The Unspoken Geometry of Dying Languages

Review of Alonzo King's LINES Ballet at Meany Center for the Performing Arts.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Annika Prom, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Anya Shukla!

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Throughout the world, ancient languages are fading away at an alarming rate. Alonzo King’s Figures of Speech, performed by his LINES Ballet company, aimed to preserve these moribund dialects by conveying the struggle of maintaining each language’s culture. The ballet recently shared pieces of these dialects, which range from the provincial Hawai’ian language spoken by 27,200 people to the extinct Selk’nam language that has no known native speakers, with the Seattle community.

Bringing his San Francisco-based ballet ensemble to the UW’s Meany Hall, choreographer and artistic director Alonzo King collaborated with slam poet and linguistic advocate Bob Holman to present his latest pièce de résistance, Figures of Speech. The LINES Ballet explored the power behind lost languages, guiding the audience on a touching trek through the sound, movement, and shape of aboriginal languages.

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New Year, New You

​Written by Teen Editorial Staff member Anya Shukla!

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January. The first month of the new year and the perfect time for a new you. A clean slate. In other words: resolution time! If you want to read more or kick that procrastination habit, chances are you’re going to start this month. But here’s a secret: if your New Year’s resolution is to see more art—specifically art that celebrates new beginnings—the Teen Editorial Staff has got you covered. Interested in shows about youth? Check out the Children’s Film Festival at Northwest Film Forum. Want a show that was new over a hundred years ago? Go see UW Drama’s Rutherford and Son. And if you’re really craving shows that challenge societal stereotypes, we urge you to see Alonzo King LINES Ballet at Meany Center or Henry Art Gallery’s “Edgar Arceneaux: Library of Black Lies” exhibit. And if you’ve realized your resolution to run ten miles every day isn’t super realistic, you can always procrastinate by watching Yes Anderson at Jet City Improv or, to be honest, going to see any show in Seattle. Don’t worry, we won’t judge. We’ll probably be doing the same thing.

The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 5 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog and manage the TeenTix Newsroom. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

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A Night Full of Laughs, Holiday Cheer, and Way Too Much Fun

Review of A(n improvised) Christmas Carol by Unexpected Productions.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Sumeya Block, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Joshua Fernandes!

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A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens, is an already well known holiday story that makes its way around as a Christmas classic. Many are familiar with the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, teaching viewers about the values of being a good person through some funny characters, and of course, holiday cheer. Yet when A Christmas Carol turns into improv and Scrooge is the head of a meditation school, the story we know so well becomes much funnier, and maybe even better than before. The special thing about A(n improvised) Christmas Carol is that the audience are the ones who create the story. A half hour before the show, one of the actors came out to ask a series of questions that would impact how the rest of the night went. The audience got to choose things like the quirks of each character, such as playing with other people’s hair when stressed. He asked who was returning to see the show again. I watched from my seat as loud cheers and applause erupted from the crowd. More than half of the room, which was full, raised their hands with excitement and chatter. There was also us newcomers, silent at first, who also raised our hands, still excited for what was next. I loved that the audience had people of all ages. This made it a friendlier experience, which I appreciated since this was my first improv show. A favorite suggestion of mine from the audience was making Tiny Tim sick from laser eye disease. Later on this was incorporated into the show when we saw Tiny Tim walk out with huge goggles on his face to protect his eyes from lasering others. Some other suggestions that made it into the show that night included Scrooge living under the stairs, the Ghost of Christmas Past being a teletubbie, Scrooge having a stash of hidden gold bars, and Scrooge licking Cratchit’s toes. The ability each actor has to add their own special touch to a character is remarkable, incorporating the tiny quirks mentioned by the audience and adding their own ideas as well, such as how Scrooge liked to slam doors or the Ghost of Christmas Past liked to repeat “Your mom is dead!” and “Scrooge is sad!” over and over again. Even my own suggestion, taping pictures of people’s faces to a door to evoke joy, was incorporated multiple times into the show. I loved that feeling of accomplishment when your suggestion made people laugh.

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A Christmas Lesson

Review of A Festival of Lessons & Carols by the Northwest Boychoir and Vocalpoint! Seattle.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Sofia Gerrard, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Anya Shukla!

