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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All the World’s a Stage at GreenStage’s Shakespeare in the Park

Written by TeenTix Alumni Haley Zimmerman

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The opening of Romeo & Juliet takes on a special significance when performed at GreenStage’s outdoor Shakespeare in the Park. The play opens with a lovely little prologue summarizing the “two hours’ traffic of our stage” — the “star-crossed lovers,” their “misadventured piteous overthrows,” their “death-marked love.” It concludes:

“The which, if you with patient ears attend,

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Hedwig is Timeless

Written by Cordelia Janow, TeenTix Alumni

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The stage is set for a night of glamour and rock at Arts West’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch. A sign in the corner reads “Black Trans Lives Matter”, inclusive pride flags sit on the desk, and the stage emanates Seattle’s Pioneer Square, setting up this modernized and localized interpretation of the show. The actors enter an exit as the audience finds their seats, checking on wigs, the soundboard, and whatever else Hedwig needs to start her show. When the show begins Hedwig (Nicholas Japaul Bernard) enters decked in pride flags and a contrasting American flag slung over her shoulders, but when she takes it off it reveals the confederate flag on the other side, immediately calling out the racist undercurrents of America. The opening speech, full of self-aware comments and Seattle-specific references, sets up a new vision for Hedwig: She exists in the modern day and the past, calling audience members to suspend their disbelief as she carries them through her story.

The modern-day aspects serve Hedwig well in addressing the issues that genderqueer and transgender people, especially those of color, face in America today. While staying true to the historical aspects of the show, Hedwig is timeless, referencing both old and new, reminding us that transgender people have been here and will continue to be here, and their stories deserve to be heard. The show's bones lend themselves to be manipulated and altered to fit the story that needs to be told at the time, and the actors and creative team do a fantastic job of sharing the story in a way that feels true to them and their artistry.

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Examining Journalism through the Lens of Director Christie Zhao

Written by TeenTix Writer Raika Roy Choudhury

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Masterfully maneuvering the challenges of cultural and linguistic differences, Director Christie Zhao is dedicated to shining light on “essential truths” about our social and political realms through theater. Stumbling upon theater classes whilst pursuing, and soon achieving, a degree in computer science, Zhao unexpectedly “fell deeper and deeper” into its activist potential and culture. In March of 2022, after working in a software engineer role, Zhao even founded Yun Theatre, a nonprofit dedicated to building a multilingual theater community and creating radical theater in the Pacific Northwest.

To Director Zhao, “Journalism is a form of theater.” And theater, she notes, is “a space to bring people together to embody a story… either far or close to us,” where everyone can “reflect and experience at the same time.” Theater is important because it forces proximity to heavy issues, calling the audience’s attention and care to them. It is a medium that “embraces the subjectivity of journalism,” reflecting the “essential truth” of life. For Zhao, her genre of theater is a way to “reclaim the agency of [her] own language,” truly speaking to the versatility of the art form.

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"Sweeney Todd" is a Color-Conscious Triumph

Review of Sweeney Todd at The 5th Avenue Theater

Written by Teen Editor Kyle Gerstel and edited by Press Corps Mentor Omar Willey

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In the program for Sweeney Todd at The 5th Avenue Theatre, director Jay Woods states that her team has “been granted the privilege to investigate th[e] text in the way the late great Stephen Sondheim felt was most important,” to put “risk-taking at the heart of creation.” I assume Woods is talking about the production’s use of color-conscious casting, drawing parallels between one of the most famous revenge plots of all time and contemporary race relations. Although the casting is bold and artistically effective, the production is most impressive because of its consistently strong performances and stunning marriage of design and direction.

Sweeney Todd is wildly popular because it is the rare thoughtful musical theater spectacle. It’s also rare as a mainstream musical centered around cannibalism. The plot is structured so the show is always a few steps ahead of the audience, delivering a satisfying and unexpected narrative without relying on shock value. The score is uniquely atmospheric and the text’s use of dramatic irony is delightful. However, the slow pace often took me out of the world of the show.

