Friday, October 16, 2015

Elizabeth Heffron Returns!

Elizabeth Heffron, one of our dearest faculty members, returns to the Engaged Theatre Project after several years of writing and producing her own work at some of the most prestigious theaters in the Pacific Northwest. We are simply thrilled that Elizabeth is back this year, and were lucky enough to sit down and chat with her about what's next for the Engaged Theatre project! 

Freehold: Tell us a little bit about your background as a playwright. How did you first become involved with theatre?

My interest in theatre corresponds with my arrival in Seattle after college.  I'd just had the epiphany that I didn't want to be a lab scientist -- after getting my Bachelor of Science in PsychoBiology -- and was sort of floating as to what to do with my life.  Everyone I met here seemed involved in some way with theater.  There were small houses everywhere, and I'd been looking for the right outlet for the things I felt I needed to say.  I think the first thing I did was run a friend's sound for a project at New City Theater's Directors Festival, and that was like a gateway drug... I was hooked.

What brought you to Freehold initially? What brings you back now?

Back in the day -- before Freehold was 'Freehold' -- I took classes with Robin Lynn Smith and Tony Pasqualini up on Capitol Hill.  Then, later, I came back to teach playwriting classes in the old Oddfellows Hall and here in Belltown.  Somewhere around 2005, I started working with Robin and the Engaged Theatre Project at WCCW, the maximum security women's prison near Gig Harbor.  I was part of this annual project for about five years, until I was diagnosed with a stage 3 cancer, and had to sloooow things way down for awhile.

Tell us what you've been up to for the past few years!

Well, I'm still around -- 6 years cancer-free! -- and loving every minute on this whirling-dervish of a planet (that's a lie -- probably not every minute, but most of them).  I've  been on a fairly high-octane trajectory these last few years, earning my MFA in Playwriting from Hollins University, teaching at Cornish College of the Arts, and through the Young Playwrights Program at ACT Theatre.  I've been a member of the Seattle Rep's Writers Group and have managed to complete a number of long-term writing projects; including the play BO-NITA, which had a production at the Rep a few seasons' back.

How does the Engaged Theatre Project help you as a playwright? What are some things you've learned from the Engaged Theatre Project? 

Every time I go into WCCW, and meet the women, I am aware that 'there but by the grace of God go I...'  The fact that raw circumstances beyond our control, of birth, and class, and race stack the deck much higher against certain members of our society.  The cards many of these women have been dealt are  ludicrously unfair, and seeing how they come to terms with this essential inequity and then rise above these obstacles, to seek out beauty and hope and a changed way of being in the world, is really inspiring.

What are you most looking forward to teaching, learning, or experiencing with the project this year?

What is hitting me most this time -- from our first meeting with the women a few weeks ago -- is how deeply inter-connected we all are.  How each woman's individual life relates to the larger weave of the ultimate story we are creating as a nation and a people.  Like a series of fractals, every one of us is intimate and global, all at the same time.  I'm really looking forward to learning more about this year's participants and the voices they will bring to this work and the world.

The public performance for the Engaged Theatre Project at WCCW is scheduled for early April, 2016. To read a review of last year's performance, click here.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Student First Impressions, Fall 2015


Monday, July 6, 2015

An interview with G. Valmont Thomas

G. Valmont Thomas, one of our newest faculty members, has had a lively and legendary career in Northwest theatre (and beyond!) since the 1980's, and was once dubbed the "hardest-working actor in Seattle." We were lucky enough to interview him for the blog this weekend. G. Valmont Thomas will be teaching Voice Over with us this summer! Read on to learn more about him.

Freehold: Tell us a little bit about your background as a director and performer. How did you first become involved with theatre?

Well, If I go into detail about when I FIRST got involved with theatre, that story will take up too much space, so I will just say, it was in high school.
And I will name the woman who developed in me a love and a discipline for actually WORKing so that I could PLAY! Her name was Virginia Heidbrieder and she taught at Clover Park High School in Tacoma, WA. This woman saw something in me and worked to instill in me a love for this art form that hasn't been equaled by anything else since. I had the great luck to attend WWSC which is now WWU, in Bellingham, starting in 1977, the first year of teaching there for a man named Tom Ward who created a company there and taught us all that EVERYbody was needed to make theatre work. I have been extremely lucky in my career to have been part of a number of companies: The Bathhouse Theatre Company, The Seattle Group Theatre Company, The Empty Space Theatre Company, and The Oregon Shakespeare Festival Acting Company. My BA is in Theatre Arts from Western Washington University, My MFA is in Directing For The Theatre from Penn State University.

