Monday, April 16, 2012

The Perfect Place to Have a Mid-life Crisis by Lori Stein

“When the class was over, she walked through the city, feeling a single emotion in her whole body and mind. At first she couldn’t identify what it was: then she realized it was fear. Oh, she thought, I must be afraid that I can’t do it - that I won’t be able to do a forward roll, that I’ll be thrown too hard and break a bone, that I’ll fail. But that didn’t feel like the truth, and she began to realize that what she was afraid of was that she would be able to do it, that it would become a passion, and it would change her in ways she couldn’t predict or understand.”
- Dave and Bush, Compassion in Action

I came across this passage about two years before I found the lump in my breast. That morning in the shower, when I made the discovery, I realized that I had to face the truth. I was afraid of the lump, but my fear was not of the lump alone — I could go the rest of my life without being faithful to my desires. The truth was, I wanted to be an actor. In fact, I had wanted this since high school, but put the desire aside. This brush with mortality woke me up. I wasn’t afraid of dying; I was afraid of living and not being true to myself.

After a series of tests, I found out the lump was benign. Now I had no excuse to hold back, but once again, fear and self-doubt crept in. I wanted to take a class in acting, but I had a picture in my mind of what the actors would look like: Young, hip, beautiful— they probably would wear berets and chain smoke. I was 41, lived in the suburbs, drove a mini-van, and had never even considered owning a beret. I was happily married, with two kids, two dogs, and a cat. I was a freaking cliché. But I was armed with my sense of a new lease on life. “Fuck it,” I thought.

I found Freehold through a Google search and was encouraged by their mission statement: “We at Freehold believe that theatre should inspire people to embrace the full range of human experience and connect us all more deeply to ourselves and to each other. In order for theatre to accomplish this, it must be truthful, illuminate the unseen, and articulate the unspoken. To realize this potential, there must be a place dedicated to research and experimentation in training and performance for working artists, inspired novices, and willing audiences.”

I was relieved to read that their training was for inspired novices as well as working artists. Embracing the full range of human experience, cool. Freehold’s mission statement was an invitation, an extended hand. So, I saved them in my favorites.

A week later I was sitting on a bleacher watching my son’s Little League game in Redmond, and my husband and I struck up a conversation with another couple. We decided to have dinner together, and in the car I told them that I was thinking of taking an acting class. Cris, told me he was also considering a class. It turned out that he used to do quite a bit of acting and had been researching schools. He said that he had heard really great things about Freehold and told me about their upcoming Open House. I couldn’t imagine that just a few years later, we would be performing together. That we’d be working in the same theater company, more than once playing the unhappily married couple.

I decided to attend the Open House.

So, yes, I got in my mini-van and began my adventure. Well, I was late. The presentations were over and people were standing around talking. I told the nice woman working the reception table about my interest in taking a class and asked her who I could talk with. She pointed me in the direction of a young man surrounded by many other young men and women. I swear he was wearing a beret, but over the years this has been disputed, as he said he never owned one. I was so shy I just stood on the outside of the circle as more cool young men and women surrounded him. Slowly making my way further from the center, I decided to leave. It was true: Acting was just for these people—cool, young, dressed in berets and scarves. I was almost to the door when the nice woman asked me if I got to talk to someone. I said, "It’s okay, I think he’s really busy." I began to walk, but she stopped me again and said, I have someone who can talk to you. She led me back into the building and pointed to the farthest corner of the room. There was a grey-haired man, alone by the radiator. She said that this man was George Lewis and he taught one of the beginning acting classes. I said to him, Is this a good place to have my mid-life crisis? He looked at me, straight in the eyes, with so much intensity and honesty -- "This is the perfect place to have a mid-life crisis." So, I took that first class, Intro to Acting on a Sunday evening, and the course of my life changed forever.

In one of my first classes we had to prepare an activity, a task which should be difficult, with high stakes, while living truthfully in the imaginary circumstance. I prepared to make a pineapple boat. I worked for hours on this plan. George watched me as I crashed and burned. I was disconnected and working hard, my face was flushed and my pineapple boat sucked. The painful few minutes ended. I waited for applause, but only heard- Next?

The next time, I prepared a new circumstance: my brilliant stolen diamond ring caper; my activity: cutting lemons. I was convinced that this was going to be better than the pineapple boat. George said, you are using a sledgehammer when you only need to apply a tap. Relax.

