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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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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