

Written by Teen Writer Amelia Stiles and edited by Teen Editor Disha Cattamanchi

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A seat in the second row of ACT’s Allen Theater could not have prepared me more for the intimate and captivating story of Choir Boy. As I sat feet away from the hexagon stage, I was immediately brought into the Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys’ Commencement Ceremony. Seconds into this opening scene, the space fills with the rich and resonant voice of protagonist Pharus Young (Nicholas Japaul Bernard), the bold and audacious leader of the school’s gospel choir. Choir Boy revolves around Pharus’s sexuality, religious identity, and experience being Queer and Black in an all-male prep school. His story is thoughtfully conveyed through gospel, Step choreography, and innovative set design. I enjoyed the show’s creative visuals, although some of the character choices left me confused.

The unique incorporation of sound made the show a personal experience. Unlike a flashy musical, the songs in Choir Boy are fully a capella. Music entirely created with the human body lets the characters deeply express joy and pain. The absence of an orchestra leaves room for creative ways to fill the space with sound; stomping, clapping, and slamming of benches, and other body percussion are used in each musical number. These are all qualities of a specific African-American dance form, Step. By adding Step into the choreography, Juel D. Lane, the choreographer, creates a complex visual to pair with the powerful vocals on stage. This not only provided the audience with a more raw and personal way to experience the characters’ emotions but also gave a chance for audiences to see a historical Black dance form presented in a modern play. Step, paired with the gospel lyrics, allows the personal stories of each character to be told through their Black experience. The song and dance adds a deeper understanding of the character’s identities. Without explicitly speaking about being Black, the characters can demonstrate how their identity contributes to their stories.

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