The Freehold Forum E-Newsletter
     AUGUST 2009
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In This Issue
Scot Augustson
Matt Smith
Cathy Madden
Freehold Fall Classes
Jenny Schmidt
Meisner Progression
Freehold's Fall Class Schedule
Studio Series 2010
Freehold Faculty Performances
Freehold Student and Alum Shows
Dear Freehold Community,

Hot. Hot. Hot. 

We've definitely seen things warming up in August.

Things are also heating up at Freehold as we have our fall class schedule line-up finalized (YES! SEE BELOW!) plus some red hot articles from some of our Freehold folks in which ...

*Scott Augustson talks about transgressive theatre and his play Penguins which imagines a mafia-style turf war between nuns and priests

*Matt Smith and Carter Rodriguez share their smashing new art idea

*Cathy Madden describes the impact "Deep Play" has on students

*Jenny Schmidt regales us with her recent gun toting experience

*George Lewis shares some Studio Series 2010 updates and so much more ...

Wishing you the best that August has to offer.



Kate Gavigan
PR Manager
Freehold Theatre
(206) 323-7499 x14

ScottopWhat I've Learned About Transgressive Theater
By Scot Augustson

Penguins1Scot Augustson has been living and writing in Seattle for close to twenty years. He is a core member of Printer's Devil Theater and the creator of Sgt Rigsby & His Amazing Silhouettes. His new show Penguins plays at Annex this August. In October the shadow puppet show, Teensploitation opens at the Theater Off Jackson.  Photo on right from Penguins, Daniel Christensen and Lucy Shelby, photo by Ian Johnston.

"I'd love to wrap you in my strong nun thighs." - Sister Candy, Penguins, Episode One
My new show, Penguins imagines a mafia-style turf war between nuns and priests. It's got guns and drugs and don't get me started on the F-word. Given my unsightly atheism and pro-sodomy stance, folks might be surprised that the impetus for this show is not my feelings toward the Catholic Church. (In fact, I don't have strong feelings one way or the other about the RC's.) No, the true inspiration for this travesty is HBO. When my husband and I would watch "Rome," every time there was an especially gratuitous act of sex or violence, we would shake our heads and say, "Oh, HBO." And "Deadwood!" Christ, who knew the word c*ck $*ck3r" could be squeezed into practically every sentence of dialogue!
Continued ...

BY Matt Smith

Carter Rodriguez and I were at the coffee shop across from Freehold, talking about the art. Every month they show the work of a different visual artist, and these paintings are for sale cheap (like $70 -$180).  There are a couple other small galleries on the Freehold block (and the next block) as well.
We had an idea.

Don and I are going to pitch in $10/month each for a fund to buy art that's being shown in the immediate neighborhood of Freehold.  This art will be owned by Freehold and hung at Freehold.
We want at least 20 more people to get behind this.  If we get that, we'll have $220/month, to buy one piece every month.  We think it's a fabulous way to document the grass roots artistic growth of the neighborhood; and a tangible and meaningful gesture to the rest of the neighborhood, from Freehold, that we want to support local artists.
So please don't give the money you might have otherwise given to Freehold. Give that to Freehold.  But if you want to support this little project independent of that, send a check payable to MATT SMITH to Freehold (2222 2nd Avenue, Suite 200, Seattle, WA  98121) and mark it very clearly, Matt & Don's Freehold Art  Project.  We're hoping to get checks for $120 (one years worth) but all checks will be welcome.
Include your email address.  We'll put you on a list and inform you of the monthly purchases and where to view them. Don, who is an art geek, has agreed to hang the art.
We already have our eyes on a piece.

Matt Smith has been a Freehold faculty member since 1991. He was a member of None of the Above, Seattle Improv, Seattle Theatre Sports, and Stark Raving Theatre and has performed extensively on film and stage.  Carter Rodriguez is a Freehold alum and actor who has performed throughout Seattle.
MaddentopTeaching as Deep Play
by Cathy Madden
Cathy MaddenCathy Madden is Sr. Lecturer for the University of Washington Professional Actor Training Program, Director of the Alexander Technique Training and Peformance Studio, Associate Director and Director of Research for ATA (Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka), and Theatrical Director for Lucia Neare's Theatrical Wonders.  Cathy is also a Freehold Faculty Member and will be teaching Alexander Technique Intensive at Freehold this September.

