Virtual Teen Nights with TeenTix!

Announcing a series of Virtual Teen Nights featuring local performances and discussions led by teens!

General Teen Night Graphics

Join TeenTix for a series of Virtual Teen Nights this March and April! Each Virtual Teen Night includes a screening of a performance from a local arts organization and a facilitated conversation and reflection activity on what you just saw. The post-screening discussion will be led by teens from TeenTix programs. Each Virtual Teen Night will focus on a different genre of art including film, dance, and theater, and we have events for both high schoolers and middle schoolers! Did we mention the best part? They’re all FREE! Sign up below to experience amazing local performances and connect with other arts-loving teens!

Each event will be hosted by TeenTix teaching artist Alethea Alexander and two teen facilitators from TeenTix programs. These events are produced in partnership with the Creative Advantage and Seattle Parks Department. All events will be hosted on the Webex platform. A link to Webex for the class will be sent to your email, two days prior to class.

Teen Nights with NFFTY Films

Saturday, March 13, 7-8:30 PM - High School (ages 14-19) - SIGN UP HERE

Saturday, March 20, 7-8:30 PM - Middle School (ages 11-14) - SIGN UP HERE

The NFFTY films that will be screened are:

Joychild by Aurora Brachman - A young child tells their mother "I'm not a girl" for the first time.

Yellow Cards of Equal Pay by Maia Vota - Members of the Burlington, VT High School girls soccer team recount the launch of their viral #EqualPay movement, inspired by Megan Rapinoe and the U.S. women's national soccer team, from its humble beginnings to national media coverage.

GHAZAAL by Ragini Bhasin - A 13-year-old feisty Afghan refugee hustles around in a refugee camp as she experiences her period without having access to any sanitary napkins.

Teen Nights with On the Boards Dance Performance

Saturday, March 27, 7-8:30 PM - High School (ages 14-19) - SIGN UP HERE

Saturday, April 3, 7-8:30 PM - Middle School (ages 11-14) -SIGN UP HERE

The dance performance screening will be of When the Wolves Came In by Kyle Abraham/Abraham In Motion at On the Boards. The performance, by award-winning choreographer and performer Kyle Abraham, presents a new work inspired by jazz great Max Roach’s "We Insist Freedom Now." Watch the trailer here.

Teen Nights with Macha Theatre Works Plays

Saturday, April 10, 7-8:30 PM - High School (ages 14-19) - SIGN UP HERE

Saturday, April 17, 7-8:30 PM - Middle School (ages 11-14) - SIGN UP HERE

We will screen two, 17 Minute Plays from Macha Theatre Works. The two plays are:

Ancestral Trauma and Healing for Dummies, Co-written by Maddy Nibble and Christine O'Connor performed by Maddy Nibble: A tragicomic trauma-romp through the ages exploring the consequences of White Supremacy and Internalized Capitalism on a perfectly well intentioned, deeply abusive Irish-Italian immigrant family. Co-writers Maddy and their actual real-life mom, Christine O'Connor, travel across time and space to delve deep into the origins of false ideologies, shame-based addictions, and other bewildering heirlooms — and all in just 17 minutes!

In the Crosshairs, Written and performed by Roz Cornejo. The story of a mixed chick untangling her relationships with her hair, her skin, and her identity.

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One Year Later

Teen Editorial Staff March 2021 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Triona Suiter and Eleanor Cenname

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Congratulations, everyone! We have made it to March 367th, or maybe 370-something by the time you read this. In any case, March is the longest month of the year. Well, not literally, but it sure does feel like it sometimes. Perhaps it is because March is both too cold for shorts, yet also allergy-inducing, or maybe it is because the powers that be deprive us of an hour of sleep. In any case, the great news is that once we are done with March, we will have turned a corner. Down this new street, the signs in storefronts advertise longer days, a little more sunlight, and maybe a bit of optimism. But until we reach these brighter times, we at TeenTix have the art to get you through the one year anniversary of March.