What brought you to Freehold?

Believe it or not, I have been in talks with Robin Lynn Smith for quite a few years to join this group of teaching artists! We just always discovered that our schedules either conflicted, or never matched up. Finally, it worked out for both of us!

Can you share with us a memorable onstage or backstage moment?

One indelible memory took place in Ashland, OR on September 11, 2001. As soon as everyone learned what happened in New York City, we came together as a company to discuss whether or not we should perform that day. Many of us believed that performing was not a good idea. We cancelled the matinee performances to talk and finally decided to go on for the evening shows. Libby Appel, our AD at the time, reminded us that "People have traveled a long way to be here with us. We are the closest thing many of them have to family here in Ashland." We began each performance with a silent candlelight ceremony where we walked onstage as a cast and just stood with lit candles and everyone, actors and audience, focused on what our country had just gone through. I was in the Bowmer Theatre, and in the Elizabethan Theatre was a production of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE wherein the first line was spoken by Antonio, "In Sooth, I know not why I am so sad." Every line we uttered sounded different that night, than it ever had before or ever would again.

Do you have a favorite project that you've been involved with? What are you working on at the moment?

One of the favorite projects I have ever been involved with is PARTY PEOPLE by a group of artists called UNIVERSES. I have been fortunate enough to perform in it with them at two theatres, OSF and Berkekley Repertory Theatre. It deals with the Black Panther Party for Self Defense and The Young Lords. There is music, dancing, poetry, ensemble work, and incredibly poignant scene work. It is just indescribable. They are currently re-working it at Martha's Vineyard in preparation to perform it at The Public in New York. I am looking forward to a production of WATER BY THE SPOONFUL with Theatre 22 in September and October at West Of Lenin. That play takes place mostly online! Should be fun. Then in January I will be appearing in David Mamet's AMERICAN BUFFALO produced by TRUE COLORS Theatre in Atlanta, GA.

What has been your favorite voice over role?

Well, there are two, really. The first one is the "Day-O Guy" from the late, lamented Bon Marche's One Day Sale Radio and Television ads. It made folks smile a lot. The other one is one where I almost didn't accept the job. Blackstone Audio had secured the rights to O.J. Simpson's hypothetical account of the last days of the two people who were murdered at his home, called IF I DID IT and wanted me to narrate the audiobook. I decided that if I was going to do it, I would just have to "go there." It was very tough, but I have heard from people who could stomach it and people who couldn't. Either way, people got mad at the CD player while listening. I count that as a success.

What are you looking forward to teaching in your Voice Over class this summer?

Well, I am looking forward to helping each student identify their strengths and weaknesses when looking to convey emotion persuasively using only their voice. There is a certain frame of mind that one has got to discover for themselves to allow them to find success in the recording booth. Not only that, but there is a usually forgotten relationship with the engineer. As professionals, we don't often talk about it, so in this class, we are going to make a foray into the voice talent/client/engineer triangle that exists at EVERY AUDITION. Very often it is this triangle that wins or loses the job.

G. Valmont Thomas' Voice Over class starts this weekend. Sign up today!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Emboldened/Unsung Jazz Heroes tickets are now available!

Did any of you check out that fantastic piece in City Arts about our upcoming Engaged Theatre production, Emboldened? If you haven't, you should!

D'Vonne Lewis (left) and Reginald Andre Jackson (right)
Photo by Steve Korn

“When we’re playing well together and we don’t realize it and we’re in some other place, that’s where the beauty is,” Lewis continues. “But Buddy took it to that place and couldn’t handle it. Music can make you go crazy if you always want to get to that place. He always wanted to blow people’s minds every time he played, so much so he blew his own mind.” 

Read the full article by Jake Uitti here.
Buy tickets to Emboldened/Unsung Jazz Heroes here.

Emboldened poster with artwork by Jay Mason
Emboldened poster. Artwork by Jay Mason
Freehold's Engaged Theatre program, in association with Theatre Off Jackson, presents an immersive music and theatre experience commissioned by Freehold and produced in partnership with the Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas and The Mahogany Project.

