Tuesday, June 28, 2011



Fate 1-(plus Helicanus, Fisherman, Pirate)………Parker Matthews
Fate 2-(plus other characters, Fisherman, Pirate)………Kiki Yeung
Fate 3-(plus other characters, Fisherman, Pirate)……Riley Neldam
Pericles …………………………………………………………………Lance McQueen
Pericles …………………………………………………………………Jonathan Nawn
Cleon, Pander (and other characters) ……………………Phillip Mitchell
Dionyza (and other characters) ……………………………………Lori Evans
Simonides (and other characters) ………………………………Tony Leahy
Thaisa (and other characters) ……………………………Melissa Topscher
Lychorida, Leonine (and other characters)……………Monica Chilton
Marina (and other characters) ………………………………Luisa de Paula
Marina (and other characters) …………………………Elizabeth Deutsch
Bawd, Cerimon (and other characters)………………………Amy Wason
Antiochus/Lysimicus (and other characters) …………Caleb Slavens
Bolt (and other characters) ………………………………………Kevin Dailey

Production Team

Director: Robin Lynn Smith
Producer: Liza Comtois
Directing/Movement Consultant: Lee Eisler
Movement Director: Jessica Jobaris
Composer: Gino Yevdjevich
Musicians: Paris Hurley, Beth Fleenor,
Gino Yevdjevich
Lighting Design: Joshua Tillman
Fight Choreographer: Jesse Sherfey-Hinds
Set Design: Roberta Russell
Costume Design: Hannah Stern
Properties Design: Heidi Hunt
Sound Engineer: Alejandro Iragorri
Stage Manager: Kristina Kyees
Scenic Artist: Montana Tippett
Road Chief/Technical Director: Brandon Chapman
Assistant Director: Marquicia Domingue
Poster Design: Annya Uslontseva

Monica Chilton began her formal theatre training at Northwestern University. After college she accepted a scholarship to study law at Gonzaga, where she earned her degree and passed the state bar exam. Monica has lived in the Seattle area for ten years, working as a legal research professional and - after being presented with leisure courtesy of the recession - rekindling her love of the theatre. Also a classically trained singer, Monica has appeared in several lyric theatre productions throughout the Puget Sound area. "Pericles" marks Monica's first full Shakespeare production. Monica is eager to travel to the UK in mid-July, where she will be continuing her Shakespearean training at LAMDA (the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art).

Kevin Dailey would like to thank God, his Loving Family, Friends, his fellow cast members, ETI Staff, Freehold Theatre, The crew and Especially Robin! This is his first official Shakespeare piece and he is loving every second of it. Kevin has completed two years of training at freehold beginning with Meisner Method and now with the Ensemble Theatre Intensive Program. Currently he is in an improv/Sketch group "Closet Monsters" pursuing my ridiculousness! One day they hope to be Almost Live come Alive Again. This is just the beginning for Kevin with Mr. William Shakes!

Elizabeth Deutsch is a Seattle based actress. She has loved playing characters such as Jess in Neil LaBute's Bench Seat, Carolyn in Lee Blessing's Riches, and Laura in Horton Foote's Courtship. She is grateful to Freehold for all the doors it has opened for her. Elizabeth is a proud member of BASH Theatre and a proud member of this ensemble.

Lori Evans had the pleasure to tour last summer with Engaged Theatreʼs Julius Caesar. Also recently seen in Tacoma in Almost Maine with Gold From Straw, and previously in Book-Itʼs The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, and touring The Merry Wives of Windsor, Taming of the Shrew, Puss and Boots, and The Artistʼs Brush with Last Leaf Productions. You can catch her this summer in various parks in Wonderland, a site-specific adventure with Theatre Simple. She holds a BA in Drama from UW. Many thanks to the teachers, staff, and students in the ETI program that have brought inspiration, discipline, and consistency to her work. She is extremely grateful.

Luisa de Paula has been taking acting classes with Freehold for 4 years. A native of Brasil, she has been dancing and performing for most of her life in a diverse setting of cultural influences. She is a member of the East-African Sukutai Music and Dance Group.

Tony Leahy is a Seattle based actor, writer, and director. He primarily works in film and video, but he is happy to be onstage again. After Pericles, he will be developing a feature length solo piece for the fringe circuit. He will also be seen around town performing with his improv/sketch group Safeword.

Parker Matthews has done many things in his life. But there's even more things that he hasn't done. For example, he hasn't ever written War and Peace. Nor has he completed 5 jigsaw puzzles in a day. He also hasn't ever eaten a sandwich. Actually, that's not true. In fact, that's ridiculous. Take-home message: never believe a bio. Actors lie to make themselves sounds impressive. Parker Matthews is no different. Parker Matthews is a liar. In fact, he lies in his cast bios. That sentence itself is a lie. However, he is lying slightly less when he thanks you for coming and hopes that you will be blessed by this show.

