ArtsWest’s “An Endless Shift”: The Engaging, Unfiltered Truth About the Pandemic

Review of An Endless Shift at ArtsWest

Written by Teen Writer Raika Roy Choudhury and edited by Kyle Gerstel

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An Endless Shift, a documentary theater production about nurses during the pandemic, is a powerful experience. The show is a collage of verbatim interviews conveyed by one performer—Gloria Alcalá—to introduce an often overlooked perspective on the impact of the pandemic. That nuance, combined with the coziness of ArtsWest’s theater, makes for an even more personal experience.

Even before the play starts, the theater space is impressive. The two-tiered stage is close to the seating area, the proximity creating familiarity between the audience and the production. There is blue ambient lighting, and fog lingering in the air. Props are minimal: five chairs are set up at slightly different angles spanning the stage, and a handful of banners accompany them.

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Teen Struggles and Lessons for Parents

Review of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Written by Liya Haile during an Arts Criticism workshop at Evergreen High School

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Parents may have a favorite child whom they consider to be “perfect,” which might make the other child feel unwanted or excluded. In the play, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, we see Julia, the main character in the book, feel this way after her older sister Olga died. Her parents see Olga as a model kid that loves spending time with her family, and helps her mom with household chores. Julia on the other hand was the opposite, always making trouble, likes being out with friends and is lazy. Julia feels imperfect compared to Olga. Her parents encourage her to be more like Olga than herself. Even though she likes doing good things such as writing, reading, and poems, they were not supportive. Later on Julia finds unexpected things in Olga's room, doubts her sister's sanity, and keeps figuring out more. The story continues with Julia discovering her sister’s true colors.

The play succeeds at using the lights, transitions, and sound effects. When doing transitions, the light was on the character so your attention goes to where they want you to see, and not the thing they get in and out of the stage with. There was a circle on the ground that spun which I thought was cool because it helps with getting the thing out and the characters don't have to move around a lot because the thing spins making it look like they are moving around.

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A Visual Work of Art

Review of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Written by Tammy Dao during an Arts Criticism workshop at Evergreen High School

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The theater adaptation of the book I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is a great depiction of this novel written by Erika L. Sanchez. The book adaptation into the play takes the main elements and themes of the novel, such as family, untold secrets, and culture. Using those themes in the story and elevating it into a visual work of art for both those who already enjoyed the book and for those who haven't read it at all.

This play stays really accurate to the book starring the main character Julia Reyes living in Chicago alongside her parents and her recently dead older sister Olga. The story is set in Julia’s last few high school years featuring not only her school life, but her life within the city, and her home life with her immigrant parents.

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Excellent Adaptation from Page to Stage

Review of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Written by Hayley Ann Dacome during an Arts Criticism workshop at Evergreen High School

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When I first checked out I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, I was sure it was going to be boring, as I thought it would have too many dreadful problems in the story for me to keep up with. As I kept reading, the story became intriguing to me. Every time I flipped a page, it was sometimes the funny dialogue between Julia and her best friend Lorena, or drama-filled suspense. As a person who has recently started her journey of reading more young adult novels, I’d usually finish a novel in a month and a half. I was so surprised by the fact that I was able to finish the book in two weeks, I guess this shows how interesting the book was for me to try read toward the end.

For the past month, our class has been reading a remarkable young adult novel by Erika Sanchez, about a Mexican teenage girl, Julia, who is dealing with the death of her older sister, Olga, and the heavy expectations her parents have given her to be the perfect daughter. Not only that, she feels a sense of mystery with her sister, that Olga wasn’t who her parents really thought she was. In this review, I will be reviewing the play of this very novel, and talk about why it’s worth a watch. To briefly give an overview of this play, the plot is basically almost exactly the same as the book. Now, I don’t want to give out spoilers, but even though I read the novel prior to watching this play, I was shocked at how the play had played out.

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A Brave Portrayal of Mental Health

Review of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Written by Krystalee Hernandez Olvera during an Arts Criticism workshop at Evergreen High School

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The play I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is about Julia finding herself after being in the shadow of her sister Olga “the perfect Mexican daughter.” It shows her journey and curiosity after Olga’s death, learning more about herself, her culture, mental health, and the mystery her sister left behind.

