Monday, October 25, 2010

Studio Series Revisited by Kirsten McCory

New Amerikan Theater is currently a very small company. Me, Telisa Steen and Carolynne Wilcox. We have written a play called Stings Like Acid that we are producing and it will play this fall at TPS Theater 4. We started writing the play in the summer of 2009, and just as soon decided to apply for a spot in Freehold’s Studio Series for the February 2010 show. We were accepted and then had to write a shorter version of what was then an 80+ page script, as we were allotted 10 minutes for our performance.

The “condensation” we came up with for Freehold's Studio Series was an interesting conglomeration of scenes that we felt would best tell the longer story in a radically abbreviated fashion. The challenge and importance to us lay in telling the story. Would people “get it”? Would they be interested enough to come see a longer piece?, we worried. It turns out that the story we told that weekend in February has evolved into something different in the full length version we will be performing in November, although its roots remain in the same themes. We have added and subtracted, stream lined, specified and beautified.

There was something really lovely in that Studio Series Stings Like Acid piece, and I think it was in it’s simplicity of presentation. At the Studio Series orientation, George Lewis said “Keep it simple”, which we took for really good advice. Since our story was a little abstract and mysterious, we decided not to overwhelm it with lots of prop pieces. We used 4 square acting blocks, two 6 foot screens and a red scarf. Now, for the full length version, our set is three four foot platforms. We have columns and lighting and we’ll probably use even more scarves.

The world of our play has become bigger and more fleshed out. But I think having to write that “condensation” + the rehearsal time we put in and the performance we did in the Studio Series helped us to refine our vision, and allowed us to write the exciting play we have now. It was also the first time Carolynne, Telisa and I as actors, (along with Tom Spangenberg who played “Tobias” in that version) were allowed to play in the fantastic Rachel-filled world we had created.

Freehold's Studio Series 2011 Applications will be available very soon. For more information on Freehold's Studio Series, click here.

Stings Like Acid will run November 12th - 27th
Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm
Theatre Puget Sound, Theater 4 in the Seattle Center house
Tickets are $15.00 at

Monday, October 18, 2010

Typecasting & Truth-Seeking at Freehold’s Open House by Kelly Huffman

Little did I suspect that, before the Freehold Studio open house was over last Friday, I’d be cast in a mini-drama as an anxious woman arriving at a Starbucks for a first date.

Typecast again.

And hey, I’m not even an actor! This scene unfolded in Elizabeth Heffron’s half-hour playwriting teaser. (I can only guess what they were cooking up over in the Acting for the Camera class.)

Props to Ms. Heffron for sharp instincts and for getting us Shakespeare wannabes up on our feet and delving into a few lines of “dummy” dialogue right off the bat:

A: Hey.
B: Hey.
A: You’re late.
B: I know. I got held up.

Mother and curfew-breaking kid? Two co-workers on a first date? You decide.

You, nascent writer/actor/poet, show us the truth.

That’s how Freehold director Robin Lynn-Smith put it in her opening remarks. Her words rang like a clear call to arms, rising above the stream of emails, Facebook updates and iPod shuffles that dominate the daily landscape.

Seek and show the truth. And here’s a place—communal, fun, supportive, graced with some of the top theater and writing talent in the region—to learn how to do it.

What a privilege to spend a few hours sampling this rich smorgasbord of poetry, acting, writing and performance. And all for the cost of an email. Thanks, Freehold. I’ll be back.

If you want to know more about Freehold, check out our website: Winter class registration will be open the week of Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Hungry for It" - Elizabeth's Freehold ETI Experience

We are just beginning our fourth week of ETI. It already feels like we’ve been doing this forever. I don’t remember what life was like before Ensemble Training Intensive (ETI) and I can’t imagine what life would be like without it. I marvel at how we are all adjusting and molding to our new reality. On Day One, we showed up and there were cubbies with our names on them, and people just put their stuff in the one with their name on it! I know I did that in 7th grade with a locker, but now it seems remarkable somehow, that we accept what is put before us and adapt to the system we find ourselves in. And truthfully, there wasn’t much time to think about it, we were immediately swept up in the forward motion of the program.

