The Freehold Forum E-Newsletter
     FEBRUARY 2009
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In This Issue
Jesse Putnam
Matt Wolfe
John Paulsen
Carolynne Wilcox
George Lewis
Freehold Faculty Performances
Studio Series Schedule
Freehold Student and Alum Shows
Dear Freehold Community,
We are thrilled this month to share some funny and insightful articles by several of our Studio Series contributors plus some great pieces by George Lewis and Matt Wolfe.

Check out all our contributions including:

* Jesse Putnam's "Journey to Submission" regarding his upcoming Studio Series playwriting debut
* Matt Wolfe's thoughts on the many gifts to be found in Musical Theatre
* John Paulsen's insights into his upcoming spare, lyrical and powerful Studio Series work
* George Lewis' "10 Good Reasons to Study Dramatic Movement"
* Carolynne Wilcox's blog entry re: her Studio Series experience

* The full list of the Studio Series Schedule
and as always ...
* Freehold News and Events plus faculty and alum shows

We hope to see you all at Freehold's upcoming month long Studio Series beginning this Friday night!



Kate Gavigan
PR Manager
Freehold Theatre
(206) 323-7499 x14
JessetopSTUDIO SERIES 2009
The Journey to Submission

by Jesse Putnam
Jesse's Ripken
I've been writing plays for a couple years and contrary to conventional practice, I've actually been trying not to be produced. Really. OK, if Bart Sher came to me and said I adore your work, please, please, please let me do it, I would, alas, comply. But I have, in service to craft rather than ego, primarily spent these two years learning as much as I could before trying to get my work on its feet. Call it humility. Or dedication. Or patience. Or heart wrenching, soul stealing FEAR.

So when George Lewis (to me, a Bart Sher-like god) suggested I submit something to the Freehold Studio Series I was completely caught off guard. You want me to go public? Am I ready? Have I learned enough? What if they find out I suck!? All the lovely thoughts artists enjoy bounced around my brain. But after an encouraging pep talk from my life guru-a short haired mutt named Ripken (pictured above - author photo (curiously) unavailable?) who lives life (literally) balls out-I decided that maybe I was, at last, ready to have my work seen.

Continued ...

MatttopMatt Wolfe and Musical Theatre

MattWolfeMatt Wolfe has a B.F.A. in Music Theatre, Magna Cum Laude with Honors, from Ilinois Wesleyan University. He has worked professionally in music theatre for the last thirteen years. As a teacher, he has taught music theatre, improv, acting, dance, acting for the camera, and clowning with Village Theatre's Kidstage, Seattle Children's Theatre, Second Story Repertory, and Tiffany Talent. He also works as a director and acts in industrials and commercials in Seattle. He's a member of Actor's Equity.  Matt will be teaching Musical Theatre at Freehold Theatre starting March 2.

Matt, can you tell our readers how you came to be working as an actor in musical theatre? 
I don't think I had any big "conversion" moment to theatre.  It was pretty much a natural progression for me.  As a little kid I was in every school and church play I could get into.  Church was actually a great outlet for me.  In a small-town church in the Midwest there's not usually a lot of competition for juicy roles, and I learned skills like mime and puppetry.  I would build sets and do all kinds of creative stuff.  We were lucky to have a big back yard and my grandparents had big farms I could run around in, and I was constantly playing imaginary games pretending to be all kinds of crazy characters.  I used to pretend I had my own television "network" called The Super Channel, and I would act out different shows for, um . . . myself.     
Continued ...

Chat with John Paulsen

John Paulsen's THE MAGNIFICENT QUIDLEY will be performed by Ted Dowling, Brynna Jourden and John Paulsen in the upcoming Studio Series, Week 2, February 13 and 14 at 7:30 pm and February 14 at 2:00 pm at Freehold.  Find out more about John and his upcoming piece ...

Can you share with our readers a little bit about your background?

For the past few years I have been predominantly involved with creating original work for the stage and acting in independent films.  A highlight was portraying Mr. Hands in the film Zoo, directed by Robinson Devor, which we had the good fortune to take to the Sundance and Cannes film festivals.

JohnPlayJohn, you describe your upcoming Studio Series piece as a "spare and lyrical nonverbal work ... that lies somewhere between the imaginations of Sam Shepard and Samuel Beckett."  What inspired you to develop this piece?  (Photo at right:  Ted Dowling and Brynna Jourden).

