Thursday, December 15, 2011

Beginning and Advanced Acting Classes at Freehold in Seattle this Winter Quarter

We are privileged to have highly acclaimed artists as faculty. Our students range from the beginner who has never taken an acting class to the advanced trained student looking to continue their practice.

There is truly something for everyone.

Freehold's Winter Class, 2012 Line-Up:

Step I: Intro to Acting with Meg McLynn
Step I: Intro to Acting with Sarah Harlett
Step II: Acting with Text with Sarah Harlett
Step III: Scene Study Text Intensive with Annette Toutonghi
The Actor's Homework with Annette Toutonghi
Alexander Technique: For The Actor's Toolbox with Cathy Madden
Auditioning with Annette Toutonghi
Directing and Acting for the Camera with John Jacobsen
Improvisation with Matt Smith
Intermediate Clown with George Lewis
Meisner: Instrument with Robin Lynn Smith
Movement with Paul Budraitis
Playwriting II: The Playwright's Vision with Elizabeth Heffron
Shakespeare with Amy Thone
Solo Performance and Presentation with Marya Sea Kaminski
Spoken Word and Performance Poetry with Daemond Arrindell
Stage Combat with Geof Alm
Voice-Over with Gin Hammond

We also have a little space in 2 of our Fall Classes:
Public Speaking with Gin Hammond
Verse and Voice with Kimberly White

Check out our Winter e-newsletter with great articles from faculty and students:

To register for a class:

If you're looking for outstanding training in a supportive atmosphere,
Freehold is the place.

Freehold Theatre Lab/Studio
2222 2nd Avenue, Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 323-7499

Monday, December 12, 2011

Memories of Freehold: "What Splitting My Pants Taught Me About Being Human or Lessons from Personal Clown with George" by Cathleen O’Malley

At the time I registered for George Lewis’s Lecoq-based “Personal Clown” class (Spring 2003) I was, frankly, a little wary of clowns. My opinion of the form was unfortunately tainted by the unoriginal, often-fearsome, pop culture representations of clowns, scary or worse--dilapidated sad sacks with frizzy scarlet hair and a forced attitude of mirth that provoked in me (as for many people, I suspect) a major case of the willies, if not the urge to violence. I had not yet encountered the work of Jacques Lecoq, nor George as teacher, but a combination of the intriguing class description and the awed testimonials from former students convinced me to take the plunge and risk having my mind blown.

During the first week of class, we were given the task of assembling a costume. Intrigued by the vague notion that clowning was somehow related to “failure”, my first attempt resulted in an unsightly head-to-toe ensemble of ratty men’s long johns, pre-stained with indelible grime and sweat and salvaged from the discount rack at the Capitol Hill Value Village. “No, no no!” George rolled his eyes and turned me away with a dramatic flourish of his hands. “What are you WEARING? What is that--men’s underwear? And all the same color--totally wrong!”

I arrived at the next class decked in stripes and jaunty black polyester ankle pants, gloves and (I wince)...a beret. This was my attempt at a “Euro” look, sort of cutesy and androgynous, with a dash of...Parisian street performer? In spite of my efforts, the result was lame and I knew it from the moment I crossed the threshold. George was similarly unimpressed. On that count, it was fortunate that the costume did not last long.

The performance I had prepared (now long wiped from my memory by subsequent events) had tanked, and I was exposed, stock-still and grasping desperately for a new “bit” as my classmates gazed back at me blankly. I deployed the best of my moves--a super-controlled, yogi-like headstand, with my legs rising flat as a board. No response. A freestyle hip hop combination--not a chuckle. Having run out of ideas, my performance quickly devolved into a halting montage of yoga asanas, fake tap dancing, gazelle leaps and rhythm gymnastics across the space, all in an attempt to elicit a reaction from the audience. They remained stone faced. In a burst of desperation, I plunged into a full split--and it was then that the seams gave way.

For anyone who has not yet had the pleasure of studying clown with George (or anyone)--a bit of context. One of the most standard clown exercises is deceptively simple and exceeding provocative. Each instructor has their own approach, but the basic task is this: “Enter. Make the audience laugh.”

While in sketch comedy, a character enters a constructed world and interacts with it (to comic effect), a clown enters an empty space, in which she creates a world with and for the audience.

Getting to that point takes some goading. We all have--as I discovered painfully over the course of Personal Clown and beyond--tricks and habits that we employ towards our basic human desire for love and approval. The role of the clown instructor--like a semi-sadistic Ring Master--is to poke holes in these pretensions, towards the end of revealing the authentic character underneath--open, vulnerable, whole and complete in her imperfections.

Rrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip. Silence. A breeze. A sinking realization.

“Excuse me miss,” George’s eyes were sparkling “Is there something the matter?”

“Uh.” Clown class had happened to fall at the tail end (no pun intended) of laundry week and, me-at-22 was frantically combing my memory to unsure if I had dressed myself that morning with something recognizable as underwear.

“Weren’t you in the middle of a dance routine?”

“Uh, um.” I am slowly inching my way back towards the tall black flats marking the entrance to the space, and thus, safety.

“Are you holding something behind your back? What’s wrong, miss? Is there a problem?”

The class was in complete uproar and George wasn’t letting me off the hook. An unfortunate blush boiling and spreading up from my neck, I set about the task of recreating my fake tap, gazelle-leaping, yoga asana, rhythm gymnastic routine, all the while clutching the flapping fabric at my back end, two pant legs separated cleanly from top to bottom, held together only by the front zipper, waste band and my desperate efforts. One-handed dance moves were the only available option for the pathetic little clown on the stage. Careful, labored spins eventually gave way to a sort of gawky virtuosity as the laughter of the audience loosened my breath and I began to play. When I finally made my exit to enthusiastic applause, I paused for a moment backstage, quivering and stunned.

“That,” George’s voice rang out, “is called a Gift from God.”

In the empty space of the ring, we learned, the clown emerges though authentic response to the audience, the environment and the circumstances that arise. Thus, every accident is an opportunity; every failure, a springboard for creation. Personal Clown taught that it is our uniqueness and, most poignantly, our failings and flaws that most delight the audience, if we are willing to bring them to the stage--and it is through the red-nosed clown, the smallest mask, that our humanity shines. A lesson to live by, onstage and off!

Cathleen went on to study Lecoq-based Physical Theatre at the London International School of Performing Arts. She now lives and works in Bethlehem, PA, where she is the Education Director and an Ensemble Member of Touchstone Theatre.

George Lewis will be teaching Intermediate Clown at Freehold this Winter Quarter.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Secret to Working with Teenagers by Daemond Arrindell

Freehold Associate Partner and Faculty Member Daemond Arrindell and Teaching Artist Carter Rodriquez have been working for the last several months with several teenagers in our Engaged Theatre residency. Here are some of Daemond's thoughts on that experience.


The secret to working with teenagers is all in the snacks. If one can tame the raging hunger that distracts them beyond all things, then maybe you stand a chance. Because you might get past the hunger, but THEN what are you going to do? They've likely seen or heard things that are a ton more exciting than what you have to show them or talk about on YouTube last night. And it was flashier on YouTube. And it had back up dancers. And a soundtrack. And Eminem made a cameo. So what else have you got in your bag of tricks? Juggling? Forget it unless it involves pyrotechnics.