(an adapted excerpt -beginning and conclusion--from Cathy Madden's article for the Congress Papers for the 8th International Congress of the Alexander Technique)

"Don't do anything that isn't play."
--Joseph Campbell, quoted by Marshall Rosenberg in his Keynote Address at the 8th International Congress of Alexander Technique Teachers
"Above all, play requires freedom.  One chooses to play.  Play's rules may be enforced, but play is not like life's other dramas. It happens outside ordinary life, and it requires freedom."
--Diane Ackerman, Deep Play (Ackerman 1999, 7)
When Marshall Rosenberg emphasized play in his keynote address for the 8th International Congress, I thought, "Thank you for introducing my topic!"  I chose the topic after reading a book by Diane Ackerman called Deep Play.  I was excited when I saw the title of her book because often when I talk about play in the learning process, my perception is that people experience it as peripheral to the process, rather than at its center.  Just putting the word "deep" in front of the word "play" conveys my intent more clearly.   Consciously including play in the teaching and learning process deepens and lightens the learning.
Continued ...

"Follow Your Bliss ...
Find that Class"

We know how important Freehold classes are to you and we want to make it even easier for you to find that special class or classes that will help you follow your bliss!  To that end ...

We are excited to announce we are in the process of revising Freehold's website and

We need your help

We are asking you for a donation of $10 to help us meet our goal of $1500 which a generous donor has agreed to match.  Your help can make our website even more user friendly for you.  Just think ... you'll be able to say "I had a part in making the website even better!"

To contribute, use our paypal button below, mail us a check or call us (206) 323-7499 and contribute over the phone with a credit card.


Thank you in advance for your support!
ArmedNunsMy Night at the Range
by Jenny Schmidt

Jenny Schmidt is an actor as well as being Freehold's registrar extraordinaire.  She can be seen in Annex Theatre's upcoming play Penguins.  Jenny is in photo on right, Sophie Lowenstein is on the left.   
Photo by Ian Johnston.

One of the things that I love about developing a role is the additional research that goes on outside of the rehearsal room - visiting locations, studying a time period, conducting interviews, etc.  These 'hands on' experiences can provide a great foundation and tactile memories when trying to re-create the world of the play on stage.  Over the years, this has led me on excursions that include a trip to a wolf sanctuary, snowshoeing, and sweating profusely in the back of a covered wagon.  And most recently, this quest for knowledge pointed me to Wade's gun range on a Tuesday evening for 'ladies night'. 
I'm playing the part of a young nun with an affinity for guns in Annex Theatre's upcoming late-night production of Penguins.  And despite my Idaho upbringing, I've had very little experience with shooting guns (at least, using them properly).  So when the opportunity for a cast outing to the range arose, I happily accepted.
Truth be told, I didn't exactly feel the embodiment of my character on that trip.  The majority of my time was spent repeating the safety rules over and over in my head - 'finger off the trigger', 'always keep the gun pointed down range', 'don't run up to the burly men behind the counter and act like some insane person trying to rob the store'.  (While that last one wasn't included in the safety lecture, it still seemed like a good idea.)  I also realized that my fall-back career plan of becoming a sharp shooting assassin is probably a bad choice.  But I did have the benefit of spending a couple of hours practicing with the type of guns that my character is likely to handle.  And I'm hopeful that this experience will translate on stage as I work on becoming a bad-ass in a wimple.

MeisnertopInterested in Freehold's Meisner 2009-2010 Progression?

We are holding another opportunity for Interviews for Prospective Students
on Tuesday, August 11th in the evening
Questions about the progression, prerequisites or want to schedule a time to be interviewed?
Call Freehold's Office (206) 323-7499 or email us at

Check out what past Meisner students have said ...

"Meisner for me was really transformational and not just for the acting but really for the rest of my everyday life.  Meisner really strives for you to live in the moment and to react to things as if it is the first time, being genuine and authentic.  I do some commercial work on the side and I've been told that there is a new quality to my acting and that is 100% related to the work from the class."  - E.J. Gong

"When I was gearing up to take Meisner, everyone kept saying the same thing to me: "It will change your life." I was skeptical. I knew I would learn more about acting technique and would most likely improve my craft, but life changing? Silly me. Not only does it open you up in a way that allows you to act more freely and with more depth, but it opens you up in your "real" life as well." - Jeff Woodbridge

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Meisner Progression is a three quarter progression series beginning in Fall and running through Winter and Spring and taught by Freehold's Artistic Director, Robin Lynn Smith.  Here are the specifics regarding the focus of the classes over the three quarters.

Continued ...

