Githa Sowerby’s Rutherford and Son Defies Its 20th Century Setting

Review of Rutherford and Son at UW Drama

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Eileen MacDonald and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Anya Shukla!

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In 1912, Rutherford and Son, written by anonymous playwright K.G. Sowerby, was heralded as a masterpiece and placed on a list of the top 100 plays of the 20th century. When it was later revealed that the author was, in fact, the female writer Githa Sowerby, critics were shocked—yet the meaning of the piece became all the more profound.

Performed for the third time in the United States, the play is the thesis production of third year MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) directing student, Cody Holliday Haefner, and examines the life of a family overcoming obstacles in a sexist, classist, and racist society. John Rutherford (guest actor Brace Evans) is the patriarch of an upper class family on the brink of coming undone. As he desperately tries to save the family glassmaking business, he fails to recognize that his family has been torn apart by his actions and expectations.

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A Brighter Tomorrow

Review of Annie at The 5th Avenue Theatre.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Ben Capuano, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Huma Ali!

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People have a hard time forgetting firsts. You’re going to remember events like your first concert for many years after the fact. If you or a loved one are looking to experience a musical for the first time, there isn’t a better choice than the 5th Avenue Theatre’s production of Annie.

Annie was actually the first musical I ever saw—my sister loved the 1982 version and we’d seen it performed everywhere from Youth Theater Northwest to the Paramount. As a result, I went into this production with a more critical eye than usual. I wasn’t expecting anything awful, but I expected to walk away confident that my previous experiences would reign superior.

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SCT Takes on Muhammad Before Ali

Review of And in This Corner: Cassius Clay at Seattle Children's Theatre.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Jonah de Forest, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Joshua Fernandes!

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Muhammad Ali is one of those historical figures whose titanic cultural presence often overshadows the nuances of his life. Playwright Idris Goodwin aims to find the man behind the legend in his new work, And in This Corner: Cassius Clay, presented by Seattle Children’s Theatre. The result, as directed by Malika Oyetimein, is a lively and thoroughly original piece of theatre.

The story unfolds as if out of a pop-up-book on scenic designer Shawn Ketchum Johnson’s endlessly inventive whirligig of a set. The stage is styled after an old-school gym, with boxing equipment doubling as minimalistic, but instantly recognizable indicators of time and place. We first meet Ali (André G. Brown) in narrator form, speaking one of the many rhyming interludes that tie the narrative together (a tribute to Ali’s famous rhyme-heavy rebuttals that would remain a constant throughout his career). We are then transported to Jim Crow-era Louisville, Kentucky, where Ali remerges as a 12-year-old, then known by his birth name of Cassius Clay. There we are introduced to his mother Odessa (Bria Samoné Henderson) and younger brother Rudy (Chip Sherman), who have just left a Sunday church service. It soon becomes apparent that the realities of segregation dictate the way they behave in public and their freedom as individuals. These struggles are not lost on the Clay brothers, who, along with their friend Eddie (Lamar Legend), often talk about the heated racial climate with both childlike innocence and the clarity of first-hand experience. It is clear that Cassius is the natural leader of the pack, full of the spitfire force, pre-adolescent energy and unformed talent.

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Seeing the Sunrise Starts with Survival

Review of A Thousand Splendid Suns at Seattle Repertory Theatre.

Written by Jaiden B, during TeenTix’s arts criticism training workshop, the Fall 2018 Press Corps Intensive.

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The opening scene in the theatrical adaptation of A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Ursula Rani Sarma, contrasts the entire play with the eerie stillness it sets the audience in. By piercing the quiet atmosphere with sharp, lingering notes, this scene stills the air and makes the audience pause for breath. From the next scene onwards, the audience is kept in silence not by the moving musical accompaniment, but by the paralyzing horror with which the play unfolds. The first scene wraps around the audience with the unnervingly gentle, yet strong, sound of David Coulter’s original score performed live. As he is slowly pulled across the stage on a lengthy sheet of fabric, we are introduced to the sole man who effectively ties novel instruments—including a violin, thunder sheets, and even a saw—to the emotional landscape that the characters traverse. We first meet one of the main characters, Laila (a role that is passionately performed by Rinabeth Apostol), with her father (performed thoughtfully by John Farrage) as they read poetry together. This innocent scene does nothing to prepare the audience for the further torment Laila will endure. For the time being though, it beautifully shows the deep connection between the father, Babi, and his daughter. Their connection contrasts the future of ruins with the perfect present, and its perfection hints at a greater danger to come. As the two characters read poems of Kabul, they not only sing the praises of their beautiful city but intertwine their love with profound anguish. Their pain stems from the loss of their city, the very place they hold dear, due to the dangers of a war-torn country that forces them to leave.

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Moral Complexity at FADE

Review of FADE at Seattle Public Theater.

