Good news—it’s April now, so there’s pretty much a guarantee that it won’t snow again (and after February’s Snowpocalypse, we’re all ready for that). Temperatures are heating up, some early seasonal flowers are blooming, and Seattle residents are finally starting to emerge from hibernation. But leaving the den is difficult, so we’ve lined up a selection of art that’s sure to help you wake up. For theater enthusiasts, we’ve got A Doll's House Part 2 at Seattle Repertory Theatre, The Addams Family Musical at Edmonds Driftwood Players, and Dry Land at Seattle Public Theater, which cover a range of topics from family drama to the struggles of unwanted teen pregnancy. If you want to catch a movie, try the Stroum Jewish Film Festival, a film series that explores Jewish and Israeli identity held at a variety of venues in and around Seattle. There’s also Strange Fruit at the WOKENESS Festival by Spectrum Dance Theater, a dance festival that aims to push against assumptions surrounding race, gender, and culture. With all this variety, there’s sure to be something to catch your eye, so wake up, get woke, and go see some art!
I have this idea of what someone who’s never lived on the West Coast thinks Seattleites get up to on a typical Tuesday. Visions of hipster tech executives swirl around in their head, and they dream of crowded rooms full of performance art with the kind of convoluted self expression attributed only to Pacific Northwest pheromones.
[lavender]: a self portrait fulfilled this vision. It encompassed all which is beautiful, yet utterly inaccessible about Seattle culture. Certainly, it was bold in its existence, but shedding the elitist pretense required to fully enjoy it was a daunting task. It was performed at Oxbow, a damp, concrete room full of twenty-something hipsters. As I entered the performance space, keyon gaskin, who wrote the piece, gave me hand-bound book with a lavender paint smear on the front, full of poetically deconstructed musings. Every poem felt distinctly as though it was conceptualized at two am—the kind of thing you’d write before passing out in bed.
Since everything is in a constant state of change, a huge variety of media can be shoehorned into the theme of “Metamorphosis”. This theme was stretched to its artistic breaking point at the Hugo House’s Literary Series, an evening of readings by acclaimed authors Benjamin Percy, Vanessa Hua, and Keetje Kuipers, as well as a musical performance by vocalist-producer-composer-improviser-goddess Sassyblack.
The Hugo House’s Metamorphosis literary series event specifically referred to Franz Kafka’s iconic story of the same name, in which a man is inexplicably transformed into a hideous beetle. Beyond the mutable theme of change and transformation, an insectoid motif crawled throughout several of the pieces. From author Benjamin Percy’s tale of a girl haunted by cockroaches and smoke, to Sassyblack’s repetition of “straight buggin-out” over spacey recorded beats, this reading was not an event for entomophobes—google search: person who fears insects.
Seattle’s own Moisture Festival labels itself a vaudeville variety show. But what exactly does that entail? In all honesty, even after attending the event myself, there is no easy answer. With dozens upon dozens of acts in the festival as a whole, and an outlandish lineup of comedians, acrobats, clowns, and more, each show in the four-week run is a unique collection. The lineup caters to all audiences: there are family-friendly shows in the evenings and more risqué performances later in the night.
The festival’s home, Hale’s Palladium, is a brightly painted structure on the backside of the modern and hip Hale’s Brewery. At its entrance, we were greeted by a man in a gaudy orange astronaut costume and a nametag labeling him Zee. Zee scanned our tickets with a smartphone app—the last piece of modern technology we would see for the duration of this event—and ushered us inside. The Palladium is a much humbler and informal venue than such a name might suggest, with an exposed wood ceiling studded with lights of all kinds stretching over many rows of chairs facing a low stage. An acrobat’s swing is tied up in the rafters, foreshadowing acts to come.
American Junkie starts in the middle: Tom Hansen, our narrator played by Ian Bond, is shooting up heroin after having done it too many times. Losing most feeling in his limbs, Tom barely manages to call 9-1-1. This leads him, bitterly, to rehab. Adapted by director Jane Jones and Kevin McKeon from Tom Hansen’s memoir of the same name, American Junkie follows two time periods: one of Tom’s entry into rehab and stumbling towards recovery; the other of his childhood, adolescence, involvement with the Seattle punk scene, and everything else leading up to his 9-1-1 call. American Junkie, which had its last performance at the Book-It Repertory Theatre on March 10, is not an uplifting story of recovery: rather, it’s a portrayal of the stranglehold of addiction, as seen through one man’s funny, honest, and wry internal monologue. It’s also a portrait of Seattle before the tech boom, and of the punk scene before Nirvana made it famous. Poised for the current moment, where opioid addiction is ravaging whole communities, American Junkie is a moving, visceral portrait of addiction and the dirty underbelly of Seattle.
