As You Like It: Path with Art Actors in Seattle Rep’s Public Works!
Seattle Rep’s Public Works 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. This year, Seattle Rep’s Public Works family of community and professional actors join together to bring Shakespeare’s As You Like It to life in a fantastical tale of faithful friends and feuding families. This show brings people from all walks of life together and boasts more than 100 community members on the cast and production crew.
Included in this group of community participants are nine Path with Art actors with a range of experience – both in acting, and in life. We chatted with Melodie Clarke, Ken Parms, Rosemary Kamb Kidane, Dolores Rossman, and Greg Hunt about their involvement in this exciting production.
Q: What motivated you to audition for As You Like It?
Melodie: I enjoy working with Path with Art in acting classes, and enjoy being up on stage and performing, so I auditioned. The acting classes I’ve taken at Path with Art have helped me gain confidence in myself and my abilities. They help me gain focus and improve my memorization, which I was having a hard time with before. It also helps me with my mental health. I live with depression and PTSD, but acting in community decreases my depression, and I haven’t had as many PTSD attacks. Creativity heals my heart and helps to heal my wounds.
Ken: I love to act, and I love to be around people. Part of the impetus to work again with Public Works and the Seattle Rep was the amazing, incredible production values that were in play last time with The Odyssey.
Rosemary: I loved the acting class I took at Path with Art with Orlando Morales – everything he taught us was helpful for this experience now, especially for the audition – I knew what to expect, was able to read the music, and understand how a scene is built.
Greg: I did theatre classes at Path with Art with Orlando and it just was the next step – they let us know about the Public Works production and encouraged us to audition. We did an all-day workshop in preparation, and then tried out!
Q: What has your experience with As You Like It been like?
Dolores: My husband, Kristian, who was sick for a long time, died on July 22nd. I auditioned while he was still sick, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to participate because I was caretaking for him. He passed away, rehearsals started the next week. The folks at the Rep have been incredible. I could not have imagined a more beautiful community to be with after he died, it has been an absolute miracle. It’s a true story of community. We sing, we laugh, we dance, and everyone is so kind.
Melodie: It’s an amazing production – it’s a lot of work, but it’s work I’m more than happy to do. I enjoy being around other people; we help each other and support each other.
Ken: It’s a wonderful opportunity to work with really talented and generous people. The staff at Public Works refer to you as ‘friend.’ What a kind thing to say to someone – to consider everyone there to be your friend.
Greg: I come from a background in theatre and dance, but this has been the most challenging and most fulfilling experience I’ve had in the last 20 years – it challenges different parts of your brain, and your body. I was in The Odyssey, as well, but this year it’s twice as hard – the music, the dancing, the staging. It’s very professional.
Q: What has been your favorite part of the rehearsal process?
Dolores: Public Works included a tribute I wrote to Kris in one of their weekly newsletters, and sent cards. The staff has been so kind and beautiful. Being in rehearsal – it’s not like it’s a distraction from my sorrow, but it is a huge relief to be part of something so joyful. My hubby, Kris, always said, ‘be strong, be kind, be forgiving.’ And that is exactly what this play is about.
Ken: One of my favorite parts is the choreography warmups – the choreographer, Kathryn Van Meter, will put on Earth, Wind, and Fire, or Beyoncé, and we’ll do a sort of freeform movements to loosen up. And, at the very end of it, she’ll say, ‘inhale,’ and then, ‘let out your breath,’ and you’ll make a big, deep sigh. It lets us shake it all out.
Rosemary: I was in The Odyssey, too, so this I my second Public Works play, and it’s all very exciting. It’s a musical adaptation so we’re doing a lot of singing and choreography. It’s been a wonderful experience – very organized and equitable. People are treated with respect. I’ve enjoyed seeing people I acted alongside in The Odyssey again, but I’ve also met new people, and created new friendships.
Greg: Working with the staff has been my favorite part. They are incredibly encouraging and have a remarkable work ethic, and they know everyone’s names. It makes for a really safe, welcoming environment.
Viewers are in store for some sweet surprises in this is a musical rendition of As You Like It. Tickets are free – reserve yours while they last!