Emboldened/Unsung Jazz Heroes investigates the need to seek - both individually and collectively - an identity and a durable sense of self; and inquires into how necessity leads to the birth of inspiration. Juxtaposing stories from Seattle's historic jazz scene with the forgotten legacy of Buddy Bolden, the project examines the extraordinary internal worlds of these under-noticed souls and their struggle to break out of imposed limits - creatively and destructively.

A two-part experience featuring an interactive site-specific installation as well as an original play, Emboldened/Unsung Jazz Heroes will combine video, performance and music for a night of storytelling that will invite the public to encounter theatre - and each other - in a new interface.

The event features an original play, Emboldened: The Rise and Fall of King Bolden the First, byReginald AndrĂ© Jackson (winner of the 2010 AATE Distinguished Playwriting Award) about the life of Buddy Bolden, accompanied by an original score composed by D'Vonne Lewis (of Industrial Revelation, winner of the 2014 Stranger Genius Award in Music). The play will be prefaced by the live installation Unsung Heroes of Seattle Jazz, a contextual historic gallery showcasing the stories of Seattle's vibrant yet underdocumented jazz scene.

Freehold's Engaged Theatre program presents
Emboldened/Unsung Heroes
July 23, 24, 25 at 7:00pmJuly 26 at 5:00pm
July 31August 1, 3 at 7:00pmAugust 2 at 5:00pm
Theatre Off Jackson, 409 7th Ave S, Seattle WA 98104

Monday, June 29, 2015

An interview with Andre Nelson

This weekend we had a chance to chat with Andre Nelson, a new instructor who's teaching Step I: Intro to Acting this summer. You may have seen him in various shows around town, including Bunnies at Annex Theatre in April. Andre's been involved with Freehold's Engaged Theatre tour for years, but this is his first time teaching with us. Welcome, Andre!

Freehold: Tell us a little bit about your background as a performer. How did you first become involved with theatre?

AN: I've been acting since age 10, when I played Cupid in a murder mystery at a winery. I was hooked soon after and began studying theatre intensively at an arts magnet program in my high school. 

Unfortunately, I had a rotten experience in the theatre program at my first college and swore off acting forever. A few years later, however, I had an epiphany while flipping burgers as a line cook in Portland, Oregon: I couldn't escape my need to act nor would I be happy without it.

Long story short, I finished up my BFA at Cornish College of the Arts and have been working professionally in theatre since.

What brought you to Freehold?

I first worked with Freehold doing their Engaged Theatre tour of King Lear to Washington State Prisons a few years back. It was an illuminating experience, and I am grateful I had the chance to connect with easily the most attentive, appreciative audiences I've ever encountered.

Tell us about a memorable onstage or backstage moment.

One memorable moment I had as an actor was my first entrance in a scene. It was the murder mystery I mentioned, in which I played Cupid in green tights and an oversized, ruffle-sleeved white shirt to boot. I was apparently too young to be trusted to make my entrance by myself, so someone was in charge of letting me know it was time for my one and only entrance in the play. Unfortunately, no one came to tell me. One of the actors on stage had to improvise and run backstage to grab me. It was an amusing, albeit embarrassing introduction into the crazy world of theatre!

Do you have a favorite role that you've played? Which role(s) would you be interested in playing in the future, and why?

One of my more memorable roles was playing the character Louis from Virginia Woolf's The Waves, an adaptation directed by Sheila Daniels at Cornish College of the Arts. Not only did I have to learn an Australian dialect and play an uptight social outcast, but I also got the pleasure of giving life to Woolf's beautiful poetry. 

I've always wanted to act in a Chekhov play - any of them really but Cherry Orchard and The Seagull in particular. Every character he wrote is well rounded and fascinating. 

What are you looking forward to teaching in your Step I class this summer?

I'm looking forward to getting to know the students and being inspired by them. I can't wait to learn from each class in order to grow as a teacher and give them the best experience possible. 

Step I: Intro to Acting runs on Monday nights, starting July 13th. Sign up today!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

All's Well photos and 2015-2016 ETI Applications

First off, congratulations to the 2014-2015 ETI folks on their fantastic run of All's Well That Ends Well!

Thanks to Michael Brunk of NW Lens for taking these amazing shots! More photos can be viewed on our Facebook page.

Also, we've opened our 2015-2016 ETI applications up once again due to popular request, so get them in while you still can! The deadline is Wednesday, July 1st at 5:00pm. Auditions will be held on the evening of Thursday, July 9th.