Lance McQueen is making his second appearance with Freehold’s Engaged Theatre. He has also been seen in productions at, Intiman, SCT, Book-It and Lakewood Playhouse among others. He is a graduating member of Freehold's ETI training program. Lance would like to thank the entire Freehold faculty and staff for their undying commitment to Freehold. Lance would also like to thank Tammie, Tracie, Chris, Jamie, Gitanya, Giovanna, Delano, Marcello, April, L.C and Gladis. Also, a special thanks to: PKTPJRCAMKMLLE his “bad-assed ETI classmates.”

Phillip Mitchell, after 25 years as an Amateur (for the love of it) Actor and a career in computer systems, Phillip is nearing the end of his career change to Professional Actor with this production of Pericles. Of course, training never ends for any professional but Phillip feels ready and tooled to begin the work of a theatre artist thanks to his training at Freehold including the Meisner Progression and ETI. Phillip would like to express his great admiration and affection for his many teachers, including classmates. Dedicated to Sandi with love and gratitude.

Jonathan Nawn is an actor and solo performer. His favorite roles include R.P. McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Todd in The Author's Voice. His solo performance work has appeared at On the Boards and Freehold Studio. He is a former associate artist with Backwards Ensemble Theatre Company. Also a freelance journalist, his writing has most recently appeared in Park Science Magazine. Thanks go out to his family for their continued support.

Riley Neldam is very proud to be onstage with his ETI comrades again in this last stunning installment of the Ensemble Training Intensive saga. This show means so much to Riley as it represents not just the end of a long weary journey but the start of a new one. Furthermore, he would like to let you know that if Freehold's target donation is doubled, he and fellow cast member Tony Leahy will be finishing the tour of Pericles shirtless, food for thought. You can see Riley performing at The Intiman theatre this Spring with the Seattle Shakespeare Company in the upcoming production of A Midsummer Nights's Dream.

Caleb Slavens moved to Seattle to work as a Mechanical Engineer, and as soon as he found a job in that occupation he started taking acting classes. After 5 years of numerous classes, working in a plethora of amazing shows around Seattle, and upon finishing Freehold’s Ensemble Training Intensive (a 1 year intensive acting training program, that he considered Grad-school-esque), he had to quit his job as an Engineer to see if a career in acting was really what he should be indulging in. And that is that story… If you are a friend, family member, and/or fan of Caleb, he thanks you SO MUCH for being here. Your support for art, and him, is what will help him keep the tumultuous tides of career-shift-anxiety at bay... His 'What's Next?' plans include a beautiful Seattle summer in GreenStage's: Antony & Cleopatra, and then he will set off on a year-long, round-the-world trip, to film a series on Fables and Myths from different cultures using local actors in each destination country.

Melissa Topscher, after graduating from George Mason University in 2006, moved to Chicago where she studied improvisation and comedy writing for two years with the Second City. In Seattle she has worked with Stone Soup, WARP, Macha Monkey, and of course, Freehold Theatre. She is currently working on a personal training certification and hopes to continue to bring her loves of theatre and movement together this fall as she ventures into the world of butoh with Angela Martinelli and Gin Hammond. She’d like to thank the ETI faculty and her classmates for reminding her that community is at the heart of good theatre. Thanks to all for such a memorable experience.

Amy Wason is very excited to be a part of Freehold's Engaged Theatre Tour production of Pericles. She has also loved being part of the Ensemble Training Intensive. She has enjoyed performing the character of Abby Normal in the Solo Festival and Olivia in the Shakespeare Recital.

Kiki Yeung is proud to be part of ETI and Pericles! Kiki performed and taught English Drama in Hong Kong. Recieved a BA in Drama at UW. Performed her solo piece at 12 Mins Max. She also works in commercials, industrials, film, voiceover, & modeling. Deepest gratitude to Robin!! Thank you to CAST & Kristina! Her husband, Kevin, Charles Waxberg and her agent, Gordon Adams! www.kikiyeungjohnson.webs.com


Gino Yvedjevich, Composer and Musician
Music: Before the war in Bosnia 4 solo albums (2 of them gold), since 1999 in US w/Kultur Shock 7 albums, since 2003 played over 400 shows, touring Europe, US and Asia. In 2008 in Sarajevo received life achievement award for representing Balkan Music In The World. Theatre: since 1987 composed music and acted for National Theatre of Bosnia & Herzegovina, Chamber Theatre 55 in Sarajevo, Croatian National Theatre in Split, since 1995 in US; The Group Theatre, Teaching Assistant for Greek scenes at Cornish College of Arts. In the last 8 seasons, Music Director and Composer for Freehold’s Engaged Theatre Productions.

