Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Engaged Theatre Creating Transformation and Community" by Tikka Sears

When I attend Freehold’s Engaged Theater performance at the women’s correctional facility in Gig Harbor, I end up thinking about my own life choices and near misses. How easily bad luck or bad timing could have landed me right where these women sit. I wonder how I would survive this, and I respect and admire these survivors for what they have endured both in their old life on the outside and what they must become on the inside.

When I first see their bodies walk onstage I can't help but imagine the crimes they may have committed and my mind travels far filling in the stories, like a choose-your-own-adventure book. Yet when I watch them push their bodies through the choreography, help one another up between scene changes, gently pick up a fallen mask, and hold the edges of one another's shirts down as they peel off their top shirts to reveal a beautiful new shirt, I am brought to tears by their focused effort, by the care and grace they exhibit. I am reminded of how true stage concentration is like a state of walking meditation where we may be our best selves, where we can remind the world of the vast potential of humanity. One woman spoke of not recognizing the monster she had become. One woman held a small child to her breast and wailed upon learning that the child was not born healthy. Her face contorted so violently it tore out my heart. Her commitment to that moment was so powerful I expected her to still be crying as she exited the stage. Yet when I saw her stand up and quickly walk off stage for her next part I saw the focused attention of a performer, not a broken soul. I respected and recognized this steady gaze and professional way of moving to the next moment, moving on.

Another powerful metaphor was the exploration of the masks we wear on a daily basis and how they both protect us and separate us from others. There were also fun moments where we got to experience the humor these women are filled with. One character was named beaver and there were a series of beaver jokes that were fun and kept the mood light as well as the audience laughing, even when we still had tears on our cheeks. Another powerful moment was a monologue written and performed by one of the women who uses a wheelchair. It spoke about the mask that the world sees of her as someone disabled and yet she spoke of all the courageous and life changing things she had helped others to accomplish. She spoke of her best self, her superhero self.

I particularly enjoyed a movement sequence that showed the women experiencing a psychological death of their old selves and falling to the floor. Individual performers moved through the graveyard of fallen bodies and slowly began to lift the women up one by one with care. To me it symbolized a new beginning, the fresh start the women were hoping for, dreaming for everyday. At the end of the play the women each walked up a ramp and threw their metaphorical old masks into the flaming inferno. It was a powerful moment when reality and performance blended into one another. The line between the performance and their personal lives blurred, and I could tell that by the time they peeled off that first T-shirt they had begun to transform.

Through the performance, through the act of publicly sharing their private suffering, they had transformed not only themselves but us as an audience. I am reminded of the reasons that I love being a theater artist: transformation and community. Theater has the power to transform and affect both the performers and the audience with the public sharing of stories. Theater does not always reach this goal but it always has the potential. The courageous work of the Freehold volunteers and the women at the correctional facility reaches this potential in the linoleum and neon clad gymnasium surrounded by high security doors, alarms and barbed wire.

Tikka Sears is a director, actor and educator. She is co-founder and artistic director of Memory War Theater Her work has been selected for the 2007 Northwest New Works Festival at On the Boards and the Bumbershoot 2008 TPS stage. She has directed pieces for the 2009 & 2010 Studio Series and attended classes at Freehold.

Collaborators Manuel Castro and Tikka Sears, Artistic Directors of Memory War Theater, join creative forces again to bring their newest multimedia play, Below U.S., to the Ethnic Cultural Theatre on June 3 and 4 at 8:00 pm. Below U.S. combines physical theater, video animation, digital projection, comedy and shadow imagery intertwined with reflections of community members on the slippery nature of hybrid identity. Manuel and Tikka encourage you to visit their website at, where you can learn more, join the discussion, and win a free ticket to the show. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for Seniors/TPS members and $5 for students and can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Spectacular Spring Acting Classes in Seattle at Freehold for Beginner and Advanced Students

at Freehold


Our students rave (and you will too):

"I learned how to really listen and engage with my scene partner"
"Remarkable, consistent teachers"
"It was informative, fun and not too scary for a beginner."
"Risk-free exploration."
"I learned that acting is doing something truthfully."
Freehold is offering a fantastic line-up of Spring Classes plus a new twist with two Preview Classes which give you a taste of some of our fantastic class offerings. Join us!

