Liberté, Égalité, Sororité

Review of The Revolutionists at ArtsWest.
Written by Teen Editor Tova Gaster and edited by Press Corps Teaching Artist Jasmine Mahmoud.

The Revolutionists

“That’s no way to begin a comedy!” cries out a woman dressed strikingly in a flowing pink gown, her powdered white hairdo adding almost a foot to her height. This is Olympe de Gouges (Sunam Ellis), a feminist playwright attempting to capture in writing the tumult of the French Revolution. In The Revolutionists at ArtsWest, the revolution is not televised: it’s written into a darkly funny play covering the Reign of Terror, intersectional feminism, and playwriting itself.

Written by the prolific playwright Lauren Gunderson, The Revolutionists is an earnestly optimistic and hilarious argument for feminist solidarity in uncertain times. It explores the dynamics between four very different women: writer Olympe de Gouges, Haitian revolutionary Marianne Angelle, young assassin Charlotte Corday, and the infamous Marie Antoinette. The Revolutionists became a meta narrative about Olympe’s play, influenced by each woman who enters. Although the humor leans distractingly self-conscious—it’s a play within a play and Gunderson doesn’t let you forget it—the witty dialogue and nuanced treatments of identity are fun and thought-provoking. How do we build real solidarity between women when virtue signaling often takes the place of organizing, and as gender categorization at all is increasingly blurry? And where do we find a voice in a history that erases us?

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Strange Stories

Review of Into Existence at SAM.
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Alyssa Williams and edited by Teen Editor Josh Fernandes.

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Aaron Fowler’s Into Existence at the Seattle Art Museum is a peculiar and fascinating exhibit. Experiencing Into Existence is like reading a storybook collecting narratives about Aaron Fowler’s life.

Debo Free, one of the artworks in the exhibit, shows a man wearing Nike shoes and a shirt which says ‘Debo Douglass’ breaking free from the chains attached to his wrists. Coming from the top of the structure and going onto the adjacent wall is an ominous-looking rope. There are shards of broken mirrors around him, and above and below him are the words “Debo Free” in lights. On the back the words are switched so that it says “Free Debo.” The man is in Crocs and with holes all over his body. The artwork clearly has a lot of symbolism; I interpret the holes as meaning that the man lives an unfulfilling life and feels hollow. The front of the structure represents that man breaking free from his empty life and finding meaning. However, it could also be about the incarceration of the artist’s friend, as demonstrated by the use of chains and a rope representing captivity. Fowler’s work opens itself up to many different interpretations. Into Existence by Aaron Fowler at SAM. Photo by Natali Wiseman.

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A Multitude of Perceptions

Review of Showing Out at the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Leuel Bekele and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla

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This month at the Central District Forum, I saw Showing Out: Contemporary Black Choreographers: Part Two, a mentorship and performance event curated by Dani Tirrell. Showing Out’s purpose is to showcase black choreographers from around the Pacific Northwest that often don't get a spotlight for their work. The show featured the work of Keelan Johnson, Michael O’ Neal Jr., Saira Barbaric, Brian J Evans, Neve Kamilah Mazique-Bianco, Kyle Bernbach alongside Gilbert Small II, and Markeith Wiley. Each raw, original performance could have had a multitude of meanings. Through each performance, I found myself uncomfortable, intrigued, and at times lost.

The opening performer was Keelan Johnson, leading member of the Emerald City Kiki Sessions. They opened with “Octavia,” a Kiki-Ball inspired choreography that incorporated burlesque attire. Alongside them were two dancers who were unlisted on the agenda. (The “Ball” in Kiki-Ball is short for ballroom, a tradition of celebrating queerness and transness, originating from black and brown people in New York City during the ‘70s.) Their high-energy performance was amplified by commentary that took a stand on the stigma around the LGBTQ+ community. This opening was shocking in its provocativeness, but did a great job of setting the tone for the night.

