It Can’t Happen Here Celebrates the Struggle

Review of It Can’t Happen Here at Berkeley Rep via ACT Theater

Written by Teen Writer Rosemary Sissel and edited by Teen Editor Eleanor Cenname

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Berkeley Rep's It Can't Happen Here is a celebration of hope amidst dark times. Fighting through the pandemic and revitalising an old form of storytelling, this radio show sends out a message to uplift our spirits.

Based on a 1935 novel written by Sinclair Lewis to warn about a possible American Hitler, this radio show centers around the authoritarian rise to power that we’re all very tired of by now. The first episode pelts listeners with nameless voices, all spouting different, but equally divisive, views of the (arguably) charismatic populist, Buzz Windrip. Revered by some, mocked by others, feared by the smartest, Windrip (played by David Kelly) cavorts into the Oval Office through a series of lies and mirage-like promises. But we are told by the creators of the show in a free pre-show introduction not to take these similarities to our current times too seriously, and I certainly don't.

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This November, Let’s Give Thanks to Art

Teen Editorial Staff November 2020 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Eleanor Cenname and Mila Borowski

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We’ve made it to November, and we’ll need thirty more chicken scratches drawn on the wall before we can say we’ve made it to December. Between now and then, our calendar is full of activities—all of which will be happening in the confines of our own homes. If you, like us, need an escape from the same, familiar backdrop of wherever you Zoom from, we suggest going on some audio adventures.

This month, as we brace ourselves for the election, check out It Can't Happen Here, a satirical audio drama written in 1935 about a president promising to return the country to greatness; can it get any more relevant than that? Mustard Seeds, part of Pork Filled Production’s Unleashed Festival of pulp stories, explores the Underground Railroad through a staged reading. Explore a different underground phenomenon through Northwest Film Forum’s Newcomer, described as “A Seattle Hip-Hop Mixtape.” Newcomer packs in hundreds of local performances from Seattle’s vibrant hip-hop underground into 82 minutes.

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I Dream Of COVID-19: The Evolution of Theatre in the Age of Coronavirus

Review of COVID Dreams at 18th and Union

Written by Teen Writer Audrey Liepsna Gray and edited by Teen Editor Lucia McLaren

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On March 23, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee issued the first stay-at-home order for Washington state in response to COVID-19. Plans were canceled, events were rescheduled. Inslee tentatively scheduled the first shutdown to last at least two weeks, but now self-quarantine and social distancing have been going on for seven months with hardly any sign of stopping. Being alone with ourselves has made things bleak and dire, and for artists all across the country, COVID-19 has signaled a substantial shift in the way we direct our creative energy. Forced out of venues but fueled by the crises of our day, a brilliant example of the adaptability of art has been revealed by the quarantine. Out of the ashes of the on-hold artistic scenes across the country, new art has emerged with new formats made for safety and perfected for the current age. COVID Dreams, a new play from Radial Theater Project and 18th & Union Seattle, is a perfect example of the evolution art has gone through in the one-of-a-kind time we’re living in.

COVID Dreams, directed by Merri Ann Osborne and written by Jacqueline Ware, is a part of a new era of innovative theatre that’s emerged during quarantine. It combines the necessary precautionary measures now needed to produce art with the easy intimacy and emotion of live production, despite the lack of an in-person audience. The play follows the conversation and personal connection between two college students as they wait for their professor to arrive for class and find themselves the only ones there. During the wait, they engage in lively talks about their lives in the age of coronavirus and impromptu a cappella performances about the stresses that consume their days. I had the amazing privilege to be able to talk with Osborne and Ware about COVID Dreams and gain insight into the world of play production and inspiration in quarantine. I quickly realized it’s been very strange and very, very limited.

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Bite-Size Shows from Rising Star Project’s RadioActive Musicals

Review of the Rising Star Project's RadioActive Musicals, presented by The 5th Avenue Theatre

Written by Teen Writer Frances Vonada and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla

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Theater is characterized by careful rehearsal, yet there is a reason for the saying “the show must go on”: surprises always crop up, requiring creative problem-solving. A week before rehearsals for The 5th Avenue Theatre’s Rising Star Project were supposed to start, Governor Jay Inslee issued the shelter in place order, requiring the students and mentors to adapt quickly. Their solution was to live-stream the musicals on Facebook.

This year, the musicals are inspired by a true story from KUOW’s RadioActive podcast. Each production explores a different issue in the modern world. Beyond Boundaries, with book and music by Lydia Hayes, utilizes a science fiction premise to create an insightful allegory about the significant link between one’s name and one’s identity. The Pen With Four Colors, with music by James McGough and Lucas Oktay and book by Morgan Gwertzman, is a testament to the healing power of art. However, I felt most strongly about the shows Bad Trip and Gut Feeling, which I have expanded on below.