Here is our Spring Class Line-Up:

Step I: Intro to Acting with Annette Toutonghi
Step I: Intro to Acting with Sarah Harlett
Step II: Acting with Text with Stefan Enriquez
Step III: Basic Scene Study with Dan Tierney
Alexander Technique Workshops with Cathy Madden
Improv with Matt Smith
Meisner: Text with Robin Lynn Smith
Playwriting I with Elizabeth Heffron
Playwriting II with Elizabeth Heffron
Shakespeare with Reginald Andre Jackson
Solo Performance and Presentation with Marya Sea Kaminski
Spoken Word and Performance Poetry Workshops with Daemond Arrindell
Stage Combat with Geof Alm
Suzuki with Shanga Parker
Voice with Gin Hammond
Voice Over with Gin Hammond

and our NEW Preview (one-day) Classes,

Playwriting Preview Class with Elizabeth Heffron
Voice-Over Preview Class with Gin Hammond

TO REGISTER for our classes:
5% early registration discount for registering by Friday, March 18th!

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

Freehold Theatre
2222 2nd Avenue, 2nd Floor
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 323-7499

The Shakespeare Struggle by Parker Matthews

The first time I heard of our Shakespeare teacher, Amy Thone, was in an interview in The Stranger.

It described her as a pirate.

Who taught acting.

Let’s be honest - who doesn’t want to take acting from a pirate? Much of the acting world would vastly improve if students were taught by extreme personalities like pirates. Or dinosaurs.

Jokes aside, there’s actually some truth in that.


I was in a Shakespeare class taught by Amy Thone before the Ensmble Training Intensive. Incidentally, it was thanks to that class that I actually heard about the upcoming ETI auditions. So this was not my first experience with Shakespeare via the Dread Pirate Thone.

“Shakespeare” is a word that strikes fear, discord, and indigestion in the minds/stomachs of many a person. In fact, one of my greatest joys comes from conversations at my work.

Nominally Interested Co-Worker: So, are you doing any acting right now?
Me: Yeah, I’m doing a play. [Insert obscure Shakespeare title here].
Nominally Interested Co-Worker: Oh. What kind of play is that?
Me: (incoherent mumbling) It’s a Shakespeare.
NIC: Huh?
Me: It’s a Shakespeare play.
NIC: Ah.
(Long Pause.)
NIC: You know what I like? Movies. Are you ever in movies?

Shakespeare’s works have a fascinating double-life. For those in theatre or exposed to good productions, Shakespeare plays can be explosive and thrilling experiences. For others, the plays are something that exists in some foreign land populated primarily by prissy men with skulls and pantaloons.

So we started the Shakespeare class with the Thonester a few months ago. We all came in with dramatically different backgrounds and levels of experience with ol’ Bardy’s jazz. I’ve got to confess: I cheated. I actually already liked Shakespeare. I had taken a college acting class that got me all fired up about what previously had been the most uninteresting of subjects. But (and I know that this sounds so deliciously clich├ęd) with Shakespeare, we’re always beginning. As this term reminded each of us time and time again.

Shakespeare’s works are incredible in many ways. To pick an arbitrary starting point, his works are incredibly challenging. Now, of course, challenging does not equal better. After all, attempting to move a mountain one bucketful of dirt at a time is challenging. Shakespeare, though, is challenging in a fantastic way.

We discover (over and over) that his works call for us to apply every single tool and technique in our repertoire. And then (over and over) we find that there’s still so much more to do.

Every tool. Every technique. Completely frustrating, to be sure. Shakespeare’s work has a fantastic way of exposing acting shortcuts and laziness. It challenges you constantly to be so much better. So much richer. Fuller.

And that is absolutely wonderful and absolutely infuriating.

We’ve had front row seats to the near-paralyzing difficulty of this work. The flip side, though (as opposed to bucket-mountain-moving) is that this work has contained some of the most transformational, “eureka” moments for the ETI members this year.

In class we’ve seen and experienced epic, fiery failures. But we have also seen rich, vibrant, bulldozing breakthroughs, breakthroughs of such magnitude that we don’t even recognize the actor onstage. And these are people we’ve been working in close proximity with for the last eight months.

We struggle with the words. We struggle with the language’s structure. The physical abandonment. The impossibly-high circumstances. The ever-deeper ambiguity of the characters. Heck, the memorization.

We struggle.

And yet there are those few moments, those moments that occur after ridiculous hours of over-analyzing, second-guessing, and no-man’s-land-wandering. Those moments where the work clicks into place and you feel the words and ideas and emotions fill you and emanate from you with life that you didn’t think was possible. The moments when you feel completely buoyed by and carried by and swept along with the text, and the words no longer feel like they were written four hundred years ago, but were written yesterday specifically for you and your life.

That’s what the struggle is about.

I don’t know if that’s too idealistic and head-in-the-clouds. To be quite honest, I read fantasy novels and act, so I’m essentially the worst person to judge if something’s too far removed from reality.

Honestly, even writing about Shakespeare is a funny thing. After all, there are libraries full of books on the joe’s works. What can you say in a blog post?