If you’re craving some lighthearted fun, why not check out So Bad It’s Good at MoPOP for a collection of failed movies to watch and laugh at? Or if you’re wanting something a little more serious, SIFF Cinema’s Night of Kings is sure to be captivating (note that this movie is rated R, watch at your own discretion). For those of you looking to learn something this month, Seattle Art Museum is hosting a virtual presentation on March 6, to discuss how historical genocides in Java, Indonesia impact the dance scene there today. Or if you’re truly desiring the absurd, Dacha Theatre’s board-game-inspired, 90’s-themed, interactive zoom show, Secret Admirer, could be just the thing for you.

Keep your eyes out on the blog to catch teen coverage of these events, as well as a small anthology of Heathers reviews from some of our Newsroom writers. And don’t forget to check out the TeenTix Arts Podcast, with new episodes released every month!

However you decide to get through March, we hope you’re staying safe and healthy, and please, wear your mask.

Lead photo credit: Photo by Sid Sun for Unsplash.

The TeenTix Newsroom is a group of teen writers led by the Teen Editorial Staff. For each review, Newsroom writers work individually with a teen editor to polish their writing for publication. The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 6 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

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Ser o No Ser: Opening the Narrative of Shakespeare

Review of house of sueños, presented by Seattle Shakespeare Company

Written by Teen Writer Esha Potharaju and edited by Teen Editor Triona Suiter

House of suenos recording photo courtesy of Seattle Shakespeare Company

I’m brown, a girl, and rather opinionated. Shakespeare’s words were never meant for me; I recognized that early on. Sure, I’ve acted out a few lines for English at school. I took some reading comprehension tests on why a midsummer’s night wasn’t much to do about nothing, or something like that. But it’s not like I could ever relate to them. If Shakespeare’s narratives don’t reflect me, like stories are meant to, why must I consider them classics? Out of all the real, beautiful stories from around the world, from the Mahabarat to the Genji Monogatari, why must Hamlet be the only one universally recognized as a shining gem?

In Seattle Shakespeare's new podcast house of sueños, playwright Meme García retells Hamlet in their own Salvadorian-American voice, nuanced by intergenerational and personal trauma, to ultimately ground the play in a narrative that, for once, isn’t just for white people. house of sueños is an audio drama about two sisters investigating their father’s mysterious disappearance in the wake of their mother’s wedding. house of dreams in Spanish, the drama explores Latinx identity, colonialism, and trauma.

"I think that one of my things that I'm most excited about house of sueños is that you take this classic—quote unquote ‘classic’ story, right, 'cuz white supremacy's told us this is a classic story. And you're like how—I'm not pulling myself up to that story. Rather, I'm forcibly dragging that play to meet my life. And that I can use these words to kind of talk about things I've had to sit with for most of my life,” García says in a bonus episode, a conversation about their play.

García’s use of language is a central pillar of the play, something the play’s audio format allows it to focus on. The story is spun purely through words and voices. Actors make excellent use of the medium, seeming to have poured their souls into this work. Characters’ personalities are conveyed through tone and speech patterns alone. Emotion is raw in the actors’ voices, which are complemented by an eerie yet beautiful soundtrack composed by Coby Gray. García's poetic writing, heavy with surreal imagery, only serves to enhance the experience of this play. “It is an old place. And it sits like a bug caught in amber. Floating in time.” How beautiful is that?

While the majority of the play is original dialogue, during particularly intense scenes, its Shakespearian roots surface in the form of Hamlet lines retold in a combination of Spanish and English. García reframes these dialogues into contexts completely different from how they were used in Hamlet. Yet, they do it in a way that the weight of the lines still rings clear, if not clearer, because García is allowing these lines to resonate with a wider range of people, specifically Spanish-speaking Latin-Americans.

Hamlet is a play that tackles mental health and suicide, issues that anyone of any background can experience. “The speech, ‘to be or not to be,’ has just kind of haunted me most of my life,” García says in the bonus episode.

In house of sueños, the line “ser o no ser” is uttered by older sister Rina, a seventeen-year-old deadset on finding her papi and rejecting societal norms. Rina’s character brings up colonization and its inflictions on generations of her community. Seen as “rebellious” and “unstable” by her mother, who believes assimilating to the white mindset is what’s best, Rina is rejected by the members of her own family. This line, meaning “to be or not to be” in Spanish, opens an iconic and meaningful line in Hamlet—a line carrying the heaviness of suicide and contemplation—to groups of people with experiences that will cause them to interpret the line in a way vastly different than the white perspective it has always been looked at.