People are bonding and starting to get to know each other to varying degrees. Solo Performance really helped jump start that process. The first couple of writing assignments were autobiographically based so we started to hear each other’s stories and what we each have to say about the world. This is good because when the longest break you have in a day is 10 minutes, there isn’t a whole lot of time for chatting between classes. Yes, you read that correctly, we have class on one day from 12:30p-11:00p with no break longer than 10 minutes. I feel we are like stagecoach horses in the harness together. We run and run for a leg of the journey, and then they turn us out for food and water. Then it’s time to run again. So, we get strapped back into the harnesses and we are off. Sometimes, the thoughtful Freehold elves leave little snacks out for us on the counter in the lobby, and you wouldn’t believe how a little bag of gummi bunnies can spur me on through the next leg of the adventure.

It’s amazing how quickly connections between classes began to materialize – and not in the ways I assumed. Related ideas surface in Yoga and Voice; in Acting and Stage Combat; in Solo Performance and Yoga. And one thought follows me into every class, something George Lewis said in Movement that I’ve been paraphrasing for myself ever since, “You have to be hungry for it!” Because let me tell you some common themes for all of the people participating ETI is being spread too thin, juggling class & work & life, a lack of sleep. It would be easy to get bogged down in being overwhelmed, to succumb to whining and helplessness. To avoid that trap, to keep going, I am consciously reminding myself to be hungry for what we are doing in the moment. And when that moment is passed to wonder, “What’s the next thing?! What’s next?!” Because George is right, you have to be hungry for it! And we all are – we had to be to get this far and to take on this great challenge. The best part is all these great teachers have spread out a wonderful feast before us, and I know we’ve barely dug into the first course.

-Elizabeth, ETI Participant - 2010-2011

More Information on Freehold's Ensemble Training Intensive Here

Photos of ETI students taken by Jesse Putnam (ETI Student 2010-2011)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Freehold Faculty Upcoming Shows

Amy Thone and Hans Altwies will be performing in God of Carnage at the Seattle Repertory Theatre from October 1 - 24.

Darragh Kennan will be playing the title role of Hamlet at Seattle Shakespeare Company. The play will be running from October 27 - December 5th.

Sarah Harlett
will be performing in ACT's The Christmas Carol running November 26 - December 26. More information: ACT Theatre.

John Jacobsen's show - The Artist Toolbox just got picked up to start airing nationally on public television starting Jan 7, and they just got John Legend for their next episode ( Also, the film John directed, Arthur, is done and being entered at Cannes and Sundance.

George Lewis is directing the Bash Theatre Company in the 1920's Russian comedy, The Suicide by Nikolai Erdman. It will be performed at the Ballard Underground, December 3 - 19, 2010. Info at George is also directing Le Frenchword's Fancy Mud which will be performed sometime in late September or early October with the full-length piece being shown in December.

John Longenbaugh's Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol finally gets its fully staged premiere on November 26 at Taproot Theatre. Tickets for Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol

Paul Mullin's play Louis Slotin Sonata will be making its mid-West premiere in Chicago at A Red Orchid Theatre, opening Sept 10 and running through Oct. 24. Originally commissioned by A Contemporary Theatre as part of their now defunct FirstACT play development program, Louis Slotin Sonata premiered at Circle X Theatre in Los Angeles and went on to win the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Outstanding World Premiere. More information about the play can be found on Paul Mullin's blog. Poster image from A Red Orchid's Theatre production of Louis Slotin Sonata.

Annette Toutonghi will be doing a public reading/performance of There is a Field by Jen Marlowe. Performances will be the first weekend in October.

Billie Wildrick will be performing in Café Nordo: Sauced, then followed directly by A Christmas Story, and then Vanities.