To apply:
- Email your theatrical resume, headshot, and 2 letters of reference to

Freehold's Ensemble Training Intensive is the only independent 10-month certificate program for dedicated actors in the Pacific Northwest. Our central aim is the development of core acting skills that are as delicate as they are vital, and too often overlooked. ETI was created for the serious student who is ready to commit to the next level artistically, and professionally. ETI empowers emerging professionals with a dependable inner and outer process so that they can make a meaningful contribution to the community at large. 

More information about our ETI program can be found on our website.

Monday, June 22, 2015

2015 Summer Quarter Acting & Theatre Classes at Freehold

Hello friends of Freehold!

With June well underway, we hope you're keeping an eye on the start dates for our summer quarter classesHere's the full lineup below:
Emerging Series

Intermediate Series

Writing Series

Workshops and Clinics

Also, an update: our new summer office hours are Monday through Thursday, 10am to 4pm. Have questions about registration? Feel free to call us during office hours at (206) 323-7499.

Happy summer, everyone!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hey everyone! Now that our annual dinner and auction has wrapped up, things are slowly getting back to normal around the office here.

A few things coming up:

1) Tonight! Join us at Northwest Film Forum for a screening of short films by our Directing Workshop students! There will be two showtimes: 7pm and 8:30pm. Reserve tickets here!

2) Summer class samples are on June 9th! Curious about what taking a Freehold class is like? Drop by at 6pm for a FREE preview of some classic Freehold offerings (Gin Hammond's Voice, MegMcLynn's Step I, and Matt Smith's Improv). Reservations recommended; reserve a spot here!

3) Freehold's Ensemble Training Intensive presents All's Well That Ends Well at 12th Ave Arts. Directed by Andrew McGinn with choreography by Donald Byrd. The show runs from June 11-14; don't miss it! All performances are pay what you can. Get your tickets here!

Also, our early bird discount just ended but it's not too late to sign up for summer quarter classes!

Monday, May 4, 2015

May news & updates

It's already May, which means we've got a lot going on here at Freehold.

First of all, our summer classes are now open for registration! We've got the return of our classic hits, such as Acting for the Camera with John Jacobsen, Personal Clown with George Lewis and the Shakespeare Intensive with Amy Thone. We're also welcoming new faculty members Andre Nelson and G Valmont Thomas, who will be teaching Step I and Voice Over, respectively. Register by May 26th to receive a 5% early bird discount.

Also, INCUBATOR Studio Series applications are due on Thursday, May 7th! A vital part of Freehold’s educational mission is to encourage those who study with us to experiment in a performance situation with the processes and tools developed in the classroom. INCUBATOR gives participants the opportunity to take a critical next step with their work by bringing it into an investigative setting with a director, and then into the public arena with an audience.

Tomorrow, GiveBIG to Freehold and have your donation go further! Every donation we receive on our online donation page on May 5th will be "stretched" (i.e. partially matched). Want to support radical accessibility in the arts? Donate to Freehold on May 5th!

Finally, we've been busy getting ready for our annual dinner and auction at the Palace Ballroom. We've got a wide selection of fabulous prizes to bid on, music will be provided by the talented D'Vonne Lewis trio and wine will be provided by Chateau Ste Michelle. Matt Smith will officiate the auction, and we'll be honoring two special guests: Sharon Nyree Williams and John Jacobsen. If you haven't bought your tickets yet, do so now! Ticket sales end this weekend.

Can't make it on May 18th? Check out our online auction, open from May 7th to 14th!

Monday, April 13, 2015

An interview with ETI alum Kiki Yeung

Happy Monday, friends of Freehold! Have you ever wondered what former Ensemble Training Intensive (ETI) students have gone on to accomplish? Over the weekend the multitalented actress, model, producer (and ETI alum!) Kiki Yeung was kind enough to answer some questions for us about her life since ETI.

FREEHOLD: What first made you interested in acting and theatre?

Kiki Yeung: Since I was a kid, I wanted to be an actor. When I lived in Hong Kong, my dream was to become a pop singer, then my family immigrated to Bothell, WA when I was twelve. Growing up, my dad played a lot of Hollywood movies such as Die Hard, Jaws, Star Wars and Indiana Jones at home. I wanted to be like Julia Roberts after watching Pretty Woman. When I went to UW, I wanted to major in film acting, but there was only theater major. Theater and monologues were such foreign concepts to me. Luckily, there was no audition necessary to enter the Drama program, and I'm so glad I majored in Drama and learned the production side of things.

