The Santa Claus Effect: An Assessment of Colonized Pop Culture

Interview with panelists from the "Decolonizing Pop Culture" Panel at Northwest Folklife Festival.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps writer Triona Suiter.

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The boy with the warm brown eyes walked away down the sidewalk, turning back to wave before rounding the corner.

Think about that sentence. Visualize it. What did you picture? A busy city street or a suburban neighborhood? A teenager or a young child?

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Whitney Mongé: From Busker to Musician-Entrepreneur

Interview with musician Whitney Mongé at Northwest Folklife Festival.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps writer and Teen Editorial Staff member Huma Ali.

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Whitney Mongé, an Alternative Soul artist originally from Spokane, got her start in the Seattle music scene in 2007. As a street musician, (busking in Pike Place Market), Mongé was enlightened as an artist. It was this time in Pike Place that spurred her into taking up music as her profession.

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Fighting the System: Seattle Youth Rap the Truth

Interview with Creative Justice artists at Northwest Folklife Festival.

Written by TeenTix Press Corps Writer Annika Prom.

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“I’m reclaiming the hell out of this space!” Rell Be Free’s shout echoed throughout the theater of the Vera Project, accented with dim blue and purple lights. A teenager with homegrown Seattle beginnings as a musician, Rell Be Free was one of the night’s featured musicians. These artists, youth who speak truth to power, prepared to make themselves heard through rap and spoken word performances at the Northwest Folklife Festival.

Through Creative Justice, youth are encouraged to share their stories using art as an alternative to completing traditional probation. Co-director Nikkita Oliver describes the program as offering opportunities to “liberate ourselves in a creative space.”

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The Hydrant Connects Seattle-Area Youth to Arts World

Interview with Nancy Chang and The Hydrant at Northwest Folklife Festival. Written by TeenTix Press Corps writer Nolan DeGarlais.

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The 2019 Northwest Folklife Festival featured a new exhibit that put youth arts at the forefront. Fitting with Folklife's 2019 cultural focus of "Youth Rising," the A/NT gallery at Seattle Center featured the showcase of The Hydrant Lounge, a collective of youth arts leaders who came together to promote their work and form lasting partnerships within the art world. With an entrance facing the International Fountain, the central location of The Hydrant Lounge greatly facilitated the Lounge's popularity.

The Hydrant, the organization behind the Folklife display, is a youth-created and youth-led artistic "think tank" that seeks to promote emerging figures in the Seattle arts community. Urging young art creators of all kinds to "tap the Hydrant," the organization gives priority to young creators who, without a platform, may feel isolated in artistic fields that are often dominated by the older generations.

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The Power of Touch

Review of CUDDLE at SIFF and Northwest Film Forum.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Vanessa Chen, and edited by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes!

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CUDDLE stars Hope Shanthi as Dina Razzano, an up-and-coming cuddle therapist as she tries to pave the way for a new bold method of therapy. Created by Adeline Colangelo and directed by John Helde, the series follows Dina as she tries to establish her new business while simultaneously discovering herself. Along the way, Dina finds herself facing many who oppose her non-traditional methods including her own brother, Joe Razzano portrayed by Devin Badoo. Each episode chronicles a new experience for Dina and her business, ranging from encountering anxiety ridden clients afraid of intimacy to hunting for an establishment willing to host a cuddle workshop. The series takes an old classic cliche and puts a fun new spin on it through the introduction of cuddle therapy.

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Locker-Room Talk: American Manhood Unravels in Take Me Out

Review of Take Me Out at Strawberry Theatre Workshop.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Jonah de Forest, and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson!

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Race, masculinity, and American identity have all played a key role in making baseball the national pastime. Richard Greenberg, the playwright behind the Tony-award winning Take Me Out (now playing at 12th Avenue Arts through Strawberry Theatre Workshop), understands baseball’s all-encompassing scope, and attempts to use it as means for a spectacle of societal discourse. His results are mixed, but when performed by a capable cast, certain moments hold all the power baseball possesses.

