Our Speaker October 27th was Zimbabwe-born Kwapi Vengesayi and the 5th Avenue Theater encountered each other and neither has been the same since. He had been trained in architecture and then in sociology. He found his calling, however, as the theater’s Community Engagement Specialist. The showplace had been a venerable landmark. It is now undergoing renovation in modern facilities, acoustics, and space. At the same time, efforts are afoot to preserve much of its old charm.
Vengesayi’s mission is to immerse the community in performance culture. Also, his aim is to reach out to under-served and under-represented areas of the community. He realized, upon arrival, how much musical theater is around us. Therefore, he works to engage the community in musical theater. Indeed, several of the musicals at the 5th have made it to Broadway.
The crux of the endeavor has been that of partnerships. In the process, high school students have at one time run the theater, under supervision. Variously, there have been served those with dementia, Thai dancers, kids who met the casts, and those of Tech Tuesday. This has catered to those who study all stages of production as to what foes into staging a show. It is hoped that time and effort may be devoted to autism.
Other partners have included the UW Department of Geriatrics and Gerontology, the Thai community, Alaska and Delta Airlines, US Bank, Bank of America, Renton Skyway Boys and Girls Club, and others either current or pending.
Meanwhile, the project goes on to make the theater more spacious and to have patrons interact in the large entrance area.