Revisiting Our Most Human Questions in Honor of Groundhog Day

Teen Editorial Staff February 2024 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Aamina Mughal and Kyle Grestel

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This February, in honor of Groundhog Day, the events that the newsroom is reviewing shed light on the dilemmas that have come to define the human experience: Who am I? Does joy come from continuity or change? Will there be another six weeks of winter? Though the fact that we continue to struggle with these questions can feel disheartening, we can also relish the fact that we, like so many of our ancestors, have the opportunity to untangle the complicated web of human existence.

Joy Harjo will be at Seattle Town Hall on February 27, a poet known for her writings on reconciling the past with the future as we all ask ourselves, how do we remember the past and our heritage without idealizing the pain in our history? Also taking inspiration from history, ArtsWest is running Born With Teeth from February 1 through 25. The play depicts queer, fictionalized depictions of William Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe, capturing the conflict experienced by all queer people and the erasure of their history while celebrating queer joy and excellence.

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Less of a Play, More of a Performance

Review of A Thick Description of Harry Smith (Vol. 1) at UW Drama

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Lorelei Schwarz and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Kyle Gerstel

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When second-year UW graduate student Nick O’Leary pitched a show for the UW School of Drama’s 2023-2024 ticketed season almost a year ago, he was looking for a play with a unique form and relationship between performers and audience, and he found that in A Thick Description of Harry Smith (Vol. 1). To explain the show, O’Leary quotes the notes of playwright Carlos Murillo, with whom the cast was able to work during the first week of rehearsals: “This is less of a play, and more of a performance.” The play—or, rather, performance—is part of Murillo’s trilogy of Javier Plays, three scripts that draw from the work of little-known Colombian-American playwright Javier C.

The show, which incorporates live music and a chaotic, omni-surprising set, is difficult to describe, says O’Leary. “This script has its own rules, and Carlos has not followed any kind of template.” To bring a semblance of unity to this inherently unstructured show, he took inspiration from the medium of collage. When watching, audience members get the sense that there is no real end, and new pieces are added on, complicating the image.Photos by Sunny Martini, permission granted to use by the University of Washington, School of Drama.

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We Can Do Together

Review of Black Nativity at Intiman Theatre
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Karli Kooi and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Kyle Grestel

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At the end of each year from 1998 to 2012, a staging of Black Nativity by playwright Langston Hughes was produced by Intiman Theatre, captivating Seattle audiences with a poetic celebration of Black joy and talent. Despite Black Nativity’s 10-year hiatus, fans inquired about tickets to the show each winter. This past December, director Valerie Curtis-Newton answered prayers for a Seattle revival with a reimagined production, adding a new act that embraces Black Gospel culture to bring warmth, exultation, and connection to Seattle audiences. The 2023 production also features choreography by Vania C. Bynam and music direction by Sam L. Townsend Jr. It is presented in partnership with The Hansberry Project, a professional African American theater lab “dedicated to the artistic exploration of African American life, history, and culture” led by Curtis-Newton. Founded in 2004, The Hansberry Project aims to provide the community with “consistent access to African American artistic voice… rooted in the convictions that black artists should be at the center of the artistic process, that the community deserves excellence in its art, and that theatre’s fundamental function is to put people in relationship to one another.” Their motto, “Where ART meets SOUL!”, is magnificently reflected in Black Nativity.

The show was first produced off-Broadway in 1961 with a cast of over 160. Since 1970, it has been performed yearly as a cherished tradition in Boston and continues to move and delight audiences nationwide. The show includes an all-Black cast and features design elements that incorporate African and African-American culture. The play, written as one act, is divided into two acts in this reignited production. The first part follows the Christian nativity story of Mary giving birth to Baby Jesus. Black Nativity adapts the classic tale with humor and regard. An incredibly talented gospel choir accompanies soloists from the group as well as a featured cast of five. The choir is clad in classic choral robes, sits around a lively band. Both choreography and choir-ography by Bynam accompany the production. The dancers move in individual spirit; their movements aren’t synchronized, but they’re aligned in their verve and emotion. Solos and duets enhance both sung and spoken passages, and technical vocal talent connects strong feelings with expressive dancing. The costumes by Dannielle Nieves, worn by dancers, featured characters, the five-person cast, and the onstage music director, provide vibrant texture and color to the show. Highlights include a pleated gold cape on an angel, beaded and frilled headpieces, and a blue, tie-dyed wrapped dress around the dancer Mary. Radiant lighting, by designer Robert Aguillar and assistant designer Chih-Hung Shao, masterfully shifts in tones with the story’s spirit. The set, designed by Jennifer Zeyl, consists of stained glass windows hanging above the stage. An upper platform allows for engaging cast movement that enhances this first act. Choir and Dancers, Photo by Joe Moore 2023

