Tag Archives: drama

Cut the Lights: Compromise and Artistic Vision in Theatre

Cut-the-Lights-CoverTitle: Cut the Lights

Author: Karen Krossing

Gut Reaction: An enjoyable and relatable book, but lacks depth.

You must read this book because… This novel explores the art of theatre through the lens of aspiring director Briar as she set out to produce her very first play, Wish Upon a Star at her performing arts high school. Along the way she must manage an unruly cast, a lethargic stage manager, and hostility from a fellow director, as she quickly discovers that the reality of her production may be very different from her original vision of the “perfect” play.

Cut the Lights is a novel heavily geared to the teenage demographic, even more so than your typical Young Adult book. The characters, setting, and primary conflict are all designed to revolve around one’s life in high school. The novel itself is written in realistic fiction format and as such intends to make the issues it addresses as relatable to the reader as possible. In that aspect the novel is quite successful as the author depicts believable characters facing problems and exhibiting emotions that appear genuine, thus allowing for greater empathy with the protagonist. The beginning of each chapter reads like a play and even includes a series of stage directions. These quirks along with the general humor scattered throughout the novel both add to its appeal.
The glaring issue with the novel lies in its attempt to cover too many issues. The novel is only a short 129 pages, yet introduces topics ranging from difficulty in compromising one’s own ideas to suicide. This causes the novel to seem overly simplistic and superficial. The author brings so much subjects into her novel, yet fails to sufficiently develop and maintain them throughout the novel. A secondary problem stemmed from the sections in the book where the author seems to have fallen into using clichés. The overarching story arc that Krossing utilizes in which protagonist receives challenging task, protagonist endeavors to succeed in their task, everything falls apart and it seems the situation is hopeless, but then the protagonist miraculously succeeding and pulls everything together, is in my opinion, a bit trite and made the ending all too predictable.

Despite its shortcomings, I did find Cut the Lights to be an interesting read. I recommend the novel to anyone looking for a light and quick read, though as I mentioned previously the book is clearly written with teenagers in mind.

Read this if you like…

–Ziqi, Greenwood, Teen Blogger

GWD

Wild: The book, and now… the movie!

WildDo you like hiking? Nature? How about reckless adventures? Emotional memoirs?

If you answered, “yes” to any of those questions, I recommend checking out the book, and now the film, Wild.

Wild, a first-person memoir by Cheryl Strayed, tells the story of her expedition on the Pacific Crest Trail in the summer of 1995. In the four years leading up to her journey, her mother died (Cheryl was 22), her stepfather and siblings became disconnected from the family, and Cheryl turned to drugs to cope with her loss.  After wandering around the country for several months, she comes home and divorces her husband.  Feeling that she has lost her path in life and having nothing more to lose, she decides to set out, alone, on an 1100-mile long hike from southern California through Oregon.  Having never backpacked before, Cheryl describes the physical and mental struggles that challenged and healed her along the trail. Told with the utmost honesty, reflection, emotion, and suspense, the story of Wild is a deep and inspiring exploration.

The book was published in 2012 and received critical acclaim from the likes of Oprah Winfrey and The New York Times.Wild

The film was released in December 2014 and stars Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern.  Overall, the film excellently captures the interplay between past memories and current challenges on the trail.  Witherspoon portrays Cheryl with true emotion, strength, and bravery.  IMBd gives the movie 7.5 out of 10 stars. That’s really good!

So, whether you’re an adventurous type or someone who searches for meaning in stories, a dedicated book lover or a film fanatic, I would recommend reading, or watching, (or both), Wild.  It might just make you want to take off on an epic hike of your own!

Check out the book!

Here’s where you can see the movie in the Seattle area.

–RuthMabel, Greenwood, Teen Blogger

GWD

Friendship, loyalty, and courage…

The OutsidersThe Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is a relatively short but powerful book that is bound to leave the reader thinking and debating the issues that the characters in the book brought up.  Ponyboy Curtis lives with his older brothers Sodapop and Darry.  They are part of a gang known as the Greasers, along with a few other kids, who are rivals with another gang known as the Socs (short for “Socials”).  These two gangs differ in terms of wealth, with the Socs being the more elite “rich” class, and the Greasers being the poorer class.  The story follows Ponyboy and his friends after a run-in with the Socs, and what happens after a few incidents.  This book covers friendship, trust, and loyalty in a tense situation, and will definitely leave an impact on the reader long after you put the book down.