Since graduating from ETI, what are some of the projects you've been involved with?

I continued to develop my one woman show "Second Chances For Grace" from the ETI solo class. I met an amazing actress and teacher, DeAnna Driscoll in San Diego. She directed the show and it won an award at the San Diego Fringe Festival in 2013. It was a challenging and exciting process to play eight characters based on my life. I am a producer and actress at Titan Sky Entertainment. We are in development for GodMachine, a sci-fi film featuring some alums from TV series Star Trek and Earth Final Conflict. Our latest feature Star Leaf is premiering at Seattle Northwest and making an appearance at Hempfest and Hempapalooza in June 2015. I worked in Hong Kong recently and traveled to London for filming with some of my favorite actors from Hong Kong. I got to work with Thailand superstar Tony Jaa on a big budget action film and booked a feature role in another feature film.

You've been involved in several different types of projects (acting, modeling, producing), often simultaneously--how do you manage it? And how do you feel that your different areas of work influence each other?

I never thought about how I manage it. Good question. I pray and go with my instincts on projects I feel passionate about and work with people who inspire me and complete their projects. Timing is very important. I learned to be more patient while waiting for things to fall into place. I get to act in the film or play I produce, and modeling just comes when I get a call from my agents. Everything is interconnected and the experience contribute to my growth as a human being and an artist.

How has your participation in ETI impacted the work you are doing currently?

ETI changed my life. I'm still absorbing things I learned from voice and movement. I still practice the warm ups and vocal progression very often. I swear by them. The yoga practice helped me tremendously to tune into my body and mind. I learned to be open and have a child's mind at any stage of production. I definitely am confident about my process and am constantly refining it as time goes by. Suddenly, something I learned from ETI clicks. Being part of an ensemble taught me how to communicate with and manage people when I am acting and producing.

How has being an actor of color affected your career?

It's been a roller coaster ride. As a woman of color, an immigrant and an actress, I have to create opportunities for my peers and myself. In San Diego, colorblind casting is almost non-existent. It gets frustrating playing the same characters that have a few lines. I'm good at it but it no longer challenges me anymore. I feel I have to be 200% better, faster, prettier, more well spoken, useful and prepared as an actor of color. I cannot just be an actor, I have to learn how to produce, writer, direct, edit and market my own projects. All this is good because it made me a stronger more multifaceted actor. I learned to accept my strengths and weaknesses.

Can you tell us a little bit about the organization you founded, the San Diego Asian Artists Ensemble (SDAAE)?

It was out of frustration and passion to connect with other Asian artists in San Diego and create opportunities to share our talents with the community. We are rehearsing for our inaugural production San DiAsians! The show is written by the cast and is a dynamic presentation of sketch comedy and monologues. The monologue brings each actor's story to life with a splash of music, dance, martial art and some soy sauce on the side. We are launching an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the production. The cast, writers and musicians have all pulled together to create a promo trailer. I'm impressed by the amount of talent in San Diego and feel so blessed I get to be a part of this. Like us on Facebook!

What were some of your favorite or memorable moments from your time during ETI?

Voice class when my teacher, Kimberly pressed the spot on my tummy and I started crying as if a door has unlocked. She told me it's ok. You are enough. I never felt enough for myself, my parents, my acting. That moment woke me up. Being in George's class doing crazy movement and handstands. Just playing and trying new things. Testing my limits. Being in voice class and seeing my classmates open up and be vulnerable. Making friends that I still contact now. Getting suffocated with a pillow by Lance McQueen for our Othello scene. Running after Tony and getting dragged by his leg as Helena in Midsummer Night's Dream. Playing Fate #3 in Pericles. I loved the process and being on the stage, anchoring the fake boat. Imagining the waves coming in, laughing and smiling to myself, thinking how much fun I was having and the audience can feel that energy. Breakdancing with a stick in Pericles. Spraining my right ankle then my left ankle during stage combat and rehearsal. Falling back on my head with a mild concussion during rehearsal. Graduation day, the look in my friends' eyes, the hugs we shared and how proud Robin and the teachers were of us. The look in Robin's eyes when she's saying something that means something to her...she tears up.

What advice do you have for those considering applying for ETI?

Just go for it. I didn't think I would get in let alone receive a scholarship since I applied six or seven years post graduation from UW and was rejected. Timing and not giving up is key. Get a coach and work on some new material. Be prepared to play and collaborate in a group setting. Breathe, stay in the moment and connect with the group during the audition. Just have fun! Not everything or everyone will be fun, but those things will test your character and stamina, and that's what a truly great actor is made of.