The play successfully shows the audience Julia’s emotions. Just like in the book, the author lets us into Julia’s head allowing us to read all her thoughts, and she goes on her own journey. For example, throughout the play Julia constantly pauses in the moment and turns to the audience to share all the emotions she’s feeling. This helps the audience understand her and connect with the character. The lights and extra effects throw in more emotion through visuals, like the bubbles making it seem like she’s actually in water. This is shown when she felt like she was lost and drowning, the lights turned dark, the spotlight was on her showing how she was alone, all eyes on her. Her determination is demonstrated as she keeps on swimming and swimming without getting anywhere. Many people could relate to that moment when they seem to be struggling, this hooks the viewers in the more as they connect to the play. Music was important to reveal her mood as well. When she was feeling happy, all you could hear was upbeat music like a party.

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How I Was Convinced To See More Plays

Review of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Written by Gillian Benge during an Arts Criticism workshop at Evergreen High School

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As a high school student who doesn’t get out much, I have not seen many live stage plays. My most memorable experience with theater before seeing I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter was in a kindergarten choir where I played a sheep. Now, picture me and my friends walking into the Seattle Repertory Theatre, seeing the doors to the seating area and the stage behind it, and all we can see on a stage we expected to be empty is the actress for Olga lying prone in her raised coffin. I hadn’t even set my bags down yet, and immediately an impression had been made on me. I did not yet know it, but this play would end up easily being one of the best that I have personally seen up until this point.

The broad summary of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, both the book and play, is simple and small in scope. The eldest daughter of a family of four (now three) dies tragically, and the family must fall apart before being put back together the best they can over time. Upon looking past just the aspects of loss and grief, you can find themes of friendship, mental health, and internalized trauma from many key points in the play. Julia’s deep-rooted trust and search for comfort in Lorena during her low moments, the scene where Julia ends up cutting herself that manages to slowly break your heart before stopping it completely, and the revelations about Julia’s parents near the end of the play. With underlying notes of mystery surrounding Olga’s life, we end up exploring both her and Julia through the plotline of Julia’s impromptu investigation, and we end the play knowing Julia’s mind inside and out and Olga’s story from conception to demise. And, as a viewer, I truly enjoyed it.

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Seattle Rep’s New Play Es Perfecto

Review of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Written by Jasmine Torres Mayorquin during an Arts Criticism workshop at Evergreen High School

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I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is an exceptional play. It showed angst, delight, and a roller coaster of emotions. Along with a beautiful set and a hand on the back with the stage crew.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is a play put on by the Seattle Repertory Theatre, it puts you in the shoes of 15-year-old Julia Reyes, who is dealing with the death of her sister Olga and the pressure to be "the perfect Mexican daughter." A brilliant interpretation of a Mexican household and an emotionally strong play.

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A Raw, Latina Coming-of-Age Story

Review of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Written by Bervelyn Lopez Bernabe during an Arts Criticism workshop at Evergreen High School

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From drama and comedy to real-life issues. A rebellious daughter and an obedient one (or so it seemed). The beauty and sadness of it all. The play adaptation of the novel I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez has it all and more. Brought to you by Seattle Repertory Theatre and playwright Issac Gomez, we explore the life of Julia Reyes, a Mexican American 15-year-old teen, as she navigates life after the tragic death of her older sister, Olga. Dealing with her grief, school, life at home, and more, she soon discovers that Olga might not be the perfect saint daughter we all thought she was. This magnificent, well-written play leaves the audience wanting more and at the edge of their seat with the actors, beautiful art, and wonderful portrayal of the story.

The play succeeded in making fans die of laughter, gasp from all the drama, and tear up with sadness. Actress Karen Rodriguez, who played the main character Julia Reyes, did absolutely amazing in portraying the emotional wreck and thought process of a normal 15-year-old Mexican American girl dealing with depression and anxiety. Throughout the play, Rodriguez never fails to stutter or forget her lines. She makes you feel empathy and sadness for Julia throughout the play and never once breaks character. She sure puts on a great show for the audience, making the audience in their seats feel the need to want to understand Julia as a character and person. Rodriguez has many lines and choreography to learn not only as the main character/narrator but in fact, performed flawlessly on stage. Sofía Raquel Sánchez, who plays Julia's older sister Olga, follows Julia in bits and pieces of the show, constantly showing up in the background of scenes. The rest of the main characters: Amá (Jazmín Corona), Apá (Eddie Martinez), Lorena (Leslie Sophia Pérez), and Juanga (Marco Antonio Tzunux) gave their raw emotions and effort to make this project truly come to life. At times, the show became so surreal that you forget you're even watching a play.