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Theatre in a Gym: Heartwarming Step by Performers Inspires New Talent

Written by TeenTix Writer, Adrija Jana

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As an elementary school student, Daira Rodriguez remembers being excited to go on a field trip to a show of Annie the Musical. However, when a sudden thunderstorm led to plans being canceled, the theatre team decided to come in and perform in the small gym inside the school, with nothing but costumes and props. Something about the gesture struck a chord with Daira, which it seems, never stopped resonating. A professional director, Daira recounts: "Honestly, I don’t know what it was about that grand gesture that made me beg my mom to sign me up for a youth theatre immediately afterwards—but I did. It was the first community I felt part of and the one I’ve consistently sought since. Something stuck I guess!"

Having decided to make a career in theatre, Daira admits that it has not always been easy, nor would it be, especially if you are not a male director. "For my family, it was about showing them that I was committed and that I could do it…And a responsible amount of lying—I was supposed to double major in something practical!"

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The Boxes We’re Kept In: Humanizing the Mythical Feminine

Written by TeenTix Writer Esha Potharaju

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Told for thousands of years, ancient mythology seems intransigent. How can one alter something so long standingly accepted? Enter Carolynne “Caro '' Wilcox and Hannah Votel: two playwrights who’ve built their careers on challenging rigid narratives. Together, they’ve combined forces to write and direct The Boxes We’re Kept In, which retells--and completely subverts--three Greek myths that each follow a woman who appears to succumb to a unique form of temptation.

There’s Persephone, who eats a pomegranate that traps her in the Underworld despite the fact that she was warned against it. Psyche, who was instructed by the god of love, her husband, to never look upon his face (spoiler: she did anyway). And finally, Pandora, who is said to have been the first woman on Earth. Gifted a box that she could never open, Pandora gives in to her curiosity, only to realize that she’s released every plague on humanity that one could imagine.

“The common thread in these three pieces is these women aren’t necessarily told what would happen if they did the thing. They just expect you to make the right choice,” said Wilcox.

Describing how these mythical women are typically vilified or infantilized for their choices, Votel said, “People have these preconceived notions of these characters.” Their goal with the play is to challenge such notions. Rather than painting a picture in black and white, Wilcox and Votel chose to represent them as complex, relatable characters who possess flaws, strengths, and desires.

Plays in this style aren’t new to Wilcox. Greek theater captivated her early in her life, which led to her decision to do something from Ancient Greece for her graduate school performance thesis. But there was one pitfall: “The thing that’s really annoying,” said Wilcox, ”is that so many of the Greek female characters are so passive and unresponsive. They’re often not the protagonists in their own stories.”

Wilcox knew that instead of following a preexisting Greek story, she had to write one of her own. The result was Loom, which casts the three Fates of Greek myth as its protagonists. Loom explores the agency of these female figures, a theme which is also prevalent in The Boxes We’re Kept In. “With a snap of the fingers,” said Wilcox, “a woman can be deemed as somebody who made a terrible choice that destroyed the entire world and all of its creations because she dared to open a box. Or she dared to follow an intriguing man down into the underworld. Or she dared to have the desire to look upon her husband’s face. These are all very simple choices that anybody could have made. And I think that these stories and these characters would be looked at in a very different light if they were men.”

In addition to subverting mythos of the female archetype, The Boxes We’re Kept In also challenges the notion of what theater can look like. The play is fully relayed in audio format. A singular actor plays a variety of roles through the usage of voice modulation technology. “Theater doesn’t have to look like a proscenium stage where the audience sits in the back and claps their hands and then leaves,” said Votel, who has been acting since the fourth grade. Their desire to overcome “this Eurocentric and able-bodied norm that we have right now” stems from their personal experiences as someone who is physically disabled. “Theater still exists--it’s valid and valued--even when it’s not big and everyone is doing high kicks and twirling around…Just because we don’t usually see [voice modulation], it’s not necessarily lesser than. Part of the goal is to put out a piece of theater that’s unlike something that some people have seen.”

Wilcox and Votel’s commitment to breaking the molds of myth and theater shines in this fresh new piece. The plights of Persephone, Psyche, and Pandora, while immortalized, have never before been told in this way. By pushing the boundaries of storytelling, the two playwrights demonstrate that imagination will allow them to dismantle established narratives and reshape them into meaningful, resonating tales.