Jessica Jobaris, Movement Director
Jessica is a movement artist, performer and choreographer. She celebrates her third Engaged Theatre Tour as Movement Director/Assistant with Freehold Theatre. She has performed and choreographed throughout the US and EU, and is happy to be back in Seattle, and working with Robin. More about her work can be found at generamagicjjo.com

Joshua Tillman, Lighting Designer
Joshua is a recent Technical Direction, Lighting, Scenic and Sound Design graduate of Cornish College of the Arts. He works as the Company Technical Director at Seattle Musical Theatre, where he has been designing and crewing shows for four or five years. His recent works include lighting design for Hamlet at Cornish, lighting for The King's Proposal (an original work) with Seattle Musical Theatre's 2nd Season, Scenic Design for Don Giovannni the Musical with Fruition, and Sound Design for Camelot and Chicago both at S.M.T. He is excited to make his debut at Freehold working with such an excellent group of designers and performers and would like to thank Robin Lynn Smith for giving him the opportunity to work on the production and to Carine Boekee Hutchison whose smile makes the day brighter.

Montana Tippett, Scenic Artist
Montana earned her BFA from Cornish College of the Arts with a focus on scenic and costume design. Recent projects include scenic designs for Hamlet (Cornish), and for Summertime by Charles Mee (Cornish). She was awarded First Place for Regional Set Design at the 2011 American College Theatre Festival for Summertime, as well as a Meritorious Award for Regional Costume Design for a classroom project of Iphigenia and Other Daughters. She assisted Melanie Burgess, Costume Designer, on Jesus Christ Superstar (Village Theatre), All My Sons (Intiman Playhouse), and the upcoming Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World (ACT Theatre). Montana is honored to be a part of an Engaged Theatre Program production.

Beth Fleenor, Musician
Since arriving in Seattle in 1998, clarinetist / vocal percussionist / composer Beth Fleenor has carved a place for herself as an energetic multi-instrumentalist and dynamic generative artist. Subscribing to the principle that "art is the discipline of being," Fleenor harbors a strong love for variety and all forms of sonic manipulation. Such flexibility has allowed her to move freely through genres including, but not limited to, jazz, rock, classical, contemporary chamber, metal, folk, ambient, surf, and noise. With performances ranging from shows in nightclubs, festivals, schools and galleries, to prisons, parties and concert halls, Fleenor's work has been featured in live music, theater, performance art, recordings, modern dance works, film, sound art and art installations. She has worked with artists including Robin Holcomb, Denney Goodhew, Wayne Horvitz, Butch Morris, Matana Roberts, Jherek Bischoff, Joshual Kohl, Eyvind Kang, Amy Denio, Robin Lynn Smith, and Gino Yevdjevich, among many others. Currently she can be found performing with Crystal Beth, Bling, Figeater, Owcharuk 5, Double Yoko, Chick Influenza, Seattle Jazz Composers Ensemble, and projects of the Monktail Creative Music Concern. She has also been sited ensuing mayhem with Balkan punk shaman clan Kultur Shock including performances at the Creation of Peace Festival (Russia) and Sayan Ring (Siberia). Fleenor holds a Bachelor of Music from Cornish College of the Arts. ;

Paris Hurley, Musician
Paris has been playing the violin in a multitude of orchestras, chamber ensembles, and bands for the last 23 years. While finishing her degree at Cornish College of the Arts, Paris became a core member of the hyper-experimental performance group, Degenerate Art Ensemble. For over two years she worked closely with the collective, collaboratively creating multimedia works that ranged from explosive rock club sets to large-scale dance/theater productions, notably performing at The Moore Theatre (Seattle), the REDCAT (L.A.), and throughout Germany. Since migrating to Seattle in 2003, she has put these skills into action writing, recording and performing with an array of local groups. In summer 2008, she joined the ranks of art-rock-gypsy-metal-punk band, Kultur Shock - since performing on the 2009 release, Integration, writing/performing/co-producing the 2011 release, Ministry of Kultur, and performing in over 100 shows throughout Europe in venues ranging from tiny punk clubs to 100,000 seater festivals including Sziget (Budapest), Stufstock (Romania), Exit (Serbia), The Creation of Peace Festival (Russia), Sayan Ring (Siberia), and Earth Festival (Greece). In fall 2009, Paris mounted her first piece as Artistic Director, the Live at the Film Forum presented interdisciplinary work, Bridging Wounds: staying the course of uncertainty. Currently, she is in the research and development phases of creating a new solo performance for dance and cassette player orchestra. DON’T PUT ME IN A BOX (i do that all by myself): a piece about dismantling limiting personal/social/cultural definitions, thoughts, and patterns through immersion in a confined space.

