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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What is Going On in Feathers and Teeth?

Review of Feathers and Teeth presented by Washington Ensemble Theatre.

Written by Sitara Lewis during TeenTix’s Theater & Dance Press Corps Intensive.

Samie Spring Detzer as Carol in WE Ts Feathers and Teeth. Photo credit: Chris Bennion.

Something is a little off here in the Feathers and Teeth produced by Washington Ensemble Theatre. "It’s Such a Pretty World Today" by Nancy Sinatra accompanying the typical American household set certainly sets the initial mood. This 80 minute play is a unique comical horror show, illustrating grief stricken Chris (Rachel Guyer-Mafune) after losing her mom and now dealing with over enthusiastic perky step mother Carol (Samie Spring Detzer). With Chris’ anger against the world thoroughly expressed through her love of rock music and her multiple attempts of stabbing people (and the successful attempt at a strange animal in the pot that the play revolves around), Carol’s bipolar moods and manipulation over her husband Arthur (Brandon J. Simmons), and Arthur’s introduction is with him having blood on his hands and maybe just killing an animal (on accident, though), this play keeps the audience guessing on who exactly is the psychopath. Rachel Guyer-Mafune as Chris in WET's Feathers and Teeth. Photo credit: Chris Bennion

The artistic touches were great. I will not give any vital spoilers away. In one striking scene, Carol smokes at the table in the dark with the red light highlighting her, and below her in the crawl space (that is viewable to the audience) someone is maliciously being attacked in all red light. It was a great contrast, unique use of multiple levels of staging, and a scene that was ultimately wonderfully twisted. Feathers and Teeth certainly could have been scarier, though. It consisted of a few jump scares with the animal jumping in the pot or with the lighting design by Ryan Dunn, but it could have had more of a variety of scares.

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Feathers And Teeth: Horror With Rotten Messages

Review of Feathers and Teeth presented by Washington Ensemble Theatre.

Written by Francesca Vinci during TeenTix’s Theater & Dance Press Corps Intensive.

Rachel Guyer Mafune as Chris in WE Ts Feathers and Teeth Credit Chris Bennion

Feathers and Teeth is a short play with a small cast delving into ideas of grief, madness, and manipulation. A delusional daughter, a manipulative stepmother, and an oblivious father take the stage around a mysterious death and supernatural beasties—but what does it mean?

Created by Charise Castro Smith and directed by Bobbin Ramsey, the play centers around thirteen year old Chris, her father Arthur, and her stepmother Carol. Chris is convinced that Carol, her deceased mother’s hospice nurse, is a demon, while Arthur sees no substance in his daughter’s accusations. The wonderfully designed set by Pete Rush and the lighting design by Ryan Dunn pull the piece together, but the overall meaning of the play is ambiguous at best.

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Secrets, Betrayal, and 70's Rock

Review of Feathers and Teeth presented by Washington Ensemble Theatre.

Written by Makenna English during TeenTix’s Theater & Dance Press Corps Intensive.

James Schilling as Hugo and Rachel Guyer Mafune as Chris in WE Ts Feathers and Teeth Credit Chris Bennion

A sinister secret within a traditional family dynamic, or is it all just a paranoia-filled quest for vengeance? Feathers and Teeth, by Charise Castro Smith and directed by Bobbin Ramsey, was a 70’s-esque thriller that embodied the eerie vibes in Hamlet, Hereditary, Pet Cemetery and It Follows that both theater and horror fanatics will love.

Feathers and Teeth, a suspenseful story involving a nuclear family in the 70s, leads the audience down a twisted backstory. Events and secrets are revealed, accusations introduced and action taken by the teen protagonist Christine, who is played by Rachel Guyer-Mafune who has a grudge for her becoming spunky step-mom Carol, played by Samie Spring Detzer.

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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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Kyle Abraham Channels Greater Power

Review of Kyle Abraham's A.I.M. presented by STG and On the Boards.

Written by Rosemary Sissel during TeenTix’s Theater & Dance Press Corps Intensive.

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Out of the smoky darkness, Kyle Abraham emerges, opening the magnificent four piece Abraham in Motion (A.I.M.) with one explosive solo, "INDY." Four stand-alone pieces that touch on police brutality, love, human connection, powerlessness, and pain, and everything begins with one gloriously powerful solo. An entire piece performed by one man.

Abraham enters through a veil of smoke, walking into an ethereal ray of light. His arms shake, pelting the light with a barrage of questions. It does not answer. Then, slowly, things calm.

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A.I.M. Should Strike a Chord Within All of Us

Review of Kyle Abraham's A.I.M. presented by STG and On the Boards.

Written by Prama Singh during TeenTix’s Theater & Dance Press Corps Intensive.

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“Shut your eyes….”, played repeatedly and the beep, beep, beep, of the sound effects rippled through the theater as the audience watched the fluid dancers take up the stage. Kyle Abraham and his company Abraham In Motion (A.I.M.) presented four pieces on stage at the Moore Theatre this March. They were all beautiful pieces, but there was one piece in particular that stood out along with a specific part of another.

In Abraham’s fourth piece, “Drive”, the music seemed to get louder and louder as fog filtered onto the stage. The dimmed lights were on the dancers as they pulsated in synch, the rhythm of the music pounding along. The feeling of desperation, and the intense need to convey something filled the air as the dynamic dancers unhesitatingly continued to flow and sway. They were swift and unstoppable in their need to get the audience to understand. An ominous feeling filled the theater, yet eyes remain locked on stage. This feeling was amplified after the previous message commemorating any black man who reached age twenty-one from the piece “Meditation: A Silent Prayer.” As the lights dimmed further and the curtains went down, the audience stood for an ovation.