My name is Spencer and what I’d like to do, is talk about Boom Bap with all of you! It’s my new favorite show at CSz if you wanna know, why read my review and see!
When you walk into Atlas Theater in Fremont, WA, the jokes start before the show does. Above their cash register is a dollar bill hanging on the wall with the caption “The First Dollar That CSz Seattle Ever Framed.” CSz Seattle, of course, refers to the Pacific Northwest’s iteration of what is a national league of competitive improv referred to as “Comedy Sportz”.
FP2: Beats of Rage at Grand Illusion Cinema reminded me why I love movies. So much character has been put into every shot—at one point I thought I could see the reflection of the filmmakers in the cinema screen. The screen, by the way, was tiny, but it was balanced out by the small size of the room. In fact, the whole theater had a sense of closeness, partially because the will call and concessions had to be managed by the same person, but also because the room was packed. The crowd was lively—they laughed at all the jokes, pointed out all the green screen flubs, and made me feel as though I’d stepped into a tight knit group of friends. Everyone seemed to know someone there; even the person introducing the movie called out a few regulars and had conversations with them.
The story revolves around a tournament for a video game called Beat-Beat Revelation, typically abbreviated to just Beat-Beat, which is absolutely not just Dance-Dance Revolution. That would be silly. This game is the primary way in which conflicts are resolved in this post-apocalyptic society, and the tournament serves as a way to determine who will rule over the FP (Frazier Park), which is filled with this world’s hottest commodity: booze. When the Beat-Beat player known as AK-47 threatens the freedom of all those who just want to have a good time, the legendary Beat-Beat ninja JTRO is forced to come out of hiding in order to secure alcohol for his people.
Sound Off!, a music competition hosted by MoPOP, showcases the talent of local artists and bands under the age of 21. The event’s atmosphere is enhanced by being hosted in the Skychurch, where the high quality space and materials allow for professional performances by the contributors. This year’s music came from a wide range of genres and exemplified the unique influences of each performer and how they will come to change the music scene in the following years.
The Finals consisted of three bands and one individual artist who advanced from the semi-finals held earlier in February. Of the talent presented in the Finals, each had a distinctive style and sound that drew upon and combined various different genres. The musical ability of each group was atypical of what is expected in such young artists, and the fact that the entirety of the material performed was original, was even more astonishing.
The Catholic Mass is generally structured around the reading and interpretation of a passage from the Bible. At many of the churches I’ve attended, there’s a service after the Sunday Mass for the kids, where they lead you into a classroom and break down the scripture, as well as teach you the general tenants of Catholicism.
It was in these Sunday school settings that I was first presented with an interpretation of the Virgin Mary. She was said to be a feminine ideal, a figure of compassion and mercy. A Jewish girl selected to be Jesus’ mother due to her openness to God’s will, the Virgin Mary is often held up as a symbol of purity and goodness in humanity, as she was born into an ordinary family and lived an ordinary life up to her “choosing.”
“What’s past is prologue.” We hear these words of Shakespeare spoken again and again throughout the play, but does it mean that tomorrow is a fresh start? Or does it reveal that history is doomed to set the scene for one’s inevitable fate? As Fire Season draws us into a series of interconnected narratives in a deserted rural Washington town, we are invited to interpret Shakespeare’s classic quote for ourselves.
Fire Season, written by Aurin Squire and directed by Kelly Kitchens, captures the bleak stories of a few residents in a forgotten rural town. Squire shines light upon the struggles of drug addiction, poverty, abortion, and racism that are so often overlooked in the thousands of rural communities across the country. Fire Season is the third production in Seattle Public Theater’s 2018-2019 season #Confronting America, which reveals our nation’s most pressing problems through diverse perspectives.
Everybody dies. While this fact should come as no surprise, the realities of death and what happens after it remains far more mysterious. The uncertainty and unpredictability surrounding death frame the central conflict of “Everybody,” a play written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and presented at the Strawberry Theatre Workshop.
