You could hear them before you saw them: the excited bustling of the cast of Seattle Rep’s Public Works production of As You Like It carried into the theater as they got ready to see the stage for the first time. It was the first rehearsal on the stage of the Bagley Wright Theater, and the cast was about to see the platforms and stairs they had been pretending to climb for months.
There are five Equity actors in the show (AKA professional actors), but the rest of the cast is made up of community members. As You Like It is Seattle Rep’s 2019 show in their Public Works program, which “collaborates with an incredible group of community participants guided by the values of equity, imagination, and joy with an eye toward making this program truly with, by, and for the people of Seattle.”
At Compass Housing Alliance’s Renton Veteran’s Center (RVC), Seattle Rep held a workshop for staff and residents of RVC and invited Veterans from the community to participate as well. It was a 10-week course taught by a professional actor. The course helped break down walls and shyness among the Veterans and their families and created new friendships. Participants ranged in age from six years old to a man in his 90s who had been a professional actor—he surprised everyone by revealing that during the workshop. Lots of activities at RVC are family-friendly, but some single adults don’t interact with children often. Having children in the workshop loosed everyone up and made everything more fun. Suddenly, folks who are normally serious were comfortable being silly. Many workshop participants said they plan to take part in the next workshop Seattle Rep offers at RVC soon!
When it came time to audition for As You Like It, RVC case manager Dalwyn Dean, stepped up to give it a shot. She has experience as an actor, but this experience was different. “The Rep treated us all like professionals. It was so fun!”
The actors worked hard in rehearsal to make themselves—and the Seattle Rep Public Works team—proud.