The True Meaning of Christmas

Review of Christmastown: A Holiday Noir at the Seattle Public Theater.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Vanessa Chen and edited by Teen Editor Olivia Sun.

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Warning, spoilers ahead.

Christmas—a time for drinking hot chocolate, hanging lights, giving gifts, and making snow angels—has long been celebrated by many American households. People celebrate Christmas not only for its religious context, but also as a cultural holiday. Growing up, children are taught that Christmas is about giving to others because only the good boys and girls—those who spread kindness—will be visited by Santa Claus every year. But, they aren’t taught who Santa Claus really is.

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Childhood, Revisited

Review of Corduroy at the Seattle Children's Theatre.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Triona Suiter and edited by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras.

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This holiday season, Seattle Children’s Theatre brings much-loved picture book Corduroy to life under the enthusiastic direction of Kathryn Van Meter. Expanding on the original story by Don Freeman, Barry Kornhauser’s warmhearted adaptation will delight younger attendees and coax forth the child within older ones.

The play begins on an empty stage glowing a rich blue. Combining the talents of scenic designer Tony Bend and lighting designer L.B. Morse, faint concentric circles painted on the walls and floor give the stage the appearance of a whimsical tunnel, drawing the eyes of audience towards its softly glowing orange center. First to enter are two clowns, played by teen actors, who perform an animated routine of physical comedy. The clowns then appear to use the force of their minds to drag on set pieces, slowly assembling a department store. Right from the start, the goofy and whimsical sound effects coupled with the pair’s exaggerated body movements give the show a playful and cartoonish feel.

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Finding Your Beauty

Review of Where Beauty Lies at the Wing Luke Museum.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Alyssa Williams and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla.

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The Wing Luke Museum’s Where Beauty Lies is a wonderful exhibit that showcases the Asian-American perspective of beauty through various mediums of artwork, such as artifacts, videos, photographs, and posters. The multitude of mediums kept the exhibit engaging: it interested me to see all the different interpretations of beauty. I loved looking at the fashionable articles of clothing from different cultures, videos of hair and makeup, and photographs of stunning models. One of my favorite pieces, two photographs of a woman with short black hair throwing her head back in laughter, represents how happiness is valuable and beautiful. Her joy makes the woman look approachable and appealing—two qualities that most people strive to achieve. Beauty is a mental state rather than a physical one.

The exhibit shows how the beauty standards that the media sets up are largely unachievable and unrealistic, especially for people of color. By showing stories about Asian-Americans accepting themselves and their culture, the exhibit inspires viewers to break free of these standards and accept themselves. One Indian woman speaks about how she decided to wear traditional Indian clothing for her wedding, describing how the clothing made her feel comfortable and empowered. She learned to never forget her identity nor try to hide it. Similarly, one room has movie posters with culturally diverse casts hanging from the ceiling. By featuring these movies, the exhibit sends a positive message about the trajectory of widening beauty standards and cultural acceptance—two things that have been historically been left out of Hollywood. One of the big influencers of cultural trends is movies, so seeing films representational of the Asian-American community inspired me to not feel limited by my race.

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In Plain Sight: Exhibiting Untold Stories

Review of In Plain Sight at Henry Art Gallery.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Taylar Christianson and edited by Teen Editor Tova Gaster.

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If you visit the Henry Art Gallery during the next five months, the first thing you’ll see as you walk towards the galleries is a large, color-changing neon sign stating “Education Should Be Free.” This bright and vibrant piece by Andrea Bowers sets the tone for the expansive and exciting exhibition ahead. In Plain Sight showcases 14 artists from around the world in a single exhibit, which occupies the whole museum but won’t take your entire day to explore (unless you want it to!).

