[Interview has been edited for clarity and length]
[Interview has been edited for clarity and length]
The Danish word “hygge” has no direct English translation. It means a general sense of atmospheric coziness and peace and is regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture. Puzzle platformer INSIDE, created by Copenhagen-based studio Playdead, can best be summed up as whatever the opposite of hygge is.
INSIDE, like its stylized-in-all-caps one-word title, is bold, ominous, and minimalist. The game stars a faceless boy in a red shirt, who the player controls through a few simple gestures. There are no points. There are no levels. There is no backstory. The title card fades into a forest, and you’re off. Instead of being forced to memorize different commands and controls and navigate menus and maps, INISDE’s clean interface and simple controls help create an immersive, endlessly interactive world that unfolds more like a film than a video game.
The pandemic has lowered our standards for art. At least, I think that it has lowered mine. While watching virtual plays or clicking through online art galleries, I am reliably disappointed by the lack of energy. There is no moment of serendipity as you and a stranger admire the same sculpture, no shared laugh between audience members of an improv sketch. An ongoing exhibit at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) shatters this thought. Creating a Neighborhood: Democracy on a Human Scale Scavenger Hunt is not just good for a virtual museum experience, it is simply a great museum experience.
Creating a Neighborhood: Democracy on a Human Scale distinguishes itself through its scavenger hunt format and goes beyond the hackneyed Google Street View layout of many virtual museums. The brave souls who embark on this scavenger hunt walk a one mile ‘trail’ starting at the MOHAI building. Participants stop at eight locations, each representing a moment when civic engagement shaped Seattle, such as with the construction of the Naval Reserve Armory. Now the MOHAI building, the Naval Reserve Armory was built after citizens lobbied for its construction. As the exhibit explained the physical impact of citizens’ civic actions on the composition of the city from its parks, industry, and public art, it was enthralling to imagine what might have been. What would we see now had white settlers not ousted the Coast Salish people from the city? How would Seattle be different with a 61-acre park, which would have been called The Commons, stretching from South Lake Union to Downtown? What would Seattle be without Microsoft? Photo courtesy of Museum of History and Industry.
The month of May has already provided both rainpours and blue skies, and in spirit with a month that really drives home the diversity of Seattle weather, we have a diverse array of art events to check out while hunkering down from seasonal showers. From a story about strong and dystopian heroines to an event highlighting the future of the music industry, the Newsroom will be reviewing events this month for every art enthusiast.
Curl up and listen to The Effluent Engine if you are in the mood to dive into a steampunk short story, read dramatically by Book-It Repertory Theater’s cast. Or, rather than hear about a fictional heroine, you can learn about Ellen Ripley’s feminist journey as evaluated through her roles in film at What The Femme: The Evolution of Ellen Ripley, a virtual class provided by SIFF.
To be honest, I had forgotten what it was like to see live theater. It had been over a year since I had seen any kind of theater in person; every production I’ve either seen or have been a part of during this time has been on Zoom. To drive to a real theater again, to stand outside waiting to be let in, and to get our tickets taken and led to our seats after fourteen months of no live theater was certainly a surreal experience. Of course, Unexpected Productions and the Market Theater took many safety precautions for this showing of Theatresports, including running the house at less than 25% of their usual audience and temperature checking every patron who entered the theater. Despite the changes, what they were able to foster through improv was as much performance as it was a social space, fulfilling an audience with much-needed laughter and joy.
Entering Post Alley, I felt a buzz of excitement among the staff at the theater. It was very clear everyone was anxious and itching to be back and doing improv, and the smell of fresh popcorn and busy chatter of voices only heightened the reality of being in a theater space again. I walked into the theater to find about three-fourths of the seats covered by t-shirts decorated with the faces of donors; these enforced social distancing and marked out areas audience members couldn’t sit. A large projector behind a keyboard showed a camera navigating the theater, panning over to patrons as they waved to the camera and to the empty stage as it awaited performers. This camera streamed the show live on Twitch for the viewing pleasure of people remaining at home, and occasionally, a chat with a suggestion popped onto the screen.Theatresports. Photo by Bill Grinnell.