By opening up the narrative of Hamlet, García provides a space for Spanish-speaking BIPOC who have similar experiences to feel a sense of belonging. “Belonging is protection,” therapist Marlene H. Kenny says in the conversation with García. In a world where the white narrative is pervasive, works like house of sueños that turn pieces over-glorified by whiteness into real-life cultural experiences are extremely important.

Shakespeare’s words may not be meant for me, but house of sueños has taught me that I can pull those words down and look them right in the eye by telling a narrative of my own.

house of sueños runs from January 27 to March 17, 2021, and is available on Rough Magic, Seattle Shakespeare Company's podcast. For more information see here.

Lead photo credit: house of sueños recording photo. Courtesy of Seattle Shakespeare Company

The TeenTix Newsroom is a group of teen writers led by the Teen Editorial Staff. For each review, Newsroom writers work individually with a teen editor to polish their writing for publication. The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 6 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

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You’ve Come To The Right Place

Review of A Thousand Ways (Part One): A Phone Call, presented by On the Boards

Written by Teen Writer Kyle Gerstel and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson

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“I regard theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” - Oscar Wilde

My cellphone illuminates a face as I sit alone in my bedroom. With every answer to the AI bot’s line of prompts and questions, her figure strengthens. What is something you walk around with? A hand appears. Can you speak more on that? A limb. She sits on the carpet, rolled up in a ball. We gaze at one another, hypnotized by the strange sense of intimacy. This is more than interactive theater—it’s theatrical interaction.

When first given the opportunity to review A Thousand Ways (Part One): A Phone Call, I was slightly nervous—there’s a social stigma around experimental theater and I wasn’t sure if it would be too “artsy” for me to appreciate. At the beginning of my journey, an unsettling voice emerged, like a cross between Alexa and Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey: “You’ve come to the right place.” Had I?

That depends: did I wish to be challenged, touched, and transcended in space through the power of voice alone? In my interview with the creators of A Thousand Ways, Abigail Browde and Michael Silverstone (known collectively as 600 Highwaymen), they expressed that the show was about “two people trying to imagine one another across this distance, but also about two people trying to create something together.” These ideas make the piece particularly resonant at this time of isolation without ever feeling nauseatingly relevant.

Questions, prompts, and bits of narrative are delivered by an AI bot to facilitate the conversation, establishing place and context in order to unlock less tangible details and create the possibility that audience members might be able to not only visualize each other, but gain a deeper understanding of their own character in the process.

I admit that it did feel awkward at the start, but as Silverstone said, “Awkwardness is useful—once you pass through it, you arrive at a place of poetics and comfort, you’ve accomplished something.” To engage in a shared experience at this time when there are so few was incredibly refreshing, even if it was with a stranger and an AI bot.

The show originated before the pandemic as a commissioned project for an art gallery regarding listening. “Oftentimes, we find that our first idea is not so great,” they told me, “and this idea of listening wasn’t so exciting. What was more exciting was the idea of making yourself visible and holding one another in the stillness and the darkness of this moment.” Thus, A Thousand Ways was born.

“It just started with me getting on a conference call with two people who didn’t know each other and asking them questions, giving them prompts,” Browde shared. “We would listen to how they responded, what gave people permission to expand upon things, and what sort of questions elicited reactions that we were interested in as makers. Sometimes it was the more pedestrian or simple things that felt the most meaningful.”

Silverstone added, “Early on, when we were working on this project, it always seemed like people were having a miserable time, and it took a while to get comfortable with the idea that they’re not miserable, they’re just having an experience, and even though they’re not performing enjoyment, that doesn’t mean they don’t like it.” Removing the “performance” aspect of performing arts made the experience even more provocative for me—I felt comfortable letting my guard down, which allowed me to fully participate in and enjoy the project.

