Best. Young Critics Workshop. Ever.

A review of a class about reviewing, by Bianca G.

Finally, our Young Critics Workshop met the fine humans behind the bylines of The Stranger. And it was as glorious as we had dreamed! Seriously. They entered like an army of hipsters armed with their thick, horn-rimmed glasses and were as weird as expected, but in all the good ways. Allow me to quickly spew all the compliments I have bottled up. They are scholarly, yet too cool for school; they are opinionated socialites; they are handsome, witty, and charming. They are not arrogant about their coolness, as their slogan "Seattle’s Only Newspaper" would suggest. In fact, they laugh a lot.

Stranger day at Teen Tix's Young Critics Workshop

The five kind souls that volunteered their time for the good of young critics were (in alphabetical order): Paul Constant, Charles Mudede, Matthew Richter, David Schmader, and Miz Lindy West. And of course, our faithful teacher Brendan Kiley. The Stranger seems to be mostly guys, which is weird because our young critics circle has only two . The Stranger panel talked about how they drift between work and play like it ain’t no thing, because their job is so enjoyable that work and play become one and clocking hours is trivial. Then they shared their stories of how they all "stumbled" or "fell into" The Stranger, meanwhile we were thinking with purpose how we must work there. It’s like they didn’t realize that this is an era of people who admire The Stranger and want to be part of it, beginning with The Stranger’s 19 year-old public intern who has written about being star struck by Dan Savage. We have been reading their work since middle school, since I had to sneak The Stranger around because my mother thought it was inappropriate.

The Stranger's Brendan Kiley, Matthew Richter, Charles Mudede, Paul Constant and Lindy West at Teen Tix's Young Critic's Workshop

David Schmader met with a group of three of us to read our reviews of the horrible play The Breach (Holly is the world's most optimistic person, and even she said "I didn’t love it.") He said pleasant things, (considering his usual reporting on infant deaths, pitbull attacks, etc) complimenting our verb use and making reasonable suggestions. But it wouldn’t have mattered if he had told us our work smelled as bad as The Breach, because he, THE DAVID SCHMADER, was there in real life! Reading our writing! He even LOL’d a few times!

YCW students with The Stranger's Brendan Kiley, Charles Mudede, David Schmader and Matthew Richter

Lindy West also shared stories from her days at Garfield, then Charles Mudede spoke very precisely about his epiphanies from reading Marx or something. And Mr. Schmader assured us that writing "gets easier." I was in such a good mood afterwards, my parents noticed. It was the absolute best session of YCW we’d ever experienced, and ever will experience until the day Dan Savage comes.

Young Critics Workshop students basking in the scholarly glow of the guest Strangers.

The Young Critics Workshop is Teen Tix's seminar for 11th & 12th graders who are interested in critical journalism. For the past four months, the eleven writers who were invited to participate in this year's workshop have been working under the guidance of Stranger Performance Editor Brendan Kiley on improving their critical writing skills. Applications for the 2008-2009 Young Critics Workshop will be available in July.
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