Sneak Peek at Freehold's
Fall Classes

boy image

Class Registration will be open mid-August
but here is a first chance to see what
fun classes loom in the future. 
Plan now!

Step I: Intro to Acting with Dan Tierney and Althea Hukari
Step II: Acting with Text with Dan Tierney
Accelerated Intro to Acting with George Lewis
Step III: Basic Scene Study with CT Doescher
Advanced Rehearsal and Performance with Annette Toutonghi
Alexander Technique Intensive* with Cathy Madden
Auditioning with Kate Godman
The Artist's Way Workshop with Gin Hammond and Kate Gavigan
Intro to Viral Video Making with MJ Sieber
Personal Clown with George Lewis
Improvisation with Matt Smith
Basic Light and Sound for Non-Designers with Jake Perrine
Musical Theatre* with Matt Wolfe
Playwriting I with Paul Mullin
Play Reading with Althea Hukari
Shakespeare with Amy Thone
Stage Combat with Geof Alm
Voice with Gin Hammond
Voice Over with Gin Hammond
Meisner Progression with Robin Lynn Smith
*late summer classes

or call us at (206) 323-7499

It's time to start thinking
of projects for the
2010 Studio Series!

normanbell "Ever since Freehold's inception in 1991, we have held that that an important part of our educational mission is to encourage Freehold's theatre artists to further their work by taking it into the performance arena. Towards that end we created what has become this, one of our most popular programs:  in last year's Series, over 70 current and former students and faculty members participated in the creation and performance of 17 pieces presented across four weeks of performances. The audience numbers greatly surpassed our expectations: over 350 people saw the shows, and their feedback was GREAT!
This year, Freehold Faculty Members Gin Hammond, and George Lewis will produce the Studio Series. As with last year, the performances will take place in our Belltown Theater. Freehold will provide - at no cost to the participants (except for a small mentor fee) - performance space, technical support (lights, sound system, and a stage manager), and publicity for the event. Each piece will have three performances. In the past projects in the Series have included: plays, scenes, monologues, original pieces, movement/dance pieces, vocal pieces, marionette shows, clown pieces, and improvisation. In short, anything with dramatic relevance that fits the criteria.

This year the performances will take place in the four weekends of February 2010, opening on the 5th and closing on the 27th.The process is by application, and applications will be available online September 7, 2009. For each project, a Letter of Intent outlining the general idea for the piece must be submitted no later than October 9, 2009. Application due date is October 23, 2009. You can contact George or Gin with any questions.

So: please join us. Put together a project and apply, or volunteer to help run the performances. And bring your family and friends when you come and see some of the amazing work that is coming out of the classroom and onto the stage at Freehold" -- George Lewis, Founding Member of Freehold, Freehold Faculty Member
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  Congrats to the 2009 Seattle National Slam Team:  Tara Hardy, Karen Finneyfrock, Maya Hersh and Greg Bee.  Best wishes as you head to Florida for the National Slam Competition August 4 - 8.

Brynna Jourden will be doing fight choreography for the Seattle Children's Theatre for two kids shows this summer: A Midsummer Night's Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet. 

Marya Sea Kaminski is directing Kevin Kerr's play about the pandemic flu titled UNITY (1918) at Cornish and an orginal play with Intiman's Rough Eagles in October.

John Longenbaugh will be remounting his play How to be Cool.  The play is running from July 23 through August 8th.  For more information,


Timothy Piggee and Matt Wolfe
will be appearing in Catch me if You Can at the Fifth Avenue Theatre running July 23 - August 14 (for more information:

Hal Ryder
is in Sana'a Yemen doing a radio drama project for youth until early September.  The project has youth writing and performing radio dramas that help better their society and adddress issues pertinent to youth. There will be a live broadcast on August 20th and then a teacher training workshop for two weeks.


Annette Toutonghi
will be performing in the 14/48 Festival taking place at On the Boards for two weekends on July 30th-Aug 7th.  For more information,


Billie Wildrick
is performing in Das Barbequ at ACT from July 31 to September 6 (see picture above).  For more info,

Kate Wisniewski will be performing at INTIMAN in September in Abe Lincoln in Illinois playing Elizabeth Edwards.  The play runs Oct. 2-Nov. 19.  For more information,

NextToNormalBrian Yorkey's play Next to Normal is on Broadway!  For more information, 
BIG congratulations
goes out to Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt for their Broadway Tony Award Winning play NEXT TO NORMAL which won 3 Tony Awards including Best Score and Best Leading Actress in a Musical!!!