Heidi Hunt, Properties Design
Originally from Los Angeles, Heidi received a certificate in Emerging Theatrical Technologies from Citrus Community College before moving to Seattle and graduating from Cornish College of the Arts with a focus in Sound Design. She has participated in theatre as a designer and technician for the last eight years, including working for several event companies and as the Production Manager for the Pasadena POPS Orchestra. Her favorite flavor of ice cream is chocolate chip cookie dough.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Meisner Progression Interviews

Interviews are available for Freehold's 2011-2012 Meisner Progression, a 3 quarter, 9 month training program based on the work of Sanford Meisner. Classes run twice a week, 5 hours a week in the evening over each 12 week quarter. Check out the great testimonials from previous Freehold Meisner alums at the bottom of this blog post. The Meisner Progression is taught by Robin Lynn Smith and more information about Robin can also be found below.

To schedule an interview or for more information, contact Freehold at (206) 323-7499 or email us at our contact page. Please bring a resume detailing your theatrical and performance experience and be prepared to speak about why you are interested in participating in the Meisner progression. Prerequisites: Previous performance background and some acting experience/training. Interviews will be roughly 15 minutes each.

The Meisner class description for the 3 quarter progression is as follows:

Meisner: Foundation: Step I - Fall Quarter

Through cumulative exercises based on the work of Sanford Meisner, the actor learns to be habitually available to and affected by life that is actually happening in the moment, and to fully release instinctive, uninhibited responses. The class culminates in a work with text.

September 18 - December 13
Sundays and Tuesdays, 5:30 - 10:30 pm
$750 Discounted
$860 Full Price

Meisner: Instrument: Step II - Winter Quarter

Students continue the exercises from Foundation, supplementing them with work in personalization, preparation, and other tools in order to access a meaningful inner life and "make real" the text and imaginary circumstances.

Meisner: Text: Step III - Spring Quarter

Applying the work from Foundation and Instrument to scenes, students focus on detailed, in-depth text and character work -- analysis, subtext, particularization, and moment-to-moment process work on scenes.

Robin Lynn Smith is a Founding Partner and Artistic Director for Freehold Theatre Lab Studio in Seattle. She has worked for the past thirty years acting, directing and teaching in Chicago, Boston, Seattle, and New York where she directed where she directed CURSE OF THE STARVING CLASS Off-Broadway at the Promenade Theatre. She has directed in Regional Theatres and is presently directing Freehold’s Engaged Theatre Program which tours Shakespeare productions to prisons, projects, and tent cities, for which she has directed OTHELLO, CYMBELINE, A WINTER’S TALE, THE TEMPEST, and THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. At Freehold she directed the award winning production of Chekhov’s THE SEAGULL, THREE SISTERS, AN ALTERED LIFE, and VERONIKA FALLING. She was an Artist in Residence at the Seattle Repertory Theatre with Dan Sullivan, and directed several productions including MARVIN’S ROOM, FRANKIE AND JOHNNIE IN THE CLAIRE DE LUNE, and CITY OF GOLD, and the developmental workshop of Elizabeth Heffron’s NEW PATAGONIA. She has also directed in Seattle at ACT, On The Boards, The Empty Space, New City Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and Intiman where she is an Affiliate Artist with Bartlett Sher. She has an MFA from NYU TSOA, and she is currently on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts. She is featured in ACTING TEACHERS OF AMERICA, and she is a member of SDC. She is the 2008 recipient of The Gregory A. Falls Sustained Achievement Award.

Testimonials from Freehold Meisner Alums

Jon Locke wrote an article detailing his experiences here in one of our Freehold newletters; the other testimonials can be found below.

"Meisner for me was really transformational and not just for the acting but really just for the rest of my everyday life. Meisner really strives you to live in the moment and to react to things as if it is the first time, being genuine and authentic. I do some commercial work on the side and I’ve been told that there is a new quality to my acting and that is 100% related to the work from the class. There is another piece that I got out of Meisner which was unexpected which is that it actually changed the quality of my day to day life … it allowed me to be more present in my life … it makes life much more interesting." - E.J. Gong

My Meisner Progression Experience by Bob Rousseau

I should say that I think calling the class "The Meisner Progression" isn't quite accurate: it really should be called "Meisner and A Whole Bunch of Other Cool Shit Robin Knows". You work through a lot of the exercises and learn the techniques that you would learn in a typical Meisner program, but Robin also brings to the table a whole host of other tools and exercises in areas like movement, meditation, text examination, and preparation, so that you end up with a much meatier experience.