In dealing with these heavy, existential themes, which all must inevitably face, the play employs a great deal of comedy interwoven throughout the plot. The experience begins with a monologue by the humorous usher, who comically urges the audience to obey the common courtesies of theater, and details the development of this seemingly age-old story.
March is notorious for Mardi Gras—the ritual where individuals indulge in rich, fatty, foods, and other pleasures before the fasting of Lent. But this month, the Teen Editorial Staff is acknowledging another holiday, to feed our unfathomable desire to see art. Enter, Arty Gras. This TeenTix-wide celebration of the arts scene starts right here. Right now.
We have curated eight shows that encapsulate the many mediums of art. From MoPOP’s Sound Off! Finals, “FP2: Beats of Rage” at the Grand Illusion Cinema, to Hugo House’s Literary Series—your craving for art, in all its forms, will be satisfied. These heavenly picks will make you want to smack your lips, and come back for more—be it the Moisture Festival or Boom Bap at Comedy Sportz, there is little wrong with giving free rein to your cravings for art.
Going into CHOP SHOP: Bodies of Work, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and felt slightly intimidated. While I’m not entirely new to dance, having seen performances like the Nutcracker, I still classify myself as a dance newbie; I’m unfamiliar with the movements and lingo. However, I was pleasantly surprised to witness an event curated for people like me, with the purpose of presenting “accessible, creative work from artists that want to share their stories.” Bodies of Work offered an introduction to dance through eight captivating performances by various artists—allowing the audience to explore both the medium and their feelings regarding each piece.
The first piece, Lauren Horn’s Text Messages, consisted of Horn performing impressively rapid dance movements. She would elongate her arms and legs, crawling across the floor while intermittently reading text conversations between herself and her friends. It wasn’t exactly the dance movements that appealed to me in this piece, but rather the concept behind it. The story that Horn told—of texting her friends in a manner that would be funny (or weird) to anyone but those involved—was one that I could relate to on a personal level. I’ve undergone similar conversations that could only be understood by myself and the person with whom I was speaking because of both the oddity of the subject, and lack of context. As a result of such reflections, Horn’s work influenced the audience to think about technology’s role in their lives and their composure when behind a screen. Horn addressed the juxtaposition between face-to-face and face-to-screen communication by embodying dramatizations of topics over texts and emojis (through verbal and physical cues) in her piece. Although there were times in which the conversation was not understandable, the sheer weakness of the pronunciation a result of Horn’s breathlessness while dancing, the piece left a lasting impression and sparked a pondering question among the audience about our use of technology in this day and age.
To an English speaker, the letter ‘M’ is deceitful when placed alone. In our world, we base the assumptions of an unknown person entering a room on their prefix, the “Mr.” or “Ms.”. We shape our expectations of them on it. But, what if the preface is but a single “M.”? If an unknown person entering a room greeted you on paper only as “M.” who would you prepare yourself to see?
So it is in M. Butterfly, written by David Henry Hwang and directed by Samip Raval. We are told the story of Rene Gallimard (David Quicksall), a French diplomat in China and a man enraptured in his own incompetence. In his mind, and as reassured by his colleagues, friends, and wife, there is a meekness about him that robs him of what he may be.
One Girl is a raw portrayal of the varied lives of four individuals living along the same meridian in South Sudan, Romania, Palestine, and Finland. Shown as part of the Children’s Film Festival Seattle at Northwest Film Forum, the crowded, cozy theater hosting the documentary already gave me a taste of the lively, intimate show I was about to see. One Girl begins with a short introduction, voiced by the girls themselves, as we see them getting ready for school. The juxtaposition of snowy hills in Finland and sun glinting off ancient rooftops in Palestine was a perfect pretext for the rest of the film. As we were personally introduced to each girl, their honesty sparked a quick connection between the viewer and the characters. It was this continuous honesty throughout the film, shared by all four girls, that made One Girl special. The girl living in Palestine brought up her restriction from Jerusalem, a city she could admire from her home but never enter. A serious topic brought up as an everyday truth affected the audience with its informal delivery. Even when this honesty was portrayed as bored sighs during a long lesson, or an awkward expression after a hit to the face with an out-of-control ball during P.E., it was all beautiful. It was their openness, their willingness to welcome us into their lives for just a day, that endeared the audience to the girls.