So what? Well there is always ... honesty. Talking. TO them. WITH them. There is always showing them who you are and then asking them about themselves. and then asking them MORE about themselves. There is suspending judgment - kinda like you wanted adults to do when you were a teenager - and engaging, and believing what they say and dare I say it: trusting them. And then doing that again. And again and again.

I think one of the secrets of working with teenagers is forgetting at times that you are adults and they are teenagers and remembering that YOU are a person and THEY are too. Thinking of yourself as part of the group and becoming US. This is what Carter Rodriquez and I do with our kids in the Engaged Theatre program's residency at Washington Hall this fall. We talked, sure, but we listened a ton too. We let down our guards and then we listened more. Then they let their guards down and we listened even harder. And we believed in them. And TOLD them we believed in them. Rinse, repeat and add lots of snacks. Because none of the above works unless you feed them.


The original performance by youth entitled "We Are Tomorrow's Today" with the Detention All-Stars is a partnership of Freehold's Engaged Theatre and the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. Performances were held on Saturday, December 10th at Washington Hall. For more information on our Engaged Theatre residency work, go to: Engaged Theatre Residencies

Memories of Freehold: Freehold Inspires My "Little Dance" by Sharon N. Williams

Whenever I’ve worked with Freehold, they’ve made an impact on my life. And my result to said impact is always the same. I end up doing a crazy dance, I start grinning from ear to ear, and I may even jump up and down. Because that is what Freehold has meant to me. This organization has brought insurmountable joy in my life and to my quest to pursue my passion.

When I first started my organization, The Mahogany Project, George Lewis contacted me. I was sitting at my desk at my day job when George asked if I would be interested in participating in the Studio Series. I was calm on the phone but it took all my strength to stay in my chair. I maintained my professionalism. I didn’t give a definite "yes", I asked some questions and then told him I would get back to him soon. As soon as I hung up the phone, I was on my feet and doing my little dance. We showcased an excerpt from the first play I had ever written a few months later.

The second time I did my little dance was when I decided I wanted to take the solo performance aspect of my repertoire to the next level. What better way to challenge myself than to sign up for Marya Sea Kaminiski’s Solo Performance course? And what a challenge it was.

Now, the first week of the class I was feeling good. I went home with a bunch of ideas for pieces to create for the class. Week two, I went home and I had nothing. I started to feel like I didn’t belong. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t even edit the material I created after the first class! I confessed this to Marya and she encouraged me to just come to the class. So I did. I even told my class that I couldn’t write anything. But it didn’t seem to matter. We just continued with the class. I finally got my voice back a week or so later, but I still had doubt on whether not I belonged. I constantly questioned if being a solo performer was right for me.

At the end of the course I ended up sharing a story that I’ve never shared before and that to this day I still can’t share with my family. But the response I received from the audience that night and the feeling I had after sharing my story was one that made me jump up and down, do my little dance, and grin from ear to ear. By the time you read this I would have performed my second one act solo performance and I already have plans to create many more. Big shout out to my Solo Performance class for sharing this journey with me. I miss you guys.

The third time Freehold made me do my little dance was when Robin Lynn Smith called one morning to ask if I would consider being a teaching artist for the Engaged Theatre program at the Washington Correctional Center for Women, The Ordinary Heroes. The morning Robin called I’d been thinking that I had wanted to focus on storytelling for my next show. I would ask my family and friends to write stories for me to share in my next solo piece. I had already spoken to one of my friends that same morning and she agreed. But when Robin called, I had to play it cool. She shared with me the details of the project. And I shared with her, how I wasn’t and had never been a teaching artist. I could tell she wasn’t accepting "no" for an answer. She believed I could do it and she wanted me to be on the team. I played it cool and even though I knew I was going to do it as soon as she asked. I told her I would think about it and let her know. Little did she know when I hung up the phone I jumped up from my desk, did my little dance, grinned from ear to ear, and then called one my colleagues to tell her the awesome news.

I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into that prison for the first time. I’ve watched television and movies just like you, so I believed in whatever stereotypes there were about prison. To my surprise it was exactly like television. Well the shell of the experience is exactly like television, but when you walk into that room with the women and the door closes, it doesn’t seem like prison. The women look like you and me, talk like you and me, and have issues just like you and me. We always give them an exercise hoping that they will take it and run with it. They always exceed our expectations and everyone involved with this project goes on a life changing journey. The women we are when we walk in isn’t the same women that walk out. I’m not just saying that for the teaching artists.

Freehold has showcased my work, helped me develop my work, and has helped shape me as an individual. There are many other times Freehold has caused me to do my little dance, to grow as both an artist and a person. I can honestly say that Freehold is one of the organizations that I have to give much respect and love to for aiding me in pursuing my passion. Thank you Freehold for 20 years of joy.


For more information on Sharon Williams' work on The Mahogany Project, go to:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Chat with Faculty Member Paul Budraitis

Paul Budraitis is a director, actor, writer, and solo performer, as well as a teacher of acting and stage movement. In Seattle, he has worked with On the Boards, the Degenerate Art Ensemble, Annex Theatre, Balagan Theatre, New City Theatre, and Cornish College of the Arts, among others. His solo performance (IN)STABILITY premiered at On the Boards in February, and his production of David Mamet's Edmond received a Seattle Times' "Footlight Award" as one of the best productions of 2010. Paul received a State Department Fulbright grant to study theatre directing at the Lithuanian Music and Theatre Academy (LMTA) in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he earned his master's degree under the mentorship of visionary theatre director Jonas Vaitkus. In Lithuania, Paul worked with the National Drama Theatre of Lithuania, the State Youth Theatre of Lithuania, the Kaunas State Drama Theatre, and Oskaras Koršunovas/Vilnius City Theatre (OKT). He has assisted directors Jonas Vaitkus and Oskaras Koršunovas, and most recently acted in a contemporary re-imagining of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, directed by acclaimed Finnish director Kristian Smeds and performed at the Vienna Festival.

Paul, we're excited that you'll be teaching a Movement class with us at Freehold. You've been teaching at Cornish and now you'll also be teaching at Freehold. What, in particular, do you enjoy about your teaching work?

Teaching is a learning process for me, because every time that I propose a concept to a new student, I'm checking back in with the concept myself. It’s always a rewarding experience to be able to recognize a particular problem a student is having and then to be able to provide specific advice that addresses it. Seeing the proverbial light bulb go off in a student’s mind as they discover a new level of confidence in their ability is probably something that all teachers love about their job. It’s great to be able to watch those moments of discovery add up over the course of a semester and to know that you’ve helped someone develop a deeper overall understanding of their craft.

You're a director, actor, writer, solo performer and teacher. As you began your own training, what came first, your work as an actor, writer, director? How have they informed each other over the years?

I started my career as an actor and worked that way exclusively for several years. Along the way, I developed an ever-increasing curiosity about directing and writing, and eventually began experimenting with both. My first major directing project was an adaptation I wrote of a Herman Melville short story called “Bartleby the Scrivener” which allowed me to combine both of these interests in one project. Since then, I’ve continued working in all three areas, which has helped me gain a more well-rounded understanding of the process of making theatre, as well as a deeper understanding of my collaborators and the specific challenges they face.