Actually the seed idea for the work happened a number of years ago in a piece at the previous Freehold in a class called Impulse and Transformation.  Recently I had some events occur in my life that have had me looking for ways to channel them into theatrical works, and I thought of that piece.  That piece now serves as a physical skeleton upon which I am hanging these new clothes of my life experience.

Continued ...

TopCarolynneSTUDIO SERIES 2009
by Carolynne Wilcox

We have reached the "cherry on top" portion of our rehearsal process. As a performer working on my first one-person gig, it's been a revelation. I hactorsad MANY doubts at first, in terms of being able to inhabit every portion of this story. Memorizing lines and cues felt daunting; metamorphosis between characters clunky and unnatural - never mind dealing with technological elements, a headset mic, the long cord trailing behind - with so much to do and think about, could I pull off emotional investment in ANY of these characters? I can see the imaginary headline now: "Prodigal Daughter Returns to Seattle Stages a WORSE Actor After Grad School." Awesome.

But it occurs to me, as I type this, that even with six years' absence from the field, I've been acting and honing my craft for over 20 years. I can't remember who it was - Stanislavski? Meisner? - some venerated Father of The Theatre said something like, "It takes 20 years to begin to master the craft." So okay, I guess I should trust the fact that my personal 20 years counts for SOMETHING.

Continued ...

GeorgetopTen good reasons
to study
dramatic movement

By 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.  Photo:  Students in Cyrus Khambatta and Jake Perrine's Winter 2008 Physical Theatre Class.

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 donīt know where to put them. We canīt 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.

Continued ...
Freehold Faculty Performances

Daemond Arrindell. Every Wednesday night at Spitfire Grill in Belltown, The Seattle Poetry Slam hosts a spoken word extravaganza. 8 p.m., $5 cover, 21 & over IC required, go to

Tim Hyland is performing at the Seattle Children's Theatre in Pharaoh Serket and the Lost Stone of Fire running January 30 - March 7.  For more information,

Marya Sea Kaminski is performing in The Road to Mecca at the Seattle Rep on 1/21 and it runs through 2/14. Marya will be playing the role of Elsa (directed by Leigh Silverman, written by Athol Fugard).  For more information, go to

John Longenbaugh will be directing John Lennon's Gargoyle by Bryan Willis at North Seattle Community College. It's a modern-day reimagining of Candide in which a guy with some of the worst luck in the world comes to terms with just who's responsible for it. Performing Friday and Saturday Evenings at 7:30, February 20, 21, 27, 28 and March 6 and 7; and Sundays at 2pm, March 1 and 8. Special matinee Wednesday, February 25 at noon.  John also recently became the PR Manager at the 5th Avenue Theatre.

Paul Mullin will be doing a workshop/reading of his new farce with Circle X Theatre in LA on February 9.  For more information go to:

Freehold Theatre's Studio Series Schedule

February 6 - February 28
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm
Saturdays at 2:00 pm

Freehold Theatre, 2222 2nd Avenue, Suite 200
Suggested Donation:  $10.00 (at the door)
Questions:  (206) 323-7499 or

WEEK ONE:  February 6 and 7
TRANSIENT MOVEMENT:  STORY OF THE UN-SPOKEN, by William Hardyman; Cast:  William Hardyman
Director:  Jeff Woodbridge
SCENE FROM A PLAY, Cast:  Kim Fitzharris, Rosalyn Le, Yvonne Hodges, Sachie Mikawa
Director:  Jeff Woodbridge
PANDORA AND THE BOX, by Carolynne Wilcox; Cast:  Carolynne Wilcox
Directors:  Zoe Wright-Bell, Jake Perrine
NO MORE THAN REASON, by Louise Penberthy; Cast:  Lorraine Montez, Bruce Erickson
Director:  Richard Buckley
SUBPRIME, by Norman Bell; Cast:  Norman Bell, Zoe Wright-Bell
Director:  Zoe Wright-Bell

WEEK TWO:  February 13 and 14
BENEFITS OF CHAOS, by Anne Hopestill Paulus; Cast:  Erin Wise, Caellyn Everson, Nathania tenWolde, Lillian Cohen-Moore, Maridee Slater;
Director:  Anne Hopestill Paulus
CATASTROPHE; Cast:  Tim Alan Parr, Bruce Stewart, Patti Penner, Parker Wolf
Director:  Susan Bradford
SCENE FROM A PLAY; Cast:  Robert Rousseau, Warren Roberts, Tim Alan Parr;
Directors:  Jeff Woodbridge, Lori Stein
THE STAFF MEETING, by Andy Tribolini; Cast:  Curtis B. Swanson, Greg Mauser, Natalie Moe, Lisa Every, John Leith
Director:  John Helde
QUEEN RITA'S BLUES ALLEY, by Amontaine Aurore; Cast:  Amontaine Aurore;
Director:  Tikka Sears
THE MAGNIFICENT QUIDLEY, by John Paulsen; Cast:  Ted Dowling, Brynna Jourden, John Paulsen