The Boxes We’re Kept In is presented as part of the Strawberry Jam Director's Festival running June 8th-July 8th, 2023. With new titles every weekend, SJAM is dedicated to providing local directors with the opportunity to grow their craft through practice. Check out the full SJAM 2023 Line Up Here

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A Vivid Portrait of a Playwright

Review of How I Learned What I Learned at Seattle Rep

Written by Teen Writer Daphne Bunker and edited by Aamina Mughal

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The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s production of August Wilson’s How I Learned What I Learned at the Seattle Rep is a striking one-man show from the moment the Rep’s spacious yet intimate space darkens. It’s then that performer Steven Anthony Jones, in the role of playwright and poet August Wilson himself, walks through the aisle under a spotlight and up the stairs to the stage. On the stage are clusters of grass and stones, a street light, a desk with a glass of water, two chairs, and a formation of brick wall set pieces. On the foremost wall, white serifed letters are projected, reading “How I Learned What I Learned (And How What I Learned Has Led Me To Places I’ve Wanted to Go. That I Have Sometimes Gone Unwillingly is the Crucible in Which Many a Work of Art Has Been Fired).”

Jones, as Wilson, finishes his ascent and stands beneath the words projected on the bricks. He stands still in the silence before he begins speaking, his voice sounding through the theater with the strength and conviction of a storyteller with something to say. From these first moments, How I Learned What I Learned makes it clear that it is not simply an extended monologue; it’s a back-and-forth between performer, script, and audience, in which Jones brings the intricacies of Wilson’s writing to the theater, and the audience responds with rapt attention. Steven Anthony Jones in August Wilson’s How I Learned What I Learned at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Jenny Graham.

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Dance and Sing Toward Summer

Teen Editorial Staff May 2023 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Esha Potharaju and Yoon Lee


The month of May is the last month of spring—enjoy it before the hot waves of summer hit us with our exclusive curation of art to experience this month!

If you’re in the business of unfiltered, unscripted stories, then The Moth Mainstage is the May event you’re looking for! Watch five storytellers develop and shape their stories with the Moth’s directors.

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Following Fairy Tales

Review of Into the Woods at the 5th Avenue Theatre

Written by Andrea Romero during an Arts Criticism workshop at Glacier Middle School


Into the Woods is a very famous musical, following the story of four very famous fairy tales, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood. This play takes place in a forest most of the time.

This musical is about a baker and a wife who have always wanted to have a child of their own, when unexpectedly the witch from next door comes to them and tells them if they really want to have a child they have to find four special items, which are, a cape as red as blood, a cow as white as milk, hair as yellow as corn and lastly a slipper as pure as gold. From there it’s the baker’s and wife’s mission to find those missing items before the time limit or else they will never get their child.

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“Zach” is Hilarious, Retro, and Relevant

Written by Cordelia Janow, TeenTix Alumni

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90s teen sitcoms find a new home on the stage with “Zach” by Christian St. Croix at Artswest. The play follows Gina (Amber Walker) and PJ (Michael Nevárez) as they traverse their newfound popularity when Zach, a new student, selects them to be part of his clique. Gina is a fashionista, a secretly skilled carpenter, and one of the few black students in her school. PJ is goofy, a great dancer, and Latino. Zach, who is “American. Caucasian. Heterosexual. Capricorn,” creates many problems for Gina and PJ as they traverse through their primarily white high school. The two face average teenage problems such as dating, friendships, and popularity, along with blatant racism from those around them. This element is woven throughout familiar sitcom tropes, blending the two together to point out harmful stereotypes and real-world struggles that marginalized people face. Throughout the play, the two help each other to find themselves and navigate Zach’s oppressive domination of the school’s social scene.