As much as I enjoy seeing my peers' work showcased and celebrated, I'm often hesitant about grouping artists together just by their age because it suggests that young artists are all telling related stories. But in the case of SIFF's FutureWave series—seventy-five minutes of short films from artists under the age of eighteen—this categorization allowed me to approach the festival with a different critical eye than I would have applied to films by young artists mixed in with films by artists with more experience. I spend most of my time around young artists, and I've noticed that while our art is as compelling as art by adults, the work put into it is more visible because we’re often still sorting out how we want to tell our stories. The moments where this effort was present in the work of the young artists showcased at FutureWave were just as compelling for me as the moments that broke outside of their form and context to deliver beautiful, emotionally impactful scenes.
"Sparring", directed by Victor Xia, tells a stylized story about two relationships: the fractured, abusive one between a boy and his father, and the healing friendship between the boy and his friend. Both are built around cyclical violence, moving from the shock of the father hitting his son to an exceptionally beautiful scene that I will be thinking about for months to come: the boy boxing with his friend in slow-motion, the close shots moving with the boys' bodies, Simon Kwan's original score creating an intimate atmosphere out of the physical space between the actors. Xia is also a poet, and it shows—this three-minute film is concise and impactful, only using the shots it absolutely needs to get its deep and complex feelings across. "Looking Forward From Yesterday". Alexis Bigby. Courtesy of SIFF
Although the pandemic has been restricting to many, it has not stopped the UW drama department from curating a professional show. Last weekend, I had the privilege of viewing Accidental Death of an Anarchist performed by the UW School of Drama. Through an online livestream, the performance reached a broad audience while respecting safety precautions during the pandemic. The show was two hours long with a ten-minute intermission—perfect for a lazy Sunday evening! The livestream started promptly and the actors took their spots on screen.
Accidental Death of an Anarchist is a story written by playwright Dario Fo based on real-life events in Italy in 1969. In the first scene, we jump into an interrogation of the protagonist called the Maniac. Throughout the show, we follow the Maniac as he conjures up new plans to figure out who killed the anarchist. Although the Maniac is portrayed as a male character in the main storyline, the UW drama team decided to have a female lead play this character. The actress playing the Maniac was full of energy and stayed immersed in her role. As a viewer, the character’s expressions kept me engaged and brought a lot of excitement to the performance. In my opinion, the character’s demeanor could have been enhanced if the background of the actors’ screens were unique to the setting in the story. That being said, through costume changes, the group was still able to portray time changes during the show. Unlike many other shows, Accidental Death of an Anarchist ends with a question posed to the audience where the viewers decide what happens next. Although this is not a conventional conclusion to a performance, it left the audience to form their own opinion about the plot which felt very engaging and left me thinking about the performance even after it had ended. Accidental Death of an Anarchist. Photo courtesy of UW School of Drama.
Introducing our 2021 TeenTix GiveBig SUPERSTAR Duo, Leah Fishbaugh and Beth Weisberger! Leah and their mom Beth have been long-time supporters of TeenTix ever since Leah entered Cornish College of the Arts and interned with TeenTix freshman year. We caught up with Leah and their mom to tell us about their exciting history with TeenTix and recent arts experiences.
Growing up in Rochester NY and Denver, CO respectfully, Beth and Leah both were raised with a rich arts scene around them. Visiting museums or watching local plays was a frequent feature of both of their childhoods which impacted the way they see the world. Leah in particular experimented with a vast variety of arts classes from pottery, to dance, to theater and improv. As a college-aged student, they attended Cornish College of the Arts to continue this arts inspired life.
In the Cornish Financial Aid Office, Leah found a Work-Study program at TeenTix that had their name written all over it. After interviewing and getting the job, Leah’s work at TeenTix ended up extending far beyond the expectations of their internship eventually evolving into an exciting 10 year long career with us. Bouncing around from intern to social media manager and eventually Director of Communications, Leah’s work at TeenTix was integral to our organization and to their development into a working professional. Watching from Colorado, Beth was excited about Leah's work and has been a regular follower and donor to us ever since. Selfie of Beth, from Denver Colorado.
Both Leah and Beth have had a life of plentiful arts experience and we asked them to reflect on any particular shows or experiences of late. Beth noted the exciting opportunities that Hamilton’s deliberately diverse casting presented while Leah told us about a striking piece at Spectrum Dance Theater. The show, called SHOT, used the language of dance and motion to serve as biting social commentary about police brutality, a topic that has proved very poignant given the past year’s demonstrations against police violence, Beth noted.