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Many families have a multitude of traditions during the holiday season: some bake cookies, go caroling, volunteer at charity, or go to church. But one tradition for many families is attending A Festival of Lessons & Carols, a concert performed by the Northwest Boychoir and Vocalpoint! Seattle. As divisions of Northwest Choirs, both groups aim to instill a passion for music and the arts in children and teens from the Pacific Northwest. These talented young men and women, between the ages of six and eighteen, perform alongside the Seattle Symphony in a classic Christmas service every year. This show is based on traditional Anglican worship services often held on Christmas Eve, and is a tradition that, this year, I participated in. The 90 minutes of readings, performances of traditional and modern Christmas carols, and heartwarming sing-alongs of classic Christmas favorites proved to be a jolly experience that exemplified the Christmas spirit.

The concert started with a luminous performance of “I Saw Three Ships,” which was followed by nine Bible readings, the titular lessons, and a varied and unique selection of carols. The ethereal voices of the Boychoir mixed well with the lower sounds of both male and female sections of Vocalpoint! Seattle, with an evident effort to enliven classic Christmas songs like “Silent Night” and “Hark The Herald.” Through new rhythms and consonant harmonies, these songs illustrated the diverse talents of the choir. Although some song choices were much more obscure than others, the songs included more modern arrangements and compositions, which helped to avoid the dreaded glaze of apathy which often covers an audience's eyes when faced with unfamiliar tunes. One particularly amusing performance was that of “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” a Gospel song first written in the 1930s and arranged by the choir’s director Joseph Crnko; this song juxtaposed soaring, nearly incandescent melodies with upbeat, contemporary sounds. The female driven sing-alongs were less varied, more traditional carols, but had the same blend of expression, excellent sense of pitch, warm tonal quality, and crisp pronunciation.

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Writing About Music About Writing

Review of Jack Straw Writers Anthology 2018.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Tova Gaster, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Anya Shukla!

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Spotify Wrapped screenshots plaster social media as the year comes to end, users’ music tastes consolidated into neat consumable packages. It’s possible I’m just salty that they called me out for listening to 50+ hours of the same artist (love you Y La Bamba), but Spotify, Apple Music, and similar streaming services are changing the way we engage with music—digitizing, isolating, and directing our listening via depersonalized algorithms. Jack Straw Cultural Center’s collaboration with the Bushwick Book Club offers a different way to engage with art: genre-blending musical collaboration, in real time.

The 12 Jack Straw writers for 2018 have been producing and sharing work all year through the Jack Straw Cultural Center in the University District, an organization dedicated to providing writers and musicians with recording experience. For their annual end-of-the-year event, Jack Straw partners with Bushwick Book Club, a collective of musicians that draw their inspiration from literary works, and pairs each writer with a musician whose job it is to create a song inspired by their writer’s work. These 12 songs span a vast range of musical styles and themes, showing the meandering transformation of an idea filtered through a different consciousness and medium.

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The Past in Polaroids

Review of “Polaroids: Personal, Private, Painterly" Photographs from the Collection of Robert E. Jackson at Bellevue Arts Museum.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Soren Kopp, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Lily Williamson!

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Human beings are constantly categorizing. “Polaroids: Personal, Private, Painterly" Photographs from the Collection of Robert E. Jackson, showcases a variety of Polaroids separated into the aforementioned categories. Out of the 13,000 photos in his collection, about 300 are Polaroids, 150 of which were selected and curated by Jackson in conjunction with Ben Heywood, chief curator at the Bellevue Arts Museum.

“Personal” refers to portraits. These images capture individuals, and the essence of who they are—the focus is on the photo’s subject rather than their actions or environment. There are certain parallels to be drawn between these portraits and selfies in our age of instant, digital cameras—they serve the same purpose. The importance doesn’t rest in what’s happening in the photo, but in the subject. However, when one thinks about photos as documents of history, even if they’re not depicting a well-known historical event, one can think about not just what’s going on inside the photo, but what’s going on in the world around that photo. Compiling photos from similar time periods can help you piece together foreign places. Social and political movements can cause people to make similar art and take similar photographs—the shared experiences of a group can influence a whole generation and their ways of thinking. Textbooks can easily miss out on depicting the way history has impacted individuals, but experiencing history through a lens makes the intangible, tangible, and the inaccessible, accessible. Conversely, capturing individuals in the context of different societies shows the universally human responses to situations, despite the circumstances. Two pieces framed together in this section portray two couples: one from the early 2000’s of a young pair posing by a fountain with flowers, and the other of a middle-aged couple posing on the beach, superimposed above the ocean. Although the individuals are from different worlds with different historical settings, they both display the same human response to being in love: a desire to capture their bond as couples.