I understand that you received a Fulbright grant and studied theatre directing at the Lithuanian Music and Theatre Academy in Lithuania. Can you share one or two memorable experiences of your time studying and working in Lithuania?

It’s difficult to know where to begin, because I have so many memorable moments from my time overseas. One that comes to mind off the top of my head is when I was acting in a student production of Aleksandr Vvedensky’s “Christmas at the Ivanov’s” that toured to the Baltijskij Dom Theatre Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia. We performed the play in Lithuanian, and the touring budget didn’t allow for a translator, so we wound up performing for an audience that literally didn’t understand a word we were saying. It was an intimidating situation, but ultimately I found the physically expressive style of the show allowed the audience to understand the actions and intentions of the characters quite well in spite of the language barrier. Having people laugh and react enthusiastically to my work while knowing that it had nothing to with them understanding the words I was saying was an experience that I won’t ever forget.

You recently acted in a contemporary re-imagining of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, directed by Finnish director Kristian Smeds and performed at the Vienna Festival. What was that experience like?

It was remarkable, a true gift. Kristian is a director who is on the cutting edge of developments in contemporary theatre, and it is always great to have an opportunity to collaborate with him. I inevitably walk away from these experiences with a newfound perspective on what theatre is capable of and with new questions for myself about how I want to create the theatre that I create. For example, this particular performance took place in a refugee housing area on the outskirts of Vienna, with the first part of the performance involving the actors playing soccer against a team of Somali teenagers on a beat up dirt field. We lost the game in a sudden-death shoot out, and the kids rejoiced as if they'd just won the World Cup. The main action of the play took place in a garage-sized tool shed that allowed the actors and audience to develop a focussed and intimate connection over the course of the evening. It can be said that the creation of this intimate, human connection was actually one of the primary goals of the performance. I could go on describing the project for a long time, but for anyone who might be interested, there are links to the entire performance on Vimeo (see below). If you have an English version of the play, it’s possible to follow along.

Cherry orchard 29-5-2011 intro and football from Ville Hyvönen on Vimeo.

Cherry orchard 29-5-2011 first half from Ville Hyvönen on Vimeo.

Cherry Orchard 29-5-2011 second half in Vienna with German subs from Ville Hyvönen on Vimeo.

You have a great line in your Movement class description where you reference one of Meyerhold's favorite actors, Igor Ilyinsky who said "Technique arms the imagination." How does the Meyerhold's Biomechanics work allow for the "arming of the imagination?"

The imagination is limitless. Our bodies are not. By studying Biomechanics, a student is making the effort to develop the expressive capabilities of his or her body in a new way, essentially working to make his or her artistic process more responsive to the limitless impulses of the imagination. To put it another way, for an actor, knowing the body means knowing the artistic palette. The more an actor understands his or her palette, the more they are able to unleash the power of their imagination. An actor can never know what new challenges will arise in a rehearsal room, so he or she must prepare to engage any possibility with confidence and joy. Biomechanics is a practical, no-nonsense way to accomplish this, which is why I enjoy passing it on to others so much.


Paul will be teaching a Biomechanics Intensive: Arming the Imagination Fall Quarter 2012 at Freehold. For more information, go to: or call us at (206) 323-7499.

Freehold Faculty Upcoming Performances

Freehold is privileged to have exceptional faculty members. Here's just some of the work around town that they are involved in during the coming months ...

Gin Hammond along with Freehold ETI alums, Phillip Mitchell and Melissa Topscher are developing their piece, Man Catches Fish, at Key City Public Theater's New Works Festival in Port Townsend, February 19 - Saturday, February 26.

Sarah Harlett will be performing in January, 2012 in open rehearsals of a laboratory investigation of King Lear as part of Freehold's Engaged Theatre program. In the Summer of 2012, the fully mounted production of King Lear will be produced by Freehold's Engaged Theatre program and will tour to unique communities throughout the northwest.

Freehold Teaching Artist Carter Rodriquez and Freehold Faculty member Alyssa Keene are performing in Theatre Schmeater's Reckless with Freehold Faculty Member Carol Roscoe directing. Runs through December 17th.

Darragh Kennan is performing in Sylvia at the Seattle Repertory Theatre running through December 11th.

George Lewis has been directing Le Frenchword who will be appearing at the REBAR January 13,14, 20, 21,27, 28 Friday and Saturday nights) at 8PM. According to George, "The last section has been completed - this is the whole tamale, finished and polished, as mixed a metaphor as ever you hope to behold."

Cathy Madden will be one of the presenters at Freedom to Act: 2012, Freedom to ACT: 2012, The Conference on Acting and the Alexander Technique, January 13-15, 2012, New York, NY.

Billie Wildrick
will be performing in The Billy Joe Show Holiday Spectacular with the Dusty 45's on December 10th at the Triple Door.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Voice Class Experience by Jane Anne Wilder

I recently took Gin Hammond’s eight-week Voice course. It was terrific; changed my craft – and even my life – in ways I couldn’t have possibly foreseen.

I have to ‘fess up and say I expected it to be boring. I mean ‘Voice.’ Yuk. But I want to do more voice work, so I took it like a flu shot.

Can’t talk about the course without a few words about Gin Hammond, for those of you who don’t know her. Gin is extremely knowledgeable, well-respected, caring, passionate about her subject, non-judgmental and a joy to be with. She made what I consider a boring subject intriguing.

Yes, we studied the voice itself. But we also learned how to make it work for us; a heavy emphasis on breathing and how to give our voices power. We did a lot of yoga, because apparently you need open hips to have a strong voice. Ditto lots of posture work. That’s one way my life changed. I now am very conscious of my posture, especially when recording.

We used monologues for practice. Although Gin rarely commented on our acting, it was amazing to see how our acting improved once we put her techniques in practice. She even taught us how to walk into an audition and what to do once there.

We did one exercise about chakras – yes, I rolled my eyes – then did our monologues ‘from’ each chakra. I was astounded – each version of my monologue was different. I saw the imaginary person from entirely different viewpoints depending on the chakra. This gave me a feeling of depth for the monologue I had never had before.

Now that the course is over, it looks like I’m going to have to get back into yoga. I may even study chakras. Am I going to take her upcoming Voice Over class?

I think I was the first person who signed up.


Gin Hammond will be teaching a Voice Over at Freehold this Winter Quarter.

Freehold's Winter Acting Classes for Beginning and Advanced Students in Seattle Are Now Open for Registration

We are privileged to have highly acclaimed artists as faculty. Our students range from the beginner who has never taken an acting class to the advanced trained student looking to continue their practice.

There is truly something for everyone.