But just as Beth and Leah have gotten to see some of the best art Seattle has to offer, they share humble beginnings from their schooling days. As a sixth grader, Beth snatched the role of Scrooge from the boys because she was the only one with the memorization skills required. Leah, on the other hand, remembers a hilarious incident from a production of Peter Pan, where Captain Hook went backstage and said “This is a total disaster!” only to find that their mic was still on. Leah is happy to know that their parents still have this priceless moment on video somewhere.
It is for these priceless memories and experiences that Leah and Beth keep arts in their lives even now as it has become exponentially more difficult. Beth continues to seek arts experiences that support her mental health and connect her to the rest of humanity. Meanwhile, Leah has concerted their efforts to creating online burlesque acts with their troop, The Devil’s Advocates, who, in partnership with several other troops created the Seattle Burlesque and Cabaret Co-op which is set to take over the space previously owned by Copious Love (a TeenTix partner). There are so many ways that art is persevering in spite of this moment, and it is thanks to the work and support of people like Leah and Beth that we are assured of a prosperous and bright arts future.
Thank you Leah and Beth for your extended support over the years and for being GiveBig SUPERSTARS!
Become a GiveBig SUPERSTAR yourself by donating [here.]
Lead Photo: Leah Fishbaugh, 2020.
Having seen the art world respond to a global pandemic in a myriad of ways, from a socially distanced movie theater to pre-recorded modern dance (confined by a computer screen), I was eager to see how opera would adapt as well. The online production of The Big Opera Show, and online fundraiser for Seattle Opera, seemed the perfect way to explore this art medium digitally. Because I have not seen much opera in person, I was hopeful that the medley of performances The Big Opera Show provided would give my fresh perspective much to enjoy.
Although I am quite new to the opera form of art, I was not going into this experience completely clueless. An opera that I had the chance of viewing during the long-ago pre-covid times was The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, which made a point to inform the audience that the performers were using microphones. This was notable because, traditionally, performances by the Seattle Opera do not utilize microphones. While microphones can be used to blend operatic voices with electrically amplified instruments to create a cohesive piece or assist a performance that consists of more dialogue than usual, it is not the norm. Because of this, I was curious to see how the required use of microphones for the online format would affect the gravity of the performance. Thankfully, the performers’ voices translated powerfully even through my laptop’s speakers.
From The Nutcracker to new works, if you’re thinking about dance in Seattle, you’re probably thinking about the Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB). In their most recent online release, the PNB showcased several premieres—designed to be performed in a virtual world, as well as filmed in early February and March by dedicated PNB dancers—along with older pieces that had been recorded in years prior. As a lover of dance, I was quite excited to see how a professional company had been adapting to this new presentation style.
The show opened with a Western-inspired piece by Donald Byrd. The dancers explored this new frontier with a dance style to almost mimicked line dancing. Using sharp angles and movements one would be hard-pressed to deem classical, the dancers shadowed a style that the audience would typically associate with the Old West. Yet, the movements still held a rigidity typical of older ballets, a far cry from the unfettered appearance I associate with Western dances. This first piece was interesting to watch; the concept was fairly easy to grasp but felt too removed as an audience member. Without being able to feel the collective environment of a theatre, it almost felt too peculiar to grasp through a screen. Rep 4. Photo by Angela Sterling.
Hiawatha D.’s Iconic Black Women: Ain’t I A Woman virtual exhibit is a beautiful way to give much-needed appreciation to Black women. It is available virtually at Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) and is filled with paintings of iconic Black women of the past, present, and future. Women like Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, Michelle Obama and her children and many more to come are part of this collection. I am grateful to have been able to see Hiawatha D.’s art in person, before the pandemic, and enjoy the commemoration of iconic Black women. This collection of artworks originated as branding for his business partner and now wife Veronica Very’s nonprofit. There were originally going to be only 15 women in this exhibit, but Hiawatha D.’s passion for appreciating Black women expanded that number to more than 50 pieces. Each painting fits into one of three categories: elders, ancestors, and queens.
Artists seldom create an entire exhibit dedicated to Black women, although the power it holds to educate and inspire viewers makes it vital. Black women have been fighting to succeed and be seen for so long, and artwork is a perfect tool for people to understand this fight. Entering a space that an artist created solely to worship the many iconic Black women of the past, present, and future is extremely powerful and is what I think makes this collection so formidable. As Hiawatha D. says, “all Black women are iconic”, there will never be an end to appreciating them. Yet Hiawatha D. understands the versatility of Black women who need to be celebrated, which is needed when trying to narrow down the iconic Black women of the world to about 50. The variety in the women shown in his exhibit is important and shows viewers how many known and unknown Black women have made an impact on the world. Furthermore, the beauty of his paintings makes the experience all the better. Hiawatha D.’s career has consisted of illustrating Black people, and the skillful artistry showcased in his work transforms the experience.