Despite the immense vulnerability and active imagination required to fully participate in the piece, it’s both highly entertaining and rewarding to reflect upon. 600 Highwaymen achieved this by building the show on principles of gaming: “The audience is behaving in a way where there are incremental steps forward and a built vocabulary over time, always reaching for the thing right in front of you instead of focusing on the show as a whole.” This task-based approach makes it much more accessible than what is felt after the fact.

By requiring a “rigor to your presence as an audience member to show up, both for yourself and the other person,” A Thousand Ways fosters a connection between theatergoers that other pandemic art has failed to pull off. However, these are only fragments. “It is experienced by the participants on the call; all we’ve done is make the invitation.”

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New Hope?

Teen Editorial Staff February 2021 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Lily Williamson and Triona Suiter

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It’s finally February, and while 2021 has been more like 2020 than we’ve hoped, things may be starting to look up. Spring is coming, Washington is in Tier 1 of the vaccine rollout plan, and you can even see art in-person at museums now. With all that, we’ve decided to bring you art this month that is, in some sense, optimistic, including new and unconventional works from Seattle Shakespeare Company and On the Boards, and events in celebration of Black History Month.

This month, On the Boards continues their optimistic pandemic project, A Thousand Ways. The unconventional performance begins in February in the form of a phone call with a stranger—two members of an unseen audience following a set of directions for conversation. Though the dates are not yet set for parts two or three, On the Boards hopes to be able to gradually progress to in-person performances over the next several months, starting with small audiences and growing larger as restrictions begin to lift.

Unfortunately, that may still be a long way away. So in the meantime, why not check out Seattle Shakespeare Company’s modern retelling of Hamlet in the form of the multilingual podcast, house of sueños? Or maybe tune in on February 9, to Seattle Arts and Lectures to hear Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright talk about his new pandemic-inspired thriller novel, The End of October. In addition, you can see the Henry Art Gallery’s Set in Motion, which is presented on sixty public buses throughout the Seattle area.

Or, better yet, enjoy art about, by, and for Black people in honor of Black History Month. At The Frye, experience Anastacia-Reneé’s work addressing the struggles of her character, Alice Metropolis, as she fights her way through everything from white supremacy to cancer. And, visit the Northwest African American Museum to see Iconic Black Women: Ain’t I A Woman, a visual celebration of influential Black women through portraits.

Although COVID-19 is far from over, and we’re still not close to experiencing art normally again, we have reason to be optimistic. This month, be inspired, be hopeful, and see art!

Lead photo credit: Photo by Faris Mohammed for Unsplash.

The TeenTix Newsroom is a group of teen writers led by the Teen Editorial Staff. For each review, Newsroom writers work individually with a teen editor to polish their writing for publication. The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 6 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

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14/48:HS: Adapting Youth Theater to a Modern Pandemic

Feature on 14/48:HS

Written by Teen Writer Audrey Liepsna Gray and edited by Teen Editor Eleanor Cenname

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Back in March, the COVID-19 pandemic introduced challenges that no one could have predicted just a few months earlier. For artistic communities nationwide, these hardships took shape in the accessibility of art; venues for creative exhibition and exploration closed, groups could no longer meet safely, and artists began to struggle under the challenges of just staying afloat. Organizations like 14/48:HS, a local community-oriented youth theatre group, were pushed into a virtual platform, their resources and activities stifled by quarantine. Even inspiration suffered under the toll of the pandemic. Days began to blend together into a surreal quarantine landscape, and the sudden depression of social distancing pushed many artists’ creativity into a background hum. Financial instability, social isolation, and the stress of self-sufficiency in a country that seemed to be collapsing were common issues among adults. But what about teens?