To learn more about Kiki, visit her website: 
Or find her on Facebook:

Interested in learning more about the ETI program? We've got an info session tonight at Freehold at 6pm. Applications for ETI's 2015-2016 season are due on April 20th.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

An interview with Jennifer Jasper

We were lucky to have Jennifer Jasper, one of our newest faculty members, answer a few questions about herself and her work for our blog. Jennifer is a storyteller, performer and director whose most recent solo show, Bullygirl, premiered in January as part of the Radial Theater Project's Locally Grown festival. Her short play et•y•mo•lo•gy was a winner of the Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival in NYC and is set to be published in a forthcoming anthology. She also runs a monthly cabaret series, Family Affair, at the JewelBox Theatre in Belltown. Jennifer is teaching the class Telling Your Story this spring, and we're so thrilled to have her on board.

Freehold: Can you tell us a little bit about your background as a performer and storyteller? What drew you to this type of performance?

Jennifer Jasper: I began performing in Albuquerque, NM while I was working on my BA in Directing. I fell in love with improvisation and worked with a group, Phantasmagoria, which later evolved into Kings’ Elephant Theatre. We were together for a total of 10 years. I also performed with my other production company Pulp Vixens for another 10 years. I did some stand up comedy for awhile and hosted burlesque, but in the last five years my performance moved into solo work as a monologuist/storyteller. It seemed like a natural evolution.

What brought you to Seattle? How did you first hear about Freehold?

JJ: I moved here in 1986 with Kings’ Elephant Theatre. We had decided to move the company and Seattle, for many reasons won the vote. Most of us are still here and active in the theater or other performing arts and on occasion find ourselves in collaborations. I love the Seattle theater scene and feel passionate about the original work that is developed here.

I have always known about Freehold. I remember when it was in the Oddfellow’s Building on Capitol Hill. I have a lot of colleagues who have taken classes and taught over the years. Ironically, the new home of Freehold is the old Aha! and Kings’ Elephant Theatre space. I spent A LOT of hours helping to build it out into a theater space in the early 90’s. Don’t ask me how many times I’ve painted and cleaned the bathrooms! I’m excited to return to the space as a guest faculty member of the esteemed Freehold School!

How does your directing background influence your work in other aspects of theatre?

JJ: I think all disciplines work together. I can’t keep them separate if I try. As an improviser you are constantly answering the basic questions for the scene: Who? What? Where? Why? As a director you do the same, but on a larger scale. As a storyteller you are answering those same questions, but on a personal level. When I’m telling a story or creating a solo work I can’t help but see the larger picture even though most of the time I’m working on a magnified aspect of the whole. But the arc, whether as a simple story or a larger collaborative work is still essential for the piece to move the audience. It’s like a telescope that you move closer and further away depending on your role. But you always have it in your hand.

Can you share some of your favorite or most memorable onstage (or backstage) anecdotes?

JJ: Ooohh. That is a tough one. Let’s see. Well, I’d have to say audience members should always think twice about breaking the cell phone rules when I’m on stage. There have been three incidents, and folks, you never know when one of the actors is also a very quick improviser.

I was doing stand-up and a woman’s cell phone rang. I asked for her phone and answered it. I asked her daughter (who had called) if it was a 911 emergency and went on to berate her for interrupting her mother’s one night out.

I played a character who had a drinking problem in a play set in the 1940’s and during a very serious monologue a phone rang – they didn’t want to answer it. I made them and added a bit to my monologue.

In one Pulp Vixen show as I was doing the opening monologue that was important exposition I heard a man (under the influence) speaking loudly into his phone, “I’m at show! Yeah, it’s happening right now!” At which point I stopped the show, waited for him to finish, instructed the stage manager to take his phone and hold onto it and proceeded to start the entire show over from house lights and house music playing. In all cases the audiences appreciated it. That is live theater.

What inspired you to start Family Affair?

