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

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

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

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

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

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The Art of Backstage Storytelling

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

Interview with Phillip Chavira, Executive Director of Intiman Theatre.

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

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

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

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Phillip Chavira: Desert Boy

Interview with Phillip Chavira, Executive Director of Intiman Theatre.

Written by Beezus Murphy, during TeenTix’s Beyond the Review Press Corps Intensive.

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On Wednesday, April 10th, I had the opportunity to interview Phillip Chavira, alongside two other members of the TeenTix Press Corps Intensive. Chavira is the Executive Director of the Intiman Theatre and, prior to coming to Seattle, was nominated for a Tony Award for his work as co-producer on the groundbreaking Broadway play Eclipsed. Eclipsed’s cast, director and playwright were all women of color.

Beezus Murphy: Yeah, I read that you were nominated for a Tony.

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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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Wake Up, Get Woke!

​Written by Teen Editor Hannah Schoettmer!

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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!

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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The Intimacy of Discomfort at [lavender]: a self portrait

Review of [lavender]: a self portrait at On the Boards.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Kendall Kieras, and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson!

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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.

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SPECIAL OFFER: 2 for $10 All Weekend at JOHN

​RSVP now for this incredible deal from ArtsWest!

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Thanks to our generous friends at ArtsWest, TeenTix Members can see JOHN at the 2 for $10 rate when they RSVP on the following dates: Thursday, April 4 @ 7:30pm Friday, April 5 @ 7:30pm Saturday, April 6 @ 7:30pm Sunday, April 7 @ 3pm

What's 2 for $10? On certain days at each of our Arts Partners, TeenTix Members are invited to bring along another person of any age with them to a show or exhibit for an additional $5. Take your mom, a younger sibling, or a friend who doesn't yet have a TeenTix Pass (then get them to sign up!) The only stipulation is that the TeenTix Member must purchase the tickets themselves at the box office and show their Pass. BOOM, ARTS ACCESS. You can read more about 2 for $10 here on our FAQs page.

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Moisture Festival Is Raucous, Retro Fun for All

Review of Moisture Festival.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Erin Croom, and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson!

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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.

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One Addiction at a Time

Review of American Junkie at Book-It Repertory Theatre

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Alison Smith, and edited by Teen Editor Hannah Schoettmer!

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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.

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#SaveYourSeat at Returning the Bones!

Take advantage of this special offer for TeenTix Members at Book-It Rep!

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The classic conundrum: you want to see a show with your TeenTix Pass, but you're not sure there will be tickets at the door. What's an artsy teen to do?

DESPAIR NO LONGER. TeenTix Members are invited to Returning the Bones at Book-It Repertory Theatre on April 6th @ 2pm, and you can sign up for seats ahead of time right here. Just fill out the form below with the requested info, and Book-It will get in touch by April 5th to confirm your reservation!

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