Freehold's Winter Class, 2012 Line-Up:

Step I: Intro to Acting with Meg McLynn
Step I: Intro to Acting with Sarah Harlett
Step II: Acting with Text with Sarah Harlett
Step III: Scene Study Text Intensive with Annette Toutonghi
The Actor's Homework with Annette Toutonghi
Alexander Technique: For The Actor's Toolbox with Cathy Madden
Auditioning with Annette Toutonghi
Directing and Acting for the Camera with John Jacobsen
Improvisation with Matt Smith
Intermediate Clown with George Lewis
Meisner: Instrument with Robin Lynn Smith
Movement with Paul Budraitis
Playwriting II: The Playwright's Vision with Elizabeth Heffron
Shakespeare with Amy Thone
Solo Performance and Presentation with Marya Sea Kaminski
Spoken Word and Performance Poetry with Daemond Arrindell
Stage Combat with Geof Alm
Voice-Over with Gin Hammond

We also have a little space in 2 of our Fall Classes:
Public Speaking with Gin Hammond
Verse and Voice with Kimberly White

Check out our Fall e-newsletter with great articles from faculty and students:

To register for a class:

If you're looking for outstanding training in a supportive atmosphere,
Freehold is the place.

Freehold Theatre Lab/Studio
2222 2nd Avenue, Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 323-7499

Monday, October 31, 2011

Overcoming My Auditioning Fears by Elizabeth Zeff

Although I’ve been acting for several years, and consequentially auditioning for shows, I – and I’m sure I’m not alone here – have had a fear of the age old auditioning process. It is a scary thought: to go somewhere intentionally to be judged, inspected, and digested. It can be overwhelming and even paralyzing. I decided to take Freehold’s Auditioning class because I’d never, anywhere, heard of a class focusing just on the art of auditioning before. It makes so much sense, though! There are certain things you just don’t know, until you do; it is a class specifically for the ins and outs of that process.

In my short time working with Annette Toutonghi, the instructor for the Auditioning Class, some of the things I learned seemed so obvious it was “Duh”-inducing, but once they were stated simply out loud it made so much sense. Annette told us that the auditors WANT you to SUCCEED! They want you to be the right actor for them. What a concept! I’m sure I knew this, but hearing someone in the business, who has been on both sides of the auditioning table, tell me this with full confidence was pleasing. In our first class we expressed our fears about the process. We wrote them down on a white board, discussed them – and then immediately addressed the answers to them. Mostly all the answers were straightforward, mostly along the lines of ‘be confident, be warm, and be ready to roll with the punches’.

After all the hypotheticals and theoreticals had been worked out, we began practicals. This, I think, was the most beneficial for me. Just to get the practice of coming into a room with warmth and self-assurance, going through these actions and interactions in different kinds of scenarios built my confidence way up; with every class came the opportunity to improve and come into myself comfortably.

Our second to last class was set up like a general audition. Actor and Director, Tim Hyland was our auditor for this class. I remember years of sitting before an audition and with such anxiety, getting nervous and shaky. I remember that jolt in my stomach when I heard “You’re on deck.” With every audition that intense emotion is less invasive, but this time I was hardly nervous at all. I didn’t have a nagging dread or fretful anxiety, I felt that healthy kind of nervous – the kind that keeps you on your toes. I felt confident in my work, my ability, and my knowledge of the process that I was about to embark on. That same night we had a singing for auditions workshop and I did it! Several years ago that would not have happened. No way, no how. After this class, I must say, I felt a healthy abandon that I’m sure all actors must have to harness.

Along with all the very useful, straightforward “do’s and don’ts” that we learned, I also was very pleased to get poignant acting tips for my audition monologues. Annette spoke very directly to little shifts that greatly improved my connection to the material and my delivery of the monologue. Getting one-on-one time to work on my monologue, sides, and cold reading skills with Annette was definitely one of my favorite parts of the class. It was an invaluable experience, because she gave me small but significant pointers that brought to the forefront a depth, truthfulness, and purpose to my monologue that were only murmurs before. Her advice is something that I can apply to all my work from here on out.

The goal that I articulated on the first day of class was to take the fear and questions out of the process, to build a procedure to rely on, and strengthen my confidence through practice. Seven weeks later I feel as though I have accomplished that goal. This was a special, amazingly useful experience and something that I am sure will continue to help me as I carry forward in my life and my career as an actor.


Christine Marie Brown will be teaching Auditioning at Freehold this Winter Quarter, 2014 starting Saturday, February 1st at Freehold. Registration for winter classes is now open. More information about Freehold, can be found at

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Discoveries in Movement Class by Shannon Kringen

The feeling of Déjà vu comes to mind when I look back on the overall experience I had in Freehold’s Movement class with George Lewis. While the exercises and philosophy were all new to me, the dynamic, kinesthetic, use your whole body and mind and be fully present and aware attitude felt familiar to me.

I learned so much about myself. Over and over again I had to allow myself to feel vulnerable, feel all my fears and insecurities and know that underneath all of that, I have tremendous courage and strength and the ability to be present. I learned that I am mostly an introspective kind of person who likes time in solitude and that I also really like being with others, watching actors work and play and act with them. Working with actors mirroring back and forth stimulates me in a way I am so hungry for. I found myself thinking that people are so unique and fascinating. Each person has a different way of moving and speaking. While there were different cadences in our voices and bodies, we all had similar fears and challenges. I found myself having to deal with my assumptions and projections and realized that most of my problem is my own self holding me back.

I love and admire the work that actors do. My forte is visual arts. I am very moved when I look at paintings or create paintings and photographs and yet when I hear music or see a play or movie I really am affected in a more specific heartfelt way.

This class helped me get a feeling for my weaknesses and strengths both within my own body as well as in working with others, whether it was making eye contact with fellow actors or projecting out into an audience. Meeting twice a week was a benefit as well. Something about the consistent rhythm of meeting for 4 hours twice a week really helped snap me out of my comfort zone and into something new. The class also reminded me of being in a place where who we “are” is flexible and we can decide to add or subtract aspects of ourselves. I particularly enjoyed the movement exercise towards the end of the course when we got to use the set with props and a door and at the same time respond to our scene partners’ movements as well. I learned to be aware of my gaze and to look outward around the room and notice and be OPEN to what is around me and yet stay centered. Doing both in a balanced way felt so good. I was centered in myself in a grounded solid way and yet open and playful and connected to what was around me.

After this class, I am feeling compelled to keep taking acting classes and see where that takes me. I really want to incorporate visual with performing arts for my BA degree and might continue on and earn my MFA in multi-media visual and performing arts. Feeling more connected to community is one of the biggest benefits I gained from taking this course. It made me feel more alive and part of humanity to do this work. This class provided a safe, supportive environment to do this challenging work and I’m very grateful I took the opportunity to study at Freehold.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The New Play Lab Showcase: Renewing My Interest and Imagination by Malika Lee

Photo: Christian Jenkins, Carl Kennedy, Amontaine Woods, Ieisha McIntyre in The Purification Process by Malika Lee

Writing has been a solo journey; until I attended Freehold's New Play Lab. I started writing my first play, The Purification Process, about three years ago and while I shared a few scenes with a handful of friends, I was finally ready to advance my work by sharing it in a safe space. Being a transitioning artist, starting your first project is a lot like walking through a dark cave with a lit match. I was stuck and wasn't exactly sure if I was on the right track. In the workshop phase the instructor, my fellow writers, & I took time reading each other's plays aloud. Their responses of enthusiasm and inquiry renewed my interest and imagination in my play, which had been lying dormant.