You can say that it’s a struggle. A struggle that you wish to share with ever more people. A gritty, ugly, savory, sumptuous struggle that constantly empties and fills you.

A struggle that makes you crave something more.

A struggle, as Amy Thone says, that has no end point.

There’s great comfort in that.


ETI Shakespeare Recital

Parker and his fellow ETI students will be performing works from Shakespeare at Freehold's ETI Shakespeare Recital on April 29 and 30th at Velocity Dance Center. Here's the scoop ...

Allow yourself to be wondrously filled up on the bards’ magnificent words at Freehold’s Ensemble Training Intensive (ETI) Shakespeare Recital. This very special event includes two evenings full of excitement, passion, love and treachery as only Shakespeare can master. This recital traverses the wealth and breadth of Shakespeare works and includes scenes from: King John, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, Taming of the Shrew, Othello, Richard III, Twelfth Night, and Hamlet.

Join us in seeing the great work Freehold's ETI conservatory trained students have been doing over the past eight months in their training program.

This recital is definitely “a dish fit for the gods.” Join us!

Friday, April 29 at 7:00 pm and
Saturday, April 30 at 7:00 pm AND 9:30 pm

TICKETS: Pay What You Can, available in advance at Brown Paper Tickets at:, or at the door ($10 suggested donation)
LOCATION: Velocity Dance Center, 1621 12th Avenue, Suite 200, Seattle

Shakespeare Class

If this post inspired you to want to take a Shakespeare class this spring quarter at Freehold, we are offering a Shakespeare class with Reginald Jackson. More information about that here. Class begins April 25.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Freehold's Annual Dinner & Auction - Look at our Great Auction Items!!

Monday, May 23
Doors open & Silent Auction: 5:30 pm
Dinner & Live Auction: 7:00 pm

Tom Douglas' Palace Ballroom
2100 5th Avenue, Seattle
Business and festive attire welcome!
Auction table for 8: $400
Auction table for 10: $500
To purchase a table, contact us at (206) 323-7499
Individual tickets: $60 at Brown Paper Tickets or cash at Freehold's office.

Here are just some of our SPECTACULAR Auction items you'll get to bid on ...

Gift certificate to Tula's Jazz Club in Belltown. Tula's is the hot spot for Seattle jazz. At Tula's you'll find music seven nights a week with top jazz artists plus great Mediterranean and American cuisine.

A TOUR of Los Angeles by its very own resident actor, solo performer, Lauren Weedman. To quote Lauren "some highlights of the tour will include The Gayest Coffee Shop they will ever see....The lobby of my managers office on Sunset (because lots of celebrities come by there). The Frozen Yogurt place where I always see a lot of porno people. (not that I KNOW can just tell), Michael Jackson's home...and we'll try and find the Tranny that Eddie Murphy made famous."
Lauren has been seen on THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART, has appeared Off-Broadway and has numerous stage credits including her very popular show BUST and NO..YOU SHUTUP. She has appeared multiple times on RENO 911 for Comedy Central, CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM and on the HBO series HUNG. She can be seen opposite Steve Carell and Tina Fey in the Fox feature DATE NIGHT and has joined the cast of Universal’s film Five Year Engagement, the comedy being produced by Judd Apatow.

Two season tickets to Bellevue Civic Theatre, providing entertaining and compelling theatre for the Eastside.

Whidbey Island Retreat! 3 days and 2 nights at Whidbey Island Waterfront Home of a Freehold Board Member.

Need a break from your yard work (and who doesn't!)? Yard King is your man to help with sprucing up your yard (in the form of the owner of Yard King, John Leith).

Singing Telegram by local beloved performer Eric Ray Anderson, of the one-man ukulele cover band, "Superfluous", will work with you to order a song that will delight the person of your choosing at their home or workplace. What a great way to treat a special person in your life!

Gift certificate to Hellam's Winemaker Dinner Cruise - Wine Tasting and Crab Feed in La Connor. This 4-hour trip features winemaker/owners Tim Stevens (Stevens Winery), Darby English (Darby Winery) and Chris Gorman (Gorman Winery) - truly some of the best wines in Woodinville ... and Washington State.

This cruise will also feature a Dungeness crab feed, with several side dishes, appetizers and dessert offered (chicken can be substituted for the crab). Delicious!!

Gift Certificate to the delicious Dish restaurant. Listed by Zagat as one of the top 25 breakfast restaurants in 25 US Cities.

The Film School's cornerstone program, 3 Week Intensive, featuring six distinct courses taught by John Jacobsen, Warren Etheredge, Stewart Stern, Rick Stevenson, and Tom Skerritt (Summer 2011, Spring 2012).