The title of the exhibition is taken from the phrase “hidden in plain sight”—something that exists just under the surface but is invisible to the eye. In Plain Sight removes the “hidden” element of the phrase and aims instead to bring forward narratives, communities, and histories that are often invisible in mainstream American culture. The artists address these stories and identities in their art, and work to “tell previously unknown stories, to speak for voices that have been undervalued or deliberately silenced, to reveal aspects of our public narratives that have been obfuscated, and to reimagine histories for the future” (The Henry website).

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Getting Festive

Teen Editorial Staff December 2019 Editorial

Written by Teen Editors Lily Williamson and Tova Gaster!

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Sorry Boomers: in Seattle at least, you’ve pretty much lost the “War on Christmas.” While in the days of yore, our monthly theme for December might have been limited to Christmas, we at TeenTix respect cultural and religious diversity—so our reviews this month will simply be getting Festive (whatever that means to you).

MOHAI’s new exhibit, Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation, displays the rich history of the Indian American community in the PNW and throughout the country. Through video, audio, and photographs, learn about the underrepresented history of one of America’s largest immigrant groups.

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The Importance of Tradition for a New Generation

Review of Sugar Skull: A Día de Los Muertos Musical Adventure at Tacoma Arts Live.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Mila Borowski and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson.

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The first hint of the show were the silhouettes of the band members entering the back corner of the stage, nimbly tucking themselves into the arrangement of musical instruments already set up. The house lights dimmed and the stage lights faded on, lighting up the fanciful skeleton makeup that adorned the faces of the band and every cast member. Excitement already began to bubble up amidst the audience members, from elementary school kids to older adults. All have gathered to celebrate the Day of the Dead through the show Sugar Skull! A Día de los Muertos Musical Adventure at Tacoma Arts Live; a story described by Peter Bogdanos, the show’s producer, as “perfectly fitting for a varied audience.”

The play began by introducing us to Sugar Skull, a skeleton made of sugar with a captivating and energetic personality who watched along with the rest of us as the second protagonist, Vita Flores, wandered on stage, very much caught up in the music playing from her headphones. She halfheartedly rummaged with an odd photo or two upon the ofrenda (an altar set up for deceased relatives) before muttering about the absurdity of a display for the dead. This triggered a conflict between the apathetic teen and Sugar Skull, who, in his opening remarks, expressed admiration for the tradition.

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Hidden In Plain Sight: Magnifying What Is Already There

Review of Hidden in Plain Sight by Maria Phillips at Bellevue Arts Museum.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Sumeya Block and edited by Teen Editor Olivia Sun.

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Maria Phillips’ exhibit Hidden In Plain Sight at the Bellevue Arts Museum is not only a wake up call to the harm of plastic consumption in Seattle and the impact it has on our oceans, but a reminder to fight our society’s complacency. What started as a passion project for Phillips’ family, Hidden In Plain Sight grew into a series of sculptures that evoke a prudent message, if not a warning, for those who listen: human trash is taking over our planet. After all, the sheer amount of plastic tins, toothbrushes, rags, and food cartons collected by Phillips within a single year has the capacity to fill the large exhibit rooms.

There are many famous artists who have reused items to allude to an issue in their community, but Phillips has a distinct style across all her pieces. Let’s call it the looking glass effect. Phillips draws the viewer's eye to every aspect of trash before them. From the Calvin Klein label on a half open box, which once held clothes, to the remaining stains of food on an old food carton, I notice that Phillips does not choose to sanitize these reused items: rather, she calls attention to them. By commanding awareness to the ugly brown stain on a crumpled bag of chips and the rolled up lint on an old rag, Phillips places the blame on us, the viewers, and the corporations who mass produce the plastic products we love so much. Technosphere by Maria Phillips. Photo courtesy of Bellevue Arts Museum.

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Don't Close Your Eyes

Review of the "Powerful Grit" screening at NFFTY.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Ava Rudensey and edited by Teen Editor Olivia Sun.

