Swimming While Drowning @ ArtsWest

The story of two queer teens seeking a home 👨🏻‍🤝‍👨🏾

📸: Jenny Crooks + ArtsWest

Runs September 29 – October 23

I discovered West Seattle’s small but mighty contemporary theater ArtsWest in 2021. I’ve adored everything I’ve seen there, from the world premiere of Justin Huertas’ musical fantasy We’ve Battled Monsters Before to Julia Izumi’s playful yet thoughtful miku, and the gods. The organization’s Associate Artists Group has a knack for curating new works that blend personal stories with thrilling theatricality. (miku included interpretative dance!) On top of that, ArtsWest is one of Seattle’s only venues with the capability to seat audience members around the entire stage.

The theater’s 2022-2023 season “BEGIN IT” is meant to center around “empathy, community, and creating something new in the wake of so much change,” a mission that aligns perfectly with the first show of the season, Detroit-based playwright Emilio Rodriguez’s two-hander Swimming While Drowning. It follows a queer teenager (played by Gabriel FitzPatrick) who moves out of the house of his homophobic family to a shelter for unhoused members of the LGBTQ+ community. There, he meets a fellow houseless teen (played by Brodrick Ryans) and learns to love. This is the play’s Seattle premiere after debuting in 2017 at Milagro in Portland and placing as a finalist for the Drammy Award for Best Original Script.

Many of the ArtsWest shows I’ve seen in the past tell important stories without reveling in their own significance, so I can’t wait to see how the play combines themes of queer identity and houselessness without feeling too preachy.

This article was written on special assignment for The Ticket through the TeenTix Press Corps, a teen arts journalism program run by TeenTix, a youth empowerment and arts access nonprofit organization.

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Kyle Gerstel

Kyle Gerstel

Kyle Gerstel is a writer, theatre director, and student from Mercer Island, WA. He is an editor for the TeenTix Newsroom and his school newspaper, The Islander. His friends frequently make fun of the fact his favorite book is Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs.

Kyle writes for The Ticket in partnership with TeenTix.