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The October Anthology

Teen Editorial Staff October 2020 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Lily Williamson and Lucia McLaren

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Today, it seems as though nothing is united. The world is a chaotic, nuanced place as always. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing—our local arts venues are exploring how parts of a whole can be complementary, inspiring thought instead of confusion. Whether you’re desperate to know when your favorite show will be reopening or just want some fun art during this fall season, we hope our reviews will help you guide your October arts exploration.

If you’re looking for a true collection of short pieces, then there are plenty of events for you to choose from. There’s The 5th Avenue Theatre’s Rising Star Project’s 10 Minute Musicals, a collection of teen-produced and teen-inspired musicals; Pacific Northwest Ballet kicking off their first online season with excerpts from classic dances like Swan Lake in Rep 1; and Hugo House’s Spotlight Poetry, a show with visiting poets Julia Guez and Tess Taylor. Each of these events provides a plethora of diverse topics, all within the same medium.

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Temporary Occupancy: “Isolation During a Time of Isolation”

Review of Temporary Occupancy at ArtsWest

Written by Teen Writer Disha Cattamanchi and edited by Teen Editor Triona Suiter

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A woman talks to her dead partner, and a man takes an LSD trip that borders on insanity and self-awakening; both of which are a part of the shared experience of Temporary Occupancy, an intimate outlook presented as exploring “isolation during a time of isolation.” It’s a piece that navigates the boundaries of transient living at a time where we all long for something that is more concrete. Based on its claims to “offer us an escape from the confines of our own mind,” I truly expected to be transported to a nether dimension somewhere on my computer screen. Because of the unsettling revelations about loneliness and loss, paired with how the characters interact with the hotel space, I certainly was. As the ensemble acts out the raw, realistic silhouettes of everyday people in a hotel room, you can truly see why this show of pandemic-era theater excels.

Originally intended to be performed live in a Miami Beach Hotel, Temporary Occupancy has been adapted by Philadelphia immersive theater company Die-Cast, in partnership with ArtsWest, to adhere to a more relevant, COVID-centered experience. With the utilization of cameras and technology to convey personal and heart-wrenching experiences to the audience, viewers can engross themselves in the at-home experience by taking an intake questionnaire with the front desk or messaging with an ominous man named Jude. These technical tools are part of the Vicurious Boutique, a special boutique that is the central idea of Temporary Occupancy. It is a simulation-centered, RPG-like interface that allows you to reach within yourself without feeling the negative effects of it on your mental psyche. By offering things like soothing background music to calm you while you take your intake exam and frequent consultation with the front desk, Temporary Occupancy effectively simulates a hotel room without the in-person experience.

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Announcing the TeenTix Arts Podcast!

Listen up to find out “What’s on TAP” in the TeenTix Arts Podcast!

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We are thrilled to announce our very first podcast, the TeenTix Arts Podcast! A team of three Press Corps teens have been hard at work for months, (both pre and post-COVID!) to bring you this three-episode series. Stay tuned to hear "What's on TAP" as Ava, Huma, and Katherine go behind the scenes with TeenTix Partner Mirror Stage about their production, Expand Upon: Gun Control. You’ll hear from the Mirror Stage playwrights, actors, and director as we release one episode every Thursday, for the next three weeks. The podcast will be available to stream for free on TeenTix's Soundcloud and YouTube channels. Be sure to follow us on both platforms for the latest updates!

To find out more about Mirror Stage check out their website or listen to their podcast, and be sure to make your calendars for Expand Upon: Gun Control, October 3-4, and 10-11, on Zoom! Episode 1:

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A Socially Distant September

Teen Editorial Staff September 2020 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Anya Shukla and Triona Suiter

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This is a strange time for the arts world. Art is a community effort, a group-bonding experience… yet right now, we’re all watching these pieces in separate locations, isolated and alone. We hope our reviews provide the connective tissue between your viewing experiences and someone else’s—a chance for you to reflect on artwork alongside our writers. If nothing else, we’ll offer you arts recommendations to brighten your socially distant September.

If you want to get dressed up, grab some snacks, and make the most of your at-home viewing with pieces that would have been shown physically in any other year, then sit down to watch Pacific Science Center’s online footage of Laser Dome 360, Whim Whim’s XALT, or NFFTY 2020. Extra points if you bring $5 and your TeenTix pass!

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Introducing Art as Activism: TeenTix Summer Sessions

Join TeenTix for a series of workshops on how art can be an act of resistance, of protest, and of activism.

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Join us for a series of FREE online TeenTix workshops exploring how art is a powerful tool for activism and the fight for racial justice. Each Summer Session will focus on a different genre of art including theater, dance, and performance art. You’ll learn about the history of social justice movements and how art has played a role in both the past and present movements.