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I Am Not Your Perfect Play Critic

Review of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Written by Sherielyn Bannister during an Arts Criticism workshop at Evergreen High School

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How do you cope when your perfect sister gets hit by a semi truck? And what are you supposed to do when you find out about the double life she was living? How can you ever tell your parents that their perception of their perfect daughter was totally wrong and now you have to carry the burden of a secret that will eventually eat you up inside? And eventually have to navigate through life and plans that come with the hardships of being a young adult, who wants nothing more than to be independent and to live a lifelong dream of being a writer? The truth is no one knows except for Julia Reyes, from the book and play titled I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by “Erika Sánchez”. Julia is a young person of color, which was something many people in the audience could relate to.

The story follows Julia after her older sister, Olga, passed away. Julia and everyone around her saw Olga as the perfect Mexican daughter, who was hardworking, pure of heart, and dutiful to her parents. That's what Julia thought until she found out Olga's secrets after snooping in her bedroom. The depiction of family and friend relationships and hardships were so realistic that it felt like people in the audience were watching real people go through real problems, the acting especially of Julia’s mother played by Jazmín Corona, struck the audience by capturing the strong emotions Julia's mother had to go through with Julia, Amá resonated with many people because of the accurate representation of many mothers everywhere. Another audience favorite was the friendship between Lorena and Juanga, played by Marco Antonio Tzunux and Leslie Sophia Pérez. Their friendship and how they showed they cared for each other and Julia was realistic and relatable, it enthralled the audience because it showed such a fun and dynamic friendship you can see young adults have, in one scene where they became friends after a compliment made by Juanga to Lorena because of her boots, which led to them finding out other interests they shared and becoming best friends.

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March Events Open Doorways to the Seattle Arts Scene

Teen Editorial Staff March 2023 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Aamina Mughal and Esha Potharaju

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This month on the TeenTix blog, we’re featuring events that force viewers to reject surface level understanding of life. These arts events venture underground, focusing on stories that have previously been untold, underrepresented, or underappreciated.

SIFF starts off on March 1st with the 2002 film Whale Rider, the story of a Mayori girl battling against stereotypes with the hopes to one day become chief. Similarly, Seattle Public Theater delves into stereotypes and their harm through the musical 110 in the Shade. The source material of the show was written in the 1950s and centers the theme of uncovering, as the main character Lizzie uncovers her own personal truths.

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A Story of Self-Discovery as a Mexican American

Review of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Written by Ecna Aguilar-Santiago during an Arts Criticism workshop at Evergreen High School

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You walk into the theater and immediately are captivated. Your eyes are lured to a woman in her casket, front, and center stage. The lights beaming directly on her face, smirking.

Humor, tragedy, romance, family, friends, a heartwarming coming-of-age theater masterpiece written by Isaac Gomez based on the novel I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez. The lighting, the simple props, the effects, the turntable, and the actors all come together to take you to Chicago and make you feel like you're living everything with them. Karen Rodriguez who plays the main character Julia Reyes does a mind-blowing, amazing job of portraying a bookworm Latina daughter dealing with a family loss. Issac Gomez’s play does a fantastic job of showing us the ups and downs of a teenage girl dealing with death, immigrant parents, mental health, and self-discovery.

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Perfectly Imperfect

Review of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Written by Nura Sherif during an Arts Criticism workshop at Evergreen High School

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The play production of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter was spectacular, featuring exceptional actors and compelling storytelling. The story follows a Mexican American girl named Julia Reyes who had to shoulder the death of her sister, Olga, who died in an accident. This pushed her parents to expect Julia to be just as perfect of a Mexican daughter as Olga was when she was alive, as a way of coping with their grief. This story showcases the struggles of family expectations, and grief, and how they can impact your relationships with others. Although it’s an entertaining, beautiful production, fans of the book will feel a lack of character development and rushed plotlines in comparison to the book.

The play came alive with wonderfully used music such as trendy pop songs at the party scenes and Hispanic songs during family event scenes, such as the quinceanera. Music and sound effects punctuated transitions setting the scene and tone for every moment and discovery.