I liken working with Robin to working at a gym with a personal trainer: rarely does anyone push themselves as much as a personal trainer will push them. The trainer's going to make you do those extra sets of push-ups and sit-ups that you might give yourself a pass on, and while you may grouse at times, inside you know that your muscles are getting stronger month by month. Robin pushes you to work your imaginary muscles farther than you ever have - farther than you probably have thought possible - and when it's over, you realize how much stronger those muscles have become, and how much better prepared you are to face the challenges that come your way.

It was through working with Robin that I acquired one of the most important things any actor can get - an actual process on how to bring a role alive. While I've taken other classes from some extremely talented instructors that included some discussion of methods for examining text, the bulk of what I typically got was notes by the instructor as though they were directing me in a play. That is very valuable stuff, but it doesn't really give you much of a process for starting work on a role on your own, nor do you get much of a glimpse of the variety of techniques that have come to light in the theatrical world. Robin gave us tools we could use to bring the character to life in ways that went beyond what was on the printed page, and thereby make those scripted words come even more alive. And I think a huge part of that came from her making us push the limits of our imaginations for nine months.

And about those books about Meisner's techniques - while I now think part of the reason they didn't grab me is that they aren't very well written, to pick up the sports analogy again, you can read a book about playing golf, but actually having someone guide you who really knows what they're doing is going to make you much better at the game and a whole lot quicker. (Now that I've been through the progression at Freehold, I actually recommend you not read the books). And on top of all of that you get from Robin, if you're lucky like I was, you'll go through the progression with a group of actors that also work hard at it so that you feel challenged and inspired to keep up. You inevitably feel closer to those who took the journey with you. There are other talented folks teaching at Freehold who I also look forward to working with in time to focus on areas we didn't have time to cover during the progression with Robin, but I know that my ability to present truthful work grew by leaps and bounds during the past nine months.

To sum up, if you're not sure whether taking the Meisner progression at Freehold is worth your time, let me help you decide: YES! Absolutely! Be grateful that the gods have aligned the planets so that you have this opportunity and grab it!

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

Living Truthfully at Freehold by Laura Grace

When I was asked to write something about my experience at Freehold, I hesitated. Not because I am totally swamped with the day job AND family AND scene work AND trying to get into shape (all true) but because, as a non profit - I'm not sure Freehold could afford all the ink my story would require. But I will do my best...

Freehold's slogan (for lack of a better word) is: Explore the YOU, you don't know. I can't think of a truer statement to sum up what happens here.

A million years ago, when I graduated from high school - I was hell-bent on going to arts school. Art is all I ever wanted to do... visual art, kinetic art, dance, music, poetry - all of it - but especially acting. I was recruited by several acting programs across the country, offered scholarships, travel vouchers - it was a very exciting time for me. However due to several reasons I won't go into now, I was unable to attend any of these programs and I abandoned, with a broken heart, the dream of an arts education. I held on to that pain for a long time... too long. Fast forward to when I found Freehold. I studied the class descriptions, read and re-read everything on the website, watched faculty videos on YouTube and after all that... decided it was high time to let that old pain go... it wasn't useful. So - I took the first of many risks to come and called to enroll in Step I - Introduction to Acting with George Lewis. Now, after two years of dedicated study and service, my only regret is that I didn't find Freehold sooner. (But everything happens - or doesn't - for a reason, right?)

Now then, if the traditional definition of acting is "Living truthfully in imaginary circumstances," then the introduction to acting is mainly learning just that first part - how to live truthfully. For this reason, I recommend EVERYONE take this class... you don't have to be a wannabe actor to get something truly significant out of it. The first day of class, 15 or so strangers stood awkwardly in a circle. Shifty on our feet, we stood arms folded, hands in pockets, eyes studying the floor or looking nervously around the room. George was VERY amused by this... like a kid with a big surprise... or a monkey just let out of his cage and wondering which one of us to pounce on first (we were wondering the same thing, actually.) I had no expectations, but I was ready to work and give everything I had. Thru a variety of Impulse Exercises we were able to let go of the "shoulds" that keep us from living in the moment, keep us from the truth of who we are. We learned how to trust our impulses, how to trust our "gut" responses. We learned how to be silly. We learned how to be grotesque. Before this class, I thought I was a "go with the flow, in the moment - free and easy - two cents giving" kind of gal. And over the several weeks of the class, as we worked thru improv after improv, hearing George bellowing over and over again "Stop being NICE! Just STOP IT...We are not here to be nice, we are not here to be mean, we are here to be TRUTHFUL!!!" I realized just how skewed my perception of myself was. I was nice, I was really nice... and that ain't good.