The concept is compelling enough to make one wish it had been handled differently. There's no doubt that the highly-decorated Greenberg is a talented playwright. Whether he’s the one to pen a play of this subject matter is another question. Darren Lemming (Lamar Legend), a mixed-race pro baseball player seemingly based off Derek Jeter comes out abruptly as gay, unbeknownst to the weight of his action. Lemming must then adapt to his demoted status, going from untouchable golden boy to the patronized poster child for a community he doesn’t identify with. When screw-loose Shane Mungitt (Craig Peterson)—a red-state rogue with a habit for saying bigoted slurs—joins Lemming’s team, tensions give way to a cultural battleground. The plot has all has the makings for a fascinating dissection of baseball in all its glory and carnage, a symbol of Americana that has both unified and divided the country. With the historical context of baseball’s long-winded journey to racial integration, there is certainly potential for a truly explosive work. Unfortunately, Take Me Out doesn’t quite live up to that potential until the second act.Take Me Out at Strawberry Theatre Workshop. Photo by John Ulman.

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The Warnings and Possibilities of What’s “About to Happen”

Review of "About to Happen" at Henry Art Gallery.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Erin Croom, and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson!

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“About to Happen” at the University of Washington’s Henry Art Gallery marks the first time Cecilia Vicuña’s collection of sculptures, drawings, films, and other art pieces are exhibited alone in the United States. Vicuña is a Chilean-born artist whose career spans over fifty years, and her unique body of work has only gained relevance as time passes and climate change (often alluded to in her art) worsens. This exhibit combines a wide variety of media, largely composed of repurposed materials, in a unique and visually compelling compilation that invites thoughtful consideration from viewers.

Upon entering the gallery, visitors are greeted by dozens upon dozens of tiny sculptures dotting the walls and a raised platform on the floor. These are “precarios” (“uncertainties” in Spanish), or, as Vicuña sometimes refers to them, “basuritas” (“little garbages”). These tiny masterpieces, pinned to the wall like insect specimens, are entirely made of objects Vicuña collected from the shores of northern Chile, where she grew up. The oldest “precarios” are from 1966, and she has continued to create them in the decades since. Just as other pieces in the room float from the ceiling, the “precarios” seem to swim in the vast white expanses of the walls upon which they are mounted. They range in complexity, from singular pieces of wood to intricate assemblies of thread, netting, and other flotsam. Vicuña’s clever hand has taken seaside trash and created beautiful works of art that are captivating in their detail."About to Happen" by Cecilia Vicuña at Henry Art Gallery. Photo by Alex Marks.

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SPECIAL OFFER: 200 FREE Tickets to Summer of '69!

Take your whole family to this revolutionary show.

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Join Seattle Men's Chorus for a summer matinee full of song and activism with this special offer!

TeenTix members can RSVP right now to claim up to 4 FREE tickets for themselves and other folks of any age using this form. Then, attend the show on June 22nd at 2 PM to get your retro tunes on!

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School’s Out, But Art Never Ends

Teen Editorial Staff June Editorial

Written by Teen Editor Lily Williamson!

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It’s June, and as the weather gets warmer and we finally get a break from Seattle rain, most TeenTixers are looking forward to one thing: liberation—from school, homework, teachers, and the dreaded SBA. So, the Teen Editorial Staff has curated June’s shows around the theme of liberation. We’ve picked art events that demonstrate the complex positivity of this theme in celebration of summer. For visual art lovers, MoPOP’s A Queen Within liberates femininity from traditionally associated beauty standards through fashion. If you’re in the mood to see a live show, ACT Theatre’s Pass Over and Whim W’Him’s This is Not the Little Prince reinvent classic pieces of literature, and Strawberry Theatre Workshop’s Take Me Out takes a swing at raising awareness of the constraints homophobia places on a community through baseball. In addition, CUDDLE: The Series at Seattle International Film Festival and later at Northwest Film Forum explores how something as simple as a hug can be liberating. This month’s lineup is incredibly diverse, so, as summer approaches, get out there and see some art!