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The Rocky Odyssey of a Not-So-Average Teenager

Review of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Written by Kalkidan Gebregziabiher during an Arts Criticism workshop at Evergreen High School

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The struggles of a not-so-average teenager are crafted phenomenally in the I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter play. IANYPMD tells the story of 15-year-old Julia, who is a high school student in Chicago. Both of her parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico, making her a first-generation Mexican-American. She recently lost her older sister Olga, who was considered the “golden child.” Her parents adored her for how easy of a daughter she was to raise, unlike Julia. The play follows Julia’s school life, home life, and mental health struggles as she grows not only in age, but in maturity. Throughout this rocky odyssey, the play was able to effectively depict not only Julia, but how other teens with immigrant parents manage cultural differences within western society.

Julia’s relationship with her mom is noteworthy because it shows how the conflicts in their relationship stem from the different cultural environments they grew up in. Her mom did not support Julia having any interaction with boys, nor did she like the idea of her going far away for college. Instead, she wanted her to be just like her older sister, Olga, taking classes at their local community college and working a humble office job. Julia’s mom was raised in Mexico and suffered many traumas when crossing the border. Nevertheless, she worked as a housekeeper, cleaning rich people’s houses, to raise Julia and her sister. Julia, however, is set on creating a future for herself that is more than just being a slave to capitalism. She wants to travel the world and pursue a career as a writer. The play shows Julia’s inner thoughts through frequent asides, helping the audience to better comprehend the feelings Julia had about her mom’s aspirations and how they contrasted with her own hopes and dreams. The anger and betrayal Julia felt when her mom went through her things and disapproved of her journals were vividly characterized through her expressions.

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The Apocalypse Is Adorned With String Lights

Review of An Incomplete List of All of the Things I’m Going to Miss When the World is No Longer at Dacha Theatre

Written by Teen Writer Daphne Bunker and edited by Aamina Mughal

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An Incomplete List of Everything I’m Going to Miss When the World Is No Longer begins long before the house lights of the Theater Off Jackson start to dim. The musical, written by Dante Green and directed by Nansi Dwendi was performed by Dacha Theatre through February 11. The show kicks off silently, when the first character walks onto a corner of the stage. Their presence is an imperceptible change to the environment as the band plays behind them and the audience chatters in front of them, all while the doors in the back are still propped open for patrons to trickle in. They set down a tray of glassware and watch the audience with mild curiosity, until another character bounds on stage, still under the glare of the house lights, to speak to the first character about how excited they are for this party. More performers appear on stage, talking to each other, catching up, and giving hugs. They start interacting with the audience, too, walking up and down the aisle, introducing themselves, giving compliments, offering a pen and slip of paper to write down charades prompts, and asking audience members how they heard about the party and what they’re planning to do with their last day on Earth.

This is the essence of An Incomplete List: chaos and spirit as the show recounts the interlocking lives of an ensemble cast, told against the backdrop of the end of the world. The narratives start out knotted, told through facial expressions and exchanges that are drowned out by the din of the audience and cast. Once the lights dim and voices quiet, Micah, played by Tessa Jo, and Karina, played by Mariesa Genzale, give formal introductions, and the story begins to ricochet back and forth between the party in the present moment and fragments of the characters’ memories. The large cast and the multiple storylines means these vignettes of memory are short, usually composed of a conversation and a quick melody, and some scenes have a few different storylines sharing the stage at once, while others have one character’s dialogue overlap with another’s. Green uses this nonlinear, criss-crossing structure to contrast the relationships between characters, a variety of close friends, divorcees, mutual crushes, partners, and parents and children, against one another, and though this format makes the details of any given scene difficult to decipher, it spotlights the similarities and divergences in each character, building a picture of who each one is by comparison. Even if a scene is a mere few seconds, it will end having given the audience a greater understanding of the cast. It all amounts to a fascinating and emotional collage of scenes that slowly but surely untangle what these characters mean to one another and effectively develop the story as it gets closer and closer to the end of the world. The cast of Dacha Theatre's An Incomplete List of All the Things I'm Going to Miss When the World is No Longer. Photo credit: Brett Love.

