Public Works Seattle: Groundbreaking Program Announced At Seattle Rep
Seattle Repertory Theatre has announced details for Public Works Seattle, a groundbreaking community engagement and participatory theatre initiative aimed at creating theatre of the people, by the people, and for the people of the region. Adapted from the nationally recognized model built by New York City's prestigious The Public Theater, the program seeks to engage audiences in new ways by making them creators and not just spectators.
Five Seattle-area community organizations are participating in Public Works Seattle, including The Boys & Girls Clubs of King County, Path With Art, Jubilee Women's Center, Centerstone, and Sound Generations/Ballard NW Senior Center. Over the past 18 months, community members from these nonprofits have been engaging in Seattle Rep-led workshops, which culminated in auditions in early July 2017 for roles in Public Works Seattle's musical adaptation of Homer's The Odyssey that will take the stage September 8-10, 2017 for four performances. Nearly 90 community members will perform in this production alongside four professional actors and 9 regional cameo groups under the direction of Seattle Rep Associate Artistic Director Marya Sea Kaminski on the Bagley Wright Theatre stage.
"I had heard about The Public Theater's Public Works program in 2013," Braden Abraham, Seattle Rep Artistic Director comments. "I was looking to create something similar at Seattle Rep -- a program that would open the doors wider to the community and give us the opportunity to make theatre in a different way. Creating a gathering space for collective imagination and offering the opportunity to connect more deeply through the work on our stages is at the heart of our mission at Seattle Rep, and Public Works allows for this. What I love about the program is that the commitment to authentic engagement with partner organizations goes side by side with a commitment to make artistically ambitious theatre. With the launch of this program, we're building on those commitments and reaching more people across our growing city through the joyful process of making theatre."
The Public Works Seattle community partners came to be after a rigorous exploration of the nonprofit community in Seattle. It was in early 2015 that Seattle Rep started meeting with leaders of nonprofits all over the city to talk about this big dream of using theatre and creative process to bring people together in deep, meaningful ways - the outcome of which would then culminate in a city-wide collaboration of an epic production on Seattle Rep's Bagley Wright Theatre stage. Some four years later, that massive undertaking is coming to full fruition with the first Public Works Seattle production of The Odyssey.
ABOUT PUBLIC WORKS SEATTLE COMMUNITY PARTNERS
The Boys & Girls Clubs of King County enables young people to reach their full potential by emphasizing academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. At the Southwest Club, the Rep works with young adults and teens to develop performance skills through spoken word poetry. At the North Seattle Club, Public Works Seattle offers workshops in improvisation and beginning acting skills for middle-school-aged aspiring artists.
Path with Art harnesses the power of creative engagement to support people recovering from homelessness, addiction, and trauma, and in turn, builds community and stability. Public Works Seattle augments Path with Art's offerings by holding an Advanced Acting class at Seattle Rep, focused on auditioning and monologues.
Jubilee Women's Center supports women experiencing poverty by helping them to build stable and fulfilling futures, one extraordinary woman at a time. Workshops at Jubilee focus on using scenes written by female playwrights to develop each participant's creative voice and physical confidence.
Centerstone supports Seattle residents who are getting on the path to self-sufficiency with food, rent, financial education, and energy assistance. Public Works Seattle staff and teaching artists hold weekly workshops on storytelling and performance, culminating in a collaboration that celebrates the Central District neighborhood.
Sound Generations/Ballard NW Senior Center provides older adults and adults with disabilities with vital resources to help them thrive. Public Works Seattle has partnered with the Ballard NW Senior Center for an ongoing class focused on musical theatre and performance.