Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Freehold's Winter Quarter Acting Classes in Seattle are Now Open for Registration

Freehold Theatre's Winter Quarter Classes are now open for registration.

Freehold offers beginning acting classes for the absolute beginner as well as master classes for working professionals. Freehold has been offering acting classes in Seattle since the summer of 1991. All Freehold faculty are working professional actors, playwrights and directors whose credentials include recognized work on and off Broadway, in major motion pictures, on television, and in regional and international theatre venues. Our Winter Class Roster is listed below.  TO REGISTER for a class or to read more about the individual classes and their dates and times, click on the highlighted class below or call us at (206) 323-7499.

Here are our Winter Class offerings:
Step I: Intro to Acting with Annette Toutonghi
Step II: Acting with Text with Meg McLynn (weekend)
Step II: Acting with Text with Stefan Enriquez (week day)
Step III: Basic Scene Study with Dan Tierney
Meisner: Instrument with Robin Lynn Smith
Auditioning with Darragh Kennan
Crafting the Audition Song with Meg McLynn
Improvisation with Matt Smith
Introduction to Shakespeare with Sarah Harlett
Beginning Clown Workshop with George Lewis
Playwriting I with Rebecca Tourino
Ready for TPS Generals? with Christine Marie Brown
Solo Performance and Presentation with Marc Kenison
The Directing Workshop: Process and Practice for Stage and Film - ACTORS here with John Jacobsen and Robin Lynn Smith
The Directing Workshop: Process and Practice for Stage and Film - DIRECTORS here with John Jacobsen and Robin Lynn Smith
The Unsuccessful Clown Workshop: A Joyful Exploration of Failure and Frustration with George Lewis
Voice with Gin Hammond

Reserve a space in one of our classes by registering for a class by December 5th and receive a 5% early bird discount (registration requires paying at least the minimum class deposit for the class).

Join us for our free Winter Quarter Class Sample event on Friday, December 5th at 6:00 pm at Freehold and sample several of our classes including Intro to Acting, Improv, Playwriting and The Directing Workshop. RSVP for a space in one of our class samples here:

Monday, November 10, 2014

Top Seven Reasons to Study Voice by Gin Hammond

You may have heard the adage “nobody needs a lawyer…until they need a lawyer.”  It can be the same with vocal coaching.  We get called in to help people who are losing their voices, to fix off-kilter accents, or to enable people to simply be heard.  These sessions can be highly emotional at first, fraught with frustration and a fear of being branded as a “problem actor,” vocally speaking.  With a little vocal training, however, you don’t have to find yourself battling vocal nightmares such as:

1.       PAIN - why would you want to act if it hurts?  Some actors, (and even some directors), falsely believe it is just a part of the job.  In fact, union actors who have to scream in video games are supposed to be provided an extra fee because it is anticipated that the actor will be unable to use his/her voice the following day.  The extra money is lovely, but never risk cannibalizing your voice for one project.  With proper training, you don’t have to.

2.       DAMAGE – If you’re already experiencing acute pain, put yourself on vocal rest immediately and contact an otolaryngologist to rule out the possibility of nodes, polyps, lesions, or other conditions which could permanently damage your voice, lead to chronic pain, or force you to turn down work.

3.       INABILITY TO TAKE DIRECTION – Whether for creative purposes, bottom line issues, or both, theaters often cast actors in multiple roles.  If all your characters sound exactly the same and you are inflexible in your ability to help create the world the director is trying to populate, it may limit your casting.

4.       FEAR OF ACCENTS/DIALECTS –  If I asked you to name your favorite bad accent in a play or movie, which one would you name?  For most people, especially actors, this is easy to do.  Unfortunately, that is one reason the joy of being cast in a show requiring accents can be tempered by stomach-churning self-doubt about convincingly portraying the role(s).  In our increasingly connected world, it is difficult to get away with manufacturing a “general” accent.   But the vast majority of humans have teeth, lips, jaws, tongues, soft palates, and glottises, so it’s really just a matter of playing around with these articulators, and knowing your equipment, so to speak.  One voice class can go a long way towards conquering this kind of fear.  (My favorite bad accent is the “Scottish” one in The Highlander, by the way.  I’m giggling just thinking about it.).

5.       CAN’T BE HEARD – Drawbacks to being inaudible require little explanation, though it bears mentioning  that knowing how to be more relaxed and resonant is the best substitute for straining to achieve more volume.  That, and knowing how to use your transverses abdominus.  Do you?