Iconic Black Women: Ain't I A Woman? Photo courtesy Northwest African American Museum.
The idea of the American struggle is one often mentioned in discussions around U.S. history—the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and all of the not-so-glamorous areas in between that lend credence to our current status of “world superpower” and therefore our so-called moral superiority. One facet of this struggle is rarely remembered: the effect people of color and women had on the foundation and mettle of the United States. Even with the efforts of historians, new school curriculums and media like Hamilton, this essential part of the American soul is often forgotten.
One lesson in this perception of history can be found not by looking forward, but by looking back. More appropriately, by piecing together the past, which is exactly what the Seattle Art Museum exhibition for Jacob Lawrence’s The American Struggle sought to do.
A slow-moving shot of a thick forest opens Night of the Kings, slowly panning up and revealing a massive penitentiary in the midst of the trees. Shouting voices fade in to join the gentle ones of the birds and cicadas, and the prison looks grey and imposing. The camera cuts to a distressed boy sitting in the back of a police truck, looking back and forth between the forest and the dingy prison wall on either side of him. It’s in these very first reels that we’re given a taste of Night of the Kings’ unique sensory atmosphere. The film intrigues our senses through its vivid depictions of the domain we’re pushed into, right from the beginning up until the end of the film. Rich colors, precise use of lighting, and ambient use of sound play important roles as the film establishes its environment in a way that felt more thoroughly brilliant the longer I watched.
Night of the Kings is a 2021 film written and directed by Philippe Lacôte. It begins with an introduction of La Maca, a prison ruled by its inmates with their own laws and customs. We follow a young new prisoner (Bakary Koné), who arrives at La Maca to turmoil inside. The Dangôro, leader of the inmates and sole authority within the microcosm, is old and sick, and tradition dictates that when the Dangôro is no longer able to lead, he must take his own life. The current Dangôro, Blackbeard (Steve Tientcheu), is being challenged and pressured from all sides to step down. In a pitch to bring peace to the prison on the night that he must die, he designates the newest inmate as the prison’s storyteller called the Roman. On the night of the red moon, the Roman must tell a story to last the hours of the night and keep his audience enraptured. If he doesn’t, he pays a price—in his own blood. It’s through the story he tells and the night’s events in the prison, coupled with expertly used sensory depictions, that we’re shown the complex world of the prison and the world outside it. It’s a place of vibrant color, expressive art, and a fascination with the fantastical and spiritual. As the bright day turns into a vivid and spiritual night, we can see the importance of storytelling to the inmates and the film’s attitude towards the art it depicts.
As vaccination rates rise, we can see the tail end of the pandemic on the horizon (knock on wood!). In this uncertainty-filled year, it's a huge relief to see improving conditions, though exercising caution is more important than ever. Still, warmer weather is peeking around the corner, and there's plenty of art and media for you to explore this month—no matter what you're looking for.
It’s no secret that the news has gotten everyone thinking about what comes next. For those interested in what life might look like in the future, look no further than Unexpected Productions’ Seattle Theatresports, a now in-person improv show. For those who prefer to see what teens envision the coming years to look like, check out SIFF’s Futurewave, an exciting lineup of movies and shorts curated for youth audiences.
We have all, at this point, had that one quarantine experience. I will title it the Zoom Quest of Trying to Have an Online Conversation and Awkwardly Failing, or ZQoTtHaOCaAF, for short. Dacha Theater’s latest brilliant creation, Secret Admirer, invites watchers to journey through every possible Zoom adventure, from ZQoTtHaOCaAF to EFRtBTEaORC (Estranged Friends Reunite to Battle Their Evil and Outdated Robot Consciousnesses), in a heartwarming, inclusive, and hilarious test of the limits of virtual—and interactive—theater.
In a positively perfect ode to 90s-era kitsch, Secret Admirer centers around an answering machine board game in which a group of four friends compete to discover which cute dude is their fated prom date. The dudes, played delightfully stereotypically by four live performers, drop clues in the form of strange, but touching, in-game messages.
