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

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