Sometimes we are so close to our work that we can't see it clearly. Receiving immediate feedback helped me correct some major oversights. One example is the element of my play involving audience interaction and participation. Elizabeth Heffron (the instructor) pointed out that introducing that dynamic so late in my play would pose a challenge for audience members and they probably wouldn't participate. Now why didn't I think of that!?!! She coached me that the audience needs to know the rules of engagement and what's expected of them early in the play instead of later to maximize that type of scene. As a result, I added a new opening scene which set the tone for the audience and (per my director Erin Kraft) added to the intensity of the following scenes.

The opportunity to experience my writing 3 dimensionally with the help of actors and a director is what enticed me most about the Lab experience. Where else would I have access to these highly skilled and talented people so early in my writing process? Having a fresh set of eyes (director/actors) was yet another opportunity to get feedback on whether my intentions were clear. They asked questions about the characters and relationships that challenged me to clarify back story and situations. The cherry on top was having a portion of it performed in front of a live audience. The audience's immediate feedback of laughter, leaning forward in their seats, deafening silence, (or yawns!) is a gift to any playwright during the writing process.

With the feedback and support from the Lab, I've been rejuvenated and plan to complete a strong draft of my play by the end of the year. Sharing my play with so many through this process has made this work real and attainable to me for the first time! It has gone from just an idea in my mind, a secret between my journal and I, to a living, breathing thing. This wouldn't have been possible without my experience at Freehold. Thanks to Freehold, Elizabeth, my fellow classmates, as well as, all the actors, directors and audience members that joined us on the journey.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Play Lab Opportunities at Freehold by Kathryn Van Meter

Photo: Kathryn Van Meter (left) and Jane Anne Wilder

I recently had the pleasure of being involved with the New Play Lab series through Freehold and I can't wait for the opportunity to audition for the next one.

I firmly believe in the importance of developing new work and new voices and I think Freehold is doing an incredible job with their Playwriting program. I got the email for the auditions and by some miracle of scheduling, I realized I could not only attend the auditions but would be available for the performance weekend as well. It was one of the most relaxed and enjoyable audition experiences I have ever had. Erin Kraft and Meaghen Arnette, the directors of the 4 plays, were gracious and warm in the room. The playwrights had an excitement about them that was infectious. I had convinced a friend of mine to attend the auditions with me and we both commented afterwards on what a great experience it has been.

I got an email later that evening from Meaghan asking me to play the role of Patty in the piece Lily's Birthday Wish - one of the roles I had read for in the auditions. Ann Eisenberg, the playwright got a draft of the script to us right away. There were 2 rehearsals scheduled, each for 2 hours. Meaghan was wonderful in her respect of the process for both the playwright and the actors. It was really great to watch Ann hear her play in a new way and as we began to ask her questions, see the wheels turning in her head. The amount of changes she was able to make between the first rehearsal and the second was pretty amazing and a credit not only to Ann, but Elizabeth Heffron and the Playwriting program.

We met a little bit early on the night of the first presentation to finish walking through the minimal staging of the piece and I felt very prepared. I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of size of the audience and I was presently surprised to see it full! I was thrilled for the playwrights' to be able to have the experience of a full house- BOTH NIGHTS! The order was reversed from the first night to the second so we opened the show on Friday and closed the show on Saturday. From a performance perspective- I found it much easier to open the show - the energy of the audience was fresh off the street and a little easier to get right in the palm of your hand. The second night, they had already experienced the emotions of three plays and I found myself pushing the comedy at the top of the play ever so slightly ... but at least I caught myself!

All in all, it was a great experience. I continue to be impressed and grateful for the opportunities available at Freehold!


The New Play Lab class is held during Freehold's Summer Quarter with the New Play Lab Showcase occurring in September following the summer class.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kudos for Freehold from Fans

Photo of some past Freehold Fans, Bob Rousseau (Seattle-ite), Jeff Woodbridge (New Yorker) and Jenn Hamblin (New Yorker) reuniting in NYC and sending Freehold a "Happy 20th" sign.

"When I walked into Freehold in 1996 I started walking up the stairs and said "I'm home!! And I was." Zoe W.

"Robin, George, Kate, Zoe, et al., you have changed my life in too many ways to name since that first Acting I class. All the best. All my love." Nathania

"Freehold touches more lives than can be measured in class attendance and audiences. Thank you for helping better our world." Eva B.

"Congrats and thanks for creating and continuing the miracle that is Freehold!" Lara S.

"Thank you, Robin for welcoming me into your class and to Freehold - it has been everything I could ask for and so much more! Words do not express what you've given me. You bring your all and ask the same of us. And thank you, CT, Gin and George! Each of you are uniquely wonderful teachers. My life is richer for it. Much love." Lucinda M.

"Freehold changed my life!" Thank you, Robin." Kiki Y.

"Freehold you rock." Love, Q.

"Some of my best moments ever were made or originated in Freehold including the moment I walked into my first Impulse and Transformation class and realized I was the only guy in the class!"

"F.H. You've got 20 more years to get this right." Jim L.

"Such vulnerable work. Such a great ride. Congrats on 20 years!" Grace

"Thank you!" Caroline

"George and Robin, So many small things you've said, in class and Rehearsal have stayed with me, changed my acting, changed my life. Your presence and heart is extraordinary." Thank you!" Amber

"LOVE Freehold! You are part of my daily life. Thank you for all the inspiration." Xan

"Dearest Robin, You're swell! George, you suck (smiley face) - oops I'm in trouble if I ever take Clown. Congrats to Freehold!" Cheers, Monica C.

"Freehold is the best! The wonderful teachers have passed their gift onto me and I couldn't thank them enough." Jake A.

"Summer 1999, Lee Eisler and Robin L. Smith, Abby Enson and Mik Kuhlman ... these women literally; gave my heart and my voice a home." Thank you.

"I started taking classes through Antioch University. I had no idea how much taking acting classes would change my life." Thank you! Kymberlee D.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sandbox Radio - Worth the Wait by Paul Mullin

Photo: The Sandbox Artists Collective Radio Show Live!

A bunch of us founded the Sandbox Artists Collective a few years ago “as a place for mid-career artists to explore their craft in the company of their peers.” Unlike most assemblages of show folk, the Sandboxers weren’t in any hurry to produce publicly as a group. Most of us were already performing, writing and/or producing professionally elsewhere. We were not, however, completely quiet in our first years, hosting salons, like “Playground” in which four Sandbox playwrights wrote specifically for Sandbox actors. Finally, however — and fully to the credit of Leslie Law’s leadership — the membership felt the urge to share what happens when we put our collective mind into putting on a show. The result was last month’s Sandbox Radio Live, Episode 1, available now in podcast here.

On an individual artist’s note, Sandbox Radio Live has given me the opportunity and motivation to finally flesh out a project I have been percolating since high school. For all that time, all I knew was that I wanted to wright a nasty noir angel detective saga. Now you can listen to the first chapter of Markheim on the podcast, with the incomparable Charles Leggett starring in the title role of the reluctant semi-heavenly gumshoe. Below the fold I am posting the script in case you want to follow along.