Freehold Student and Alum News

Here are some upcoming performances/work by some of Freehold's current students and alums.  Want to be included in this list?  Email Kate at with your upcoming shows.

Norman Bell will be performing in SUBPRIME!: Inside the Heart of the Mortgage Meltdown premiering September 11, 12, 18, and 19.  For more information,  Directed by Gin Hammond.  SUBPRIME! is loosely based on Bell's actual experiences working for a subprime mortgage company in 2005.


Monica Chilton
will be in the ensemble for Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theater's production of Oklahoma! this summer from July 25 - August 30.  Performances are Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3:00 p.m.  For more info,


Eileen Dey
is hosting Seattle Cold Readers, 3rd Thursdays at the Alibi Room in Pike Place Market 8-9:30pm.  Where the acting and writing talent are hot!  $6 admission.  Featuring 4 new scripts submitted by local writers and performed as cold reads by professional actors.  The audience votes on the best performance of the evening.  For more info,

Krista Erickson will be performing in The Producers at Seattle Musical Theatre running from September 18 - October 4.  For more information,

Lee Ann Hittenberger just finished performing in Top Girls with Sound Theater at Stone Soup. She will be teaching 5th-8th graders this summer at Bainbrige Performing Arts Theater School Production of 1000 Arabian Nights and is artistic director for Kitsap Forest Theater Youth Theater Camp. She will also appear in The Producers at BPA October 9-25 directed by Teresa Thuman.  Lee Ann will also be directing Peter Pan at BPA which opens 12/5-12/20/09.


Phillip Mitchell
is performing in The Twilight Zone: LIVE at Theater Schmeater until August 8.  For more information,

Carter Rodriguez
will be performing in Seattle Shakespeare Company and Wooden O's summer production of Richard III.  For more information,

Jenny Schmidt will be appearing in Penguins at Annex Theatre running August 14 - August 28.  For more information,

Andy Tribolini and Ann Evans (former faculty) are presenting two evenings of musical theatre cabaret at Freehold - 8/9 and 8/16 - 7:30pm.  Doors open at 7pm, Drinks and Lite Snacks will be available for sale, Tickets: $10 at the door.

Jeff Woodbridge (directing) and Jesse Putnam (playwright) are producing a play called The Masters with cast members Kim Fitzharris, Will Hardyman and others at Odd Duck this month.  Performances are scheduled for:  August 6-9, 13-16, 20-23, 27-30, Thursdays at 7 pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm.  For more information on the play go to,

ScotContinuedWhat I've Learned About Transgressive Theatre
By Scot Augustson

So, Penguins was written with excess and transgression in mind. (While, at the same time, mocking excess and transgression. How's that for meta?)
As the person known for bringing dirty shadow puppets to Seattle audiences (while hiding, coward-like behind the pseudonym Sgt. Rigsby) I've learned a little something about the nature and mechanics of transgressive theater.
First, let's ask ourselves why you'd want to do it at all. (And when you ask this, imagine a lemon-sucking killjoy scold putting this question to you.) Here's why: done well, it startles the audience, makes them think in a whole new way. Get's the juices flowing. If you've turned the world on its head you are making your views see everything from a new perspective. Juxtaposing the medieval world of the cloister with the modern sensibilities of "The Sopranos" causes some delightful cognitive dissonance. A whole new peri-social paradigm is constructed. They may have come for the laughs, but they leave thinking about global power structures in a fresh, beguiling way.  Hee-hee. Can you believe I just slipped in the phrases "Cognitive Dissonance" and "Peri-social Paradigm"?

Look, the big reason is that it's fun to get a rise out of grown-ups. And fun should never be dismissed. Theater that divorces itself from the idea of a good time out is theater in danger of becoming post-audience theater. I say (in a rousing tone, beer mug hoisted in the air): any activity that drags people away from their computers to share something in the same room with their fellow citizens is a good thing, a delightfully civic event.
But how to do it well? Because so much "naughty boundary crossing" is crap. So often folks bank on the shock value, which is good for about a minute. The truth is acts of cannibalism, casual incest, bestiality and the mistreatment of the Christ child are not enough to sustain you through an evening. You gotta back all that up with the basics: good story, compelling characters, crisp dialogue, precise acting. Without that, all the rest just becomes a silly mess. (And if that was the point, I wouldn't bother to write, I would just lead tours of my kitchen.)
You've also got to know exactly where to draw the line. The secret is: people like to be taken precisely to the threshold of discomfort. It makes them feel bold and sophisticated. Everyone likes to imagine that the couple sitting next to them is shocked beyond belief. Scarred! Scandalized! Keep in mind: there are folks for whom Teatro Zinzani is a titillating, decadent Weimar cabaret.
But let's return to Penguins. Why have I chosen to have swearing, blood feuding, drug taking nuns and priests? Because it's a late night show and by eleven o'clock, most kindergarteners are asleep.