For teenagers all across the country, school and extracurriculars spelled out an escape from tumultuous relationships and home lives. Now, home life is all we know. Even school, something that used to be a welcome time for stimulation and friendships, is one hundred percent virtual and isolated. Most extracurriculars were postponed indefinitely or forced to move to an online format, including groups that promoted artistic expression through their activities. One such group is 14/48:HS. They’re dedicated to producing their student theater festival and being a supportive artistic community that fosters the creative growth of members in various artistic mediums. Their community is so strong, they’ve won the Teeny Award for Best Youth Engagement Program— twice. Since quarantine began, they’ve been trying to continue their group online. Finding solutions to the challenges that plague artistic communities during the pandemic hasn’t been easy. The inability to come back to a physical theater space has left a 2020 14/48:HS festival impossible, and they’ve struggled with engagement and creative work over a virtual medium. But 14/48:HS is overcoming these challenges, and they’re doing it in a fashion befitting their mission as a youth-led, directed, and produced organization.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, organizations have had to adapt to online meetings and employ creative problem-solving. 14/48:HS is a great example of how groups of young artists can use online tools at their disposal to explore their creativity and serve their community. I attended one of the 14/48:HS meetings and found an open, friendly community. Creative ideas seemed to bounce off every member and the atmosphere was relaxed. During the quarantine, they’ve been unable to meet in person and do many of the things that they normally do as a theater group, so they’ve changed up their mission and began focusing more on their community. Being a safe space to let members focus more on themselves and the social issues plaguing our community was important for them. However, they’re now beginning to get back to the artistic aspect of their organization and planning to use the internet, the one reliable tool at their disposal, for creating. Photo courtesy of 14/48:HS.

Social media may serve to be the most important tool in 14/48:HS’s shift back into theater during the pandemic. Community engagement has always been an important aspect of their organization, but during the quarantine, their artistic endeavors have suffered. A way to get back to creation whilst honoring these values may be through TikTok, an app with an overwhelmingly young user base. 14/48:HS plans on using the platform to create short musicals and skits, all recorded through the ideas of the members and from the safety of a home recording. The idea seems perfect for a modern theatrical response to a modern pandemic. The engaging, youthful peer-to-peer nature of 14/48:HS reveals just how well they’re making their group work even in these difficult times. They’re peers, and they’re a community; they know each other’s struggles, conveniences, and the trends of their generation. Because of this, they know how they can help each other through the dark tunnel of quarantine. Through this intrinsic connection, they’re able to more effectively understand their platform, their peers, and the world of virtual theater. Their use of other virtual sources than the more obvious video-chatting services shows their mindfulness, as it's an excellent way to combat the widespread phenomena known as Zoom fatigue.

These times may be rough and isolation may run rampant, but communities are still very much alive. The empathetic and engaging work of 14/48:HS proves this. Although creativity may take a backseat for many young artists in these times of strife and discord, nothing shows the strength of community and togetherness like knowing that that’s okay. Even a group as artistically oriented as 14/48:HS recognizes this. Their theater is made by and made for today’s youth. They use the internet mindfully to make a powerful point as they transition back to art. After all the fatigue and challenge of functioning solo in quarantine, the 14/48:HS community is a breath of fresh air and a sign of more creative youth theater to come in the future. It shows just how far a community can go towards making an event as universally stressful and isolating as a pandemic a little bit more bearable, and a little bit more creative. No other organization shows an intrinsic understanding of this better than the exemplary 14/48:HS.

More information about 14:48/HS can be found on their website.

Lead Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of 14/48:HS. Spring 2019 Festival.

The TeenTix Newsroom is a group of teen writers led by the Teen Editorial Staff. For each review, Newsroom writers work individually with a teen editor to polish their writing for publication. The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 6 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

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An Auditory Exploration: The Canterville Ghost

Review of The Canterville Ghost presented by Book-It Repertory Theatre

Written by Teen Writer Nour Gajial and edited by Teen Editor Mila Borowski

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As we approach the holiday season, who doesn’t love getting cozy and watching a performance? Even during a time where we cannot enjoy an in-person play, Book-It Repertory Theatre continues to bring the arts community together through broadcasting Oscar Wilde’s Canterville Ghost, converting the play into an auditory performance. Although viewing this production online is not the same as viewing it live, I had the opportunity to enjoy it in the comfort of my own home, and given that it was pre-recorded, I had the flexibility to view it at my own time.