Photo credit: Ethan Robertson from Unsplash

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The Art of Interpretation

Review of Laser SZA at Pacific Science Center.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Greta Herrington, and edited by Teen Editor Hannah Schoettmer!

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Music, with all its genres, styles, and variations, often portrays a common understanding among listeners; so when paired with celestial visuals such as lasers, it becomes clear how one song can contain infinite meanings. Laser SZA, an ongoing laser light show at Seattle’s very own Laser Dome, offers the opportunity to discover these personal interpretations through a visual aid.

Set to Grammy-nominated artist SZA’s groundbreaking album Ctrl, this hour long show aims to redefine how one listens to, perceives, and internalizes music.

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The Magic of Female Friendship

Review of Banana Split at SIFF.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Alison Smith, and edited by Teen Editor Huma Ali!

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Clara, (Liana Liberato), and April, (Hannah Marks), aren’t supposed to be friends. After all, Clara’s new casual boyfriend is also April’s serious ex—their relationship lasted two years, an eternity in the grand scheme of high school relationships. Nonetheless, the two girls meet at a house party in the summer after their senior year: Clara is charming strangers, while April is drowning her heartbreak in tequila. The social order demands that they hate each other, and April is prepared to comply—as she tells Clara, “I want a reason to give you a black eye.” Clara is also uncomfortable, having not known that she was dating April’s ex until a week before their coincidental encounter. Despite their circumstances, the two become fast friends united by their shared sense of humor and desire for adventure. Banana Split, directed by Benjamin Kasulke, chronicles this budding friendship. Although the film’s focus—a friend group’s romantic entanglements—may not be strikingly original, its witty script, nuanced depiction of female friendship, and naturalistic performances, particularly from Marks, make it as fun as the last few weeks of summer vacation.

In an early scene, Clara and April bond over Nick’s (Clara’s current boyfriend, portrayed by Suite Life of Zack and Cody’s Dylan Sprouse) stranger quirks—like his tendency to put his lovers’ noses in his mouth—before deciding that if they’re going to be friends, it has to be on their terms, not his. So they set out ground rules: no talking about Nick, and no telling him about their friendship. Of course, the viewers can predict that these rules will be trampled on by the time the film’s done, but that knowledge of the inevitable confrontation with Nick adds tension to an otherwise lowkey dramedy. Furthermore, their secrecy is threatened by Ben (Luke Spencer Roberts), April and Nick’s dorky, blabbermouth, mutual friend.

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What Do We Take With Us?

Review of Samson by Pacific MusicWorks.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Spencer Klein, and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla!

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George Frideric Handel was born the same year as Bach: 1685. He was a German composer, though he travelled around all of Europe, and is most notorious for the oft-overused Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah (see the opening of Face Off). While Handel’s innovations in composition were important, they are drastically overshadowed by the revolutionary achievements of Bach. Handel’s contribution to music came in a much more subtle, but equally radical fashion: he made music a business.

Handel found great success in Italian opera; in 1705 he debuted the instant hit Almira and his influence only grew. The problem with Italian opera, however, was that it was both expensive and exclusive. The costumes are elaborate and few opera-goers in his adopted homeland of England spoke Italian. To solve these problems, Handel renovated and popularized the Oratorio, essentially an unstaged opera. Instead of blocking, singers simply stand up when it is their cue. Featuring mostly liturgical plots, Oratorios became vastly popular because of their relatively low cost to perform and the fact that they are sung in English.

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Embracing The Discomfort of American History

Review of Strange Fruit by Spectrum Dance Theater.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Eleanor Chang-Stucki, and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla!

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“Southern trees bear a strange fruit/Blood on the leaves and blood at the root.”

Originally a poem describing lynching in the American South, “Strange Fruit” was written by Abel Meeropol in 1939 and famously performed by singers Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. Strange Fruit, part of the Spectrum Dance Theater’s “Wokeness Festival,” drew its inspiration from this haunting song. This festival was to celebrate, as Donald Byrd, the Strange Fruit choreographer and Spectrum’s Artistic Director, calls it, “the notion of complete awareness.” In his Q&A after the show a few weeks ago, he described lynching, calling it “a method to keep black folks in their place and to assert white supremacy in the south.” Over 4,000 lynchings occurred over a 100 year period in America, so Strange Fruit was an important piece to create and distribute because so many Americans are still unaware of the history that forms our present day systemic inequities. The non-black U.S. population may be somewhat aware of this violence, but they cannot fully absorb the effect that it has had on black bodies, both past and present.

