Meet Angie Kamel, who is in charge of a Seattle Rep program that is part of Public Works National — a network of theaters that seek to engage the people in their cities by making them creators, not just spectators.
What do you do? I’m Seattle Rep’s Public Works director. During the year, free of charge, we produce workshops, classes and outings in partnership with local nonprofits to invite the community to learn about and be part of theater. We build community through the creative act of making theater.
I get to manage this incredible program and produce the annual show. This year, we’re doing a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.” We’ll have four free performances Sept. 6-8 that will highlight about 100 of our region’s most talented people.
How did you get started in that field? I moved to the U.S. when I was 13, and theater was where I found community. At first I wanted to major in psychology in college, but before classes began I changed my major to theater. I didn’t know what I wanted to focus on, I just knew I wanted to be part of making that magical community happen and to share in the intense joy of putting on a show.
What’s different about this type of work from other arts/theater jobs? It redefines the relationship between the artist and observer. It centers the audience in a way that traditional theater doesn’t. Instead of showing you a story, it asks you to participate in the creative process.
What’s a typical day like? There’s no such thing as a typical day in Public Works! But I might get on a call with Public Works National partners and affiliates, then attend a fundraising meeting, read a play, do research on a community group to invite to be in a future show. I might attend a class at the Renton Veterans Center to watch some of the most talented performers in town. Then I’ll go home to my wife and kids.
What’s the best part of the job? My work is deeply rooted in the values of the program: true equity, collective imagination and hard-won joy. I get to perpetuate those positive values every day alongside all the wonderful people with whom I get to create! I spend time with folks of all ages, races and ethnicities, and in so many neighborhoods in our region. I love my job.
What surprises people about what you do? I don’t direct the play! My job is mainly to facilitate and advocate — whether that is on behalf of our community, our show’s creative team or our dedicated stage crew. Art is so important, and I deeply believe it should be available to everyone, every day. Seattle Rep’s Public Works is one of the ways that happens.