WEEK THREE:  February 20 and 21
DANIEL'S MOOD, by Robert Flor; Cast:  Ryan Florizca, Toni Bajado, Belia Flor;
Director:  Maria Batayola
SCENE FROM A PLAY, Cast:  Fred Cassidy;
Director:  Susan Bradford
SCENE FROM A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, by William Shakespeare; Cast:  Tim Alan Parr, Wendy Ashford;
Director:  Susan Bradford
SHOOT ME (A LOVE STORY), by Jesse Putnam; Cast:  Bonnie Quino, Norman Bell, Trina Harris;
Director:  Jonathan Locke
TWIG (PUPPET PREMIERE); Cast:  Heidi Pendergast, Heather Gosnell;
Director:  Christian Swenson
SCENE FROM A PLAY; Cast:  John Leith, Elizabeth Deutsch;
Director:  John Abramson

WEEK FOUR:  February 27 and 28 Encore Week!
Featuring a selection of pieces from the first three weeks of the Studio Series, plus
ART NOT WITHOUT AMBITION (an excerpt), by Eric Newman; Cast:  Eric Newman;
Director: Timothy Piggee
Freehold Student and Alum News

NancyGuppyCheck out Nancy Guppy's (photo at left) great work in "Art Zone In Studio".  Art Zone is a weekly half-hour show on Seattle Channel 21 that is all about celebrating and promoting local artists and art events.  The show covers theatre, dance, music, film, visual arts, and everything in between, with the goal of encouraging viewers to get out there and experience Seattle's rich and diverse art scene for themselves.  New episodes premiere every Thursday @ 8:00 pm, and can also be seen streaming online at

Monica Chilton will be performing in a new play at Open Circle Theatre called The Center of the Universe.  For more information, go to:

Estrella de Leon is in Blood Wedding at Open Circle.  For more information,

Mari Geasair will be performing with Phillip Mitchell in Three Viewings here in Seattle with Cheshire Cat Theatre Company (Performances at Stone Soup) from January 16th - February 7th. For more information,

Kirsten McCory will be coproducing and starring in a New Amerikan Theatre production of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night, a savage biographical play O'Neill wrote about his own theatrical family.  He stipulated in his will that it could not be produced until 20 years after his death.  It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1957.  The play runs March 13-28, Fridays & Saturdays at the Upstage Theater @ Stone Soup.  Also starring Amber Cutlip, Haley Wolfe, Kirsten McCory, Telisa Steen, Timmi Harrop, and directed by Paul Fleming.

Louise Penberthy is playing Ouiser in Steel Magnolias with Auburn Regional Theatre, opening March 6th.  More info,

Vera Werre will be performing in The Unexpected Guest by Agatha Christie at the Valley Community Players which runs from January 30 - February 15.  For more information, go to

JessecontinuedThe Journey to Submission by Jesse Putnam (continued)

But what to submit? I'd written several full-length plays, two screenplays, and-thanks to Elizabeth Heffron's classes-a host of shorts, but what could I choose to wow the judges with? Maintaining a proper sense of humility and perspective, I scrambled to find the very best thing I had ever written. Something that would thrill the crowd, have my actor friends begging to take part, get George to forget all about New Zealand (or wherever he jets off to) and eventually launch my work onto Bart's intimate stage.

Having nothing that would remotely do any of those things, I settled on a little piece I had sketched out this summer-a tender story about a broken man who conspires with his pregnant adulterous wife to murder his recently widowed mother in order to collect her life insurance payout which ends with a mass suicide. I figured I'd debut with a real tear jerker. I let Jeff Woodbridge (the famed co-director of Freehold's amazing summer hit The Man Who Came to Dinner) read it and he liked it enough to encourage me to submit it. And so, with 'lofty expression and measured tread' (Don Quixote's grandiose dementia seems an appropriate reference here), at long last I turned my work in for consideration! [beat] Yikes.