Written by Alison S, during TeenTix’s arts criticism training workshop, the Fall 2018 Press Corps Intensive.

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Lucia and Abel don’t meet-cute: she’s a struggling T.V. writer; he’s the janitor for her office building. Their first interaction is when she thanks him for cleaning her room while scrolling through her phone.

Lucia, a compulsive, lonely oversharer in the new city of L.A. quickly spills her life story and problems to Abel. At first Abel, played with gentle firmness by Marco Adiak Voli, is resistant to participate in these conversations. Yet, you can tell from his crinkly-eyed smile that he enjoys her company.

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Human Characters and Harmful Ambition

Review of FADE at Seattle Public Theater

Written by Charlotte H, during TeenTix’s arts criticism training workshop, the Fall 2018 Press Corps Intensive.

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“Oh my god,” I said, turning in my seat. “Oh my god.” Such was my reaction at the end of FADE, a small production by Seattle Public Theater at the Bathhouse Theatre. The show used two actors, and one set. FADE is an unapologetically Latinx play about how people bond and change over time.

Lucia (Pronounced Loo-see-uh, never loo-sha) arrives late at night, and meets after-hours custodian Abel (A-bell, not able). When Abel arrives to clean, Lucia ignores him, that is until she needs help. Yet, Lucia needs more than someone to fix her shelving. She needs someone to whom she can vent to. Lucia tells Abel that the straight, white, cis, male writing staff sees her merely as a token, and her boss sees her as a translator for when he needs to scold his Latina maid. From the beginning she knows she’s on shaky ground. Her writing resume is thin, having only written one novel. She looks down on the show she’s writing for, which from the snippets heard is more like a program from another era. After she softens her spoiled and entitled attitude, she and Abel banter. They discuss who is more Mexican, the correct usage of Hispanic and Latino, and indignities suffered on them by the culturally uninformed and the resentment of being seen as a stereotype—while making plenty of assumptions and generalities about others, and each other.

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Setting the Stage for this Generation: 14/48:HS

Review of 14/48:HS

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Newsroom Writer Serafina Miller, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Joshua Fernandes!

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The show 14/48:HS consisted of seven premier shows all written, produced, memorized, and performed in 24 hours, the next night they do it all again. All productions put on are by teenagers, and everything from the set design to the writing and even the band are all done in under 24 hours. I saw the first seven shows that the company was putting on throughout the weekend-long event and the drive and passion shown was astonishing.

The shows were created in teams and reached through several genres and topics. Some plays were comedies, such as “Finishing The Block” or the show “Spiral” which included a multitude of hilarious metaphors to describe the ridiculous plot of one of the characters not being able to stop spinning in circles. Others were mysterious or serious, such as “Onto the Carousel” that never quite gave an answer to the audience's questions about the story. The shows were focused on different topics and the writing style varied from writer to writer, but all shows had an element of comedy unique to each piece that enhanced the production such as situational irony or a hint of sarcasm in the dialogue. This was used quite often in an amusing play about twins called “Identical.” The plays also had a deeper hidden message, whether it was evident through the words and body language like the show “Deja Vu,” or hidden behind jokes and clever repartee. Two shows performed, “This Dance” and “Try This On For Size,” are brilliant examples of this doctrine; both began with a series of comical actions before coming to a profound ending that gave the show a strong moral philosophy. The writing of the shows was way above the standard for teenage writing, which further highlights the incredible dedication that the students participating have.

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Psychodrama and Spectacle Take the Stage in Night Parade

Review of Night Parade by Pork Filled Productions.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Writer Jonah de Forest, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Lily Williamson!

Moments of brilliance abound in Night Parade, the latest offering from Pork Filled Productions and REBATEnsemble, but the play suffers from a convoluted storyline. Though it stands out for its engaging stagecraft and costuming, Night Parade simply has too many ideas.

After arriving at an undisclosed location, the audience is ushered into a cramped lobby, where tea is served and Japanese music sets an ominous tone. Posters on the minimal wall space bear information pertaining to such Japanese folktales as the “Nine-Tailed Fox,” “The Tale of the Shutan Doji,” and the play’s primary inspiration, “The Night Parade of a Hundred Demons,” an ancient legend surrounding the procession of supernatural creatures. Viewers of this parade perish upon sight. Then, we are led into an immersive gallery space, displaying the works of tragic, deceased, and fictitious Japanese artist Shunkuno Arashi (an excellent Aimee Decker). The gallery is run by the tightly wound curator Herald Stass (Andrew Forrest), an exploitative art-hound with skeletons in his closet. He is accompanied by his assistant (Buddy Todd), who is tasked with the tiresome comic gag of handing out tiny pencils to the audience, and the mysterious Nurari (Season Qiu), a sharply dressed man who claims to have known Arashi.