And be sure to attend the next episode of Sandbox Radio Live on Monday, October 10th at West of Lenin, the fabulous new theatre space in Fremont, when Markheim adjusts to life in the strange city of Seattle, and begins his search for the reasons that brought him here. Special appearance by the fellow that Jesus Christ Himself once called “the Prince of the World.”

For more information about the Sandbox Artists Collective, a program of Freehold's Lab, can be found on Freehold's website.

Studio Chat with John Paulsen and John Klein

In honor of Freehold's 20th, long time Freehold student and lab members John Paulsen (Actor, Writer) and John Klein (Playwright, Director, Actor) reflect on their Freehold experience ...

John Paulsen: Hey John, I was hoping to lay down some thoughts about our time at Freehold in the 90's. Maybe we could start with how you first got there?

John Klein: Yeah, cool. Well it was the summer of 1992 and I had just moved to Seattle where I knew no one except my girlfriend who lived in Woodinville with a lot of horses. I remember getting a coffee at Cafe Paradiso and walking down the street towards Oddfellows Hall. I must have seen the letters "Freehold Theatre" or something in the window. I looked at the building and the steps and I remember thinking that I was going to spend a lot of time here. How about you?

John Paulsen: It was '91 and I was waiting tables at a Mexican restaurant called Tlaquepaque near Pioneer Square and I had this feeling that I needed to do something more with my life. So I found a book at Elliot Bay by Sanford Meisner on acting and it seemed like something I could maybe commit to. One thing lead to another and a friend pointed me in the direction of Robin Lynn Smith and Freehold where I signed up for a class called Impulse and Transformation. On the first day of class Robin and George Lewis asked us to walk across the floor and slowly let how we were feeling affect our movement. Next thing I know I was hopping around like a squid on fire and I thought, this could work for me.

John Klein: I think the first time I saw you I was watching the culmination of an Impulse project in Crow. All I remember is these swaths of movement in white, these whole crowds of actors moving across the stage like in a wedding or celebration. Claro Austria was in the heart of it, his bride was Isabelle Calais and Jadina Lillien is some kind of storyteller. And your piece had a family vacation tableaux with a suitcase and picnic. To me the whole thing was a beautiful dream and kind of messy in that way dreams are messy and illogical.

John Paulsen (turning away) and fellow students in Impulse and Transformation class

John Paulsen: Yeah I think I was wearing a dress and cowboy boots and smashing a melon on a rock to feed my kids. We had a string tied to the door between Crow and workspace and it was supposed to magically open it up to reveal a memory. But the string broke and a hand had to reach out to open it. Real dreamlike that one!

John Klein: Right! Even so, I remember knowing that's what I want to do,or be a part of, because here was a collective of people willing to search and to not know where they where going or how they were going to get there.

John Paulsen: That feeling was quite prevalent at the time. Meeting or seeing people you knew you wanted to work with and inspiring each other.

John Klein: That is what I really miss about that time in Seattle and I think Freehold was a real home for people who were trying to find their way as artists and storytellers, to make original work. We felt like we had something struggling to get out and were searching for a way to express it. I really credit Freehold for providing the space, the language and community of people willing to be on a wooden floor late at night exploring the unknown.

John Paulsen: For me the I&T class represented what I appreciated about Freehold. It was how I imagined the wild creative spirit of 60's experimental theatre but achieved with physical and emotional precision. We felt encouraged to use everything at our disposal for expression, be it voice, movement, poetry, painting, song, dance or a bucket of dirt or piles of silverware falling from the sky. Then we as artists would watch and help to chisel it away into its clearer original somethingness.

John Klein: And at some point there became the issue of actually putting something up and performing it. Light Wounds was the first piece you and I worked on in the very first Studio Series.

John Paulsen: More like a fever dream with a boy falling through a hole and meeting a wild woman in a forest.

John Klein: Exactly. And after days of stumbling around in the dark and whittling all this prose down to monosyllabic grunts and half choreographed wrestling we showed it to George. I remember him looking at me and saying firmly and kindly "Do you really want to put this up?" And I knew exactly what he meant, still leaving the door open for me either way. I said "Yes, I do" and he jumped up and said "OK" and gave us some notes. And with that he helped me put up my first original piece of theatre.

John Paulsen: I remember George telling us that the responses he would get to our work would be that it was the best the Studio Series could be, or the other.

John Klein: Nice. The funny thing is that whole piece, or at least the heart of it, found its way into the last play I wrote and directed and performed at Theatre for the New City in New York last year called Autographic Novel. When we performed it, Tony Pasqualini came to see it. He was in town to move his daughter into her apartment to start college. Kristen Kosmas came, and so did Jadina Lillien, and Claro and Isabelle with their son. And even you were in the play, or at least an actor playing you, and an actor playing me as we struggled to make our first play.

John Paulsen: And I had the good fortune to return to the suitcase image from that I&T project and develop it into a more fully realized piece called The Magnificent Quidley. It featured Ted Dowling and Brynna Jordan and we performed it at the Studio Series a couple of years ago. It sure was a nice feeling to experience that the work and efforts we birthed back then are still alive.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Interview with John Billingsley and George Lewis

We had a chance to talk with two of Freehold's founders, John Billingsley and George Lewis. Additional Freehold founders include Robin Lynn Smith, Mark Jenkins, Ben Rankin and Tony Pasqualini, all of whom will be in attendance at Freehold's 20th Anniversary Homecoming Party on Saturday, September 24 at 7:30 pm at Washington Hall. All are welcome! RSVP's appreciated at Brown Paper Tickets.

How did all the founders (Robin Lynn Smith, Tony Pasqualini, Mark Jenkins, Ben Rankin, George Lewis, John Billingsley) come together in the first place to create Freehold and what was your hope for the organization?

We were all teaching at the old Pasqualini Smith Studio, John and I were part of Tony and Robin's faculty and the Mark Jenkins Actor Studio was holding classes there. Ben was a friend/colleague of Mark's. The lease on the space was coming up and was not likely to be renewed because all the noise we made was driving the landlord - whose computer business was under us - crazy. She said the images on the screens were literally jumping around with our jumping. Facing eviction we began talking about a larger studio that would permit us to work together. I remember a discussion about a place where people could learn to do the kind of theatre we believed theatre was capable of so that we could go to the theatre more. And that we wanted to work together making theatre.

John: I have nothing to add to what George wrote, save that he omits the info about how the two of us were only teaching at Robin and Tony's studio in the first place because Robin and Tony so graciously supported the WA State Correctional Authority's stellar 'anti-recidivist' work-release program. George and I spent a lot of years 'paying back', as t'were, by teaching people how to repeat (me) and how to climb an imaginary rope (George). Freehold, as I recall, was Robin's idea (surprise, surprise) and she had many eloquent, moving and inspirational reasons for suggesting we band together, but it's also sorta like that ol' gag "What a dog hears", cuz what I really remember most of all was the phrase "there'll be a pay raise . . . ". Why were we named Freehold in the first place, that's the question that needs to be asked, cuz we spent a looooong time picking a name (we all had to agree, you see).

Where did Freehold get its name?