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Versatility and Range at XPRESS

Review of XPRESS by Whim W'Him
Written by Teen Editor Lily Williamson and edited by Press Corps Teaching Artist Melody Datz Hansen

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XPRESS, contemporary dance company Whim W’Him’s January program, explores a variety of social themes through three short dance works. XPRESS began with choreographer Ihsan Rustem’s “Of Then and Now,” a showcase of innovative movement. Clothed in color-block costumes designed by Meleta Buckstaff and seemingly stuck somewhere between the ’80s and a Star-Trek future, the troupe gracefully made their way through short vignettes.

“Of Then and Now” began with pairs of dancers vividly miming a sped-up version of everyday actions. The piece slowly evolved into more independent, graceful movements set to the music of Johnny Cash. The variety of choreography showcased how versatile the Whim W’Him dancers are; regardless of style, they are cohesive and expressive.

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An Emotional Sing Along

Review of Shout Sister Shout! at Seattle Rep.

Written by Franklin High School student, Julie La.

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Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry are few of the many artists that became famous and overshadowed their influencers. Sister Rosetta Tharpe is considered to be the Godmother of rock ‘n’ roll, but she wasn’t recognized for her contribution until 2018, where she was inducted into the Roll of Fame.

Playwright Cheryl L. West along with director Randy Johnson brought to life, Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s story through the play Shout Sister Shout! at the Seattle Rep. The musical had a powerful and intriguing storyline of an artist whose legacy was forgotten. Sister Rosetta Tharpe's story has many twists and turns. She crossed boundaries and disregarded social and cultural norms of her time. Throughout the play, there were many interactions with the audience. Carrie Compere who played Sister Rosetta Tharpe along with many others, included the audience into the play. They encouraged the audience to clap along and sing along if they knew the lyrics to a song.

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She Came, She Saw, She Shouted

Review of Shout Sister Shout! at Seattle Rep.

Written by Franklin High School student, Clara Olson.

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When I think of rock ‘n roll, I think about the legends like Mick Jagger or Elvis Presley. I don’t think about a black woman from Arkansas playing gospel music with an electric guitar. And I’m sure the average person doesn’t either. But the newest play being shown at the Seattle Repertory Theater showcases this woman—who pioneered the way for these later legends.

Shout Sister Shout!, written by Cheryl West, showcases the talents and achievements of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a black woman who is considered the “godmother of rock ‘n roll”. Sister Rosetta, played by Carrie Compere, was born in 1915 in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, but the play begins in 1962 behind the scenes of a televised performance of a Sunday special. The show soon flashes back to 1933 when Rosetta is eighteen and singing in her mother’s church. As the show progresses, the audience follows Sister Rosetta’s life from her husbands, to her performances, to her gains and losses of both friend and family relationships, and her own personal journey.

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Rockin’ and Rollin’ with Sister Rosetta

Review of Shout Sister Shout! at Seattle Rep.

Written by Franklin High School student, Ngoc-Linh Truong.

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Johnny Cash? Elvis? You may have heard of those names when thinking about rock and roll, but what about Sister Rosetta Tharpe? If you didn’t know, she was a black woman who many called “the Godmother of rock and roll”. In Shout Sister Shout!, from director Randy Johnson, a tornado of sounds and colors flew through the theater as we follow Sister Rosetta from her juvenescence to her final years.

Despite her illustrious career, Rosetta faced lifelong obstacles offstage. “Devil’s music” was what her mom called it. Rosetta, played by Carrie Compere, started out as a young girl performing at church before leaving for New York City. Her mother (Carol Dennis) disapproved of the new music that Rosetta was playing. Their meeting in New York City was the beginning of a difficult relationship in the upcoming years. Her lovers, from her first controlling husband to the singer, Marie Knight, were also unsteady. Career and love clashed in Rosetta’s personal life, where reality eventually sets in. Her church, a place where Rosetta started performing, didn’t accept her because of her new music. These stories from different parts of her life are weaved between the bright lights and energetic singing, playing a quieter role that captured Rosetta’s loneliness as an artist.