Later in my Rehearsal and Performance I started crying during one of the warm-up games, like word ball or something. I couldn’t remember the words and got really frustrated and left the Circle. My teacher with the disputed beret found me in the hall. I can tell you really want this, Lori: trust yourself and relax.

I was trying so hard to be perfect. I was reminded to let go, trust myself, stay in the moment, listen.

I continued into The Meisner Progression where there were many opportunities to practice all of the above. I continued on and graduated from the 2005-06 Ensemble Training Intensive program. I felt a sense of community and purpose. The experiences I gained fed into my home life. My daughter’s life was influenced; she’s a writer, studying in New York; after seeing me in a show adapted from Raymond Carver’s writings, she was inspired to delve more deeply into the philosophy of the short story. My friends who rarely saw live theatre began to come to my performances. My husband, whose day job is in computer technology, now also does stage photography for theatre companies. My own life was so enriched, but I never expected the incredible richness it would add to others.

As for me, I am continually working on letting go, trusting myself, staying in the moment, and listening. I believe I am more real and grounded than ever. I care less and less about my perceived mid-life crisis, and more about other people. Acting has become my passion, and it has changed my life in ways I could never have imagined.

Photo above: Lori performing in "It's a Wonderful Life" - A live radio play.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Freehold's Annual Auction 2012 - Look at Our Great Auction Items!

Monday, May 7, 2012

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: purchase via Freehold's office.

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

Sunset Sailing Dinner Cruise - up to 4 guests are invited to join the Weatbrooks on their sailboat for dinner and a sunset cruise on Lake Union, Puget Sound, or through the Lake Washington ship canal. Includes full dinner and beverages.

Freehold Board Member and trained pilot David Friedt will take a lucky person and 3 of their guests through a flight simulator session. This is one of 5 full motion simulators and each simulator is a specific make and model of aircraft. You will be in the Dash 8-300 simulator. The session planning allows for 3 people plus the instructor and will include take-offs, landings and flight training airwork, plus a flight to another destination.

One week at Casa Lora, Monterosso Calabro, Italy - Explore and relax in this small town in Italy, high in the hills of Calabria. Casa Lora is a small house, with sleeping accommodations for four adults. It's a little over 200 years old, rehabilitated and newly furnished in the last five years. Monterosso is best visited in the spring or the fall, avoiding the intense heat of high summer and the chilly winds of midwinter. The purchase of a week at Casa Lora will include a gourmet dinner and orientation at the home of owners Mick Gamache and Lora Robertson in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle. Package does not include airfare.

Chelsea Station Inn, one night stay in an 800 square foot suite - suite can accompany 2-4 people. Enjoy a night away at a lovely Bed & Breakfast in the Woodland Park neighborhood.

Adriatic Grill - $50 Gift Certificate. One yelp reviewer proclaimed this was this favorite restaurant to dine in in all of Tacoma!

Babeland - Gift Bag. The always popular goodie bag from the trendy, arty adult store Babeland aims to please.

Bellevue Arts Museum - 4 guest passes to a local treasure of a museum that presents contemporary art of the Washington state region and has programs that connect art, community and everyday life. Haven't checked in out yet? Here's your chance!

Bellevue Civic Theatre - Treat yourself to some theatre! 2 Season Tickets to Bellevue Civic Theatre

Bill Speidel's Underground Tour - Pass for 2 Underground Tour - Whether you're expecting some friends or relatives in town and want to show them a unique part of Seattle history or you haven't had a chance to check out this fun tour yourself, this is the one for you!

Book-It Repertory Theatre - Family Four Pack to Book-It Family Fun Day. "Literature Meet Theatre". Book-It's popular kid-focused family gatherings are a great chance to see the energetic productions that their education department tours to thousands of young people all over Washington State. This season's series features more great children's literature with book-themed craft projects and post-show workshops.

Cappy's Boxing Gym - 5 Boxing Fitness Classes. Cappy's Seattle boxing gym offers boxing lessons and fitness classes for all ages. One testimonial reported: "Cappy's is the real deal. I started boxing lessons two weeks ago, and this is by far the most amazing hour and a half workout I've ever endured, but it's so much more than just a workout. You learn real technique, practice with all the right equipment, and spar with the right kind of people."

Cedarbrook Lodge - Northwest Get Away Package, 1 night deluxe queen room and dinner for 2 (sustainable farm-to-table). Get away without the hassle of fighting traffic - relax in your own backyard at Cedarbrook. Eighteen lush acres of natural restored wetlands provide an optimal location with the ambiance of a discreet hideaway. Comfortable accommodations, unexpected amenities, contemporary event spaces, original works of art and seasoned service reflect Cedarbrook's quintessential Northwest style.