The Canterville Ghost is a short story by Oscar Wilde about the Otis family, who move to an English country house which they soon find out is haunted. The Otis family, who are from America, do not find the eeriness of their house intimidating. In fact, they decide not to mention it at all. We soon discover that in their basement lives a ghost with a troubled past. Although we do not know the name of the ghost, we know that he was the first owner of this country house and was looked down upon in his past life since he killed his wife. Every morning he leaves a bloodstain in the living room near the fireplace to prove his existence and to scare the family, but the Otis family is unphased. Every night, the ghost attempts to scare the family, but instead, the young Otis twins ridicule him and play tricks on him instead. Even Mr. and Ms. Otis offer him medicines and supplies to help him instead of reacting to his tricks. By this point, the ghost feels offended and decides to stop scaring the family. However, it soon becomes evident that the elder daughter of the Otis family, Virginia, has some fear building up around living in the haunted house. One day she comes across the ghost and he confides in her. They both share vulnerable stories and the ghost confesses that he wants to die officially and doesn’t want to continue his presence as a ghost. Virginia is destined to help the ghost and as she helps him confront death, she learns an important lesson that love is stronger than death.

One of the most exciting features about this performance is that it can only be viewed as an audiobook. Personally, I thought this fit perfectly with the theme of the Canterville Ghost since it is a fantasy story and it gave me an opportunity to create my own image for the performance. However, given that there were no visuals, the story was heavily dominated by the voice of the narrator, which created continuity between the scenes. I could tell that the audio was high quality since it was extremely clear and had many dimensions (background noise, character noise, and narrator voice). Often the narrator would lead the plot with the characters in the scene talking in the background. In this audiobook style, it was extremely helpful that I was able to distinguish each character by their unique voices and tones. Just by hearing their voices, I was able to track character development throughout the storyline which added depth to my understanding of the plot. Even though there were no formal transitions between scenes, I relied on the background sounds and pauses to establish a change in time in my head which strongly imitated a set change on a stage in real life. Although I have not listened to very many audiobooks, I had a great experience listening to the Canterville Ghost and am inspired to check out more auditory performances.

Overall, I was very satisfied with viewing this performance. Even though I didn’t see the production in person, or have visuals to aid my understanding, I had the freedom to create my own fantastical visuals in my mind which was equally enjoyable. The Canterville Ghost was humorous, exciting, and kept me on my toes even in the comfort of my own house. Although audiobooks are not the most conventional method of viewing a performance, Book-It Repertory Theatre did a very effective job in conveying the story while keeping the viewer entertained. During this time in quarantine, it can be difficult to view live performances, however, I had an awesome experience listening to this audiobook and encourage others to check it out!

This event is streaming from December 8th, 2020 through June 30th, 2021. For more information see here.

Lead Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Book-It Repertory Theatre

The TeenTix Newsroom is a group of teen writers led by the Teen Editorial Staff. For each review, Newsroom writers work individually with a teen editor to polish their writing for publication. The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 6 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

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Dragon Mama: Are We the Same or Could We Not Be More Different?

Review of Dragon Mama by Sara Porkalob at American Repertory Theater

Written by Franklin High School student, Kalie Vo.

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Dragon Mama is a production that delivers emotional moments to create one life-changing experience. The story is unforgettable not only in the drama, but also in presentation. Regardless of the viewer’s perspective, this story holds the potential to leave an impact. Brought to life through the talent of solo actress—Sara Porkalob, this performance highlights being an anti-model-minority in a nonfiction approach unique to her mother’s life and demonstrates the events of what happened before and after Sara’s own birth.

The play focuses on Maria, with a complex family structure along with financial and emotional struggles while growing up. She is burdened in her childhood with the role of being a parental figure to her four siblings whose single mother is busy working to provide for them. The viewer spectates Maria as she grows from being an irresponsible teenager into an adult struggling to find her path in life. She also explores her sexual identity while raising her child and copes with mental issues. Maria’s coming of age is nothing like what most people imagine their life to become. This piece exists to let people know that the value of their experiences do not have to be measured by the common standard of success and that Maria, despite her bad choices in life, was able to strive for a fulfilling purpose and attain happiness, while moving the audience along the way.