6.       LIMITED EMOTIONAL RANGE – You may have heard that breath and emotion are connected, but what does that mean?  To quote Saul Kotzubei, master teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework ™, “We can control our breathing to reduce the impact of difficult feelings and experiences. That’s not a bad thing. It’s an important ability we have.   For performers, a problem arises when our ability to manage our difficult experience by controlling our breathing becomes an instant, habitual, and largely unconscious response… It is very hard to express vocally what you cannot experience, and performers often push the voice to compensate. In addition to causing the voice to be disassociated from the truth of the moment, this can also cause vocal strain or fatigue.”  For more on this, go HERE.

7. COST OF MEDICAL TREATMENT – This requires no explanation.  Unless you’re sitting on a big pile of money and have all the time in the world. 

Studying voice can not only address all these concerns, but it can be a liberating way to open up your imagination and have even more fun acting than you ever thought possible.  It can be joyful, it can be challenging, and it can require you to enhance how you synthesize your body, heart, and mind.  It can improve life both on and off the stage.  And it just feels good.

So, which path do you prefer to choose?


Gin Hammond will be teaching a Voice class at Freehold Theatre  in Seattle this coming Winter Quarter. Stay tuned. Winter Quarter registration opens on November 17th!

Directing Class Testimonials from Freehold Alums

Freehold is excited to be offering our "The Directing Workshop: Process and Practice for Stage and Film" with John Jacobsen and Robin Lynn Smith again this Winter Quarter. This hands-on directing workshop, designed for directors at all levels, is a unique opportunity to work with two master teachers from two different worlds. For more information on this class and how directors and actors can apply, go here. To see the testimonials from past students, see below.

"The Film Director's Lab is nothing short of a graduate program. The lab's structure empowers fellow directors to go deeper into the subtext of written material alongside writing one's own short screenplay and to understand the nuances of working with actors among other things. The most enriching aspect of the lab is the ongoing feedback, mentoring and coaching from the faculty - John Jacobsen and Robin Lynn Smith. Their love for the art and craft of directing is evident from their commitment to the field. To experience them collectively is a gift that will keep on giving. Finally, the best part of the lab for me is the strong community and friendships I have formed with fellow directors and actors. I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to be in this lab. It delivers so much more than it promises to. I would do it again!"- Monish Gangwani

"This class is undoubtedly invaluable because Robin and John, respected and admired masters in the art of acting and filmmaking in our region are teaching it.  Together they have created a unique opportunity to learn how to direct films in a manner that is practical that considers all the important elements needed to complete a film project successfully.  By working on three projects in class I learned to write a screenplay,  to let go and trust in the abilities of other members of my team,  the rules of translating word to image and shooting effective scenes, the importance of storyboarding and the shot list to arrive well prepared before the day of filming and the important and often overlooked main role of a director. Knowing how to work with actors to help them bring on the best performance on set.  The technical and the artistic parts of cinema, the science and art interlaced intimately as they are especially in the world of film.  In a personally meaningful way and as an alumna of Freehold who started taking acting 101 5 years ago, Freehold made this program accessible to me.  Something that felt impossible to achieve in the 80s as a teenager walking into Columbia College in Chicago and dreaming of becoming a filmmaker.   Robin and John gave me an incredible gift, the opportunity to make that shelved 30 year old dream a reality - to not only study it but be a filmmaker from day 1.   And for that I’m grateful." -Maristela Diaz

"This was probably the best class I've ever taken. John and Robin are both brilliant, challenging voices who bring total commitment and passion to every minute they are in class. I took some big drinks from the humility firehose, but feel vastly more prepared to continue the journey thanks to their lazer critiques and guidance." - Devin Hermanson

"This class brought me to life.  For the first time I wasn’t overcome with worry about how I was doing or whether I was good enough.  I just wanted to learn ... to experience ... to grow.  John and Robin live that approach to their craft and they create a safe place for their students to live it as well.  There was so much to learn, even though the 8 director-students knew a fair amount about film making already.  I felt both excited and nearly overwhelmed.  But Robin and John adjusted the course to fit our needs as we went along, making sure we got what we needed in order to build a foundation of competence and move progressively forward in developing our craft." - Leslie Asplund. To read more about Leslie's experience in the class, go here.

“I got into the filmmaking game almost 15 years ago. In that time I've done just about every job you can imagine and wound up making my living as an editor. Though I'd done some writing and directing here and there, my experience in these disciplines was, well, less than disciplined. When the opportunity came about to apply for the Freehold film directing course with John Jacobsen and Robin Lynn Smith, I jumped at it. The small class size and very direct interaction with John and Robin was a very real plus for me as having direct access to the experience and wisdom of these two was invaluable. The class itself was rigorous and demanded a lot of time and energy on my part. It required me to push myself into uncomfortable territories that ultimately increased my confidence in my ability to work with actors, get to the heart of a story and coax the best performance possible out of the cast. Coupling the director's track with an actors track is a stroke of genius as there was never a shortage of talented, up-and-coming talent that were similarly motivated to enhance their craft. This class has given me the skills and confidence to not only direct narrative films, but it has also made me a better, more disciplined editor and writer.” – Kirk Nordstenstrom