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The Delicate Magic of “Into the Woods”

Review of Into The Woods at The 5th Avenue Theater

Written by Teen Writer Kyle Gerstel and edited by Aamina Mughal

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Into the Woods is one of the most popular and critically acclaimed musicals of all time, and for good reason: Stephen Sondheim’s intricate lyricism and James Lapine’s witty book tickle audiences of all ages and appeal to both the heart and head. The 5th Avenue Theatre’s rendition of the show allows audiences to appreciate the text’s ingenuity, but some of the magic is unfortunately lost.

Into the Woods is a sophisticated musical comedy that intertwines fairytales to explore the grim realities that follow supposed happy endings. The text manages to balance spectacle and intimacy with its playfully subversive plot and mature themes, but The 5th’s production does not quite succeed on either account. Much of the staging is unimaginative, mostly repeating choices made by many other renditions of the show. With that said, I have also seen productions of the show that have nowhere near as firm of a grasp of its unique tone and dense score, which is a feat for The 5th’s team in and of itself.

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Is This Perfection?

Review of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Written by Richany Sorm during an Arts Criticism workshop at Evergreen High School

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Comedic, a bit awkward, and heartwarmingly cathartic. Just a few words to describe an experience of Seattle Repertory Theater’s interpretation of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter.

This is a story about coming of age. We are taken along by Julia Reyes (Karen Rodriguez) through all the changes, and ups and downs, she faces in her life. One of the most prominent is that of her older sister Olga (played by Sofia Raquel Sanchez) who died from a traffic accident.

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Creative and Beautiful Staging Can’t Save Poorly Written Source Material

Review of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Written by Elyssa Matute during an Arts Criticism workshop at Evergreen High School

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I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter was a play doomed from its conception. The original novel, written by Erika L. Sánchez, boasts one of the most narcissistic and unlikable protagonists in its genre, Julia Reyes. Following her life after her sister’s death and her mission to prove that she wasn’t as perfect as her controlling and old-fashioned parents seemed to think she was. The novel flounders its pacing with too many poorly timed climaxes and a long, droning first act, along with many extremely on-the-nose lines. I appreciate their attempts to portray characters that were already lacking in depth and cutting scenes that deserved to be cut. However, playwright Isaac Gomez and director Juliette Carrillo overshadow the few moments of clarity and well-written scenes by the sheer crudeness and immaturity of the rest of the production. However, the creative team certainly succeeded in making this mess of a story genuinely a sight to behold with its accurate costumes, excellent sound design, minimal stage and props, some genuinely impressive and creative directional choices, and beautiful lighting.

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Celebrating the Venues We Love This February

Teen Editorial Staff February 2023 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Kyle Gerstel and Yoon Lee

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It’s love season and we at TeenTix have many partners we adore (partner venues, that is). We love seeing our partners invest in new works, so we are thrilled to have three world premieres from TeenTix venues this February. Dacha Theatre, a new addition to the TeenTix Pass Program, is debuting the electro-synth musical An Incomplete List of All the Things I’m Going to Miss When the World is No Longer.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, ACT Theatre Core Company member Reginald André Jackson pursued an extensive research project about forgotten Black theatre artists, which has culminated in the production History of Theatre: About, By, For, and Near. The play explores whether the history of the oppressed can properly be shared without expressing oppression.

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A New Year’s Artistic Blessings

Teen Editorial Staff January 2023 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Audrey Gray and Disha Cattamanchi

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With one turn of a calendar’s page, 2023 has arrived. For many, the new year is a time for self-reflection. Some might make New Year’s resolutions to look back on their year in review; others might set on the path to a fresh start. For the more creatively inclined, the new year is a magnificent chance to delve deep into who you are and who you want to become through art. If you’re interested in experiencing the myriad of artistic perspectives the new year has inspired in the Seattle community, check out the events covered this month on the TeenTix Arts Blog, curated by the Teen Editorial Staff.

For those of you aching to return to theater after the holidays, look no further for some truly exciting events. Seattle Repertory Theatre is welcoming in the new year by contemplating change and transformation with Metamorphoses, a thrilling new theatrical production inspired by Ovid’s classic epic poem. If you’re looking to delve even further into history, check out History of Theatre at ACT Theatre, a production that seeks to explore and celebrate the rich, little-known history of Black theatre in America. To challenge your social perceptions, consider seeing This Bitter Earth at Seattle Public Theater, a beautiful exploration of racial issues, Queer identity, and modern love.

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