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Resolutions for Arts Consumption

Teen Editorial Staff January 2024 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Audrey Grey and Kyle Grestel

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Happy New Year from the TeenTix Newsroom! This year, we challenge you to explore new artistic mediums, genres, and subjects, all for $5 with your TeenTix pass.

If you’re interested in branching into the visual arts, the Henry Art Gallery has more engrossing, novel exhibitions coming through 2024. Raúl de Nieves’s A window to the see, a spirit star chiming in the wind of wonder… opened at the Henry in September of 2023 and will continue well into summer. We suggest opening your year with the one-of-a-kind multimedia experience to set the tone for many more explosive experiences to come. Music’s rich but often-unexplored history is getting a spotlight at the Northwest African American Museum through their Positive Frequencies exhibit. Check it out to learn more about how music plays a role in Black History.

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Little Women: A Modern Retelling

Review of Little Women at Seattle Rep
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Prisha Sharma and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Anna Melomed

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Upon entering Seattle Rep, the first thing that caught my eye was the small fireplace on the stage, plumes of smoke coming out from the top. Feeling like I was almost at home on an early Christmas morning, a soft flurry of snow descended upon the stage, delicately pirouetting in the air as the sisters called out for one another without being seen. Like cracking open a book, Seattle Rep's rendition of Little Women created an atmospheric marvel and a sincere retelling of the beloved story.

Through its many variations, I have fallen in love with the purity and innocence of Little Women, with its characters, setting, and timeless meaning. Rebecca Court, playing Amy, and Amelio García, playing Jo, both portray their characters flawlessly, captivating the entire audience. Their onstage chemistry is a testament to the intricate relationship between Jo and Amy, the constant bickering mirroring many sibling relationships. Being a focal point of the play, relationships, and connections are prioritized, yet the spotlight that was put on the sisters' relationships far outshined the one placed on Jo’s and Laurie’s intricate romance. Without any discernible connection between Laurie and Jo, it was difficult to feel any sort of actual heartache upon seeing her reject him. Their connection was more than just fleeting, and their knowing each other since childhood should have been something more time was spent on. This moment was to display a loss of innocence, and the stark reality Jo had to face in the ‘real world,’ where love did exist, where she had to make decisions concerning these issues. Katie Peabody, Rebecca Cort, Cy Paolantonio, and Amelio García in LIttle Women. Photo by Bronwen Houck.

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Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: Nostalgic, If Not Timeless

Review of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at Fifth Avenue Theater

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Lorelei Schwarz and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Kyle Gerstel

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When the faux snowflakes drift into the audience during the finale of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas from the 5th Avenue Theatre, it’s impossible to deny the magic of this show, the cable-knit sweater coziness of it all. Unfortunately, the chances of it snowing outside are slim to none, but you walk out of the theater convinced that life leans toward the magical, expecting a blanket of white to cover the city streets.

White Christmas, a stage adaptation of the 1954 movie musical of the same name, features holiday classics and angsty love songs alike. In the show, World War II veterans-turned-star singing duo Bob Wallace and Phil Davis decide (well, Phil decides and Bob is reluctantly dragged along) to follow another singing duo, the Haynes sisters, to Vermont.

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December’s Kaleidoscope of Inspiration

Teen Editorial Staff December 2023 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Anna Melomed and Daphne Bunker

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It's wintertime! Even in Seattle's bleakest months of the year, vibrancy and inspiration are definitely not gone from Seattle’s arts scene. This month our writers will be putting on their explorer hats and experiencing art from around the globe. So join them on experiences ranging from Indonesian Gamelan to Nordic sculptures to contemporary Seattle experimentation.