George: In the initial seemingly- months of meetings in which the Founders were deciding what this new organisation (We were calling it an organism then), at least half of our time was spent discussing names. Somewhere exists a list of those rejected, including Robin's infamous "Pot Garden" (POT being the acronym for "Practice of Theatre"). Finally in one meeting we said let's stop approaching it from a mental place, and so we did sound and movement exercises for an hour, and when we sat down at the table, after a minute of silence, someone said "Free- something (I don't remember what) and then Billingsley said "Freehold". And that was that.

What were the early days of Freehold like for you as founders and as faculty members?

George: Lots of meetings ... So much so that Mark mentioned in one that the "mark of a good organization was the absence of meetings". God we talked a lot. In part because an early decision was that all decisions be made by unanimity. Changing a roll of toilet paper became a subject for debate.

I remember a meeting where we were discussing ad nauseum something that needed to be done, and who was going to do it, and how it needed to be done etc etc etc. I forget what the task was, but at one point Tony slipped out of the room for a little while, and when he returned, we were still debating it. Someone asked him where he had gone, and he said, "I just went out and did it".

The classes were great- there was so much excitement about everything. Robin and I were teaching a crazy improbable class called Impulse and Transformation, based on our extrapolation of the work Joe Chaikin was doing in the 60's. We had a full raft of Acting classes on all levels, and voice, movement, Combat, Improv, Original Performance ... Somewhere in there Tony decided to direct The Time of Our Lives, and it was a stellar cast, with Mark, John and I, Jane Jones, Myra Platt, Geof Alm, Gordon Carpenter, Jose Gonzales - just all these actors working around the city and in LA now. And we were subletting to Book-It, so there was that whole crowd, and all this cross-pollination between the two groups.

John: Yes, meetings and more meetings. George didn't have to go to Book-It meetings, at least. I would sometimes go from a Freehold meeting to a Book-It meeting, back to another Freehold meeting, back to another Book-It meeting, shoehorning in, of course, a quick lunch break, which I'd usually spend at my therapist's office . . .

There were hundreds of creative people running around, of course, sometimes at loggerheads, sometimes experiencing 'breakthroughs' of different sorts, which means that somebody was usually locked in the toilet, crying, (not infrequently Ben, who had to do the books, after all), so I learned to pee in a grape Nehi bottle (which still sits on my desk) ... I vaguely recall that bottle of pee being used in an exercise as somebody's independent activity, but I've repressed the details. Now here's a true story: a student of mine, a particularly large male child psychologist (it wouldn't be hyperbolic to say that he looked like an All-Pro inside linebacker) picked me up by the scruff of my neck and put my head through a wall when I suggested that he wasn't really allowing himself access to the full range of emotion available to him during an early stage of the Meisner repetition work. I suggested to him that this outburst was proof of my thesis ("see, if you put all that angst into repeating 'red sweater', I wouldn't have to patch this wall up now . . "). George was the Facilities Manager at the time and as I recall he hung a reproduction of Van Gogh's sunflowers over the hole. We counted pennies then. Lots of terrific memories, of course, of working with some of my favorite people in the world: Robin's magnificent direction of The Seagull; George's magnificent direction of The Jewbird (a short story by Bernard Malamud). Getting to chew the biggest wad of bubble gum imaginable and then hand it to Mark Jenkins to hold for me while I made a phone call in The Time of Your Life, and getting to listen - as a pre-show warm up - to Jose Gonzales play "In The Wee Small Hours of The Morning" on an out of tune piano, while watching George perform a pas de deux with a kitchen chair. (You had to be there). We didn't have a dressing room, so whenever we did a show in RHINO, we would all get dressed in WALT, the 'attic space' that sat above RHINO. One could go on and on and on. Ah, why did I ever leave? Can I come back? I promise I won't piss off any more child psychologists. (Really, though, I can remember thinking, YOU WORK WITH CHILDREN, BUDDY???)

Any funny Freehold stories or memorable Freehold moments?

George: Yes- most of them unrepeatable because of the people involved. A colleague who began bouncing on a mini-trampoline in the middle of a meeting because 'The meetings were too serious". Selling tickets for people to throw a pie in the face of faculty members at the first fundraiser (Robin earned the most money). Billingsley and a childrens' swimming pool full of chocolate pudding. A reading of all the obscene quotes from the acting teachers at the end of one of the ETI programs (Amy Thone won, hands down). Tony's two word response to a let-us-say demanding professional colleague asking us to fax more info to him ("Fax THIS", with an appropriate mono-digital indication). An actor in a production without shoes saying "I don't do barefoot". A student who had taken a million classes complaining about having to give one too many backrubs. A pair of Meisner students overheard repeating in the hallway, "You're being , like, all, kah" "I'm being, like, all 'kah"?
And a million more, though none involving me.

John: Well, if you cock your head and squint your eye, it was all freak'n hilarious, really. But then, I live in LA now, and make my living playing child molesters, so I can afford to be flip.

Photo: The Time of Your Life, 1992, George Lewis, Jane Jones, and Geof Alm

What was some of your favorite work that you performed and/or saw at Freehold?

George: The Time of Our Life, Mark's writing and direction of All Powers Necessary or Convenient, Tony and I doing Shakespeare's The Tempest, all these great Book-It pieces, Robin's forays into Chekhov and then Shakespeare. All this great original performance work. The annual Studio Series was becoming a place for theatre artists to cut their teeth, and some great work - and great artists - came out of that.

Photo from The Seagull

John: Well, I know George must think that it was the "chocolate pudding work" (as I like to call it) but that was one of those great ideas that kinda backfired. I vaguely remember that the jumping off point for our group's initial 'pudding improv' had something to do with addiction: pudding was a stand in for rye whiskey, perhaps, or PCP, who can recall. What really sticks in my memory is that I smelled like chocolate pudding for months (you see, having performed the initial improvisation in a swimming pool full of chocolate pudding, we were encouraged, by Robin and George, to 'elaborate' on the conceit for our end of term performance, which involved somebody in a wedding dress, an even greater amount of pudding, and an exorbitant amount of clean up after every goddamned rehearsal.) Plus, pudding was surprisingly pricey.

Photo from The Birthday Party, Marjorie Nelson and John Billingsley pictured

I look back on those years and I marvel at how many times Tony Pasqualini and I worked together. He and I seemed to be in everything together. He was always directing something, acting in something, kinda makes me wonder whether things weren't happy at home, back then, in retrospect. The Jewbird, The Seagull, Time of Your Life, The Birthday Party, Sand Mountain, The Lonesome's Ain't No Spring Picnic, and - pre-FH, actually, but still one of my favorite memories - a great Frank O'Connor story called My Oedipus Complex, in which I got to play Tony's bratty five year old Irish boy. Tony took me over his knee and paddled me, during one rehearsal, per the script's demands, and Tony's little boy, Joel, who was in the room at the time, burst into tears and couldn't be quieted down. (He's crying still, in fact, and he's now 24 years old.)

What has it meant to you to be a part of Freehold?

George: The realization of the dream that I had when I first started doing theatre of what theatre could be-a great sprawling mass of people working as an ensemble to experiment in their teaching and creation/performance, to make theatre that was exciting and which had some kind of relevance to the world.