In 1912, Rutherford and Son, written by anonymous playwright K.G. Sowerby, was heralded as a masterpiece and placed on a list of the top 100 plays of the 20th century. When it was later revealed that the author was, in fact, the female writer Githa Sowerby, critics were shocked—yet the meaning of the piece became all the more profound.
Performed for the third time in the United States, the play is the thesis production of third year MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) directing student, Cody Holliday Haefner, and examines the life of a family overcoming obstacles in a sexist, classist, and racist society. John Rutherford (guest actor Brace Evans) is the patriarch of an upper class family on the brink of coming undone. As he desperately tries to save the family glassmaking business, he fails to recognize that his family has been torn apart by his actions and expectations.
“i hope the honesty of my searching and unknowing feels like a palpable thing a viewer could hold. because my experience, this sensation, is not unique. it is, sadly, so many of ours to share. and i hope we can sit here with it, here, in the quiet of this room, with this work’s embrace of its precarity and incompleteness—its recognition of its own insufficiency as an archival object—and know that maybe we, in our flawed unbelonging and unknowing diasporic selves, are also enough.” -Satpreet Kahlon
Pretty much everything is best in moderation. Yet, from phones, to Starbucks, to binge watching a dozen Lifetime original movies at 2 AM , it seems you can’t go far without getting hooked on something. However, we here at TeenTix believe you can never have too much art! Being the professional art addicts we on the Teen Editorial Staff are, we’ve come up with some recommendations to satisfy your art cravings this February. For improv enthusiasts there’s Everybody, where all members of the cast are assigned a random role at the beginning of the show, and Boom Bap, which joins the worlds of improv and freestyle rap. For theater fiends there’s Fire Season, which takes a more literal and sobering look at addiction (it centers on a 12-year old’s overdose on Oxycontin) and M. Butterfly, which uses the context of a French diplomat falling for a Chinese opera star to explore themes of how cultures perceive each other. Finally, for dance devotees there’s CHOP SHOP: Bodies of Work, a contemporary dance festival, and for classical music maniacs there's Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, one of Pergolesi’s most well known works. With so many unique experiences this month, it’d be a crime to stick to the monotonous patterns of our shared societal smartphone sickness. So break out of your seasonal Netflix addiction and go see some art!
Wes Anderson, the filmmaker of notable movies like The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom, inspired the team at Jet City Improv to design the show Yes Anderson—based off of a social media following of Anderson’s called “Accidentally Wes Anderson.” After hearing about the basis of this show, the questions that arose weren’t “How would Jet City Improv accomplish this?” or “What led them to attempt this challenge?” Rather, my initial thought was, “What is ‘Accidentally Wes Anderson’?” More commonly referred to as Accidental Anderson, as was revealed after a quick Google search, it’s a website where people post pictures of places that look like they could have been ripped straight out of an Anderson film.
Because I haven’t seen many of Wes Anderson’s works, I wondered if this show would prove applicable to an audience unfamiliar with the context, like myself. As the show began, I quickly realized it’s broadly relatable. From the beginning, the Anderson style wasn’t forced into the show and flowed well with the sudden, random changes in plot that improv provides.
Sitting in an empty corner of The Henry Art Gallery is a small shack made from wooden slats no more than an inch thick. There are slivers of space between each board, and, despite the gallery's tall ceilings, the shack is hardly more than six feet tall. It seems almost like a relic of history, maybe the crowded house of a family on the frontier, or a shed containing hidden fugitives, but certainly not the exterior of "Library of Black Lies," one of the most thought provoking and unique pieces of modern art created by artist Edgar Arceneaux.
As you step inside the shack, you are greeted by a partially obscured mirror reflecting back an image of yourself. Shelves with books—some old, some wrapped in black tarps and tied together with string—create a labyrinth, one that is purposefully disorienting, but guides you to the center. As I walked through this labyrinth, the shack seemed to become larger, and my reflection peeked back at me, wondering where I would turn and where my path would lead. As I finally approached the center of the shack (shortcuts through the circuitous route are impossible), the books on display were no longer covered with drab tarps—instead, they sparkled, a warm yellow light glinting off the sugar crystals erupting from the pages.