Splurge on a gift certificate and enjoy some delicious seafood at one of Anthony's Restaurants.

Enjoy a night at at this popular Capitol Hill night spot: The Garage. Grab a game of pool, or get your bowling game on (and snag some food and drinks while you are at it!).

Two nights at the Deluxe Suite at Hastings House Country House Hotel on Salt Springs Island in British Columbia. Hastings House Country House Hotel is a small waterfront luxury country resort, spa and restaurant which sits on 22 acres on the waterfront of Ganges Harbour, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Enjoy luxury lodging, fine dining, wellness and relaxation in a casually-elegant atmosphere.

Bread. Bread. And more Bread. Enjoy a loaf of bread a month for a year from Columbia City Bakery. Num.

Seattle Mariners' always popular Swag Bag.

Watch movies majestically at The Majestic Bay Theatre in Ballard.

Tickets to a show at the always amazing Washington Ensemble Theatre (Capitol Hill) in Seattle.

A Week, at Casa Lora in Monterosso Calabria, Italy. Monterosso Calabro is a town of 2,000 residents high in the hills of Calabria, the southernmost region of the Italian peninsula, midway between the Ionian Sea and the Tyrhennian Sea.

Quench your book thirst at Elliot Bay Book Company on Capitol Hill.

Ride the Ducks in Seattle (located at the foot of Queen Anne by the Seattle Center)! Tour Seattle by land and sea on a WWII amphibious landing craft! It's a party on a wheels that floats! Whether you are a native Seattle-ite or a newcomer, this tour never fails to offer great Seattle tour tidbits plus a lot of fun.

Gift Certificate to Babeland, the trendy adult store that aims to please (located on Capitol Hill).

A morning with Matt Smith (Freehold faculty member and improv master) hunting for Chantrelle Mushrooms (includes lunch). What could be more fun??

One night stay at the lovely Chelsea Station Inn B&B located in Seattle in Phinney Ridge. Chelsea Station Inn B & B offers four large suites with living room, dining room, kitchenette, powder room and a sumptuous master suite. More information on the Chelsea Inn:

Gift certificate to the Pink Door Restaurant in the Pike Place Market.

Bread galore from Macrina Bakery! “Bread appears as the Sun, anew each day to keep away the darkness and make the earth grow.”

Trip the "light fantastic" with Dancing at Century Ballroom on Capitol Hill.

A year long theatre pass to ACT. You'll definitely get your theatre groove on!

Passes to the EMP/Science Fiction Museum.

Billiards at Jillian's! Partake in Jillian's offerings "A great meal, the best in amusement entertainment (Billiards, Bowling, Redemption, Electronic Games), amazing sports viewing, or just a relaxing atmosphere with family and friends."

A Seattle mainstay - gift certificates to Dick's Drive-In.

Accommodations at the restful retreat at Doe Bay Resort on the restful and beautiful Orcas Island in the San Juans.

One year membership (family level) to the Seattle Art Museum. So much art, so little time! This pass will inspire you to make time to immerse yourself in art.

Kayak lessons on beautiful Lake Union.

Gift Certificate at Le Gourmand where the chefs believe "cooking is an art and that eating is a wonderful necessity."

Golf at the Interbay Golf Center. "FORE!"

One year Family Membership to the Henry Art Gallery.

Tickets to a performance at On the Boards, a leading center for the creation and presentation of contemporary performance.

Passes to the Seattle Aquarium. "Listen to the calls of our region’s orca whales. Stand within a circle of glowing jellyfish. Run your fingers along a sea anemone’s soft tentacles. Delight in the antics of the sea otters." and so much more ...

General admission passes to Banya 5. Get a relaxing soak on at this urban spa and health facility which offers a unique blend of old world wellness rituals in a friendly contemporary environment.

Gift Certificate at P.F. Changs (they have an extensive menu plus a large gluten free selection)!

Get toasty at Capitol Hill's own Hot House Spa and Sauna for women. Free your mind, soothe your body.

Yoga gift certificates from 8 Limbs Yoga (locations: Capitol Hill, Wedgewood, Phinney Ridge, West Seattle).

Adorable Stuffed Animals by Freehold's very own instructor, Sarah Harlett. In addition to being an amazing instructor and actress, Sarah makes these charming critters. Sarah sells her animal buddies at the shop Charley+May on top of Queen Anne Hill.

Take home a great reminder of the evenings festivities with the beautiful painting that Annya Uslontseva did for the auction.

A very special thank you to our Sponsors:

Tom Douglas Catering and Events

Private Valuations


Blick Art Materials