I kept reading the book because the characters were all so believable and realistic.  Each one of the characters maintained a distinct personality throughout the whole book, and each one was very unique.  The setting and the narration also helped set the tone and atmosphere of the book.  Many things brought up in the book are relatively mature, and include themes and motifs such as gang violence, alcohol, smoking, etc…, which all adds to the portrayal of the characters and the narration of the story.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a thought-provoking, discuss-able story.  This book is consistently rated very highly from many sources and is definitely worth the time to read and understand the ideas and themes presented throughout this entire book.  Friendship, loyalty, and courage are three big themes that pop out in this book.  The Outsiders is definitely a book you do not want to miss!

–Matthew, 11th Grader, Lake City

LCY

Regina raves on Wide Sargasso Sea

TWide Sargasso Seaitle: Wide Sargasso Sea

Author: Jean Rhys

Summary: Antoinette Cosway, known as Bertha Mason in the novel Jane Eyre, spends her childhood in the Caribbean during a socially tumultuous time. Antoinette is a white Creole meaning some of her ancestors were slaves but her appearance is different from her origins. Her mother is mentally unhealthy, her brother is mentally delayed, and her father is dead. Antoinette narrates the first half of the novel, and then the story shifts and a young English gentleman named Edward Rochester narrates after their marriage. The next half of the novel describes the ups and downs of Antoinette and Rochester’s marriage as well as the factors that led to Antoinette slowly losing her sanity.

Six Word Review: An interesting read with vivid imagery.

I started reading because: I liked Jane Eyre and was interested in getting to know Bertha’s character better.

I would give this book 10/10 stars because the motifs, themes, imagery, juxtapositions, and other literary devices are abundant.

I loved that Jean Rhys explored multiple character perspectives. The story is narrated by Antoinette, Rochester, and even briefly by a minor character. I hated that the description of the time at Thornfield was so brief. It makes sense because the author is demonstrating Antoinette’s mental instability, but it still would have been cool to know more about what that time was like for Antoinette.

If Antoinette was in a high school yearbook, she would be voted Most Likely To: Have A Hard Time Fitting In.

Anything else we should know? The movie adaptations are more overly romanticized and don’t provide an accurate portrayal of the author’s intent.

–Regina, 17, West Seattle

WTS

Web Round-up: John Green…Teen Whisperer

How the author of The Fault in Our Stars built an ardent army of fans.

John GreenIn late 2006, the writer John Green came up with the idea of communicating with his brother, Hank, for a year solely through videos posted to YouTube. The project wasn’t quite as extreme as it sounds. John, who was then twenty-nine, and Hank, who was three years younger, saw each other about once a year, at their parents’ house, and they typically went several years between phone calls. They communicated mainly through instant messaging….

…The Greens started posting videos several times a week, under the name the Vlogbrothers. The project was less a conversation than an extended form of parallel play. They shared personal stories—John confessed that the only sports trophy he ever got was made by his parents, and bore the inscription “All-Star in Our Hearts”—but mainly they exchanged ideas. The brothers had signature preoccupations, which they discussed with excitable urgency, talking into the camera at tremendous speed. John discussed books, existential anxiety, and pizza; Hank was into science, math, and corn dogs. John invented a highly undignified “happy dance”; Hank wrote and performed songs, many of them about Harry Potter. The tone of their monologues ranged from goofily informative (how giraffes have sex) to wonkish (Why Are American Health-Care Costs So High?). Many posts dispensed adult wisdom, but in a reassuringly modern way. In a post advising boys on how to charm a girl, John jokingly said, “Become a puppy. A kitten would also be acceptable or, possibly, a sneezy panda.” But he also said, “If you can, see girls as, like, people, instead of pathways to kissing and/or salvation.”