Use the links below to sign up for individual workshops, or all three! Theater as Protest with Jasmine Mahmoud

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Predator Songstress Sets Our Ideas of Live Theater Free

Review of Predator Songstress on OntheBoards.tv

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Rosemary Sissel and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson

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Predator Songstress is an exquisite, soul-stirring work of art that asks era-defining questions about voice, freedom, and live performance. It’s magnificent, unique, and startlingly relevant today.

Originally staged in 2015, the recording of this performance has been available at OntheBoards.tv for five years now—but its message and storytelling style are fresher and more necessary than ever.

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A Nexus of Negativity

Review of Nexus by Danielle Mohlman, performed on Zoom

Written collectively by the Teen Editorial Staff

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Tell me if you’ve heard this one before. A man and a woman randomly meet each other and seem to hate each other’s guts. They’re total polar opposites. Gradually, they get more comfortable with each other, express themselves, and fall in love. Sound familiar? This is essentially what happens in the play Nexus, by Danielle Mohlman, performed on Zoom. However, Nexus adds a small twist by asking the question: What if they were in the “hating each other’s guts” phase for their entire relationship?

When the man (MJ Sieber) and woman (Keiko Green) first meet at a bus stop, you could already tell the guy was pushy. As the play progressed, and the couple met at various locations—a museum, their house, another museum, yet another museum, why do they keep going to museums?—we were struck by the consistent horribleness of the man. He picked a fight with her when she found out she had a tumor— which turned out to be benign, but yikes! But I guess that’s okay, because she’s horrible too! At one point she just went to Baltimore without telling him. Is this what adulthood is really like? Because if so...that sucks.

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The Art of Procrastination

Teen Editorial Staff May 2020 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Anya Shukla and Kendall Kieras!

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Our quarantine art viewing is still going strong! One thing we have noticed during online school, however, is that we find ourselves procrastinating far more than we used to. Our emails are open, our phones are right next to us, and YouTube and Netflix are only one click away…

There’s also a lot to procrastinate! Some may say that because AP tests are only forty-five minutes, they cause less stress; others believe that because many final exams have been canceled, we don’t need to study; still others think that because many schools are going pass/fail, grades don’t matter anymore. To all those people, we say only this: we’re teenagers, and even when it’s not necessary, we make procrastinating a full-time job! (Also, do you see how we slid in an AP-English-worthy concession there? Take notes, College Board.)

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Creative Cures for Quarantine

Teen Editorial Staff April 2020 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Olivia Sun and Lily Williamson!

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Even though COVID-19 has kept us inside, there are still plenty of ways to stay involved with art while practicing good social distancing. From online exhibitions to performance archives, the Seattle arts scene is still alive and well, even under quarantine.

The coronavirus outbreak not frightening enough? Give Dark Matters at OntheBoards.tv a try—a spine chilling performance combining elements of contemporary dance and theatre. Directed by choreographer Crystal Pite, this performance will take you on a wild emotional journey from the comforts of your own home.

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Jitney: How Small Victories Against Oppression Bring Large Change

Review of August Wilson's Jitney at Seattle Rep
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Jaiden Borowski and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla

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Warning: Spoilers ahead!

By creating a full world of its own from simple interactions, August Wilson’s Jitney artfully depicts the everyday interactions between employees of a jitney business during the 1970s. (To provide some context, jitney businesses offered unlicensed taxis for the black community when typical services would not due to racial discrimination.) Jitney displays the everyday hustle and bustle of working-class Americans, allowing the audience to create relationships with and appreciate the details and flaws of each of its characters.

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1984: Another Big Brother

Review of 1984 at 18th & Union Review.
Written by Teen Editor Josh Fernandes and edited by Press Corps Teaching Artist Omar Willey.

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1984 is the kind of book I definitely should’ve read, but I think one of the play’s strengths is how seamlessly the material is adapted for the stage. After reading Brave New World and The Handmaid’s Tale, I sort of dismissed 1984. Both of those dystopias have a unique form of control over their citizens: Brave New World controls through pleasure in order to eliminate conflict and for the prosperity of its citizens, and The Handmaid’s Tale controls through language in order to save the declining birth rates of the white race. 1984 controls through fear simply for the sake of the Inner Party’s personal whims, which I always assumed to be sort of basic. Sure, 1984’s influence can be felt in all kinds of media, but I never thought to read the original. However, 18th & Union's adaptation certainly proves the merit of the original work, and I have no shame in saying that this is how I first experienced it.

