Seattle Rep’s vision is “Theater at the Heart of Public Life,” and an integral part of public life is civic involvement. With the upcoming presidential election, we are each a part of shaping what the future will be. How can theater be integrated into civic life, and civic practice be more integrally a part of theater? What is our vision for the future of our country, and how can theater be a part of that?
Manny R. Cawaling
Executive Director, Inspire Washington
Manny R. Cawaling is the Executive Director for Inspire Washington, a merger of Cultural Access Washington and Washington State Arts Alliance. Prior to this position, he spent 10 years as Executive Director for Youth Theatre Northwest, providing children on Mercer Island and throughout King County with creative education and live theater experiences. A Seattle native, Manuel has been working professionally as an artist and cultural leader for nearly 30 years. In 1989, Manuel was at the forefront of Seattle’s fringe theater movement, serving as Artistic Director for Pilgrim Center for the Arts.
He also served as a founding board member for Seattle's League of Fringe Theatres, the predecessor of Theatre Puget Sound and the organization credited with establishing Seattle's Fringe Theatre Festival, the first in the U.S. As Associate Artistic Director for the Northwest Asian American Theatre, he initiated an award-winning Youth Outreach and Education Program; conducted theater residencies in local high schools and communities; and developed their capital campaign. As Exhibit Developer/Manager for the Wing Luke Asian Museum, he developed award-winning exhibits, spearheaded outreach initiatives, and led YouthCAN, a leadership program for Asian-Pacific-American youth. From 2003 to 2008, Manuel served on staff at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, initially in artistic programming and then as Managing Director, overseeing all administrative and programmatic activities.
He has served two terms on the Seattle Center Advisory Commission, was a member of the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture's Public Art Advisory Committee and served as President for the Washington State Arts Alliance Foundation.
Cultural Partnerships & Grants Manager, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture
Kathy Hsieh is a theater producer and an award-winning actor, writer, and director who has performed on stages throughout the country, on TV, and film. Recent projects include a variety of Zoomlandia projects plus Raisins in a Glass of Milk, The Brothers Paranormal with Pork Filled Productions, and Romeo & Juliet with Seattle Shakespeare’s WoodenO. She received a recent Gypsy Award for acting in Washer/Dryer for SIS Productions and Pratidhwani, plus Footlight and Gypsy Awards for acting in Chinglish by David Henry Hwang at ArtsWest and was nominated for an Ellie Award for the same role with CATS in Nevada City. She has also worked with Sound Theatre, ArtsWest, ReAct, Seattle Rep, Book-It Repertory Theatre, ACT, Intiman Theatre, Taproot Theatre Company, The 1448 Projects, Freehold, Living Voices, and more. She has been honored by the National Association of Asian American Professionals in Seattle as their Artist of the Year, A Special Award of Recognition by The Seattle Theater Writers Gypsy Awards for Excellence in Playwriting, Verizon’s Asian Pacific American Bash’s Innovator Award, an International Examiner Community Voice Awardee in the Arts, a Gregory Award for Sustained Achievement, and a Seattle Chinese American Citizens Alliance’s Fred Yee Citizens Award. She is the Cultural Partnerships & Grants Manager for the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture helping the agency earn the Seattle Management Association’s first Race & Social Justice Management Award in 2007. She is also one of the founders and Co-Executive Producers for SIS Productions, an Asian American women-led theater company recognized by Audrey Magazine as a Theatre Trailblazer.
Volunteer, The Washington Bus
My name is Miki Kusunose and I am a senior at Newport High School. As a volunteer for The Washington Bus I work to engage young people with local politics! I believe that civic engagement in youth is one of the most effective catalysts for progress; I hope that my work with the Bus serves as a testament to that statement. In my free time, you might find me playing my violin or reading – I am currently occupied with the late Justice Ginsburg’s biography.
CEO, Epiphanies of Equity LLC
My name is ChrisTiana ObeySumner, and my pronouns are them/they. I am a Black/Indigenous, Queer, Non-Binary, and Multiply-disabled person. I am the CEO of Epiphanies of Equity LLC, a social equity consulting firm that particularly specializes in social change, intersectionality, antiracism, and disability justice.
For almost two decades, I've dedicated my life and career to amplifying the importance of social equity – particularly narrative identity development and its role in cultural humility and allyship, bringing awareness to the lived experience of racialized ableism and externalizing antiblackness, and dismantling the psychosocial paradigms that underlie social injustice and inaction. On my off-time, I love reading, watching pro-wrestling, and spending hours staring at stimming YouTube videos of marble runs and recipe videos.
Sara Porkalob (she/her) is an artist-activist and creator of the DRAGON CYCLE. She’s based in Seattle but soon will be working all over the nation. Awards and nominations include: 2020 nominee Seattle Mayor’s Arts Award, Seattle Times “11 Movers and Shakers to Watch this Decade”, 2019 nominee for the Americans for the Arts Johnson Fellowship for Artists Transforming Communities, Seattle Magazine’s 2018's Most Influential People, and City Art's 2017 Futures List. She is a co-founder of DeConstruct, an online journal of intersectional performance critique. She will be making her Broadway debut in 2021 playing Edward Rutledge in the official revival of the musical 1776.