Seeking to disrupt and reinvent, NextFest NW 2023 at Velocity Dance is a celebration of experimentation. Northwestern artists Maximiliano, Kara Beadle, Danielle Ross, and Sophie Marie Schatz present a singular yet cohesive experience from dancing, movement, and light. NextFest runs December 7-9 + 14-16, so don’t miss the contemporary event of the season at 12th Ave Arts.

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ENOUGH! Is the Start This Country Needs

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Daniela Mariz-Frankel

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I was quietly taking notes in an eighth-grade Algebra class when I asked my deskmate if she ever thought about what she would do in a school shooting.

At first she said, “No.” Then tilted her head and said, “Sometimes.” Little did we know that a girl named Alyse sitting a few rows over would survive a shooting at her new high school.

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How ENOUGH! Uses Theater to Discuss Gun Violence

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Mickey Fontaine

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In America, gun violence has been rising since the 90’s, taking tens of thousands of lives in the process. It is undeniable that this has become a crisis; some have even called it an epidemic. Gun death has become so common in our culture it’s hard to find the motivation to create change. With another tragedy sweeping through the nation every month, how can there be hope for a better future?

This is especially prevalent for youth. This generation has grown up in a country plagued by gun violence, living with shooter drills, teen suicides, and accidental deaths, making this their everyday life. This makes youth voices critical in the discussion of gun violence.

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Enough is Enough: Teens Challenge Gun Violence Through Theater

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Violet Sprague

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ENOUGH! PLAYS TO END GUN VIOLENCE is a nationwide initiative to confront gun violence in a new way. Guided by teens with a passion for theater and activism, this festival is a collection of staged readings of six bold 10-minute plays written by students around the US. These plays are saying what needs to be said about the impact of gun violence and inspiring meaningful action in communities across the country. The performance takes place in 30 states, in 53 cities, all on the same night. These teen playwrights have turned to theater to avoid becoming just another statistic, and their plays make the statement: Enough is enough.

I attended the festival, produced by Seattle Children’s Theatre, The 5th Avenue Theatre, and The Alliance for Gun Responsibility, on November 6, with my dad and my friend Rhea Thombre (age 14, she/her). The seats in the audience were full of a whole collection of people. The tickets to the show were free, which ensured everyone who wanted to was able to attend—all different ages, abilities, races, joined together by a taste for change. As we sat there in the small theater, there was a sense of community, a we're-all-in-this-together feeling.

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Make or Break Tradition this Holiday Season

Teen Editorial Staff November 2023 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Aamina Mughal and Daphne Bunker

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This November, as the clocks fall back and the rain keeps falling, we at the TeenTix Newsroom are turning our attention to tradition: maintaining beloved ones and forging others that are fresh and new. With a TeenTix pass this month, there’s plenty of time to both return to classic stories and explore contemporary ideas.

At Seattle Rep, Little Women runs from November 10 to December 17, a staging of Louisa May Alcott’s adaptation of her own 1868 novel. Following the aspiring writer Jo March and her three sisters throughout each of their lives, Little Women centers on the joy of family. But the cozy community fun doesn’t stop with the play itself; the run includes dates with a Winter Market taking place in the Rep’s lobby, a double feature date in collaboration with SIFF Uptown, and more.

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“Perverse and wrong grabs people’s attention”

Interview with Valentine Wulf, Playwright for ENOUGH! PLAYS TO END GUN VIOLENCE

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Kaylee Yu


“Enough is enough.” How often have we heard that appeal? Activists, politicians, and journalists alike use this catch-all, pithy saying to back any number of social injustices—often pairing it with a heaping serving of inaction. It’s cliché and overused. ENOUGH! PLAYS TO END GUN VIOLENCE, at Seattle Children's Theatre on November 6, begs the question: what if enough really is enough?

What if we confronted gun violence in a new, unpredictable way?