JJ: Around 2 ½ years ago, a dear friend and former Kings’ Elephant performer, Heather Hughes, lost her battle with lung cancer. She was 44. Earlier that year another friend and performer, Matthew Scott Olsen, passed away. He was 45. And then, that fall, the theater community lost Andrea Allen, 45, to breast cancer. It was a tough year for all of us who had been down in the trenches in our early years making theater happen. We pitched in when we could with meals and such, but you couldn’t help but feel helpless. Then Nancy Guppy suggested Jane Kaplan of the Jewel Box Theater and I get together. She was looking for a monthly cabaret and I was starting to get more and more into storytelling. When Jane and I met, we both cried about Heather (she had worked at the Rendezvous). Jane and I have known each other for many years. I knew I wanted to do something different and by the end of the meeting we had conceived the idea of Family Affair. A night to celebrate family through performance and help someone in our “artistic family” out during rough patches. It’s been an amazing two years now and my favorite day of the month is the 3rd Thursday, the day AFTER the event because you just FEEL good. Every month is an amazing night of sharing. Come see it.

Can you tell us a little about your most recent solo show, Bullygirl? What was your experience like developing and performing the show?

JJ: There are stories that I LOVE to tell, mainly about my family.

Then there are the stories that I NEED to tell. That’s Bullygirl. My stories revolved around my decisions during my pre-adolescent years in regards to peer pressure. I was both victim and bully during different times. I think that is a common postion teens find themselves in. It is rarely black and white. It was a hard show to do for various reasons, but the hardest emotion to overcome was my shame about some of my actions.

I wasn’t sure how it would be received. It was not hilarious. It was pretty raw. The development was harder than the other shows because I shied away from telling the story and tended to describe it. I was finally able to let myself relive it and that’s when the material really started to form. I had young people, parents and teachers approach me to tell me how much this kind of show would be helpful in schools. I recently applied to 4Culture for a project grant to collaborate with Shawn Belyea as my director to work the show into a 35 minute piece that could tour middle schools. I’m really excited about the prospect. I also finally feel freer now that I told those stories.

What are you looking forward to teaching in your storytelling class this quarter?

JJ: I am really looking forward to helping people discover their stories. I always find that the story I thought I wanted to tell is rarely the story that ends up being told.

There is such a wonderful feeling of connection that comes with sharing your experiences with an audience. You are part of a bigger picture. I think that’s what theater is at its core for me. Connection.

To learn more about Jennifer Jasper, visit her website: You can also find her on Twitter: @JennJasper

To learn more about Jennifer's Freehold class, TELLING YOUR STORY, click here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Spring Quarter Classes are Now Open for Registration!

Check it out, friends of Freehold! Click here for our full lineup for spring quarter theatre classes.


To register, visit our website or call us during office hours (Monday through Thursday, 10am to 6pm) at (206) 323-7499. More detailed course descriptions, as well as course prerequisites and tuition rates, can be found on our website.

STEP I: INTRO TO ACTING with Sarah Harlett and Peter Dylan O'Connor
Section 1 with Sarah Harlett: April 14 - June 2 // Tuesdays 6pm - 10pm
Section 2 with Peter Dylan O'Connor: April 25 - June 20 // Saturdays 12pm - 4pm

STEP II: ACTING WITH TEXT with Stefan Enriquez
April 15 - June 17 // Wednesdays 6:30pm - 10:30pm

STEP III: BASIC SCENE STUDY with Christine Marie Brown
 May 9 - July 18 // Saturdays 10:30am - 2:30pm

MEISNER: TEXT with Robin Lynn Smith
March 31 - June 16 // Tuesdays & Sundays 5:30pm - 10:30pm*
* See website for exceptions

ADVANCED SCENE STUDY with Darragh Kennan
May 13 - June 14 // Wednesdays 6pm - 10pm

April 19 - June 14 // Sundays 10am - 1pm

April 19 - June 28 // Sundays 6pm - 9pm

AUDITIONING with Darragh Kennan
May 30 - June 27 // Saturdays 1pm -5pm

MOVEMENT FOR ACTORS with Elizabeth Klob and Lyam White
May 4 - June 29 // Mondays and Wednesdays 6:30pm - 8:30pm

IMPROV with Matt Smith
April 6 - June 1 // Mondays 6:30pm - 9:30pm

STAGE COMBAT with Geof Alm
April 18 - June 20 // Saturdays 10am - 1pm

TELLING YOUR STORY with Jennifer Jasper
April 27 - June 8 // Mondays 6pm - 10pm

VOICE with Gin Hammond
May 10 - June 14 // Sundays 5:30pm - 9:30pm

VOICE-OVER with Susanna Burney
June 1 - June 23 // Mondays 6pm - 10pm