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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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ACT’s Romeo + Juliet: Beautiful but Problematic

Review of Romeo + Juliet at ACT Theatre.

Written by Faith Elder during TeenTix’s Theater & Dance Press Corps Intensive.

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Police sirens wail as officers dressed in riot gear rush in, followed by parents who cry for their children. To an unknowing spectator, this could be the beginning of a crime thriller. But this is no murder mystery, it is a four hundred year-old tragedy.

ACT Theater’s Romeo + Juliet, directed by John Langs, brings a Shakespearean classic into the modern world to address the violence and anger that today’s youth face. The production, part of the season’s goal of bringing new life to older works, also added a new dimension to the story with the casting of Deaf actors in the roles of Romeo and Friar Lawrence. But while this production incorporates stunning performances by both Deaf and hearing performers, the romance becomes questionable when brought into today’s societal norms.

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A New Twist on Romeo + Juliet

Review of Romeo + Juliet at ACT Theatre.

Written by Linnea Fast during TeenTix’s Theater & Dance Press Corps Intensive.

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ACT’s production of Romeo + Juliet, directed by John Langs, added new aspects to the play like American Sign Language that intrigued and mesmerized the audience. Everyone knows the story of Romeo and Juliet, the love, the laughter and the pain. But this production added a new form of communication, American Sign Language. Although the play Romeo and Juliet has been done time and time again, this production was able to make it new with the sets, actors, and directing they used. The new communication used in the play added parts to the story not used in the original play, allowing a deeper look at the characters’ lives not seen before.

They used a small stage, with the seats surrounding it like a colosseum. Throughout the three hour long play, the actors interacted with the audience. In one scene, Mercutio jokingly asked a little girl to dance, and Benvolio complimenting a woman’s pants in an attempted joke at Romeo. The props, including a table and three small chain link fences, were used and moved by the actors for each scene. With these, they were able to create a surprising variety of different scenery. From the intimacy of Juliet’s balcony, to the streets of Verona where Tybalt and Mercutio are slain, to a scene reminiscent of the rumble scene in West Side Story, the chain link fences and lighting resembling the same dark alley, gang violence notions.

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R+J, Old and Tired or New and Relevant?

Review of Romeo + Juliet at ACT Theatre.

Written by Kessa Claire-Woldt during TeenTix’s Theater & Dance Press Corps Intensive.

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ACT Theatre’s Romeo + Juliet touched the heart and tickled the soul. The actors continuously took the audience from laughing to holding their breath in suspense. I was constantly on the edge of my seat, waiting for what came next. In a play as familiar as Romeo + Juliet, there were vulnerable moments and heart-wrenching scenes that came as a surprise.

Chain link fence, tarp, and concrete surrounded the audience and stage. The set reminded me of the immigrant detention center in Tacoma, where I have witnessed children travel hundreds of miles to spend a few minutes with an exiled parent. Like immigrants in the detention center, Romeo and Juliet had a hard choice to make. They could leave their homes and families for a better life together. A life without fighting and death. Leaving means losing the life they have known. If they stay, their true love could be killed in the cross-fire, but they would have their family and parents around them.

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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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The Triangularity of Dance

Review of Director's Choice at Pacific Northwest Ballet

Written by Elisabetta Pierazzi, during TeenTix’s Theater & Dance Press Corps Intensive.

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PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal has exalted the path of ordinary life, and sometimes that of thousands of dancers, selecting three different productions that are both well linked and assorted, giving the public a real and proper representation of the stages in which the individual audience member can be encountered.

The number three is one of the recurrences that the audience can see in the production: three different acts, three different stories by three different choreographers. Matthew Neenan's "Bacchus" opens the show, continuing with "The Trees The Trees" by Robyn Mineko Williams, and the curtain falls on the latest movements Justin Peck's "In the Countenance of Kings." The minimalism of the neoclassical ballet is a perfect conductive line for the different technical aspects. The lights and the dancers communicate the stories and emotions instead of extravagant or pompous costumes, cumbersome set design, or too-perfect lines in the movements. All this makes us as audience members focus more on the feeling of self-recognition as if to say ''This is me! ''Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Margaret Mullin in Matthew Neenan’s Bacchus. PNB is performing Bacchus as part of DIRECTOR’S CHOICE, March 15 – 24, 2019. Photo © Angela Sterling.

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PNB’s Director’s Choice Is a Menagerie of Contemporary Ballet

Review of Director's Choice at Pacific Northwest Ballet

Written by Isabell Petersen, during TeenTix’s Theater & Dance Press Corps Intensive.

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On March 15th, Pacific Northwest Ballet presented Director’s Choice, a collection of three pieces ("Bacchus," "The Trees The Trees," and "In The Countenance of Kings," respectively), two of which ("Bacchus" and "The Trees The Trees") were world premieres.

The first piece of the evening was "Bacchus," set to music composed by Oliver Davis, and choreographed by Matthew Neenan. As a whole, "Bacchus" was quite enjoyable, from the costumes, to the score, to the dancers’ movements themselves. The stage was clean, and the only backdrop provided was the mezzanine. All of the dancers were draped in deep, rich purple hues, which evoked the color and smoothness of wine (costumes designed by Mark Zappone). The movement of the dancers was almost birdlike in the beginning vignette of the piece, with dancers pairing off to intertwine themselves with one another in a courtship dance. James Moore, whose costume was a slightly brighter purple than the others, and which had a cape-like attachment- remained onstage during the entire piece, and his character’s movements seemed to influence the others. During the second vignette, when Moore danced alone, his movements were large, sweeping, and reminded me of a storm or a tempest. A third intriguing choice was when, during the third vignette, the music stopped altogether, allowing the heavy breathing and squeaking of shoes to be heard as the dancers moved around the stage.

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