“I’ve studied with some of the most highly respected names in the business, schools and working film and TV professionals on both coasts. John’s and Robin’s Film Directing Course is unique and extraordinary in my experience. Their focus, intensity, and commitment to making you a better artist is unparalleled. Their course is a crucible from which you will emerge a leap ahead in your chosen craft, whether it’s directing, writing, or acting. You may meet your community of creative collaborators, as I did. Given the opportunity as an emerging director to take a course like this, from two instructors of this caliber, there’s only one answer...yes!” –Jeff Barber


Freehold will be offering our Directing class again this coming Winter Quarter entitled "The Directing Workshop: Process and Practice for Stage and Film" with John Jacobsen and Robin Lynn Smith. Applications are now available. Deadline for directors to apply is December 8th and deadline for actors to apply is November 24th.
More information on the class and how to apply:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Engaging with Theatre by John Helde

John Helde is a Freehold Board Member who attended an enhanced performance as part of Freehold's Engaged Theatre tour's production of The Flower of England's Face: Henry IV this past summer. Freehold hosted an enhanced performance which brought together audiences from seemingly disparate, disconnected communities where guests first saw the play, then broke bread together and engaged in debates with characters from the play while using improvisation, story telling, free writing and group poetry to explore the themes of the play. Freehold invited groups from Path with Art, Expedia, UW, Boeing and Getty Images to participate in the enhanced performance.  Here's John's experience of his participation in the event ....

I’d been anticipating this summer’s Engaged Theatre production The Flower of England’s Face: Henry IV – a special cutting and reworking of three of Shakespeare’s historical plays – for awhile.  I had the opportunity to see a work-in-progress last summer and it was electric even then.  Then last May, Robin Lynn Smith asked me to collaborate on a unique “surveillance” film she planned to integrate into the play; it was a blast to work with the cast and Robin to shoot the noir-ish flashback one morning in a back stairway at Freehold.

So when I was invited to attend the first “enhanced” performance I happily signed on.  The workshop following the Sunday afternoon performance promised to include “story telling, free writing and group poetry inspired by themes from the play.” The play was a completely compelling piece of theatre with a clear story, passionate actors and brilliant live music pouring from the wings. And, yes, it was sweaty!  It was a hot July night with no AC.

But it was in fact a great night to gather outside the UW’s Penthouse Theater afterwards with fellow audience members. Daemond Arrindell, Robin’s collaborator on the workshop, is a poet and teacher. He has a resonant voice and a generous spirit and he led us through a series of exercises that gave the group a way to interact with each other. My favorite was a “group poetry” project inspired by the play. The premise is this: it’s intimidating for the vast majority of us to write poetry spontaneously. Daemond went around the circle soliciting words and phrases that emerge from our understanding of the themes of the play, while Robin scribbled them up on a piece of butcher paper.  When we were done, Daemond read our “instant” poem aloud and lo and behold! - it was a surprisingly powerful piece. I love that one piece of art combined a willing audience can create a wholly new piece of art in a matter of minutes.

Then, we rolled up our sleeves and made our own poems. Daemond offered a prompt:  “If my dignity was a coat…” and away we went scribbling as fast as we could without thinking. When I was through covering one side of my 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper with my illegible handwriting, I found myself hoping a little that we were done; but we kept on cranking it out until Daemond called it.   Then, an even bigger challenge: sharing this work with the group.  I’m a filmmaker and a writer, and of course a big part of making creative work is sharing it. However, I’m used to editing and tweaking for a long time in private before that point.  Now, there was no opportunity for that.  One after another, we stood up to share our instantaneous poems. The idea of dignity – such a personal and tenuous one – grew to have many forms and facets. A young man who’s had difficult experiences growing up; an aging woman who’s passionate about peace… back to back the poems made the idea grow both more personal and more universal. I felt like we began to realize how tied we are by one word, and how each individual voice brings something new to our understanding. The words that poured out felt powerful and true, and I admired people’s courage and vulnerability.

Never did these games feel contrived, like, say, an overly upbeat session you might encounter at a company morale booster. The evening felt like a great meal. Maybe the play was, surprisingly, the appetizer. Sharing ourselves with our fellow audience members in a forthright way on a beautiful summer evening was the main course. And writing a poem, dessert.  The workshop was an honest and collaborative way to extend the emotional experience of the play into a connection with those who experienced it with you.  It was also a reminder that people are surprising and full of creative spirit, if they take the opportunity to play.  I walked out into the twilight of the U-District feeling like I’d traveled someplace pretty stirring with a bunch of new friends.