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I walked into the theater ever so slightly confused. After skimming through the NFFTY (National Film Festival for Talented Youth) catalog of hundreds of films, I wondered: what was tonight’s screening, “Powerful Grit,” actually going to be about? As the lights dimmed, I prepared to “buckle [my] eyebelts” as the show description advised. Whatever that meant. However, after watching the screening, I can now define the phrase with confidence: It’s the feeling of peeking out from underneath a blanket when the monster in a horror movie finally emerges; it’s the anxiety one gets when a roller coaster delays right before it plummets; and it’s that combination of excitement and dread that I imagine occurs during the plane ride up to go skydiving.

The screening began with Baby by Vincent D’Alessandro, Kirsten Pasewaldt, and Finley King. It is the story of a single mother, her expectations, and eventual revolt alongside her young, tiara-crowned daughter Baby. Though it has a relatively simple story-line compared to subsequent films in the screening, what stands out is the film’s immersive first-person shots—when Baby runs, the camera follows. When she falls, we fall too. This left a lingering sense of intimacy before being thrown headfirst into the vulnerable and melancholic world of You’re Still Here by Katayoun Parmar.

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Exploring Queer Alienation with a Literal Alien

Review of A Brief Story from the Green Planet at Three Dollar Bill's Seattle Queer Film Festival.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Kai Craig and edited by Teen Editor Tova Gaster.

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A Brief Story from the Green Planet is a beautiful— and jarring— film. It follows three close friends on their journey through the Argentinian countryside to return an alien back to its place of origin. The movie is full of lovely, sweeping shots that are full of fondness for the location and the characters and is generally a thought-provoking and well-put-together piece.

The film follows Tania (Romina Escobar), a young transgender woman mourning the death of her grandmother. Tania calls upon her two friends to travel to her grandmother’s home with her. There they discover that, prior to her death, Tania’s grandmother was housing and caring for a small blue extraterrestrial. The creature is roughly three feet tall, with enormous, bulbous eyes and a slight frame, a standard cinematic alien. The group takes it upon themselves to return to the creature to whence it came. Through various encounters with ex-bullies and lovers, a hospital scare, and even an odd, metaphorical mob, the trio confronts their fears and past traumas while simultaneously dragging an impossibly large suitcase containing the alien through the countryside of Argentina. Despite these challenges, the three are able to successfully find their way. Film still from A Brief Story from the Green Planet

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Bloody Relevant

Review of Dracula at ACT.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Eleanor Cenname and edited by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes.

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“We have, all of us, a secret life.” Thunderous and gory and ominous and utterly beautiful and all at once shrouded in darkness and mystery, Dracula explored what the characters did not know about their society, each other, and themselves.

Steeped in blood, smoke, and innuendo, ACT Theatre’s production of Dracula by Steven Dietz twists the quintessential horror classic into something altogether new. In ACT’s modernized iteration of the classic, the story follows Mina, a young woman in love and infatuated with Jonathan Harker, who writes to her from his travels in Transylvania, through her plight to combat the malevolent Dracula as he leaves death and destruction in his wake. Brandon O'Neill as Count Dracula at ACT. Photo by Chris Bennion.

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Under the Surface

Teen Editorial Staff November 2019 Editorial

Written by Teen Editors Lily Williamson and Tova Gaster!

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As we transition into winter, the streets of Seattle may look grey and uninviting. It’s tempting to stay at home binge-watching shows you know you like. But look again: there’s a world of thought-provoking and entertaining art under the surface of Seattle’s November gloom, and this month, we want to highlight the events you might pass over at first glance.

Bellevue Arts Museum’s exhibition Hidden In Plain Sight explores how old materials can be made new through art. Similarly, a new exhibition at the Henry Art Gallery with the almost-identical title In Plain Sight, relates to this theme as well. Seeking to explore narratives of racial marginalization, class, and ethnicity repressed and overlooked due to systems of oppression, the Henry showcases visual art and photography to question dominant American cultural narratives.

