XALT: Unraveling Distanced Chaos Reveals Self-Identified Truth

Feature on Whim W'Him's XALT

Written by Teen Writer Sumeya Block and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson

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Pandemic life is nothing new: it’s in the headline of every arts event, and it’s the center of every news story, hashtag, and home. It is shocking how rapidly a single word can trigger dread and create a sense of isolation, or even mania, within an entire population. In these many months, the world has faced a great deal of change, and while isolation has proven to be one of the biggest challenges, we all have found ways to create the personal interactions we so intensely crave. Art has been a surprisingly integral part of these interpersonal interactions—watching a live stream from your favorite singer can be just as engaging as a phone call with a friend, and viewing short films on Zoom together brings us that much closer to the ones we care about. The opportunity to become invested in art and creativity is, in many ways, more accessible than ever. Arts organizations have adapted to COVID-19 by utilizing their websites to increase interactivity with hope of adding the personal touches that help thaw the loneliness of their audiences and supporters. Theater and dance companies have faced the same challenge: how can a theater bring audiences the gift of a show and continue to offer cherished community spaces when they aren’t physically open? This summer season, the artists of local dance company Whim W’Him had to find that answer for themselves.

“We decided to pivot into making dance films” says Whim W’Him artistic director Olivier Wevers. Before COVID-19, the dance company’s summer season XALT was set to consist of two live shows—MANIFOLD and The Way It Is. These pieces intended to explore the human journey and bring the audience into an intimate storyline, latching onto the personal, yet universal, emotions of the audience members and artists alike. But COVID-19 spun the arts world on its head, leaving many dance companies unprepared and in search of new ways to reach audiences. XALT’S MANIFOLD, choreographed by Penny Saunders, and The Way It Is, choreographed by Wevers, use dance to perfectly capture the loneliness of quarantine. It is strangely comforting to see the socially distanced dancers in these performances tread carefully, so as not to step into each other’s space. Whim W'Him dancer Andrew McShea and company dancers performing Olivier Wevers' The Way It Is during a pop-up appearance at Myrtle Edwards Park in Seattle. Photo by Stefano Altamura.

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Passionate about Hip Hop? Interested in a career in music?

The Residency Hip Hop Program is now accepting applications for its 2020 cohort.

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WHO CAN PARTICIPATE?

Youth ages 16-19 with an established desire to pursue hip-hop and music as a career must apply online and meet all criteria in order to be considered. This year’s intensive will take place at MoPOP from July 27th - August 21st. Application deadline is June 1st.

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Bridging the Gap Between Lack of Arts Funding and Career Pathways in Technical Theatre

Feature about the STARFISH PROJECT, a program by the Intiman Theatre.

Written by Maire Kennan, during TeenTix’s Beyond the Review Press Corps Intensive.

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We met Sam, Adem, and Faith along with Kyle Hartmann, around a large table on a cloudy day in April. Sam, Adem, and Faith are all students at Franklin High School in South Seattle, and members of STARFISH PROJECT and Kyle, is the STARFISH PROJECT program manager. The focus of our meeting: to learn and gain insight and information about STARFISH PROJECT.

STARFISH PROJECT, which started in 2017 in a woodshop at Franklin High School, works to provide professional access to education and career opportunities in theatre craft. The program takes place anywhere between six and nine weeks, three days a week, for three hours. Each iteration works to put on a show. The program usually starts with the school’s existing theatre program (if there is one), and works with actors from the drama club as well as students interested in carpentry, set design, lighting design, stage managing and more. Although STARFISH PROJECT works with three high schools: Chief Sealth, Franklin High School, and Rainier Beach High School, the program is not limited to students at those schools. Any 14-18 year olds (and older) in the Seattle area are welcome to join the program, although it is geared toward high school aged kids, and they hope to expand.

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The Art of Backstage Storytelling

Feature about the STARFISH PROJECT, a program by the Intiman Theatre.

Written by Triona Suiter, during TeenTix’s Beyond the Review Press Corps Intensive.

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The world of theatre is slowly getting more diverse. Actors of color are finding more jobs, female directors are gradually gaining recognition, and most shows are providing more representation as a whole. But the backstage world is still ruled by straight white men. Technical theatre is an extremely important aspect of stagecraft that is often overlooked. People prefer the flashy and glamorous onstage action to the quiet and stealthy work backstage. Because of that, technical theatre training is almost nonexistent. The STARFISH PROJECT is looking to rectify that.

Through a partnership with Sawhorse Revolution, the Intiman Theatre launched the STARFISH PROJECT in 2017. The project’s goal is to provide accessible training in all aspects of technical theatre to teens in the Seattle area, especially in high schools that have underfunded or nonexistent arts programs. Already, it has had a powerful impact on students’ lives.

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GiveBIG SUPERSTAR SORCERER Betsey Brock

Interview with Betsey Brock, Executive Director of On the Boards

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Each year we look forward to sharing the amazing stories of our GiveBIG SUPERSTARS with our TeenTix community. This year, we’ve added a “magic” word to this title to reflect the extra special nature of this group of devoted arts access champions who have transformed TeenTix with their consistent support. So without further ado, we’d like to introduce you to our first TeenTix GiveBIG SUPERSTAR SORCERER Betsey Brock! Betsey is one of just nine people in the whole world who has donated to TeenTix during GiveBIG every year since 2013!

Betsey has been a TeenTix fan from the beginning; she first got to know our programs through her good friend Holly Arsenault, the first Executive Director of TeenTix! At the time, Betsey was working at TeenTix Partner Henry Art Gallery, and her husband (curator and former art critic Eric Fredericksen) was asked to work with the TeenTix Press Corps, so the whole family soon got to see TeenTix’s programs in action... Not long after, her son turned 13 and signed up for his own TeenTix Pass. Today, as Executive Director of TeenTix Partner On the Boards, Betsey regularly works with TeenTix to foster an intelligent and engaged audience of young people.

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Broadway or 2.7 Million Dollar Debt? The Ballad of Phillip Chavira

Interview with Phillip Chavira, Executive Director of Intiman Theatre.

Written by Lark Keteyian, during TeenTix’s Beyond the Review Press Corps Intensive.

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"The biggest question is, why would I come to Seattle after that?"

Phillip Chavira used to be a Broadway producer. His job was to raise money to invest in shows, and if they made a profit he got paid—which was rare, but glamorous when it happened. In 2016, he was nominated for a Tony Award for co-producing ECLIPSED, a play about the Second Liberian Civil War with an all women of color cast, director, and playwright. He worked with Stephen C. Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey, the only current African-American producers on Broadway. But in 2017, he moved across the country to work with a theater company struggling to get out from under its 2.7 million dollar debt.

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