John: Okay. Fine. Be that way.
For all of the fact that we had a lot of laughs, it was an incredible experience for me to work with a very passionate bunch of folks, who sacrificed a hell of a lot to fulfill a very beautiful mutually held dream: the dream of home. Theatre artists tend to be itinerants, and while there's something to be said for the peripatetic life, what inspired me to join Freehold, and what inspires me still, and makes me proud, is the idea that there's value in community and that being part of an artistic community is integral to the development of an artist's craft and conscience.

They say that there are no atheists in foxholes, and while I wouldn't be able to attest to that (I wish there were a few more in politics, though, damn it) I can certainly attest to this: there was one time in my life when I felt like I had true 'trench-mates' in the arts (block that metaphor, as the New Yorker says) and that was during my Freehold and Book-It Years.
On the other hand, now I get residual checks.

Reflections on Freehold turning 20 this month?

George: God I'm old.
God, I'm fortunate.
John: God, George is old. (Did I mention that I was the youngest of the Founders?)

Cast from The Time of Your Life, 1992

John Billingsley has worked extensively in theatre, television and film. John graduated Bennington College, in Bennington, VT, where he studied theatre with Nicholas Martin and literature with Bernard Malamud. John’s theatre credits include Mauritius, Candide, David Mamet’s Bobby Gould in Hell, The Seagull, The Birthday Party, Great Expectations, 12th Night and Bitter Bierce, a one man show he produced about the life and times of Ambrose Bierce. In l990, John founded a Seattle based theatre company called Book-It Repertory Theatre, which was devoted to adapting fiction for the stage and which still flourishes in the Pacific Northwest. John was involved in some Seattle-based film and TV in the ‘80’s and moved to move Los Angeles in 1995 to pursue those mediums. Credits include Nip/Tuck, Cold Case, The Closer, The Ghost Whisperer, CSI, The West Wing, Six Feet Under, The X-Files, Judging Amy, and NYPD Blue. In l999, Stephen Spielberg cast him as Prof. Miles Ballard in The Others. In 2000, Billingsley was cast as Dr. Phlox in Star Trek: Enterprise. His most recent TV credits include NCIS, The Mentalist, Outlaw, Scrubs, Leverage, Eli Stone, and Alan Ball’s True Blood, and 24. Films along the way include Out of Time opposite Denzell Washington, American Summer, High Crimes, The Glass House, White Oleander, Born to be Wild, I Love You To Death, A Cinderella Story, 12 Dogs of Christmas, The Least of These, Sironia, Losing Control, and 2012. Billingsley has just completed filming a lead role in the film Trade of Innocents opposite Dermot Mulroney and Mira Sorvino, and he has just started shooting an independent film, RedLine.

George Lewis has been working in the field of movement-based theatre for almost 40 years as an actor/performer, director, creator of original work, teacher, and producer. He has performed and toured with Omnibus in Montreal, Theatre-Mime Mirage in Boston, and the Sykes Group and threeCompany in Seattle. As a director, he has created movement driven productions of, amongst others, Shakespeare, Moliere, Thornton Wilder, Irene Fornes, and James Thurber. His favorite acting roles include Trigorin in Chekhov’s The Seagull, Joseph in Romulus Linney’s When the Lord Came to Sand Mountain, and the talentless dancer/would-be comedian in Saroyan’s The Time of your Life. He has been teaching acting and physical theatre skills, at acting studios, colleges, and universities across the U.S. and Canada. His own background includes three years of study in Corporeal Mime in Paris with Etienne Decroux, circus skills and physical comedy at the French National Circus School, and Meyerhold’s Biomechanics with Russian Master Teacher Gennadi Bogdanov, and Clown with Sue Morrison in Toronto. He divides his time between Seattle and Buenos Aires, where he teaches and has created/directed three original full-length clown performances.

Freehold's Faculty Upcoming Work

Reginald Andre Jackson and Amy Thone are playing Titania and Oberon, respectively, in A Midsummer Night's Dream for Seattle Shakespeare Company, produced at the Intiman, runs Opens October 20 - November 13. Directed by Sheila Daniels. Freehold's Ensemble Training Intensive (ETI) student Riley Neldam will be playing Flute.

Elizabeth Heffron's
full-length play Mitzi's Abortion has three upcoming productions on the East Coast, including Ithaca, NY in February, 2012. The play has been chosen by Naomi Iizuka along with Paul Mullin's play The American Book of the Dead for the 3rd edition of The Manifesto Series, published by Rain City Projects. Elizabeth's new, almost-completed, short radio play, Pipe Play will be performed for Sandbox Radio Live! At West of Lenin, on October 10.

John Jacobsen's
The Artist Toolbox, currently playing nationwide on PBS and gearing up for its second season with Helen Mirren, Jules Feiffer, Bon Jovi, Carolina Herrera, and more, also airs on Alaska Airlines' DigEplayer, so next time you fly, listen to how today's artistic mavericks create their art and follow their bliss. Both John Jacobsen's latest films are winning awards and making the rounds across the globe. Arthur just won The Action/Cut Award for Best Fiction Film, Best of Fest Award which is given to the top 5% of films in the country each year, and is playing nearby at the Maelstrom International Fantastic Film Festival this weekend at SIFF Cinema, at the Port Townsend Film Festival September 23 & 24, and the prestigious Vancouver International Film Festival October 4 & 5. You can also see it online now at and it will soon be distributed by Indieflix. Spinning, his other short, was just completed and played right out of the gate at the Columbia Gorge International Festival nearby, where audiences were lucky enough to see the great performances of Amy Thone.

John Longenbaugh's Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol is going to be produced this holiday at Portland's Artist's Repertory Theatre and Neil Ferron and John Longenbaugh are up for Gregory Awards for their plays.

Marya Sea Kaminski will be participating in Red Light Nights as part of the City Arts Festival at the Paramount on the evening of October 20th. Guests will have the opportunity to experience an intimate one-on-one performance with an artist of their choice - including Tim Stackpole, The Satori Group and Marya.

George Lewis directed Le Frenchwords' Fancy Mud, featuring Ben Burris, Sachie Mikawa and Carter Rodriquez.

Paul Mullin's play Louis Slotin Sonata will receive a production at Cal State - Long Beach or "Cal Rep", on the Queen Mary. And the second episode of his noir-angel-detective story, Markheim will be part of Sandbox Radio's second edition on October 10.

Annette Toutonghi, Dan Tierney, Sarah Harlett and Gin Hammond will also be performing in the Sandbox Radio's second edition of the Sandbox Radio Show on October 10.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Freehold 20th Stories - "Bringing out the Playwright in Me"

Hello Freehold,

A couple of years ago I took Playwriting I,II and III with Elizabeth Hefron and New Play Lab with Paul Mullin. I wanted to let Freehold Theatre know I recently was notified my short play, Operation Sweet Dreams, is a 2011 Heideman Award Finalist. So, big thanks for their effort to bring out the playwright in me.

Congratulations on twenty years of enhancing the theatre world.

Suzanne Bailie

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If you have your own Freehold story, email us via our Contact Page using the pull down menu of "20th Anniversary Story Submissions".

COME to our 20th Anniversary Homecoming Party on Saturday, September 24, 7:30 pm at Washington Hall. It's FREE and we'd love to see you there. RSVP at the link.