As children we ARE ALL impulse, ALL gut reaction. Generally, we have VERY strong opinions on just about everything and generally - we don't hesitate to tell anybody all about it. But as we grow up, we learn that this behavior isn't always so useful, and in some cases (mine, for instance) dangerous. So we negotiate with ourselves, compartmentalizing parts of us here and there, hiding and holding back some things while pushing others to make our lives work, to survive. But at Freehold, I've learned (and continue to learn) how to take those parts out of hiding - they have purpose. In this way, Step I - was revolutionary! (Or would that be "revelationary"?) So much so that in tiny black ink block letters I wrote: "We are not here to be nice. We are not here to me mean. We are here to be truthful," on the inside of my left wrist, everyday for that first year and it has kind of served as a guide post... in my acting and in my life. I must say, however - it was a little rough there coming right out of the chute - I lost 30 pounds (good thing) and nearly ruined my marriage (bad thing)! Things have thankfully settled down a bit since...

The second half of that traditional definition of acting: "...in imaginary circumstances" was introduced in Step I, but applied/coaxed/teased/ into and out of us more specifically in Steps II (Dan Tierney) and Step III (Marya Sea Kaminski). These circumstances, imaginary at first, become more and more real as we study them, as we play with them - and get them on "their feet." We pull them apart, we whisper the words of our characters, we scream them, we turn them in to animals, we turn adults into children and children into elders, we "make believe." We make believe. We create in these circumstances and in our characters - a heart and soul that we can truly believe in. That we can trust in, and release ourselves into. (Believe... just looking at that word right now makes me think.... Believe.... Be Alive.... Create and Be Alive. Hmmm... ) We learned that "Living truthfully in imaginary circumstances," may be the definition and the destination of our work, but "The Reality of Doing" is the road to get there.

The Meisner Progression, taught by "guide on the side" Robin Lynn Smith, cracked the whole world open to me... and I discovered just how much more there is to learn. It's here that I begin to lose my words. Down the proverbial "rabbit hole" as they say... for nearly every tool I picked up in all my former classes at Freehold, the Meisner Progression has taught the what, how and why to and so so much more. From the first day where we were all just acquaintances standing around thinking we knew something about something, only to discover that I was still... mostly just pretending and had a lot of work to do. It was like Step I on steroids! And crack! And some of the first notes I got from Robin echoed the notes I got from George in Step I and that was just the first week! Seriously, I could write a thesis on everything I've learned in just the Meisner http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifProgrhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifession alone. And maybe, one day I'll have that opportunity, but for now, I will end this by saying...

I have been working really hard - I'm not as nice as I used to be - and I am grateful.

Photo Above: Meisner 2010-2011 students. Laura Grace (first row, farthest right)

Interviews with Robin Lynn Smith for the Meisner Progression for 2011-2012 will be held on July 26, 2011 from 4:00 - 8:00 pm. For more information about the Meisner Progression, email us at info@freeholdtheatre.org or call us at (206) 323-7499. More information can also be found at our recent Blog Post.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

“Who are you…Really?” by Riley Neldam

I was recently asked to write a brief statement regarding my overall reflection
of the last 10 months participating in the ETI program at Freehold and it's
culminating production of Pericles: Prince of Tyre by William Shakespeare.

I started by thinking about some of the major themes of this production to get
me started. What I first remembered was something that our director Robin Lynn Smith, a founding member of Freehold, had asked us in the beginning stages of rehearsal:

"What does a human being have to go through to find out who they really are?" That question seemed an appropriate place to begin.

Pericles is one of Shakespeare's classic hero stories. As is written by Italian poet Dante Alighieri, "Midway upon the journey of [his] life [he] found himself in a dark forest, for the straightforward pathway had been lost" (La Commedia Divina). I believe I speak for us all in Ensemble Training Intensive (ETI) when I say, "I could not have put it better myself.”

The story: Pericles leaves his home a young man trying to figure out what he wants for himself and his kingdom. Looking for love and answers in all the wrong places, he basks in the sun one moment, only to find himself shattered on the rocks, naked and alone the next ... seriously alone, and seriously naked and history has a way of repeating itself many, many times for Pericles. In Shakespeare’s world, the “Fates” are not kind to heroes, thus the question presents itself again and begs another question: why is it that a “hero” can only come to form through untold amounts of suffering?

One concept we have been working with down at Team Freehold is the idea that Pericles has been “selected” for this mission by the higher powers pulling the strings. One can only wonder: would he have opted out of his “destiny,” such a never-ending series of “Shit Happens” moments if he had a choice?