About thirty seconds after dropping my Studio Series application into the box at the Lake City post office I was on the phone with Jenny at Freehold: "Jenny! [gulp] Listen! I made a big mistake-I applied for the studio series. In a couple of days you are going to get an envelope from me in the mail. Please tear it up! Please!" This was not unlike the conversations Jenny and I had after every class I registered for, so she was calm and understanding (and probably thought I would change my mind after my next meal, as I usually did). But unlike registering for a class, which means public terror on a modest scale, this was a step toward total exposure failure. I thought about breaking into the post box to retrieve the application, but reasoned that stopping my work from being considered for a workshop wasn't quite worth a year in federal prison. Besides, Jenny would intercept it.

Jenny did not intercept it. Kate got the mail that day or Jenny forgot or the mailman met George on the curb to share a smoke and so he picked up the mail-whatever! Something happened and my work made into the pile of submissions, the committee read it, and they accepted it for the series. That's supposed to be a good thing. Right? Yeah, well luckily I knew just what to do: go get the best director I can find and hope for a miracle. And if I don't get the miracle and the play pans-blame him.

That's pretty much the end of the story about how I finally got my work out there. It'll soon be seen-hopefully not by anyone important, but by somebody. Maybe you. I know I seem calm about this whole deal, but deep down I am really nervous. Thank god I have a good director. I mean, he's pretty good - let's just see how it goes.

Jesse Putnam is a Freehold acting student in Robin Lynn Smith's Meisner class. He also writes stuff and hides it.
Jesse's play will be performed as part of the Studio Series Week 3 running February 20 and 21 at 7:30 pm and on February 21 at 2:00 pm.

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JohncontinuedChat with John Paulsen

What has the process been like as you have been in rehearsals over the last few months? 

The challenge with this type of work, being spare movement, has been the clarity and efficiency of the movement and clearly portraying the steps of the characters' thought processes and actions.  Also, I've been riding the line of how much to literally reveal of story and how much to leave for the audience to fill in.  The surprise has been the life the other actors (Ted and Brynna) have brought to it and I have had to remain open to allowing the work to go these unexpected directions.
What are your hopes for your upcoming piece?

I would feel successful if we have created for the audience a theatrical place that is consistent with the feelings of the events I experienced in my life.

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WolfecontinuedMatt Wolfe and Musical Theatre (continued)

The musical part - maybe that was a product of my environment.  Shakespeare doesn't sell well in Southern Illinois, but a good high-school production of Oklahoma will sell plenty of fund-raiser candy bars.  Musicals were pretty much the opportunities that were available in community theatre or school.  We used to do musicals in this old Opera House built in 1905.  I'll never figure that one out - that town had maybe 2,500 people in it.  We had one gas station, two restaurants, at least six taverns and a small grocery store, but in the middle of downtown (all six blocks of it) there was a 400-seat vaudeville house.
I think I went to college to study music theatre because it was my "thing", and there I learned respect and fascination for the craft and the never-ending challenge of it.  Thinking about it now, I've probably stuck it out because it's such a unique art form in its power to move people.  Live music is powerful.  Dance inspires.  Choral singing can give you goose bumps in a way nothing else can.  Weaving them all together with a great story takes it to a whole new level.  I believe deeply in the power of story and metaphor to transcend intellectual, social, emotional, and spiritual boundaries and impact hearts.  Great stories in any art form bob and weave around the walls we put up in our minds and shoot straight to the soul, but music seems to speak the language of the soul as fluently and piercingly as I've seen any artistic discipline express itself. 
Many musicals serve to simply transcend people from their hard everyday life to a more joyful place and bring people together in community to celebrate life.  That in itself has value.  A precious few musicals have the chance to change hearts and our cultural conversation at the deepest levels.  I think West Side Story did that.  Cabaret did that.  Big River was worthy to do that but didn't quite catch on.  Rent, and in a different way even Avenue Q have done that.  Cats definitely did that (just kidding).

What excites and challenges you about the musical theatre work that you have done?