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40 Years of Racial Tension

Review of Babylon at Northwest Film Forum.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Leuel Bekele and edited by Teen Editor Tova Gaster.

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It’s 2020, and while it’s certain that things are changing, many things have remained the same. Earlier this month I was fortunate enough to see Babylon at the Northwest Film Forum, a nonprofit film and arts center whose main purpose is to incite public dialogue and action through cinematic experiences. It’s been 40 years since this film was made, but that’s also how long it took for it to be officially released in the United States. Babylon had its world premiere at Cannes Film Festival in 1980.

Babylon is a thematically timeless film that tells it like it is. It follows Blue (Brinsley Forde), a member of the Jamaican diaspora in Brixton, South London, during the early ‘80s. Over the course of the film, he faces the harsh reality of bigotry, police brutality, and the struggles of poverty. Behind the microphone is where he finds his peace. Blue and his friends are into dancehall, a genre that’s rooted in reggae, the distinction being dancehall’s digital instrumentation and faster tempo. The ensemble prepare for a dub battle, a clash of sound and lyrics, similar to that of rap battles of Bronx, New York during the same time period.

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From Movie to Stage: The Transformation of Daniel Hillard to Mrs. Doubtfire

Review of Mrs. Doubtfire at 5th Avenue Theatre.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Jaiden Borowski and edited by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes.

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There is a certain gleeful apprehension that is felt in anticipation for remakes, particularly as the public waits to find out which type of remake it will be. Nowadays remakes either prompt the audience to angrily revel in its soulless attempt at recapturing nostalgia, or surpass expectations as they redefine what the story has become, improving and modernizing the beloved tale. From the very first words, pizza roll, sung to the tune of "Figaro Figaro Figaro!" onwards, Mrs. Doubtfire is revealed to be the latter. Every scene has heart, and through each character a new aspect of the story is revealed, enhanced through powerfully humorous song.

Although my memories of the movie version are shrouded by the fog of the past, I found myself attempting to compare the musical with the movie at every point. The story of Daniel Hilliard, a divorced father trying to see his children, dressing up as an elderly nanny and assuming the role of “Mrs. Doubtfire” is, understatedly, very unique. Putting a new spin on top of that is an interesting challenge, and I was surprisingly pleased with the relevancy of each new joke. However, my mother, who had seen the movie more recently and with a better memory, recognized many of the most charming lines as direct or near-direct quotes. As is the case with every remake, the creators of this musical had to draw the line between exact copy and embellished celebration of what the original is. With Mrs. Doubtfire, it was important to leave such iconic lines untouched in order to ground it in some semblance of the original nostalgia. Due to the musical additions and flashy stage performance, the show could have lost its deep connection with the movie if it hadn’t stayed true to its most iconic moments. Additionally, I heard many other audience members talking about how novel and interesting these copied lines seemed, mirroring my own sentiments and apparently not noticing or not caring about the duplications. Whether it was to familiarize a seasoned audience member with the source material or stay true to the original for fresh eyes, the quotes and scenes that paralleled the movie were vital.Rob McClure stars as Daniel Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire at The 5th Avenue Theatre. Photo by Tracy Martin.

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Remake, Remix, Rip-Off: The Explosion of Turkish Copycat Cinema

Review of Remake, Remix, Rip-Off at SIFF

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Rose Shipley and edited by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes.

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Showing as part of the Seattle Turkish International Film Festival, Remake, Remix, Rip-Off, directed by Cem Kaya, dives into the Turkish filmmaking world of the 60s and 70s. Focuses the haphazard way the industry was run, in order to keep up with the high paced demand of the Turkish viewing audiences.