Artists of all walks of life have taken quarantine’s challenges and made them into opportunities, not limitations. But community acts can seem distant online, an echo of their pre-COVID counterparts, serving as nothing more than a solemn reminder of a year gone by in isolation. Is it possible to cultivate a sense of genuine togetherness when health guidelines keep us apart? Uncharted Waters, a three-way theatre collaboration between Cornish College of the Arts, the University of Washington, and Seattle University, aims to bring to light what social intimacy 2020’s various crises have endangered.
Uncharted Waters begins with a production of Twelfth Night, a well-known Shakespearian comedy. Directed by Seattle University professor Rosa Joshi, the play follows the misadventures of Viola, a shipwrecked young lady who disguises herself as a man and throws the whole island of Illyria into cheerful chaos.
“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” - Oscar Wilde
A man sits alone in a barren theater, awaiting my arrival. Upon the table before him lies a stack of index cards bursting with inquiries and fantasies to guide participants, a script to be performed for no one but one another. I take a seat.
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! The TeenTix Newsroom is now accepting pitches from outside the Newsroom. If you are a young person from 13-19 years old and you would like to tell a story about art or review an art piece, use this form to be considered for a pitch piece. If your pitch is accepted you’d have the opportunity to work with a teen editor to polish your piece for publication.
The pitch process is a chance for you to have your voice heard about art events you are specifically passionate about! You can either review art or write a feature or opinion piece about your arts community. This will NOT be a paid opportunity; however, if you review art at a TeenTix partner, you can use your TeenTix pass and your ticket will be only five dollars! Check out the calendar if you need inspiration; we've got loads of awesome things going on at our partner organizations this month. SUBMIT YOUR PITCH HERE
Not all films have to be good to be good. While I’ve seen my fair share of terrible movies over the years, I only recently discovered just how true this concept rings. About a month ago, out of COVID-related boredom, I stumbled upon the 2013 Neil Breen cult classic, Fateful Findings. What I watched was a one-hour-and-forty-minute dumpster fire of a film illustrating the sheer force of one man, one greenscreen, and zero plotline—and somehow, I could not tear myself away. Over the past several weeks (admittedly to the mild detriment of my grades), I’ve become a bit obsessed with these wonderfully awful films and now jump at the chance to share them with others. It was only natural that I would be immediately drawn to So Bad It’s Good.
MoPOP’s latest film series, So Bad It’s Good takes my innate human craving for terrible media and transforms it into a biweekly screening, where fellow awful movie lovers can come together to view and comment on cinematic catastrophes. Every other Saturday, So Bad It’s Good host Kasi Gaarenstroom teams up with the special guest of the week (who also happens to be a lover of the film in question) on Zoom to watch and discuss these truly horrible movies. Gaarenstroom starts off by introducing the film of the week and the guest (when I attended, it was the 1997 classic Anaconda accompanied by herpetologist Chelsea Connor) and then it’s straight into the film! Though you do have to provide the movie for yourself on your own device, there are several links to different streaming platforms with the film available in the chat, and even if you should experience tech difficulties at one point or another, the main screen during the viewing is a timer, so you can sync back up with the group.
TeenTix, in partnership with The Colorization Collective (a teen-run organization that promotes diversity in the arts) is excited to announce our 2021 Summer Cohort of our Mentorship for Teen Artists of Color (M-TAC) program. This program will specifically allow teen artists of color to hone their artwork under the guidance of professional mentors. This is a great way for teens to better their craft, build connections in the arts community, and present their art!
This mentorship is for teens interested in visual arts (painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.) and performing arts (musical theater, acting, etc.). Teens will be put into either a visual arts or performing arts cohort, and each group will be paired with a professional artist/mentor of color to create or workshop a piece specifically for the program showcase.SCHEDULE
The Summer M-TAC program will meet for 5 weeks (July 7-August 6), every Wednesday from 2-5 PM PST. The meetings dates are: July 7, 14, 21, 28, and August 4. There will also be a one-hour showcase the week of August 9 (exact time TBD).
Teens in the M-TAC program will also have the opportunity to participate in workshops during the school year, as well as present their finished work during the TeenTix Teen Arts and Opportunities Fair in June of 2022.
Applicants must be ages 13-19 and a current TeenTix member to participate. (Not a TeenTix member yet? Don't worry - sign up for free right here!)
If you need assistance filling out this application, please contact Anya Shukla at [email protected]