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White Guilt With A Side of Gravy

Review of The Thanksgiving Play at Seattle Public Theater.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Adrian Martin and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla.

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The Thanksgiving Play, by Larissa Fasthorse, staged at the Seattle Public Theater, is an unexpectedly fun and thoughtful look at race and white guilt. The play stars Jonelle Jordan as the anxious and determined Logan, who’s writing a play about Thanksgiving; Martyn G. Krouse as the hippie Jaxton, her partner, who you love to hate; Andrew Shanks as the shy and passionate Caden, a history teacher; and Zenaida Rose Smith as Alicia, the gorgeous and deeply misled L.A actress.

How do four white people make a culturally sensitive Thanksgiving show for children about the horrific history of Native American treatment in the U.S.? Logan has landed herself in this pickle when her Native American actress turns out to be a white woman with “ethnicity headshots.” Paired with her hippie not-boyfriend, an enthusiastic elementary teacher with a passion for playwriting, and the previously mentioned white actress, the four of them have to create a culturally sensitive show out of their distinct lack of melanin.

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The Tempest: Something Old, Something New

Review of The Tempest at Seattle Shakespeare Company.

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

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What makes or breaks a modern production of a classic story? Is it the acting, the setting, the interpretation? The large amount of “classics” available to us has lead to a pretty noticeable increase in remastered stories.

Seattle Shakespeare Company’s production of The Tempest is an example of one such creation. It tells the classic Shakespearean tale of Prospero (Mari Nelson), a banished Duke with strong magical abilities. The play shows Prospero coping with his past, as the King of Milan and others responsible for his exile find themselves stranded on the mystical island he now lives on. Everything gets more complicated as his daughter, Miranda (Allyson Lee Brown), gets tangled up in the drama, and Prospero finds himself forced to decide between revenge and forgiveness.

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The Female Gothic and Puppetry at We Go Mad

Review of We Go Mad at 18th and Union.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Olivia Villa and edited by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras.

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With the recent rise of box-office-breaking horror movies, it seems the genre is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. One subgenre of horror, however, that has consistently remained in pop culture’s periphery is gothic romance. For theater fans of the genre, it’s time to get excited. Here to marry gothic romance themes to those of 70s horror and ghost stories is Amy Escobar’s play We Go Mad, which had its world premiere September 20, 2019.

The play centers an unnamed woman who inherits a looming estate (and possibly much more) from her great-grandmother. Escobar draws us into a dark world of fairy royalty, intergenerational trauma, levitation, body dysphoria as a haunted house, and break-ups that break records for their awfulness. But while We Go Mad finds a saving grace in its passion for the mystery and the supernatural sublime, it faces some unavoidable issues with integrating different tones.

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Everything’s Eerie!

Teen Editorial Staff October 2019 Editorial

Written by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes!

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Dust off the skeletons. Carve up the pumpkins. Plant the gravestones in the ground, hang the ghosts around the house, and beware the witch around the neighborhood because it’s finally the second scariest time of the year (behind finals season of course): October! The Teen Editorial Staff knows that this spooky season is kicking into full gear, so we’ve got your back with some great art to curl up to.