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The Hair-Raising Tale of Sweeney Todd

Review of Sweeney Todd at Ludus Performing Arts. Written by TeenTix Press Corps Writer Annika Prom, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Huma Ali!

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The night of October 19, it was especially dark with a touch of rain, and my plus-one invite canceled on me an hour before the performance. I felt cold, glum and ever-so-slightly heartbroken—it wasn’t hard to relate to Sweeney Todd and become emotionally invested in the show.

This morose feeling continued inside the theater where a suspended sign, made of burlap and decorated with the play’s title, rested in front of the stage curtains. A faceless announcer warned the audience to obey the rules, “or else you might end up in Sweeney’s chair.”

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Reader, She Married Him

Review of Jane Eyre at Book-It Repertory Theatre, written by Teen Editorial Staff Member Huma A, and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Anya S!

Opening night at Book-It's production of Jane Eyre was a memorable experience. The place was bustling with an activity and vibrancy synonymous with champagne, cupcakes, and opening night.

The play began with a girl, Jane, holding a candle in the dark and singing an eerie song —replicating the Gothic Romanticism portrayed in Brontë’s novel. As the night progressed, full and rich with English accents, the story switched perspectives from the first, second, and third person. Parts of the show embodied Brontë’s novel, with characters even quoting iconic lines, like “Reader, I married him.”

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Storytelling That Transcends Boundaries

Review of Richard III at Seattle Shakespeare Company, written by TeenTix Press Corps Member Emily B, and edited by the Teen Editorial Staff!
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Rarely do I enter a play with as many thoughts and questions as I had going into Richard III at Seattle Shakespeare Company. There was so much to be explored: would a historical play remain accessible not only 400 years after it was written, but 500 years after its events occurred? And what would it be like to see this play – with 21 male characters and 4 female characters – presented by an all-female cast? The answers I found are a testament to the power of Shakespeare’s words to cross boundaries of gender and time, and a testament to what amazing, powerful theatre Seattle Shakespeare Company’s actresses can create when they bring life to all his words – not only those of his few female characters.

One feature which makes all-female productions so exciting, particularly when it comes to all-female productions of Shakespeare, are the opportunities offered for female performing artists, who tend to have fewer opportunities than their male counterparts in the world of Shakespeare. The bard’s plays contain far more roles for men than for women, perhaps because they were originally performed by all-male casts. All-female productions like this open the door for audiences to experience the unique talent and perspectives that female performers can bring to the full array of magnificent roles Shakespeare created. And works of art placing women in positions of power, onstage and behind the scenes, are much-needed today and always. So naturally, I was excited that Seattle Shakespeare Company had chosen to collaborate again with the upstart crow collective to present this sequel to Bring Down the House, their highly-praised all-female adaptation of the Henry VI trilogy.

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Hedwig Gives in to the Unknown

​Review of Hedwig and the Angry Inch at ArtsWest, written by TeenTix Press Corps Member Anya S!

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch is not your typical Broadway musical. Instead of chorus lines and tap numbers, the show features an onstage band and 90 minutes of punk rock. On top of that, the characters are eclectic. There’s Hedwig (played by Nicholas Japaul Bernard), who struggles to come to terms with her identity after a botched sex-change operation (although she is genderqueer, she uses she/her pronouns); Yitzhak (played by Dani Hobbs), Hedwig’s husband, whom she hates; and the unseen Tommy Gnosis, a rock star and Hedwig’s ex-lover, who abandoned her after learning that she was not technically a woman. Through these characters, their relationships, and dramatic, powerful songs, the show presents its central message: that one must embrace change and the unknown.

Throughout the show, Hedwig seems fixated on the past and present, instead of looking to the future, something that was mirrored in the staging. Because we normally read from left to right, stage left (from the audience’s perspective) is reminiscent of the past, while stage right symbolizes the future. During the show, Hedwig tended to stay stage left/center, displaying her obsession with her life before the operation and her relationship with Tommy, as well as her inability to focus on her current self and what’s to come. On the other hand, Yitzhak, who sits stage right, essentially becomes the show’s future—at the end of the show, they sing alone while Hedwig leaves the stage.

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Family is Family

​Teen Review of Familiar at Seattle Rep. Written by Zoe M. of Cleveland High School
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Powerful. That's the first word that comes to mind when talking about Familiar, a play written by Danai Gurira, a well-known African American actress. This play is a masterpiece that everyone should see at least once. Drama is one of the oldest forms of entertainment, and, as humans, we love drama. This makes the play a hit for the audience as it is packed with the twists and turns that make a great family drama. Gurira draws from her own heritage for this play as it brings up many topics like culture, Zimbabwe, identity, and of course, family.

