The TeenTix Press Corps hosted a pop-up Theater Criticism workshop at a performance of Snow White at Seattle Children’s Theatre on February 29, 2020. Taught by playwright and arts journalist, Danielle Mohlman, the workshop covered the basics of theater criticism and how to approach writing a review of a play. After a pre-show lesson, teen participants attended a Snow White performance, and then met the next day for discussion and writing practice. Below are the reflections of the play a few of the participants wrote during the workshop.
Written by Faith - 9th grade
The Seattle Children's Theatre production of Snow White, although made for kids, is full of more intense topics than most would expect. The play uses comedy to keep things light, and the visuals and music add to the experience. One of the core messages from the story is how trust and love in relationships with your family and friends is more important than relationships based out of obligation. In the beginning, Snow White tells her stepmother, “You're not my real mother.” Her stepmother mistreats and abuses her, so in addition to not being blood related, she does not deserve the title of “family.” However, the same could be said of Snow White’s father, who ignores and forgets her, leaving her at the mercy of her stepmother. He doesn't deserve the title of “family,” either. When Snow White meets the dwarves, they take her in and become her kin. They are not related to Snow White by blood, but they grow their trust and love for her and become her family. When Snow White is poisoned, the prince saves her and tells her that because he saved her, she has an obligation to marry him, as though she owes him. Snow White refuses, knowing that her true obligation is where her heart is—with the dwarves, the people she cares for the most, who know her and love her for who she is.
We see this similar theme in the roles of The Servant and The Huntsman. Family and friendship, as well as love, have to be maintained through trusting and caring for one another. Through Snow White, we learn that you should only give your work, love, and efforts to those who make you feel like a whole person.
Written by Katherine - 8th grade
Snow White, now playing at the Seattle Children's Theatre, is a retelling of the classic fairy tale played by only two actors. The show artfully follows most of the original storyline while still highlighting many modern ideas and themes, and maintaining its appeal to younger audiences. The overarching theme for the play was about finding security. Snow White’s journey is about finding a place where she belongs and where she ultimately can feel safe.
The story begins with Snow White taking on the role of her own mother singing a song about loneliness. Snow White is the answer to her wish for a child but she dies while Snow White is still a baby and she is raised by her stepmother. The stepmother is a vain and arrogant person who, it could be argued, is looking for security in her self esteem. She constantly tries to gain this security by asking her magic mirror, “Who is the fairest of them all?” One day, enraged the mirror told her that her stepdaughter is the fairest of them all, the evil queen sends Snow White away with the Huntsman, who is under orders to kill her. In the forest, the Huntsman attempts to kill Snow White but can’t bring himself to do it. He is placed in an impossible position because, as he explains, his family’s security rests on him following the queen’s orders.
The theme of finding security continues as Snow White seeks refuge with the Seven Dwarfs. Their conversation gives a child-like voice to some of the fears that are at the root of many issues at the forefront of the media right now: a concern about otherness. Later, Snow White is lulled into a false sense of security because the old woman who comes to her door is an adult. But trusting her turns out to be an almost fatal mistake. The ending is the one main divergence from the original plotline and leaves parents with the opportunity to talk with their kids about how stories change depending on who tells them.
Snow White is a show that the whole family can enjoy. The story gives families lots to talk about, especially with younger kids. Although the show runs at about 90 minutes without an intermission, it’s fast-paced and lively, with many of the younger audience members remaining rapt in their seats. With only two very talented actors playing all the roles, the whimsical acting mirrors children’s play while beautifully highlighting the morals and themes throughout. Bravo Seattle Children’s Theatre!
Snow White is running at Seattle Children's Theatre February 6 - March 15, 2020. For event information see here.