Dimitriou's Jazz Alley - Admission covers for 2. Voted 4 times in a row as Best Jazz Club in The Best of Western Washington Contest.

Doe Bay Village - $100 Gift Certificate for Resort. A relaxing waterfront resort on thirty-eight acres in the San Juan Islands, with rustic cabins, yurts, and campsites. Whether you enjoy getting out into the wilderness, or just relaxing waterside, Doe Bay has it all. The Doe Bay Café serves the finest gourmet meals in the islands, locally grown in the Doe Bay Garden or on neighboring farms along with locally harvested fresh seafood.

Interbay Golf Course - One Hour Group Lesson for 3 Students. Have you wanted to learn to play golf or perhaps improve your golf swing? Lessons can help! Health benefits have been reported with playing golf including staying fit, helping you to reduce stress or helping you develop a sense of community connectedness. Time to "tee off!"

John Howie Restaurants - $50 Gift Certificates for SeaStar (South Lake Union), John Howie Steak (Bellevue), and Sport (Seattle). Experience the Northwest’s premier dining experience. Comfortable surroundings, prime custom-aged steaks, side dishes that define culinary excellence and an award winning wine list featuring bottles from near and far.

K1 Speed - Electric Indoor Kart Racing - 2 gift cards for 14 lap race and license. Tap into your inner kid and do some laps!

Macrina Bakery & Café - 2 Macrina T-Shirts & Gift Certificate good for 1 loaf of bread a month for one year. There is nothing like freshly baked bread and Macrina is renowned for their amazing breads.

On The Boards - 2 tickets to any regular performance. OtB has become a leading center for the creation and presentation of contemporary performance.

Seattle International Film Festival - Two Full Series Passes to SIFF 2012. Fill up on SIFF's amazing films during their upcoming highly lauded Film Festival - May 17 - June 10.

Seattle Repertory Theatre - One pair of tickets to the Seattle Repertory Theatre's 50th Anniversary Season. One of the largest and most renowned regional theatres in the country, Seattle Repertory Theatre produces a mix of classics, recent Broadway hits and cutting-edge new works in two theatre spaces.

Smith Brothers Farms - Home Delivery Package. They deliver farm-fresh milk and dairy products right to your door once a week. What could be better?

Teatro Zinzanni - 2 admisions, 3 hour performance and five course gourmet meal. eatro ZinZanni's main event is part circus, part dinner theatre, and always magical. Described as "the Kit Kat Klub on acid" and "the hottest ticket in town" Teatro ZinZanni is a night out unlike any other.

The 5th Avenue Theatre - 2 Tickets to Rent. Jonathan Larson's electrifying tale of East Village artists won everything — the Tony, the Obie, the Pulitzer. Our exuberant new staging showcases a cast of young, home-grown, musical theater stars.

The Film School - Full tuition to 3 week Intensive. The 3-Week Intensive is TheFilmSchool’s cornerstone program, and renowned around the world as “life-changing.” Since 2004, the “Bootcamp” has championed many independent filmmakers by encouraging a crafted creative process with a focus on original and deeply personal storytelling.

Tom Douglas Dahlia Lounge - Dinner for 4 at Dahlia Lounge and a signed copy of Tom's Big Dinners. From the smell of the wood burning grill to the swirl of a silky Yakima Valley Cabernet in the glass, to the first bite of a gingery, pan browned shrimp scallion potsticker, Dahlia Lounge is the quintessential Seattle restaurant experience.

Tula's Restaurant and Jazz Club - $50 Gift Certificate. 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.

Village Theatre - 2 Tickets to 2012-13 Season.

West of Lenin/ Ethereal Mutt - Movie Night at West of Lenin - 88 seats.
Get West of Lenin for a night! Have a free movie night, reading or perform your solo performance piece for a one night. West of Lenin is an 95 seat black box theatre and studio space located literally a 5 minute walk west of the Lenin statue in Fremont. it is a state of the art venue with HD projection capability and surround sound audio.

Some Family Fun Options:

Pacific Science Center - Family Pack: Four exhibits and IMAX passes

Seattle Children's Theatre - 2 tickets to 2013 Season

Woodland Park Zoo - Family Fun Pack: Admission 2 adults & 2 children