The play is set in a dystopian future and follows Winston Smith, a “records editor” who seeks to escape and rebel against the ever looming and controlling presence of Big Brother alongside his new love Julia. The play doesn’t start here however, rather the entire show is set in an interrogation room set after Winston has already been captured. The audience is shown his story through a reenactment put on by party members based on the writings they find in Winston’s diary. Marianna de Fazio, Brad Cook, Michael Ramquist, K. Brian Neel and Lyam White; Ryan Higgins facing upstage in 18th & Union's production of 1984. Photo by Marcia Davis.

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Monster Robot Babies: Why Dance Nation is the Coolest Show Ever

Review of Dance Nation at Washington Ensemble Theatre

Written by TeenTix New Guard Member Daisy Schreiber and edited by Teen Editor Tova Gaster

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Good endings are hard to come by, and when I saw Dance Nation at Washington Ensemble Theatre for the first time, I didn’t really like the last few minutes. But the rest of it was kind of the Best Thing I’d Ever Seen, so I went back again. And again. And again. And again. By the fifth and last time I saw Dance Nation, the ending was one of my favorite parts. (My other favorite part was everything else.) There are approximately 15,000,000 different awesome things about the show, but Dance Nation, in one of its many acts of healing, offers a powerful paradigm shift–what if middle school makes us who we are? What if we aren’t a total write-off ages eleven to fourteen? What if we are ok now because of what happened to us in middle school, not just in spite of it?

Dance Nation catches its characters–members of an elite pre-teen dance team–at a delicate moment. They hover on the precipice of giving up dreams of dance stardom for other aspirations, like being a volcano scientist, or high school student, or diving deeper into the competitive dance world, knowing that they can never remake this choice. By the end of the ninety minutes, the girls have made their decisions, for the most part choosing each other over the rabid pull of being the best, and they are powerful. It is clear that their dance team friends will always be a part of their lives, and that, regardless of the future careers, dance is a force that connects them to each other as they take on the rest of their lives. Dance Nation at Washington Ensemble Theatre. Photo by Jeff Carpenter.

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Here We Go Again: Mamma Mia! is Simply Fun

Review of Mamma Mia! at Kirkland Performance Center
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Huma Ali and edited by Teen Editor Josh Fernandes

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Studio East and Kirkland Performance Center’s production of Catherine Johnson’s Mamma Mia! follows 20-year-old Sophie Sheridan (Rachel Kuenzi) as she unfolds a secret plan to find her father—or rather fathers, as she has narrowed the search to 3 potential candidates. Her ultimate goal: to have him walk her down the aisle at her wedding, which is merely days away. An island off Greece, a stuccoed hotel, unrequited love haunting the young and the old—it’s not a shock when things don’t go exactly as planned. But, it’s largely amusing to watch, even as a relative outsider to the franchise.

The stage opens to a fair, blonde Sophie standing next to a yellow mailbox, letters in hand. Recipients: Sam (Samuel Jarius Pettit), Bill (Hakan Olsson), and Harry (Ryan Lile). Sam Carmicheal is an architect and divorcee. Bill Anderson is an adventure-seeking writer. Harry Bright is an English banker. All under the impression of being invited by Sophie’s mother Donna (Shoshauna Mohlman), the three men fly to the island.

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Our Country’s Long

Review of Our Country's Good at Strawberry Theatre Workshop
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Anna Martin and edited by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras

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People are people if you treat them as such. This strong and simple message takes almost three hours to deliver in Strawberry Theatre Workshop’s Our Country’s Good.

The setting is mid-eighteenth century Australia, as the first colony of criminals is arriving. The show focuses on a group of convicts as they join with the officers to put on a play for the inmates.

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Fresher Start!

Teen Editorial Staff March 2020 Editorial

Written by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras!

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We all promise ourselves that the new year will bring a “new me,” but let’s all be honest and admit that the few people among us who still maintain resolutions have already forgotten about them by now. Who even designed the calendar system so that the year would start in the middle of winter? No, the true start of the year is now, with the beginning of Spring! It’s bright, it’s sunny, and we’ve got just the art to give you that fresh start we all need right now!

If you’re looking to shock yourself awake this Spring, there’s no better place to start than Rebecca Brewer’s Natural Horror at the Frye Art Museum. Toying with the psychological effect of the relationship between humans and the natural world, the pieces seem to come alive with their bold and flowing shapes evoking expressionistic painting through the medium of crafts.

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Recap: Theater Criticism Workshop at Snow White

Teen Reviews of Snow White at Seattle Children's Theatre

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The TeenTix Press Corps hosted a pop-up Theater Criticism workshop at a performance of Snow White at Seattle Children’s Theatre on February 29, 2020. Taught by playwright and arts journalist, Danielle Mohlman, the workshop covered the basics of theater criticism and how to approach writing a review of a play. After a pre-show lesson, teen participants attended a Snow White performance, and then met the next day for discussion and writing practice. Below are the reflections of the play a few of the participants wrote during the workshop.

Written by Faith - 9th grade

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