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A Coalition of the Arts

Review of Poor People's TV Room at On the Boards.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Eleanor Cenname, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Hannah Schoettmer!

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And the show had begun. Four women on a stage. Crawling on the floor under a blanket. Furniture suspended from the ceiling. A layer of something called scrim. A topless woman. They are dancing. No, they are singing. No, they are talking. Are they sisters? Strangers? A mother and daughter? Wait, now it’s a show about Oprah. There is a pulsing noise in the background. Two scenes are happening at the same time. They are repeating an entire segment. From above, the furniture looks like a normal room. Some of the stage is flipped, so when actors are lying down and they are shown in a camera from above they look like they are sitting. They ripped the scrim. One of the women is wearing a glittery suit. They are playing with a light. The lights turn off and the show is over.

To say that Okwui Okpokwasili’s Poor People’s TV Room at On the Boards’ contemporary performance center was abstract may be an understatement; the show itself was a hypnotic, metaphoric emulsion of dance, song, monologue, and conversation. Describing the show is quite a burdensome task, as it was such a unique and shocking performance. The four women in the performance were made up of a multigenerational team of African and African American women. However, each performer was not a distinct character. Instead, the character each woman played fluctuated and changed until each woman was the other three women. Not only was the lack of distinct character a unique choice for the production, but the dancing was as well. The dancing was high energy and abstract, as some women danced alone and some danced with each other—though these partner and solo dances often happened at the same time of course.

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A Brighter Tomorrow

Review of Annie at The 5th Avenue Theatre.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Ben Capuano, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Huma Ali!

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People have a hard time forgetting firsts. You’re going to remember events like your first concert for many years after the fact. If you or a loved one are looking to experience a musical for the first time, there isn’t a better choice than the 5th Avenue Theatre’s production of Annie.

Annie was actually the first musical I ever saw—my sister loved the 1982 version and we’d seen it performed everywhere from Youth Theater Northwest to the Paramount. As a result, I went into this production with a more critical eye than usual. I wasn’t expecting anything awful, but I expected to walk away confident that my previous experiences would reign superior.

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The Jimi Hendrix We Didn’t Know

Review of Bold as Love: Jimi Hendrix at Home at the Northwest African American Museum

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Lark Keteyian, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Anya Shukla!

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Jimi Hendrix is a Seattle icon. Or so I'm told. Before going to see Bold as Love: Jimi Hendrix at Home at the Northwest African American Museum, I had never really gotten around to listening to his music. I'm also terrible at museums; I expect them to be stagnant and awkwardly informational. So the combination of a museum with a Seattle superstar I knew next to nothing about was mildly terrifying. I slunk into the exhibit with my head down, afraid all the fans would see the Hendrix-ignorance in my eyes, and prepared to be bombarded with trying-too-hard inspirational quotes.

The exhibit, guest curated by Jackie Peterson, is set up like a timeline, snaking chronologically around the edges of the room. Photographs and glass-encased objects—postcards, the sofa Hendrix slept on while home from tour, his grandmother's hats—drew me in with their quiet connection to this icon. I ended up learning about Hendrix's history almost accidentally: from Seattle, where he was born and spent his childhood, drawing comics and pretending to play guitar on a broom, to mid-60s London, where he almost immediately became a guitar star.

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MOHAI Shows How Art Shaped the Activism of Seattle

Review of Engage: The Art of Protest at MOHAI.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Eileen MacDonald, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Hannah Schoettmer!

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The recent MOHAI sponsored event, Engage: The Art of Protest, cultivated artistic empowerment throughout the Seattle community.

Walking through the glass doors of the MOHAI, we were greeted by plaisc covered tables strewn with photographs of powerful and historic street protests: women with chains around their necks fighting for the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1960s, workers picketing outside Pike Place Market, elderly women with fire in their eyes holding wooden crosses to commemorate those killed during a protest in Nicaragua. We were asked to sit at a table with a picture that resonated with us, giving everyone there an icebreaker and reason to interact with the strangers and friendly faces that surrounded them.

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A Crystalline Tradition: PNB’s The Nutcracker

Review of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® at Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Camille Mauceri, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Huma Ali!

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While it may be controversial to begin the Christmas season so early, I began mine the evening of November 23rd, opening night of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s The Nutcracker. The result of which was a distinct and familiar feeling of jovial warmth—a near impossible emotion to leave McCaw Hall without.