One notable aspect of the play is the strong portrayal of family relationships. The one-sided connection between Maria and her mother, and Sara to her mother, is representative of many immigrant family dynamics. Maria’s mom was often too busy working to spend quality time with family as shown by a time where without notice, Maria and her younger siblings do not see their mom come home for over 24 hours. Not being able to spend time with family means not being able to guide them, not being able to give affection, and not being emotionally present while they grow up. This lack of guidance influences Maria into making many irresponsible choices later on. For some viewing her play, they might resonate with the experiences of feeling like their parents never loved them since they never showed up for them. Despite this, Maria still receives silent displays of support, like when her mom pays for her abortion or lets adult Maria leave the household to find herself. These events cause the audience to reflect on their own relationships and memories with their parents.

Part of what makes this performance unforgettable is how the play does not sugar-coat the reality of mental health. When Maria gives birth to Sara, she experiences depression and her whole family is there to see it happen. Her depressive episodes are uncomfortable to watch but remind us that Maria is a real human with flaws and she was never meant to be a role model. With that in mind, witnessing Maria’s life at her extremes can create a sense of relief for young people watching because it tells them that it’s okay to be doing terrible.

Whether the audience relates to, or could not be more different from Maria, watching this life-changing production offers the audience a new perception of life along with insight. It forces spectators to acknowledge stigmas and issues that often come with the reality of living in poverty as an immigrant. For those who have lived a privileged life, it brings awareness and growth. For those who resonate with Maria’s experiences, it brings healing and growth. Regardless of perspective, the personal story each audience member has to compare and contrast with Maria’s is what creates this special awakening.

Lead photo credit: Sara Porkalob in Dragon Mama at American Repertory Theater. Photo by GretjenHelene.com

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

This review was written as part of an Arts Criticism 101 workshop at Franklin High School in Ms. Roh's Asian American Literature class, taught by Press Corps teaching artist Omar Willey.

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Dragon Mama: The Trials and Tribulations of an Asian-American Woman

Review of Dragon Mama by Sara Porkalob at American Repertory Theater

Written by Franklin High School student, Veronica Bunnell.

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Late night karaoke, drama, humor, love, heartache and complex characters all in an hour-forty-five-minute show created by one person? Writer and creator, Sara Porkalob, makes it seem so effortless. The second story in the Dragon Cycle Trilogy, Dragon Mama, is an incredible one-woman show starring Porkalob herself. It details the story of her mother, Maria Porkalob Jr. before and after Sara was born. The actress shares her mother’s journey and the unfortunate, heart-wrenching situations their family experienced during the late 1970s to early-1990s living in America. Sara Porkalob’s play emphasizes that there is much more to a person’s life than meets the eye.

The show recreates two time periods within Maria Jr.’s life. The first act focuses on her early life with her mother and siblings in Hawaii, as well as their life in Bremerton, Washington after they move from Hawaii. There, Maria Sr. works tirelessly as both a waitress and a worker at a bingo hall while raising her children as a single mother. As a result, thirteen-year-old Maria Jr. is left to take care of her younger siblings. The second act deals with Maria Jr. as an adult living in Alaska. Throughout the story, the family faces financial challenges and food insecurity.

Sara Porkalob’s versatile portrayal of her mother’s family is fascinating and draws in the audience. Her storytelling is both humorous and emotional. The stage only has a chair accompanying Porkalob as she performs. It emphasizes that the story is not centered around the setting but rather the actions and the dialogue. By using various tones and expressions, Porkalob is able to differentiate the roles in a way that captures their unique personalities. With numerous characters being added, it is easy to lose sight of the situation that occurs on stage. But with the right body movement and lighting, the audience cannot take their eyes off the story that is unfolding as well the valuable lessons it holds. In addition to the lighting and movement, the music choice makes an impact on her performance. Each song sets the tone and energy of the scene, and the audience gets hooked. The variety of music Porkalob plays during nerve wracking scenes symbolizes that music is the gateway to release her emotions. However, the show has so many quick transitions which can confuse the audience. There are moments where Porkalob goes from an outdoor to an indoor setting or from a flashback to the present and it takes a while for the audience to realize the change.