DRAGON CYCLE is a trilogy of plays about her family; one play for each generation built around a central female protagonist. The first in the cycle, Dragon Lady, is the recipient of three 2018 Gregory Awards for: Outstanding Sound/Music Design, Outstanding Actress in a Musical, and Outstanding Musical Production. The second in the cycle, Dragon Mama, premiered at American Repertory Theatre (ART) and won Best Original Script and Best Solo Performance for the 2019 Elliot Norton Awards. ART has commissioned the third in the cycle, Dragon Baby; it will premiere on their stage in the near future.
Last year, she collaborated as a writer and consultant with the City of Seattle and their Creative Strategies Initiative (CSI), a new City effort that uses arts and culture-based approaches to build racial equity in non-arts policy areas like the environment, housing, workforce, and community development. Earlier this year, Cafe Nordo produced her Victorian revenge thriller The Angel in the House, and ArtsWest will produce her new play Alex & Alix in 2021.
Educator, Artist, Consultant
Naho Shioya has over 20 years of professional experience working in nonprofit, public, and private sectors as an educator, artist, and consultant. Ms. Shioya strives to connect our culturally and socially diverse communities through exploration, presentation, and education, and has the ability to engage people from all walks of life through creativity and active learning. She has successfully engaged various organizations and partners in conversations on Race and Social Justice, and facilitated many workshops and training sessions. She is well versed in developing and facilitating workshops to fit the need of the organizations and agencies and assisted many groups and department leaderships on inclusive outreach and public engagement efforts. She is experienced in developing and implementing organizational Race and Social Justice Initiative, creating and guiding Racial Equity Team, developing organizational Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Assessment, creating organizational strategic plan based on anti-racist practices, and developing Race and Social Justice Work Plans. As an artist, she has worked internationally in Asia, Canada, Europe and the U.S. Locally she has appeared at Seattle Children’s Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, On the Boards, and ArtsWest, among others. As a director and teaching artist, she has worked with various organizations and schools in the greater Puget Sound area including Seattle Rep, Book-It Repertory Theatre, Seattle Children's Theatre, Youth Theatre Northwest, Studio East, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, Seattle Public Schools, and City of Seattle. She is a member of the experimental, multi-disciplinary arts group Aono Jikken Ensemble (AJE) for which she is a performer, vocalist, and benshi (silent film narrator).
Public Works Director, Seattle Rep
Angie Kamel has been Seattle Rep’s Public Works Director since 2018. She was drawn to the program’s values-based practice in engaging the region’s communities in ambitious works of participatory theater. Seattle Rep’s Public Works makes theater of, by, and for the people rooted in the values of equity, imagination, and joy.
She began her career in San Diego working with such companies as La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Globe, San Diego Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Music Society, Mo’olelo, Moxie, and UCSD’s Department of Theater and Dance. Upon moving to Seattle about a decade ago she worked in Seattle Rep’s production department before moving back to Southern California to serve as the Institute Manager for Cornerstone Theater Company, a 33-year-old community-centered organization based in Los Angeles. It was there she was able to realize her life-long dream of making theater with and for everyone. She worked alongside some of the most innovative theater-makers in the country to create mutually beneficial partnerships with a wide range of communities, fostering collaborative art-making between artists of various levels of experience.
She was a recipient of the TCG Continuing Education Grant in 2016. The grant allowed her to examine the successes and challenges of building and sustaining theaters-of-color in Seattle and Minneapolis/Saint Paul. Locally, she has worked at Seattle Opera, helped open the Federal Way Performing Arts & Events Center, and led artistic engagement strategies for ACT. She proudly serves on the board of Theatre Puget Sound. She holds a B.F.A from the University of Arizona and an M.F.A. from the University of California, San Diego.
Angie is a foster parent, an immigrant, and a lover of pastries.
Director of Arts Engagement, Seattle Rep
Nabra Nelson is a community organizer and theater creator from Egypt, Nubia, and California. She is also the Director of Arts Engagement at Seattle Rep. As an arts administrator, director, playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist, she works with theaters, universities, and community organizations to create positive change, strengthen community, and amplify under-heard voices through theater. She is a founding company member of Dunya Productions and Heard Space Arts Collective, and is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara.
(Re)Imagine Civic Theater Reading List
Get ready for the conversation with related books, films, and music curated by the librarians at Seattle Public Library.
(Re)Imagine Theater Panel Series
This series brings artists and community leaders together to envision a new theatrical world. Without constraints, what do we want theater to look like? Join the conversation.
(Re)Imagine Black Theater
Join Black theater makers and community organizers from the Seattle area to envision a theater landscape that centers Black voices equitably.
(Re)Imagine Indigenous Theater
What would theater look like in the United States if it was shaped by indigenous communities and upheld tribal sovereignty? How are storytelling, land, and community linked when led by indigenous knowledge, expertise, and tradition?
(Re)Imagine Accessible Theater
What does universal access look like in theater? Let’s hear and learn from a variety of intersectional identities, (dis)ABLED theater artists, and community leaders to envision what accessible theater can be.