If you like your horror spawned from none other than the Bard of Avon, you may find Seattle Shakespeare Company's The Tempest particularly intriguing. The literal and literary magic of The Tempest makes it stand tall among Shakespeare’s many triumphs, and Seattle Shakespeare’s performances will no doubt do justice to the time-tested tragicomedy. More traditional Halloween horror might tickle your fancy instead, so look no further than Dracula at ACT, a modern take on the most iconic public domain demon. A thorough reimagining of Bram Stoker’s 1897 classic, Dracula adapts the classic monster for a 21st century audience while still managing to carve out its own niche within the villain’s long and storied evolution. If you are craving a fresh story that you might not have heard of before, check out We Go Mad at 18th & Union, a haunted house story involving a woman inheriting not just her family’s property, but their demons as well. Incorporating unique puppetry techniques including “cinematic shadow play, modified bunraku, and object manipulation,” this show is not to be missed during your month of fright-filled festivities. You might also be interested in the horrors of reality, and there’s no better place than the Powerful Grit screening of short films at NFFTY. Full of hard-hitting, depressing, and all around feel-bad films, it’s the perfect place to go to get a good dose of the feels. If you’re looking for a time at the movies that’s a little less Sour Patch Kids and a little more Haribo Goldbears, look no further than Brief Story from the Green Planet at the Three Dollar Bill Cinema's Seattle Queer Film Festival. Follow Tania, a trans performer who, after discovering an alien among her deceased grandmother’s belongings, goes on a journey with her two childhood friends to return to the extraterrestrial, face their fears, and discover themselves. And finally, for those of you who aren’t much into the Halloween spirit: no worries! We’ll fast-forward to Turkey Day and Native American Heritage Month by seeing The Thanksgiving Play at Seattle Public Theater. In this story written by Native American playwright Larissa Fasthorse, we hear a comedic take on one journey to uncover and share the true origins of the white-washed Thanksgiving holiday in our country.

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Shared Tragedy at Everything Is Illuminated

Review of Everything Is Illuminated at Book-It Repertory Theatre.

Written by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson.

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My mother didn’t want to go to college. After graduating high school, she didn’t attend, electing instead to run away to the mountains of Colorado to become a ski bum. Instead of the free skiing life she imagined, she spent a season cleaning toilets as a maid. Finally, she decided to honor her parents’ wishes and go to college. On her first day of St. Catherine’s, a sprawling and decidedly Catholic all-girls school, she wore fatigues from the army surplus store. Drawing a line down the floor of her dorm with her combat boot, she said to her new roommate (whom she later dubbed “Becky Home Ec-ky”) “this is your side, and this is mine.”

I have heard this story so many times throughout the years, more as mythology than recollection. Every rebellion I stage is due in part to my mother’s genes. Everything Is Illuminated understood this process, how our family stories stretch and shrink to accommodate corners of the everyday. Everything Is Illuminated was a story of stories. It’s part letters read aloud, part family mythology told in projector images, and part recollections of the main characters. The show celebrated the nature of our own mythology, and how it can shape us along the way.

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Bulrusher: A POC Narrative about Self-Discovery

Review of Bulrusher at Intiman Theatre.

Written by Teen Editor Olivia Sun and edited by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes.

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At seven years old, I thought I knew everything there was to know about living a fulfilling life. For me, the path to happiness was simple: become a famous artist, adopt three dogs, and live in a mansion on the lake. However, I soon realized that life wasn’t as easy as I made it out to be. But with these fanciful dreams no longer clouding my thoughts, there were times when I no longer knew who I was, where I fit into my community, or what I wanted to do with my life. This kind of teenage existential crisis is common amongst my peers, and perhaps this is why playwright Eisa Davis wrote Bulrusher, a coming-of-age story about the pathway to self-discovery.

Bulrusher, set in the year 1955, is a production directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton at the Intiman Theatre. When we first meet Bulrusher (Ayo Tushinde), she is a young woman, living in the small logging and farming town of Boonville. The Boonville residents speak a combination of English and Boontling—an elaborate, esoteric lingo known only by the locals. As an infant, Bulrusher was abandoned in a basket set free along the Navarro River, before eventually being found and raised by an old schoolteacher named Schoolch (Charles Leggett). Eighteen years later, she spends her time running her own orange business, getting schooled by the local brothel owner Madame (Christine Pilar), and being serenaded with love songs by a local teenage boy (Adam Fontana). But as one of just two people of color in Boonville, Bulrusher is a misfit in her traditional, white, working-class rural community. She copes with her struggles of belonging by spending time besides the river that kept her alive as a baby. Reginald André Jackson, Adam Fontana, and Charles Leggett in Bulrusher. Photo by Naomi Ishisaka.