Interview clips are quickly intercut between archival footage from low budget, fairly cheesy Turkish films with adept comedic timing. In the famous Turkish movie theater Emek, over 10,000 people would attend screenings of these style of movies in one day. With audiences constantly demanding more movies, and the extremely limited budgets of many of these films, the Turkish film industry was characterized by necessary creativity. Writers would create screenplays by taking the ending from one story and pasting it onto the beginning of another, sometimes even copying the plots of famous American movies. Like Rampage, a Rambo rip-off. At one point, the documentary follows a Turkish film maker as he shows off his collection of iconic American movie soundtracks on vinyl, and describes how these soundtracks were used to score all kinds of Turkish films. Like how the Jaws 2 soundtrack was for scary movies. This plagiarism thrived because Turkey’s laws on copyright were far looser than international copyright law. Throughout the movie we see directors laugh about how they would take stories directly from American movies and boast how they were able to work on over thousands of films in their career. In Hollywood it would be physically impossible to work on that many movies, but it could be achieved through the unique environment of Turkey’s film industry, where speed in creating productions was valued over originality.

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A Very Likely Truth

Review of Unlikely at Northwest Film Forum.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Alison Smith and edited by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes.

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Unlikely starts with an incident that made headlines across the country, especially captivating critics of higher education: the Varsity Blues scandal. At least 51 wealthy individuals, including some of America's most beloved celebrities, were caught committing fraud to get their kids into prestigious colleges. Former Full House star Lori Loughlin, for example, passed off her daughters as elite rowers, although I doubt either of them even knew what “coxswain” meant.

Unlikely tells us the enormous amount of media attention devoted to that scandal and other, more general controversies surrounding elite colleges distract us from a graver problem that affects far more people: America’s dismal college drop-out rate. The percentage of students who graduate in six years is less than 60 percent. Many of these students end up saddled with burdensome debt, and since they didn’t get a diploma, their time at (often for-profit) colleges is worthless in the eyes of the job market. As the movie puts it, those with “some college, no degree” are the most likely to question higher education’s value.

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Fresh St(ART)

Teen Editorial Staff January 2020 Editorial

Written by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes!

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2019 was the year of death. We waved goodbye to the beloved characters of film franchises like Star Wars and Marvel, mourned the loss of real life heroes, and said farewell to the 2010s. But now is the time to be reborn with iron clad resolutions for the new year, and what better resolution than to seek out the freshest art of the decade?

At Seattle Art Museum there's Into Existence, an exhibit all about giving new life to the items America discards and using them to express the stories America tells. Witness security gates, afro wigs, and car parts weave together and form into the ideas and dreams of artist Aaron Fowler in the shape of cultural icons and personal figures. If you're left craving a different mix of history and creativity, check out author Isabel Allende and dive into her book A Long Petal of the Sea at Town Hall Seattle. Using the story of two refugees fleeing a fascist Spain in the 1930s to explore motifs of oppression, exile, and hope, this event is sure to please any fans of historical fiction. If you're still looking for that perfect mixture of education and entertainment, then Jaha Koo: Cuckoo at On the Boards might be what you're looking for. It analyses the rocky history of Korea over the past 20 years and the isolationism that currently grips the population through the commentary of a South Korean artist and his three rice cookers.

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Festive Mishaps at Renton Civic Theatre

Review of Nuncrackers at Renton Civic Theatre.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Serafina Miller and edited by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras.

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Nuncrackers is the latest in a long line of satirical holiday musicals put on by the cozy Renton Civic Theatre. With all of the big budget productions at TeenTix Partners, small theatre companies like Renton Civic Theatre can often get lost in the shuffle. Nuncrackers is a bright, shining reminder of the warmth community theatre can bring to the holiday season.

Nuncrackers follows the taping of the Mt. Saint Helens Convent’s first cable TV holiday special, drawing its patrons into strenuous last minute solutions to their problems of injured performers and unfortunate, on-air innuendos. The audience is thrown into the shenanigans of the convent's sisters as the actors draw the “live viewer audience” into the shenanigans with ‘secret’ Santas and sing-alongs. The show bursts with comedy and life as the sisters perform original Christmas carols like "Twelve Days Prior to Christmas" and "Christmas Time is Nunsense Time" and perform their new and improved version of the classic Nutcracker.