Various candy-inspired photo booths and guests dressed in formalities, ranging from hipster-dressy to black tie, paraded the lobby anticipating the show. The show is inherently a family event, as evidenced by the many children wandering about. It is certainly the least intimidating ballet for new viewers due to its palatable familial storyline; an excellent way to scratch the surface of what can often feel like an inaccessible art form.

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SCT Takes on Muhammad Before Ali

Review of And in This Corner: Cassius Clay at Seattle Children's Theatre.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Jonah de Forest, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Joshua Fernandes!

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Muhammad Ali is one of those historical figures whose titanic cultural presence often overshadows the nuances of his life. Playwright Idris Goodwin aims to find the man behind the legend in his new work, And in This Corner: Cassius Clay, presented by Seattle Children’s Theatre. The result, as directed by Malika Oyetimein, is a lively and thoroughly original piece of theatre.

The story unfolds as if out of a pop-up-book on scenic designer Shawn Ketchum Johnson’s endlessly inventive whirligig of a set. The stage is styled after an old-school gym, with boxing equipment doubling as minimalistic, but instantly recognizable indicators of time and place. We first meet Ali (André G. Brown) in narrator form, speaking one of the many rhyming interludes that tie the narrative together (a tribute to Ali’s famous rhyme-heavy rebuttals that would remain a constant throughout his career). We are then transported to Jim Crow-era Louisville, Kentucky, where Ali remerges as a 12-year-old, then known by his birth name of Cassius Clay. There we are introduced to his mother Odessa (Bria Samoné Henderson) and younger brother Rudy (Chip Sherman), who have just left a Sunday church service. It soon becomes apparent that the realities of segregation dictate the way they behave in public and their freedom as individuals. These struggles are not lost on the Clay brothers, who, along with their friend Eddie (Lamar Legend), often talk about the heated racial climate with both childlike innocence and the clarity of first-hand experience. It is clear that Cassius is the natural leader of the pack, full of the spitfire force, pre-adolescent energy and unformed talent.

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Seeing the Sunrise Starts with Survival

Review of A Thousand Splendid Suns at Seattle Repertory Theatre.

Written by Jaiden B, during TeenTix’s arts criticism training workshop, the Fall 2018 Press Corps Intensive.

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The opening scene in the theatrical adaptation of A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Ursula Rani Sarma, contrasts the entire play with the eerie stillness it sets the audience in. By piercing the quiet atmosphere with sharp, lingering notes, this scene stills the air and makes the audience pause for breath. From the next scene onwards, the audience is kept in silence not by the moving musical accompaniment, but by the paralyzing horror with which the play unfolds. The first scene wraps around the audience with the unnervingly gentle, yet strong, sound of David Coulter’s original score performed live. As he is slowly pulled across the stage on a lengthy sheet of fabric, we are introduced to the sole man who effectively ties novel instruments—including a violin, thunder sheets, and even a saw—to the emotional landscape that the characters traverse. We first meet one of the main characters, Laila (a role that is passionately performed by Rinabeth Apostol), with her father (performed thoughtfully by John Farrage) as they read poetry together. This innocent scene does nothing to prepare the audience for the further torment Laila will endure. For the time being though, it beautifully shows the deep connection between the father, Babi, and his daughter. Their connection contrasts the future of ruins with the perfect present, and its perfection hints at a greater danger to come. As the two characters read poems of Kabul, they not only sing the praises of their beautiful city but intertwine their love with profound anguish. Their pain stems from the loss of their city, the very place they hold dear, due to the dangers of a war-torn country that forces them to leave.

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Challenging Viewers in a New Way

Review of “Between Bodies” at Henry Art Gallery.

Written by Eleanor C, during TeenTix’s arts criticism training workshop, the Fall 2018 Press Corps Intensive.

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Art has one true purpose, to evoke feeling, to cause a reaction within someone.

The enigmatic art exhibit entitled "Between Bodies" conjures up complex, even contradictory, responses. At times the immersive installations made me feel as if I was both in our recognizable world and beyond it, leading me to reconsider ideas about representation, humanity, and the environment.

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“Between Bodies” Encourages Interconnected Ways of Thinking

Review of "Between Bodies" at Henry Art Gallery.

Written by Ali R, during TeenTix’s arts criticism training workshop, the Fall 2018 Press Corps Intensive.

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Imagine you’re standing in a dark room with mirrors scattered across it. TV screens hang from the walls and bubbles come across them every couple seconds. On one screen, a fisherman talks about his tradition of fishing. It’s very trippy, like you could be in "The Matrix." This mind-numbing experience is a work of art, “Glistening Troubles” by Susanne M. Winterling, just one part of the exhibition “Between Bodies” at the Henry Art Gallery.