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Antiques Improv: "Discovering Seattle’s Hidden Treasures!"

Review of Antiques Improv Show at Jet City Improv.

Written by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes and edited by Teen Editor Olivia Sun.

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Money may very well be the root of all evil, but at Antiques Improv Show by Jet City Improv, monetary value becomes the butt of an evening-spanning joke. If you’ve ever found yourself channel-surfing a TV without cable from the hours of 7 to 9 pm, then you’ve likely stumbled upon the incredibly mundane world of Antiques Roadshow. For those who haven’t been enlightened, the basic premise of the show is that local people bring in valuable, old, or innocuous items for appraisal by the traveling Antiques Roadshow experts, and the most valuable or interesting items get put into the show.

Similarly, in Antiques Improv Show, each audience member is encouraged to bring an item of their own for appraisal. Unlike the TV show, however, these items don’t need to be valuable, significant, or even antiques. Instead, it’s up to the “appraisers” (Taya K. Beattie, Glen Dodge, Matt Jurasek, Randy S. Miller, Austin Olson, Jenn Petti, Sam Riordan, and Emily Shuel) to give them value by creating lavish stories for the items. I brought a chess participation trophy I “won” 7 years ago, but after an initial appraisal, it turned out to be a relic from the knights of templar with connections to the holy grail.

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Indy Jones Is a Fresh, Fun-Filled Take on a Childhood Classic

Review of Indy Jones and the Raiders of the Last Temple of the Doomed Ark at Seattle Public Theater.

Written by Teen Editor Lily Williamson and edited by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras.

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Although I was born a few decades too late to experience the Indiana Jones movies as they came out, the franchise was an integral part of my childhood. My dad and I have always bonded over these films, and we even made our way through the entire series. So when I heard that Seattle Public Theatre, in collaboration with theater troupe The Habit, was offering their own spin on these sentimental films, we just had to go together.

I can’t say I was expecting SPT’s Indy Jones and the Raiders of the Last Temple of the Doomed Ark to be anywhere near as great as the original films. I was anticipating a simple re-enactment of the series, with maybe a few new and cheesy jokes. But, Indy Jones exceeded my expectations: it’s a wonderfully comedic mishmash of the first three films, complete with original musical numbers. This production isn’t a simple re-enactment of the show, but a new, fresh, and dick joke-filled take on these nostalgic classics.SPT’s Indy Jones and the Raiders of the Last Temple of the Doomed Ark. Photo by Marcia Davis.

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The Great British Bake Off Gets A Radical Upgrade

Review of the Great Victorian Radicals Bake-Off at Seattle Art Museum.

Written by Teen Editor Anya Shukla and edited by Teen Editor Tova Gaster.

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In a truly tragic turn of events, I arrived at SAM’s Great Victorian Radicals Bake-Off four days after I vowed to eat healthier and skip dessert for two weeks. As I watched my sister nosh her way through cakes, pies, and even dessert tacos, I could feel my mouth start to water. She looked at me between bites, raising her eyebrows as if to say “your loss!” I stuck to my guns, but if I go by my sister’s review, I missed out on a gastric fiesta.

The event was billed as a mix between The Great British Bake-Off, a family-friendly baking show, and SAM’s Victorian Radicals art exhibit, a showcase of the revolutionary techniques used by artists in 19th century Europe. Bakers had two months to view the exhibit, pick a piece, and create a breathtaking dessert based on their choice. On the day of, judges did a taste-test, scoring each scrumptious baked good on taste, presentation, and connection to the exhibit. At the Bake-Off, the audience also got the chance to vote for the winner of the “People’s Choice Award,” AKA “Best Looking Sweet.” This baking event seemed like a way of connecting the exhibit, which centers around older art, with young adults and teens who might know the British Bake-Off better than the Industrial Revolution. Great Victorian Radicals Bake-Off. Photo courtesy of SAM.

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