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Like a Hammer: Commanding Presence and Claiming Identity With Bold Color, Pride, and Expression

Review of "Like a Hammer" at SAM.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Sumeya Block, and edited by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes!

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Jeffrey Gibson’s loud, emotional, and thought-provoking exhibit "Like a Hammer" is filled with pops of color, ornate beading, chaotic shapes, celebrations of Choctaw-Cherokee culture, and nods to the LGBTQ+ community. Gibson creates a space for viewers to celebrate what makes them different and recognize the hardships society creates.

When I first walked into "Like a Hammer," I was met with bright colors, bold lettering, and various household items that had been repurposed into vibrant and chaotic installations. What immediately caught my eye was an ironing board covered in slashes of neon pink, yellow, and green and a massive flag sewn with patches of different textured fabrics. When I walked into the exhibit I could feel the energy of Gibson’s work animating the room. I could taste the joy, hardship, and care exuded in every stitch and pop of color. What particularly caught my eye was a bright colored travois or parfleche, a large container pulled by horses that is most commonly made by Native American Women. Jeffrey Gibson's "Like a Hammer" exhibit at SAM. Photo by Natali Wiseman.

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DISCOUNT OFFER: Get a Deal on this Comedy Course!

Learn the basics of improv, stand-up, and sketch comedy at MoPOP this summer!

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Our generous friends at the Museum of Pop Culture (aka MoPOP) are offering a super discount for Mic Drop: Comedy Camp this July!

Mic Drop is a two-week long summer camp for high schoolers. Working with three local professional comedians, campers will learn the basics of improv, sketch comedy, and stand-up. In the second week of camp, they’ll prepare for a final showcase at Unexpected Productions Market Theater (another TeenTix Partner!) Campers will also learn about the business of comedy and how to navigate the professional side of being a comedian. The goal is to cultivate a safe environment where campers feel like they can take risks, count on each other, and have an awesome two weeks. MoPOP ultimately wants to help shape the local comedy landscape to be one where marginalized voices are amplified and lifted up.

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GiveBIG SUPERSTAR SORCERER Matthew Echert

Interview with Matthew Echert, Technical Consultant at Tessitura Network

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We’d like to introduce you to yet another TeenTix GiveBIG SUPERSTAR SORCERER, Matthew Echert! Matthew is one of just nine people in the whole world who has donated to TeenTix during GiveBIG every year since 2013! (Don’t know what a TeenTix SUPERSTAR SORCERER is? Click here to find out!)

After studying theatre at University of Washington, Matthew started off his arts career on the production side of theatre, but has since become an integral player on the administrative side of the arts. As a staff member at many of our partner organizations over the years, including Pacific Northwest Ballet, ACT Theatre, Meany Center for the Performing Arts, and Washington Ensemble Theatre, Matthew found himself first working with, and then supporting TeenTix! Now, as a technical consultant at the ticketing company, Tessitura Network, Matthew is an active theatre-goer and remains a huge fan of TeenTix!

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GiveBIG SUPERSTAR SORCERER Karen Bystrom

Interview with Karen Bystrom, Director of Marketing and Communications at Seattle University

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Meet our second TeenTix GiveBIG SUPERSTAR SORCERER, Karen Bystrom! Karen is one of just nine people in the whole world who has donated to TeenTix during GiveBIG every year since 2013! (Don’t know what a TeenTix SUPERSTAR SORCERER is? Click here to find out more!) Karen as a teen!