This play revolves around an African family from Zimbabwe and the conflicts they go through about race and identity. The family consists of two sisters, Tendi, the eldest, and Nyasha, the youngest; the parents, Marvelous and Donald; and two aunts, Margaret and Anne. When Tendi decides to get married to a white guy named Chris, most of the family has their own opinions, and her sister, who is afraid Tendi will lose her heritage, has the strongest opinion. The play progresses as more family shows up and causes more havoc in the small American-style house. The plot thicken as the story of this American Zimbabwean family unfolds.

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Relatable and Quite Humorous

​Teen Review of Familiar at Seattle Rep. Written by Brooklyn J. of Cleveland High School

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Before seeing Danai Gurira’s Familiar performed at the Seattle Rep Theatre I was doubtful that I would be able to relate to an immigrant family from Zimbabwe. I even questioned if I would enjoy going. Though after the school trip and the one hour and 50 minutes of the play, I was surprised to find that it was indeed relatable and quite humorous. Despite my preconception, I really enjoyed watching the play, could even say I loved it. As I walked into the Seattle Rep Theater I was easily impressed by the set design, it was a great first look at Taibi Magar’s interpretation on this modern-day play. The play begins in the family home of Zimbabwean refugees in Minnesota. I would say that I am not a big fan of one-set plays, but the actors like Michael Wieser, who played Brad, did a phenomenal job at bringing spunk to the show. While Familiar itself was extraordinary, exploding with fun-filled scenes, the ending of act one will continue to be one that I will remember. This is a must-see play due to scenes like this one. In an act of heroism, Brad, played by Michael Wieser, saved Nyasha’s (Aishe Keita) life at the end of Act 1. This scene played a big role in the way we and other characters in the show see Brad as more than just a white male. After watching this play I would say I wasn’t all that happy with the one-set play, and the non-stop arguing, although I would say that I loved seeing a character like Nyasha struggling to understand her culture. Many children identify as the first generation, and it hard to understand your culture when you are so far away from it. Many kids like myself become very stressed while thinking about this topic, but after seeing a character like Nyasha, it made me feel a lot better about my curiosity. At the end of the day, this play is a must see! It’s amazing set, phenomenal acting, and wonderful lessons will have you walking away with an experience like no other. Every person who struggles with finding who you are, and where you come from should see this play in all its glory. This is purely a piece of art that should be praised, but don’t let me shape your opinions, get up and see for yourself.

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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A Diamond in the Rough

Teen ​Review of Familiar at Seattle Rep, by Andrew P. of Cleveland High School
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Before I went to go watch the play Familiar with my school, I watched the movie Black Panther. Then, I went and watched Familiar and I had no clue what to expect. Danai Gurira, or General Okoye from Black Panther, wrote Familiar. I walked in the theater expecting a boring play, but I found a diamond in the rough.

The play has a little bit of a slow start, just some dialogue between a couple characters. The dialogue built the characters and through this I saw that this is not a cliché play. The play revolves around Tendi’s wedding, daughter of Donald and Marvelous, niece of Anne and Margaret, sister of Nyasha, and fiancé of Chris. Tendi, the eldest daughter of the Zimbabwean family, is getting married to a Caucasian man. The play takes place in the family house in Minnesota.

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SPECIAL DEAL: 2 for $10 @ Seattle Rep’s MAC BETH!

​Take advantage of not one, but TWO opportunities for 2 for $10 deals at Seattle Rep this weekend!

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If you haven't seen Mac Beth yet, this weekend is your last chance! Check out this special offer for this updated version of the classic tragedy, featuring an all-youth female cast.

Our friends at Seattle Rep are very generously offering 2 for $10 ticket prices for both their Saturday and Sunday matinees: June 23rd and 24th at 2:00 PM.

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Take Audition Prep with Seattle Shakes!

​Now through June 15, Seattle Shakespeare is offering a discount for one of their Camp Bill offerings!

Audition Prep Camp 2018

Hey, aspiring actors!

Our friends at Seattle Shakespeare Company wanted us to tell you that they're offering a ~special~ discount for their Audition Prep Camp from July 30 - August 3, from 1 - 4 PM, for students 9th grade and above. To register for this class, go here and simply use the code AUDITION30 for $30 off enrollment now through next Friday, June 15th!

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Confusing in All the Right Ways

​Review of JACK & at On the Boards, written by TeenTix Press Corps Member Juneaux L!

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Going into a performance or art display of any kind without given any sort of information about the performance beforehand is certainly a curious and exciting experience. Going in to see JACK &, this fact didn't change. I found the steadiness of the fish in the bowl theme to be quite intriguing, given the fact that, in hindsight, I believe it represented much more than what it originally seemed to.

The beginning set up of the show is a blue and turquoise mandala in the center of the stage; on its outskirts, a fishbowl and some cans of Crush soda sit on a stool. Green racks stand to the right side of the stage. On the left sits a computer and speakers on a table, and behind that is a circular tarp.

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