So what exactly have I gone through? And what have I learned about who I "really am."

In the past 10 month's I don't know if I have ever endured as many stretches of insomnia, stress, and middle of the night moments of panic. I have spent long hours away from home and made many sacrifices to be a part of this diverse group, but this journey has been the most satisfying and rewarding of my acting career to date and has given me the kind of strength that can only be found through hardship.

I am not suggesting that my trials and tribulations compare with Pericles. That would be laughable, well maybe not audible laughter but in the same way that one of your martyr friends “LOL’S” after all of those complaining status updates on Facebook. I digress; it has been an absolute joy to take part in a program that made me challenge myself in a way I had never experienced before. A program that informs the way I act as well as how I live. Pericles seems a spot-on pick for those of us at Ensemble Training Intensive (ETI), as we can all relate to this story and we can hardly wait to share it with you.

Freehold's Engaged Theatre production of PERICLES will be performed this coming weekend by our ETI students on June 23, 24, 25 at 8:00 pm and June 25 at 4:00 pm at Seattle University's Lee Center for the Arts, 901 12th Avenue. There will be an additional outdoor performance on Wednesday, June 29th at 6:30 pm Seward Park's Amphitheater. All performances are pay what you can. More information or to reserve a seat: http://www.freeholdtheatre.org/events/2011/06/23/shakespeares-pericles

Photo above: Rehearsal of PERICLES with cast

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ensemble Training Intensive (ETI) - "We're committed" by Phillip Mitchell

“The cast for this year's performance of Pericles will be comprised entirely of students from Freehold's Ensemble Training Intensive (ETI) which is a 10 month acting conservatory program. This performance will be the culmination of the last ten months of the students' training at Freehold.” - Press Release, June 6, 2011

Well, the marketing has started for our final production (aka The Engaged Theatre Program). I guess that makes it official. We’re committed. But then, commitment has been an ongoing theme for this program.

As I thought about what to write here, I reflected on where we started and where we’ve been. Last summer, as part of our submissions to the ETI program, we were required to write a Statement of Purpose. Here is an excerpt from mine:
“If I have it right …. We will immerse ourselves in the craft and work to bring out the best in each other. We will learn new skills from great teachers and immediately put them to use with challenging material. Then we will use all we have learned to perform great works and provide transformative experiences for our community and for communities that don’t usually get to see theater. Then we will go back out into the world prepared to do it again and again. I can hardly wait.”

In short - I had it right.

The work has been immersive and challenging. It has also been revealing, vulnerable, frightening, frustrating, exhausting, and inspirational. My classmates have done some wonderful work and, with their support and witness, I have learned, experimented, stretched, struggled, failed, and done some of the best work of my life.

(with apologies to W. Shakespeare)
We have learned skills from teachers great and wise -
Speech, voice, and movement, text and yoga too.
Stage combat’s fun and real good exercise.
Auditions now are cake, if spoke or sung
And scenes are real on cam’ra or on stage.
Solo Performance was a wondrous thing
To play the Bard some genius skills we bring.

We have performed Great Works from Ibsen to O’Neill to Williams. We have also performed our own works in Solo Fest. They may not have been “Great” but they were great. And, ironically, it was during this phase that we came together as Ensemble, supporting each other as audience members, thoughtful critics, and crew. And, of course, we have performed many works of Shakespeare in scenes and soliloquies, some of which were presented in recital.

Now we are (according to the press release above) about to present a Great Work to our Community and we are about to literally ‘take it on the road’ to underserved audiences.

Today is typical of our process to prepare the show. After some of us met early to polish a dance, the ensemble held a physical and vocal warm-up. This was followed by several hours of working with our Movement Director on dances and scene transitions. Then we collaborated with our fabulous musicians putting original music into some scenes. After lunch there was deep scene work. All of this was under the direction of our incomparable Director, Robin Lynn Smith. We daily incorporate lessons learned throughout the ETI program. It’s the hardest and best work ever.

This experience has been transformative for me. Will our show be transformative for our audiences?

I have learned a lot. Am I prepared to go into the world as a professional actor?

Time will tell.

I can hardly wait.

Melissa Topscher and Phillip Mitchell performing in ETI's Shakespeare Recital (2011)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

10 Good Reasons to Study Dramatic Movement by George Lewis

10) We tend to tense up in stressful situations, under pressure, on stage. It feels like our hands have become enormous, like everyone is staring at them, and we don´t know where to put them. We can't stand still, feel like we should be doing something, so we shuffle around. Studying dramatic movement helps make us comfortable to be ourselves onstage.