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The Dina Martina Christmas Show is a Hilarious, Cynical Delight

Review of The Dina Martina Christmas Show at ACT Theatre.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Valentine Wulf and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson.

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Whether you’re a grinch like me or the most obnoxiously festive person on earth, there’s no way you won’t laugh out loud at Dina Martina’s delightfully irreverent Christmas show at ACTLab.

From the cheery set decor alone, you’d think you were in a sickeningly wholesome holiday tale, that is until drag queen Dina Martina herself stumbles onstage. In a particularly itchy-looking red sweater and Santa hat, she begins cheerily singing her cover of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” complete with holiday greetings and "fun AA meetings."

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Beyond Bollywood: Cultural Insight Within the PNW

Review of Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation at MOHAI.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Maia Demar and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla.

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MOHAI’s Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation is an eye-opening peek at how generations of Indian-Americans have influenced the United States—the Pacific Northwest in particular—throughout history. The exhibit was curated by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center in Washington, DC and brought to Seattle thanks to Dr. Amy Bhatt, co-author of Roots and Reflections: South Asians in the Pacific Northwest. Dr. Bhatt worked on localizing the exhibition and finding artifacts that are unique to the Pacific Northwest.

The exhibition also includes pieces of Indian American history that have generously been lent to MOHAI, including a photograph of the first Hindu wedding documented in Seattle and a box containing code for Microsoft Windows ‘95, written by Indian American Rao Remala. These pieces give even more insight into just how much Indian Americans have impacted the United States. People participate in a Holi celebration at Redmond's Marymoor Park in 2013. Also called the Festival of Color, this ancient Hindu festival celebrates spring. Photo courtesy of CC Vedic Cultural Center and Byron Dazey of Creative Flashes Photography.

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A Comic, Musician, and Composer Walked into a Village with a Story to Tell

Review of Susan at On the Boards

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Leuel Bekele and edited by Teen Editor Tova Gaster.

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Shortly after doing my first comedy set at UW RETROs open mic I was fortunate enough to see a show that changed my conceptions of stand up comedy as a genre: Susan at On the Boards. The show was headed by stand-up comedian, trumpet-player, and composer Ahamefule (pronounced aha-may-foo-lay) J. Oluo (o-lu-o). He named the show after his mother. This show was deeply heartfelt and personal. In it Oluo recounts the complex relationship he had with his parents, how his mother dealt with the absence of his father, and how it shaped him as an adult. It was a great mix of music, storytelling, and stand up comedy. His goal with this show was to find a common understanding with the audience, because we all go through hardship in life. In an interview, Oluo said, “you make it more about [the audience] by making it more about you … because at the end of the day people are the same.”

The music was a vibrant composition of instrumental jazz and vocal performances. On stage alongside Oluo were Jerome Smith on the trombone and sousaphone, Jason Cressey also on the trombone, Skerik on the saxophone, Marina Christopher on the bass, D’Vonne Lewis on the drums, Marina Albero on the keyboard, and two vocalists: Okanamode, and Tiffany Wilson. While Oluo would take most of the stage time with his captivating storytelling, as he changed topics the music helped set the mood as the show went on. Susan at On the Boards. Photo by Haley Freedlund.

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Boundless Imagination

Review of Robert Williams: The Father of Exponential Imagination at the Bellevue Arts Museum.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Nour Gajial and edited by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras.

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Robert Williams has created it all! From a multi-colored monster jumping out of a canvas to a monkey serving pie from a gravestone, the The Father of Exponential Imagination is sure to bring audiences on a thrilling and somewhat unpredictable journey as the viewers unlock the messages within his paintings.

Williams is an unconventional artist. He grew up in an unstable household and lived through a rocky childhood wrought with familial issues. He was very curious about technology, especially cars, and is well known for his work with the Hot Rod, a custom car shop in California. Robert attended art school and worked as a comic designer, but his work did not satisfy him. He couldn’t fully express himself through the common art style of the time, so he created his own.

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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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