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Youth Performer on Empathy, Activism, and the Value of Teen Voices

Interview with Hannah Smith, Performer in ENOUGH! PLAYS TO END GUN VIOLENCE

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Lorelei Schwarz

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As she prepares for her roles at the Seattle Children’s Theatre (SCT) in teen-written plays about gun violence, fifteen-year-old Hannah Smith says the production process has been both informative and self-reflective. “This experience has made me realize that we do have voices,” she says, “and we will be listened to if we’re brave enough to use them.”

Smith, a Running Start student at Tacoma Community College, began acting last year at the Oregon Children’s Theatre before moving to the Seattle area. She’s part of a small class at SCT, along with two other teens. For the past six weeks, the group has been preparing to perform several short plays from ENOUGH! PLAYS TO END GUN VIOLENCE, which selects six pieces each year from young playwrights’ submissions to be performed at theaters across the country. The plays are slated to be performed for one night only, on November 6—exactly one year before the 2024 presidential election. Each play requires only a few actors or readers and provides a unique perspective on the issue of gun violence: one is about 911 operators trying to help during a shooting, while another tells the story of a girl who confronts the police in an attempt to save her brother from harm. Smith’s plays, Lightning Strike and The Matter at Hand, are similarly distinct takes on the issue.

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Theatre with a Twist: Passengers Redefines Cirque

Review of Passengers at Seattle Rep
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Kaylee Yu and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Aamina Mungal

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The stage is dim– lit only by a soft white glow. Nine actors breathe in a haunting, rhythmic chorus. Their bodies sway to the chugging of the train. The rise and fall, the side to side, calls to mind deep-seated nostalgia, the feeling of travel that, as a child, felt never-ending. As Passengers progresses, the Seattle Repertory Theatre stops feeling like a theater. The acrobats stop being just actors, their daring stunts transform from just circus spectacle. The audience is pulled into a heart-wrenching and deeply human story, told masterfully with the bodies of the performers. Circus is used as a creative device, where the stunts come second to the story. Passengers is one of the most uniquely beautiful things I have ever seen.

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Cambodian Rock Band Captures the Soul of Cambodia

Review of Cambodian Rock Band at ACT Theatre

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Indigo Mays and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Daphne Bunker

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The best way to capture my experience at Cambodian Rock Band, playing at ACT Theatre from September 29 to November 5, was the elderly woman who sat two spots down from me. As we all came back to our seats at the end of intermission, a ginormous version of the Cambodian flag during the period of Khmer Rouge was draped over the small stage. The red stage lights lit up the flag in a way that made it appear bloody and threatening, and the entire fifteen-minute intermission took place over a recording of uniform military marching, immersing the audience in a fear of the looming Khmer Rouge. As we tried to make small talk, a small elderly woman offered us lumpia out of a bag she had brought into the theater, for, I presume, her grandson. Separated by a language barrier and a general principle of not accepting food from strangers, I politely declined, but my friend, who was hungry, eagerly took one. The smell of fried crunchy carbs overwhelmed me and I also took one. We showed our appreciation the best we could before the lights started to dim again and the show unpaused. What is true to both the play and reality is that even in the brutal conditions and mere threat of the Khmer Rouge, the soul and spirit of the Cambodian people went undeterred. Brooke Ishibashi, Jane Lui, Abraham Kim and Tim Liu in Cambodian Rock Band at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Photo by Margot Schulman.

Cambodian Rock Band, written by Lauren Yee and directed by Chay Yew, tells the story of former musician Chum, through the narration of both Chum himself and the cynical war criminal, Duch. The story starts when Chum returns to Cambodia for the first time since the regime of Pol Pot to convince his American daughter, Neary, to drop her case against Duch, the prison manager of the infamously lethal S-21, and become a lawyer in the U.S. After finding out her father is the eighth survivor of S-21 and her key to indicting Duch, Neary and Chum have a huge fight over victimhood, assimilation, and accountability, leading Neary to disappear. Over voicemail, Chum jumps back in time to explain to his daughter the plights, pride, and nuanced events of his youth.