Actors Amber Walker and Michael Nevárez shine in this production, playing over 10 characters throughout the play. The direction and minimal set/costume changes allowed for these actors to quickly jump from one character to the next, often switching back and forth between who is playing who. This was incredibly effective as each actor made strong distinctions between characters, bringing the world to life. This innovative choice also aided the comedy throughout, as the actors were able to switch their voices, personalities, and demeanors on a dime. The two played besties, lovers, enemies, and more, all with eminent chemistry. The play was fast-paced, clocking in at 75 minutes, keeping the audience thoroughly entertained. The 90s sitcom effect was achieved with laugh tracks, montage sequences, and (at times) goofy over-the-top exaggerations. I was laughing throughout the show during both moments of genuine comedy and so-bad-it’s-funny one-liners.

The more serious elements of the play point out the struggles that low-income, nonwhite, and queer teenagers face, marking something that is starkly left out of 90’s sitcoms: diversity. St. Croix brings Gina and PJ’s stories into the conversation and shows how they would really face the high school worlds portrayed in films. In doing this, “Zach” takes the tropes of well-known films and flips them on their head as commentary. Though this was generally effective, certain moments felt simplistic and left without nuance. In order to keep the lighthearted and comedic tone, the topics discussed were often right on the nose. Though this did serve to call out the biases that many people hold, I also felt that these portrayals were at times simplistic, dividing the world into two categories: Good Guys and Bad Guys, and leaving no room for those who are subtly or even unintentionally discriminatory. This choice was effective for capturing the feeling of a sitcom but made certain issues seem overly simple. However, the main goal of this play is achieved by bringing comedy, joy, and friendship to the stage in a new way, which can often be as powerful as tragic stories. The effervescence of “Zach” is what makes it special, and it brings an important representation of joy to the stage while still acknowledging real-world issues.

“Zach” is a wonderful story brought to life by two thoughtful actors and an innovative creative team. This play offers its spin on the world it inhabits, bringing back memories without missing a single trope, while also offering a new and previously overlooked perspective. Gina and PJ are lovable and they make the perfect team, hitting you with familiar sitcom bits from the start. If you are looking for a funny, joyful, and important story, “Zach” is the way to go!

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As It is in Taproot

Review of As It is in Heaven at Taproot Theatre Company

Written by Teen Writer Vada Chambers and edited by Yoon Lee

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Taproot Theater is a small theater staged sort of like a blackbox—there are three sides to the stage and a balcony to watch from above. This leads to a uniquely intimate theater experience and complicated, interesting movement from the actors who need to speak to all areas of the audience. As It is in Heaven, their performance for April, was no exception. As It is in Heaven, premiered in 2009, is as moving as it is witty. It follows the story of nine Shaker women navigating the troubles of their supposedly utopian life—led by three girls supposedly receiving messages from ethereal angels. Tradition battles faith, passion battles reality, and the women faithful must choose between rebellion and safety.

Taproot’s productions typically induce the same feeling as watching a Wes Anderson movie or an opera—sleepy, beautiful, and perfectly executed. All performances there are polished and smooth, but this piece in particular showed off how impressive creating such an immaculate performance really is. Every single movement is thought of, every word spoken perfectly. The show was full of intricate dancing, a dozen songs, and snappy dialogue that seemed precarious—one wrong phrase and everything would have unraveled. However, this amusing, intellectually challenging piece was handled beautifully, creating an impressive, immersive experience. Kristen Natalia, Jenny Vaughn Hall, Chloe Michele, Ashleigh Coe, and Justine Davis in As It is in Heaven at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Robert Wade.

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Reinvigorate Yourself This Spring

Teen Editorial Staff April 2023 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Aamina Mughal and Audrey Gray

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Even though we’re on the tail ends of the UW cherry blossoms, the spirit of reinvigoration, renewal, and reinvention remains in the air in the Seattle arts scene. In April we traveled from Jet City Improv to the Henry Art Gallery quintessential spring atmospheres. We hope you’ve been taking advantage of the nice weather and visiting all of our amazing arts partners!

We first see this theme of reinvention at the Henry with Thick as Mud, an exhibit that explores how mud represents the relationship between humanity and geography. The multimedia showing explores the violence inflicted against the environment as well as the potential for preservation and reinvigoration. Similarly, Ikat at the Seattle Art Museum uses an immersive experience to remind us of the importance of the tangible in terms of fashion. SAM describes this as “A radical departure from today’s factory-made cloth, Ikat serves as a reminder of the power of slow fashion and the sacredness of clothing as art”.