9) And yet, we have to be actually more than we are in life. We must develop an extraordinary presence that will expand all the way out to the back rows of the theatre. Which is where most of our friends are sitting, in the cheap seats, so we owe it to them.

8) We have to be more focused than in ordinary life: we must develop extraordinary focus. Movement training teaches how to focus not only with the eyes, not only with the mind, but with the entire body, the entire being.

7) We must also forge a greater relationship between what goes on inside of us and how it manifests physically. We must be available to being affected by what is going on around us, responsive to our impulses stemming from that, and then free to allow those impulses to manifest fully physically and vocally. If the audience doesn´t see and hear it, it´s not happening theatrically.

6) We must have the athletic/gymnastic/physical abilities to allow these impulses to come out and take us further than we allow ourselves to go in everyday life. We may choose not to go all the way, but that is a choice and not because we are afraid or unable.

5) We must learn to choose and shape the form of our expression. Just because in life we might respond to a given circumstance in a certain way, that does not mean it has to be that way onstage. Instinctual movement often follows learned/aquired patterns. There is no ART in that. Art involves choice. We can learn to play freely with rhythm and shape and flow and energy- with the dynamics of time and spoace. Not just the WHAT but also the HOW of physical action.

4) We must learn to do this all dynamically with the partners, both animate (other characters) and inanimate (props and set)

3) We must learn to play with the dynamics of space and time. Including stillness.

2) We must learn to play freely and fully onstage. To PLAY an action and not just DO it. To find a deep sense of enjoyment in what we do, even if we are playing Othello strangling Desdemona.

1) We have to excite, intrigue, and inspire our audiences to live more fully than they allow themselves. The body does not lie, cannot lie. If we are extraordinarily alive onstage, then we will be doing our job.

Photo above: Freehold's ETI Students studying movement with George Lewis.

George Lewis is a Founding Partner of Freehold and also a Freehold faculty member. He has been working in the field of movement theatre for over 30 years. George will be teaching a Movement Intensive this Summer, 2011. For more information, go to: Movement Intensive

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's a Radio Show by Vincent Delaney

Phone call from Leslie. It’s a radio show. With a band. In a brand new theatre. Are you in?

Modulated panic. Keep saying yes, maybe you’ll figure out if you can actually do this. Radio? Never tried. I think of Orson Welles, campy sound effects, doors creaking. Does anyone listen to this stuff anymore? I think of NPR, This American Life, that feeling that you’re nodding off behind the wheel. Beaten to a pulp by progressive blandness.

How will this thing work? It’s 2011.

First writers’ meeting. In a bar, of course. Happy hour. Playwrights know where the cheap liquor flows. What gets said? Can’t really recall, but I remember the personalities, the voices, the excitement. LA TheatreWorks? No way. Old school homage? No freaking way.

Elizabeth, Scot, Paul, talking a mile a minute. Everyone has their idea already, or a script finished, or looks like they’re going to have it finished by the third round of drinks.

Maybe if I keep them here long enough they’ll drop an extra storyline in my lap.

I’m deep into my Guinness, it’s a raucous after work crowd, herds of suits and ties and then there’s us, sprawled in the front corner, getting louder. I’m looking out at corporate types getting soaked by the 6pm spring rain, and it seems utterly natural to say sure, give me two weeks and I’ll send the draft.

What did I just say?

Driving home, thinking about narration. The voice of the story teller. How intimate, how much we’re at the mercy of that voice. How most of the time that voice lulls us, makes us too comfortable.

I am a sick man. I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man.

The first line of Notes From Underground, Dostoyevsky. No idea why it comes to me. I read it in college, maybe. But that line is there, it’s sticking, and I’m thinking about narration, uncomfortable narration. Train wreck narration.

Thinking about a voice that’s so odd and specific and self aware, invading that comfortable NPR space on the drive home, drawing us in to something wildly comic and dangerous. What is it about that voice?

Seems like a place to start.


Monday, June 20th, ONE NIGHT ONLY...SANDBOX RADIO Live! An evening of new works written specifically for the radio by Scot Augustson, Vincent Delaney, Elizabeth Heffron, Chuck Leggett, Anita Montgomery, and Paul Mullin; new music from the Sandbox Radio Band led by Jose Gonzales, conceived and directed by Leslie Law, performed live by members of the Sandbox Artists Collective (and some special guests!)- all recorded in front of you, our "studio" audience, for future podcast. Don't miss being a part of the inaugural episode of this exciting quarterly event!

Free Admission, with donations to the Sandbox Artists Collective gratefully accepted. Make your reservation (its free!) at:

Doors open at 7:30 with live music, show starts at 8:00pm, Reception to follow

For more about the Sandbox Artists Collective, visit