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Two Big Black Bags: A Journey to Self-Forgiveness

Review of Two Big Black Bags at West of Lenin

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Juliana Agudelo Ariza and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Anna Melomed

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With her unfettered ability to enthrall an audience, playwright Julieta Vitullo is no stranger to eclectic artistry. Her most recent composition titled Two Big Black Bags has begun its performances on the welcoming stage at West of Lenin in Fremont. Vitullo, an award-winning author and playwright, brings her unique perspectives and expertise to stage in a nostalgic yet lighthearted production that centers on a veteran in search of a way to amend the past.

After a night of carousing, James (Tadd Morgan) awakens to two black bags in his living room and no clue as to how they got there. This sparks a journey of self-introspection and healing as he travels all the way down to South America and the path to confronting his burdens. This performance and its theatrical constituents resonate and evoke genuine emotions in the audience, and highlight what life is like for those who endure life that follows war.

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New Styles Falling Upon Us

Teen Editorial Staff October 2023 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Kyle Gerstel and Audrey Grey

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Fall has fallen upon us, and with it comes a new batch of exciting art to be covered on the TeenTix blog in October. This month, our writers are covering a range of films and plays that seek to tell stories usually left untold, in styles never before seen. Dust off your TeenTix pass, bundle up against the dropping temperatures and check out the unique and international perspectives showcased in Seattle this month.

SIFF’s 31st annual Seattle Polish Film Festival will kick into full gear on October 13 with a selection of the last couple of years’ best Polish films. Included among them is Anna Jadowska’s Woman on the Roof, screening on October 15 at the SIFF Film Center, a visually stunning existential drama following a 60 year-old woman as she makes the desperate decision to rob a bank at knifepoint.

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A Totally True Tale of Friendship and the Complex Climb to Fame

Review of Matt & Ben at ArtsWest

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Raika Roy Choudhury and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Kyle Gerstel

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ArtsWest’s production of Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers’ Matt & Ben is a playfully delightful time. Portraying Matt Damon and Ben Affleck before fame, Matt & Ben exaggerates the archetype that Matt is a tortured intellectual while Ben is just a silly, good-looking guy. In classic Kaling fashion, like in The Office or The Mindy Project, Matt & Ben has an ironic twist: both privileged, white, male characters are actually depicted by women and grapple with the script of Good Will Hunting literally falling into their laps. The play puts the audience through the trials and tribulations of friendship and creates a satire on the difficulties of pursuing a dream.

As soon as I walked into the venue, it was evident that Matt & Ben was a highly anticipated show– Kaling’s name was included in all advertising, and ArtsWest’s cozy waiting area was packed full during the play’s closing weekend. As a huge Kaling fan, the excitement was palpable, and only exacerbated by the incredible set design. The set captures a moment in time, grabbing at the essence of a post-college former frat boy’s apartment (immediately revealed to be Ben’s). Food wrappers and boxes are scattered around, shoes left astray, and laundry covers the floor. The mess feels perfectly intentional, which is almost paradoxical, and provided something to marvel at before the play started (even from the left wing, where I watched).

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Seattle Reconciles Future Dreams with Past History in September

Teen Editorial Staff September 2023 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Aamina Mughal and Anna Melomed

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With the first installment of articles from the TeenTix Newsroom coming out in the next few weeks, the Press Corps is writing about works that talk about the tensions between one’s dreams and one’s past as well as the different forms that one’s dreams may take.

At ArtsWest, we’ll be covering Matt & Ben, a look at Matt Damon and Ben Affleck before their fame, in their Good Will Hunting era, pursuing their dreams. Though being a comedic take on the two Hollywood headliners, Matt & Ben reminds us to not let our dreams be deferred but to take on the oncoming year in storm.

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Theatre is a Two Way Street at Public Works

Written by TeenTix Alumni Cordelia Janow

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Public Works, a program at Seattle Rep, is dedicated to bringing theatre to everyone. Through partnerships with community-based organizations, Public Works brings free theatre classes, productions, and performances to people in the greater Seattle area. This August 25-27, The Public Works Team will be putting on The Tempest, completely free of charge. I sat down for a conversation with Ally Poole, Public Works Manager, Talia Colten, Public Works Assistant, and Donovan Olsen, Public Works Associate, to speak with them about their work and the importance of the Public Works Program.

What is Public Works?

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