The entirety of the exhibit felt like this. It didn’t seem to fit with other art exhibits. It stood out for its differences, mostly because of its tackling of environmental, social, economic and political issues from a perspective we don’t always see get a voice. Many of the artists use their experiences as members of LGBTQ communities to present these global issues in alternative ways, ways that promote collaboration and unity. It left the viewer thinking long after seeing it, trying to figure it out.

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Moral Complexity at FADE

Review of FADE at Seattle Public Theater.

Written by Alison S, during TeenTix’s arts criticism training workshop, the Fall 2018 Press Corps Intensive.

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Lucia and Abel don’t meet-cute: she’s a struggling T.V. writer; he’s the janitor for her office building. Their first interaction is when she thanks him for cleaning her room while scrolling through her phone.

Lucia, a compulsive, lonely oversharer in the new city of L.A. quickly spills her life story and problems to Abel. At first Abel, played with gentle firmness by Marco Adiak Voli, is resistant to participate in these conversations. Yet, you can tell from his crinkly-eyed smile that he enjoys her company.

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Human Characters and Harmful Ambition

Review of FADE at Seattle Public Theater

Written by Charlotte H, during TeenTix’s arts criticism training workshop, the Fall 2018 Press Corps Intensive.

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“Oh my god,” I said, turning in my seat. “Oh my god.” Such was my reaction at the end of FADE, a small production by Seattle Public Theater at the Bathhouse Theatre. The show used two actors, and one set. FADE is an unapologetically Latinx play about how people bond and change over time.

Lucia (Pronounced Loo-see-uh, never loo-sha) arrives late at night, and meets after-hours custodian Abel (A-bell, not able). When Abel arrives to clean, Lucia ignores him, that is until she needs help. Yet, Lucia needs more than someone to fix her shelving. She needs someone to whom she can vent to. Lucia tells Abel that the straight, white, cis, male writing staff sees her merely as a token, and her boss sees her as a translator for when he needs to scold his Latina maid. From the beginning she knows she’s on shaky ground. Her writing resume is thin, having only written one novel. She looks down on the show she’s writing for, which from the snippets heard is more like a program from another era. After she softens her spoiled and entitled attitude, she and Abel banter. They discuss who is more Mexican, the correct usage of Hispanic and Latino, and indignities suffered on them by the culturally uninformed and the resentment of being seen as a stereotype—while making plenty of assumptions and generalities about others, and each other.

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Creatively Induced Laughter at ComedySportz

Review of ComedySportz.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Jaiden Borowski, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Lily Williamson!

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The Atlas Theatre, where ComedySportz performs, creates a quirky and fun atmosphere by placing paintings by local artists (one depicts Edward Scissorhands giving Chewbacca a haircut) and odd trinkets, such as a ventriloquist dummy that stares down at the audience, around the theater. These purposefully placed objects effectively add a unique vibe to the already unusual space.

The referee, who controls the game and gives out points, comes onto the stage to begin the game. The chairs in the back are already full and the murmur of soft conversation was serving as background noise long before I walked into the room. People are relaxed before the referee begins his introduction, and the easy mood of the room sets the tone of the evening.

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A Portrait in Contrast

Review of Pete Souza at Seattle Arts and Lectures.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Eleanor Cenname, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Huma Ali!

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I have never been one for cliché expressions, but the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” has never been so applicable as when I had the opportunity to experience the photographic chronicle of President Obama’s time in office. With our current administration, it may be easy to lose the hope that we may ever have a leader capable of respect, empathy, and an unwavering resolve to make the world better for the people who inhabit it. But Pete Souza, official White House Photographer for Presidents Obama and Reagan, decided to remind us of the kind of leader we are capable of electing.

I had the pleasure of attending Pete Souza’s lecture on his newest book, "Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents" at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall. After a quick musical performance, Souza was introduced and started at the end, so to speak, by detailing his experience from the conclusion of Obama’s presidency up until the proceedings at Trump’s (or as Souza referred to him, “[President] 46 minus 1”) inauguration. This shade makes this lecture one that is best suitable for an audience whose beliefs align more with that of the Obama administration. The lecture itself had an undeniable political bias. Still, throughout his lecture, Souza kept pushing the people to vote for the leaders they thought capable of filling such a position.

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