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The Spectacle is Outstanding

Review of Into the Woods at the 5th Avenue Theatre

Written by Raimundo Romero de Jesus during an Arts Criticism workshop at Glacier Middle School


Have you ever gone to a theater and watched Into the Woods? It's a big theater that is really beautiful.

It was big and had a lot of red chairs and people. When we arrived it was cold and the buildings were really cool. When we all walked in the theater it looked really cool when we all sat down the lights went on then they started the show with a song. The props are so cool and the sparkles coming out the ground then the background was so cool the way the led lights were changing to different colors. Another thing that I liked was when they were changing clothes really fast. Also the giant stomps are really loud and funny the way they were screaming and the giant was speaking really loud.

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Slaps You In the Face with Action

Review of Into the Woods at the 5th Avenue Theatre

Written by Milena Wiggen during an Arts Criticism workshop at Glacier Middle School


Have you ever wondered what the Fifth Avenue Theatre looks like? Don't worry, I’ll tell you all about it. At first glance from the outside, the sign is very big with bold neon letters spelling F-I-F-T-H A-V-E-N-U-E T-H-E-A-T-R-E. Once you walk into the building on the first floor, there's a big lobby with stairs going up to the second floor in the middle splitting once it's a good 6ft in the air. When you walk on the top seats and look up, the ceiling is glorious. I mean it's like a dragon hanging from the ceiling, of course you can see it from the bottom floor as well but I think you can see more detail from the top. So I think you should go see Into the Woods because the melody is super catchy and sticks in your mind like glue.

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A Musical with Spectacle

Review of Into the Woods at the 5th Avenue Theatre

Written by Owen Tran during an Arts Criticism workshop at Glacier Middle School


Into the Woods is a Musical about drama, love, and loss.

It's about a group of people: The baker, The baker's wife, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the beanstalk and more facing different challenges along the way.

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Outstanding Performance with the Main Elements of Theater

Review of Into the Woods at the 5th Avenue Theatre

Written by Yohan Chahal during an Arts Criticism workshop at Glacier Middle School


Imagine if you went to a really, really fancy theater called the 5th avenue theater, and saw a live musical performed by outstanding teenagers. I left the theater, greatly impressed. The 5th avenue theater in Seattle is really fancy, and old. There were chandeliers too, the pattern designs were really beautiful. The musical was mind blowing! The set was big enough for them to move around a lot. The lights changed color depending on the character or how intense the situation was. The actors/actresses were outstanding and really talented for their age. Especially the solo singing, which went on for 5+ minutes straight, no breaks! Into the Woods is an amazing play and you should see it because it has dramatic plot-twists.

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A Very Worthwhile Experience

Review of Into the Woods at the 5th Avenue Theatre

Written by Zoe Underland during an Arts Criticism workshop at Glacier Middle School


Have you ever been to a musical where you felt like you were in the story? Well that’s what I felt like when I went to the 5th Avenue theater, and watched Into the Woods. The theater itself was a whole another story. It was very beautiful and fantastic. Also how they tied in each and every character into the same story was VERY creative too. The musical was amazing, the singing was beautiful, the dancing was awesome, and the lighting was full of emotion. You really should watch Into the Woods because the music is outstanding!

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Shows A Lot of Emotions of the Characters

Review of Into the Woods at the 5th Avenue Theatre

Written by Isabel Ixcoy-Osorio during an Arts Criticism workshop at Glacier Middle School


I think that into the wood is a great movie because it shows a lot of emotions of the characters that is I'm so surprising like when the big girl wanted to take write this hurt she started screaming like acting that she was getting so sad about it because it was hers and her grandma did with her and the person the baker's wife cheer cheated on him was so sad the banker never noticed because he never thought that of her wife he thought that he was so incredible. And she cheated with the prince. The prince cheated the princess. The prince never noticed that the princess. I think if the princess noticed she would be so sad. I think if somebody got to be in that place I think that it would be so sad and so sad because it's not good at cheating on another person and I noticed that people are so good at acting because the lights were not on them they didn't move it was like they were freezing.

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