To read Margaret Talbot’s complete article, visit The New Yorker.

To watch more vlogbrothers (which we highly recommend!) visit their Youtube channel.

To order the über cute giraffe shirt, go here.  🙂

If You Like Fault in Our Stars…

…then you may love the titles on Eric’s list below (originally published on Shelftalk, our blog for adults).  Also, you’re probably aware that the movie is opening TONIGHT!  We really want to know what y’all think about the movie…or the book.  Drop us a line in the Comments or write us as much as you want…raving or venting, we want to know!

John Green’s popular and acclaimed novel The Fault in Our Stars gets the big screen treatment this week! Here are some books that form a complementary reading constellation.

The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenSomebody Up There Hates You by Hollis SeamonThe Summer I Found You by Jolene B. Perry

Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon

On the surface this story of cancer-stricken teens seems very similar to Green’s novel, but this humorous, moving story stands on its own. The snarky narrator Richard doesn’t have long to live, but is making the most of his remaining days in the hospice wing with Sylvie, another teen awaiting the same fate.

The Summer I Found You by Jolene B. Perry

After returning from Afghanistan with a disability, former soldier Aiden finds support in Kate, a high school senior recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Though this novel lacks the terminal illness present in the previous two titles, it explores the reality of disabilities and the unique challenges they can present in both planning for the future and falling in love.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie PerkinsAmy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan MatsonThis Star Won't Go Out by Esther Earl

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

For fans of the star-crossed romance element in Green’s novel, Perkins’ story of an American teenage girl finding unexpected love in a Paris school should hit the spot. This is a light, lovely story in the lovely City of Light.

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

If you like that many of John Green’s plots involve the characters taking a transformative trip, check out Matson’s cross-country summer love story. Guilt-stricken after a car-accident claimed her father’s life, Amy gets on the road to healing with Roger, who is enlisted by Amy’s mother to get Amy safely to Connecticut from California.

This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Earl

John Green dedicated his book to the late Esther Earl, who passed away in 2010. This collection of various stories and journal entries chronicles her short but extraordinary life.

 

5 Teen Movies Reviewed – Speed Round!

Robot & FrankRobot & Frank

Six Words:  Ex-burglar old man befriends interesting robot.
Mood(s):  Witty. Thrilling. Fascinating.
“The human brain, a lovely piece of hardware.”
Bonuses:  Beautifully filmed. Realistic depiction of the future.
Additional:  Seems outlandish and ridiculous at first, but you’ll be hooked once you start. Profanity. 13+

They Call It MyanmarThey Call It Myanmar

Six Words:  Documentary about Burma; expands your worldview.
Mood(s):  Impassioned. Revealing. Informative.
“I think politicians who think they’ve gone beyond being politicians are very dangerous.”
Bonuses:  It’s like traveling to Burma without leaving your couch. Very honest documentary.
Additional:  NR

Drinking BuddiesDrinking Buddies

Six Words:  Two friends try more; twist ending.
Mood(s):  Charming. Exploratory. Witty.
“That’s the problem with heartbreak, to you it’s like an atomic bomb and to the world it’s just really cliché, because in the end we all have the same experience.”
Bonuses: Finally a romantic movie that ends differently than you expect. Very funny.
Additional: Profanity. Momentary nudity. R

Like Crazy 3Like Crazy

Six Words:  College girl and guy go out.
Mood(s):  Teenage. Modern. Heart-wrenching.
“Because it’s the halves that halve you in half.”
Bonuses:  Gorgeously shot scenes. Jennifer Lawrence makes an appearance.The ending.
Additional:  If you have a tumblr, you’ll know where all those gifs are from after watching it. 13+

Hotel RwandaHotel Rwanda

Six Words:  Rwandan genocide’s impact; hotel manager saves.
Mood(s):  Gripping. Emotional. Heavy. Violent.
“There’s always room.”
Bonuses:  You learn something new about the Rwandan genocide.
Additional:  Depicts the division between the Tutsis and Hutus accurately. 13+

 

–Regina, 17, West Seattle

WTS