I love that the styles are so diverse.  Each show is a new challenge, a new code to crack.  Though I fancy myself a leading man, my work has been more character oriented, but that's given me the chance to do so much.  In Seattle, I've been the guy who discovered rock and roll, Sam Phillips and shared the stage with "Elvis" and "Johnny Cash".  I've been a rock and roll, drunken, tap-dancing child molester in Tommy, a jealous anvil salesman, a crazed German headwaiter in Dolly, P.T. Barnum, a Tin Man, a Cat who dances with a "pickle car", and a Bunny.  
In Goodnight Moon, which I'm returning to this spring at Seattle Children's Theatre, I had to pull out all my tricks: play piano, tap dance, physical comedy, simple, naturalistic acting (not kidding), puppetry, fake the violin, sing.  That show is a big challenge, but it's also pure playtime. 
Two things excite me the most, though.  One is a story with a real message, a deep gift to be bestowed to the audience.  The other is finding the most honest, deepest desires of any character - of taking these broad, varied characters and grounding them in the longings of the heart. 
Also, in Seattle I've had the good fortune to work on and workshop several new musicals.  That, I think, is great fun and rewarding work.

How do you see the musical theatre work being different and similar to the non-musical theatre work you have done?
I think that with all the extra "toys" available to you in a musical - be it song, dance, or the usual tricked out special effects and lighting systems that accompany big shows, it can be easy to lose the story.  That may be one of the biggest challenges.  It can be hard to know when to keep things simple and basic.  It can also be hard to know when it's time to take a risk and unleash imagination and whimsy onto a production number.
I've found that music theatre demands a great deal of specificity, or at least attention to detail.  The first thing that happens when a young actor starts singing is that the story gets lost in emotion or feeling.  I don't know that this makes musical theatre different from any stage show, but attention to a detailed journey for the character and a well thought through physical life for the actor is a must.  It's strange.  You might get away with gesturing organically and spontaneously in an Arthur Miller play, but a big solo song, duet, or even group number demands great physical specificity to communicate well. 

You report that some of your favorite experiences include The Gentleman Caller in THE GLASS MENAGERIE, Cosmo Brown in SINGING IN THE RAIN, Danny Zuko in GREASE, and Tony in WEST SIDE STORY.  Can you describe what made those favorite experiences/performances?

Hadn't thought about it before, but each of those shows, most of which were early in my career, stretched and challenged me in new ways.  I fought hard for Singing in the Rain, choreographing my own tap number to prove to the director I could hold my own.  I was the last person I would ever have thought of to be Danny Zuko, and it pulled out a side of me I didn't know I had.  West Side was my first big professional lead, and I had just learned to sing as a tenor (I'd been trained as a baritone for years.), so that was a big, scary mountain to climb.

What do you think is the greatest misconception about acting in musical theatre?
That it's easy.

What projects or characters are you hoping to work on in the future?
I got to understudy and go on here in Seattle for Harold Hill in The Music Man, but I have yet to do the part all my own.  That's one of my all time favorites.
George in Sunday in the Park with George is a big one on my list.  I'd also like to play the dad in Secret Garden.  The Emcee in Cabaret, the Baker in Into the Woods.  I'll think of more as soon as I stop typing, I'm sure.  I'd also love to voice and perform a Muppet.

For more information about Matt's upcoming Musical Theatre Class, check out our website at or contact us at or call us at (206) 323-7499.

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ContinuedCarolynnePANDORA AND THE BOX
By Carolynne Wilcox
Carolynne Wilcox

In rehearsals, I've been surprised by my own work. Transitions ar
e getting less blurry, lines and cues not as much an issue. And with those things in place, as per more traditional, multi-character, living-room narratives, I'm allowing each persona within the piece to grow and deepen. I'm actually competent!

With the eyes and ears of Zoe and Jake, the piece continues to tighten. The collaboration has been amazing, completely a three-handed venture. No small parts or small players here. At this point, if the sound and lights were to completely fail, I think I'd still have an interesting show.

The audio kicks ASS. Aside from the modulations to turn my voices into several otherworldly ones, there are the spooky voiceovers and sound collages. We pretty much stage the end of the world through sound collage. Yeah. Oh, and the salvation of the world too. With sound. And this weekend, we finally get to add lights into the mixture. Even with a simple plot, I have a feeling they're going to really enhance the creep factor, working hand-in-hand with the audio. Since those are my scene partners in this venture, I look forward to working with them and allowing them to enhance my performance even further. So bring on the cake - I'm ready to slather it with icing!

Recently returned to Seattle from the east coast, Carolynne received her MFA in Theatre from Towson University. She has produced, performed, written and designed poster artwork throughout the east coast and in Seattle.

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GeorgecontinuedTen Good Reasons to Study Dramatic Movement
By George Lewis (continued)

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 doesnīt see and hear it, itīs 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.

Cyrus Khambatta and Jake Perrine are offering a Physical Theatre Class at Freehold running February 11 - March 15.  For more information, contact Freehold at (206) 323-7499 or email us at

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