The turbulent life of Maria Porkalob and her family allows others to comprehend the struggles that Asian Americans face in the United States. Both Maria Porkalob Sr. and Jr. sacrifice their time with their children to make ends meet and provide the family with necessities. Whether it is through working two jobs or consistently moving to secure jobs, such as going to Alaska to work on a fishing boat, these women have to fend for themselves and make difficult decisions to survive.The overarching theme of resilience continues to make itself known throughout the many scenes, particularly to those who may not understand and relate to their actions.

Dragon Mama is the depiction of fortitude of spirit and perseverance in the midst of adversity. Maria Porkalob Sr. and Jr. are matriarchs who undergo unpleasant experiences for self-preservation and choose what’s best for their children. Being Asian Americans in a society full of limited opportunities, they epitomize true grit and express what it really means to rise up against hardships.

Lead photo credit: Sara Porkalob in Dragon Mama at American Repertory Theater. Photo by GretjenHelene.com

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

This review was written as part of an Arts Criticism 101 workshop at Franklin High School in Ms. Roh's Asian American Literature class, taught by Press Corps teaching artist Omar Willey.

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December, a Time For Expression

Teen Editorial Staff December 2020 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Lucia McLaren and Mila Borowski

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When the weather outside is frightful, it’s the best time of the year to curl up with a hot drink and watch some socially-distanced entertainment! This December, we hope this wide variety of arts programs will have a treat for just about anyone.

To explore the realms of dance, Written in Water by the Ragamala Dance Company and presented by Meany Center for the Performing Arts, takes a refreshing, multimedia take on one’s journey to connect themself with their emotions and spirituality. If you’ve been craving a more comedic escape, take a look at Jet City Improv’s Twisted Flicks. Their improv-dialogue over classic movies of the past is sure to give you the laughter you need. When it comes to missing the experience of your favorite local restaurant, SIFF presents Bread, Love, and Cinema, a class on Italian food and how it’s interconnected with Italian film history.

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Mustard Seeds: Writing Redemption, Not Excuses

Review of Mustard Seeds at Pork Filled Productions' Unleashed Festival

Written by Teen Writer Anabelle Dillard and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson

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In recent years, the worlds of film, theater, and television have seen a drastic increase in diversity, but with that diversity comes a tendency to follow the same tropes over and over again. Media with Black protagonists sometimes falls into Black pain or white savior narratives, media with LGBTQ+ protagonists often lands on the Bury Your Gays trope, and media with female protagonists often ends with vague declarations of girl power. Pork Filled Productions works to combat the stagnation of diverse media by providing a space for BIPOC voices in speculative genre fiction. Their most recent festival, Unleashed: New Pulp Stories for the 21st Century, featured staged readings from POC playwrights. The festival ended with Mustard Seeds, written by Michelle Tyrene Johnson and directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton, which follows two groups as their stories intertwine: four campers on the bank of the Missouri River and three spirits known as the Unborns. Over the course of a single night, the campers—Liz (Erika Fontana), Anna (Elisa Chavez), Ronnie (Vincent Orduña), and Mack (A. Fontana)—reveal personal truths and confront their own biases, while the Unborns—Taurus (Lauren DuPree), Gemini (Jose Ruffino), and Aries (Sarah Russell)—observe and comment on the behavior of the humans.

The Unborns are revealed to be the unborn children of the slaves who died while attempting to cross the Missouri River on the Underground Railroad. They each have a connection to different elements—Taurus with earth, Gemini with air, and Aries with fire—and learn important lessons from those elements: “listen,” “be patient,” and “burn what you think you know,” respectively. The Unborns also embody the elements they represent: Taurus is grounded and patient, Gemini is wise and spiritual, and Aries is passionate and impulsive. I found the way the Unborns evolved linguistically over the course of the play especially interesting. At first, they speak in mostly African-American Vernacular English and use antiquated vocabulary, hinting at the time period they came from, but as they spend more time listening to the campers, they adopt a more modern, academic dialect and use 21st-century slang. On the night the play takes place, under the light of the pink moon, the Unborns have a chance at life, and all they have to do is pick which of the campers they will be born to.

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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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