Even as a young person, Karen passionately believed in the power of art, which led to her studying a self-designed major in theatre management at Lewis & Clark College. After graduation, she became an arts administrator and went on to teach arts marketing for the MFA in Arts Leadership at Seattle University. She came to know the formidable force that is TeenTix when she was the Director of Marketing and Communications at ACT Theatre back when TeenTix was first making the decision to expand Arts Partnerships beyond the arts organizations on the Seattle Center campus. She knew immediately that ACT needed to partner with TeenTix. Inspired, Karen became a part of the Advisory Council and as TeenTix transitioned into a non-profit, Karen joined the TeenTix Board of Directors and thankfully hasn’t budged since!

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Art That Isn’t Theater

Teen Editorial Staff May Editorial

Written by Teen Editor Anya Shukla!

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It’s the final stretch: only one more month until school ends! We on the Teen Editorial Staff are right there beside you, crossing off the days on the calendar. But with the end of school comes testing—every teen’s worst nightmare. At terrible, terrible times like these, we have to turn to our only source of happiness: procrastination. And we have a great lineup of art for you this month, guaranteed to help you forget about the mountains of homework you have waiting for you at home. To really change things up, we’ll be exploring the various types of art Seattle has to offer—music, visual arts—sans theater. That’s right. No theater. Crazy, right? That’s because May also means getting ready for Mother’s Day… AKA perfect gift time. What can you give someone who already has it all? Well, there’s nothing better than spending time together at a show: what other gift could give your mom the night of her life and show her how cultured you are? Luckily, we’ve got you covered with classics, guaranteed to appeal to your mother’s more…elevated artistic sensibilities. Shows like Handel’s Samson with Pacific MusicWorks, Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen at The Henry, or Like A Hammer at SAM will be surefire parent-pleasers. And, if you want to get your mom pumped, try Laser SZA at the Laser Dome at Pacific Science Center. Best of all, you can give your mom the Mother’s Day she’s been dreaming about, all while pretending your schoolwork doesn’t exist. That’s what we call a win-win.

Lead photo credit: Mariya Georgieva on Unsplash.

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Bridging the Gap Between Lack of Arts Funding and Career Pathways in Technical Theatre

Feature about the STARFISH PROJECT, a program by the Intiman Theatre.

Written by Maire Kennan, during TeenTix’s Beyond the Review Press Corps Intensive.

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We met Sam, Adem, and Faith along with Kyle Hartmann, around a large table on a cloudy day in April. Sam, Adem, and Faith are all students at Franklin High School in South Seattle, and members of STARFISH PROJECT and Kyle, is the STARFISH PROJECT program manager. The focus of our meeting: to learn and gain insight and information about STARFISH PROJECT.

STARFISH PROJECT, which started in 2017 in a woodshop at Franklin High School, works to provide professional access to education and career opportunities in theatre craft. The program takes place anywhere between six and nine weeks, three days a week, for three hours. Each iteration works to put on a show. The program usually starts with the school’s existing theatre program (if there is one), and works with actors from the drama club as well as students interested in carpentry, set design, lighting design, stage managing and more. Although STARFISH PROJECT works with three high schools: Chief Sealth, Franklin High School, and Rainier Beach High School, the program is not limited to students at those schools. Any 14-18 year olds (and older) in the Seattle area are welcome to join the program, although it is geared toward high school aged kids, and they hope to expand.

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The Art of Backstage Storytelling

Feature about the STARFISH PROJECT, a program by the Intiman Theatre.

Written by Triona Suiter, during TeenTix’s Beyond the Review Press Corps Intensive.

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The world of theatre is slowly getting more diverse. Actors of color are finding more jobs, female directors are gradually gaining recognition, and most shows are providing more representation as a whole. But the backstage world is still ruled by straight white men. Technical theatre is an extremely important aspect of stagecraft that is often overlooked. People prefer the flashy and glamorous onstage action to the quiet and stealthy work backstage. Because of that, technical theatre training is almost nonexistent. The STARFISH PROJECT is looking to rectify that.

Through a partnership with Sawhorse Revolution, the Intiman Theatre launched the STARFISH PROJECT in 2017. The project’s goal is to provide accessible training in all aspects of technical theatre to teens in the Seattle area, especially in high schools that have underfunded or nonexistent arts programs. Already, it has had a powerful impact on students’ lives.

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