Scot Auguston's play Penguins will be playing at Annex Theatre running from August 14 - August 28th.  For more information,

Back to top ...

MaddencontinuedTeaching as Deep Play by Cathy Madden (continued)

Why is play so important to me as a teacher?    I know from an academic perspective that one of the principles of adult continuing education is that adults like to have fun when they learn.  I got some insight on my orientation to play when I was teaching at a training school and one of the directors of  the school suddenly turned to me and said, "No one ever told you that the Alexander Technique was hard, did they?"  And he was right.
When I first moved to Lincoln, Nebraska to study the Alexander Technique, the flyer for Marjorie Barstow's summer workshop said something like "An invitation to pleasurable experiences with the work of F.M. Alexander." The Alexander Technique was always presented to me as something that was easy, fun, useful, practical....and, of course, I would be able to do it.  I realize that even as I encountered rough moments in learning, I was confident that I could figure it out and that when I did, I'd be delighted. 
Diane Ackerman's book Deep Play synthesizes research on the characteristics of play-play is how we, and many animals, learn to perform our daily tasks.  It is how we learn to survive, to socialize, to improve skills.   In her book, she quotes the Dutch Historian Johan Huizinga (1872-1945) who was interested in the play element in culture:
Play..."is an activity which proceeds within certain limits of time and space, in a visible order, according to rules freely accepted, and outside the sphere of necessity or material utility.  The play mood is one of rapture and enthusiasm, and is sacred or festive in accordance with the occasion.  A feeling of exultation and tension accompanies the action" (Ackerman 1999, 3)
When I apply that definition to Alexander Technique classes, workshops, and lessons, I find parallel characteristics:
*Classes and lessons occur in a particular place with a predetermined time limit.
*The visible order in a class or lesson varies by teacher and circumstance, but there is a beginning, middle, and end. The teacher is responsible for establishing the structure, and the student gradually learns the structure as part of learning the Technique.
*Teacher and students play by the rules of the process of the Technique. 
*While I am glad to use the technique every day, the truth is that an Alexander Technique class, workshop, and lesson -as helpful as it might be, as much as it might help us accomplish things better, as much as we might enjoy it-is not necessary or of material utility to our survival. 
*And the mood of lessons varies according to the teacher(s), student(s)  and circumstances.  The process of change contains the tension of the choice between old habitual pattern and a journey to the unknown, and joy is a frequent response to the discoveries of new choices. The joy may appear immediately or over time as the learning process deepens.
If we use the definition of play offered by Huizinga, then every Alexander Technique class, workshop and every Alexander Technique lesson is play.  In my learning of the work, experiencing it as play was vital.  The spirit of fun present as I learned Alexander's discoveries freed me of concerns of right and wrong, good and bad.  I understood that mistakes were part of the journey, something to be valued, rather than to avoid or be embarrassed by.  Play gave me courage and a willingness to explore precisely because it had no real world consequence.  The playfulness in which I  was taught allowed me to rigorously explore my choices with confidence in receiving constructive feedback.
(body of article on teaching techniques that incorporate play deleted)
......Do we need lightness in our world?
On a larger level, we are currently in a world that has a lot of difficult challenges in it.  When we consider what is happening politically, ecologically, socially, we are faced with situations that are not "light" and playful.  My mission as a teacher of the Alexander Technique includes pointing the way to what is light and playful, not in a frivolous way, but in a constructive way.   One of my deepest impressions from the first Congress of teachers of the Alexander Technique when I watched the senior teachers together on the same stage was their own sense of humor about the situation they were in, and I wondered about the relationship of humor to the Alexander Technique.  I think that humor is part of the benefit of Alexander's work.  When we are in coordination, our natural humor has more of a chance to emerge.  Teaching the work with humor and playfulness is congruent with one aspect of my desire to teach F.M. Alexander's work.
cAckerman, Diane.  Deep Play.  (1999) New York:  Vintage Books.

Cathy Madden will be teaching an Alexander Technique Intensive at Freehold on September 20, Sunday - 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.  To register or for more information, (206) 323-7499 or

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MeisnercontinuedThe Meisner Progression - Additional Interviews on August 11th

Fall; 12 weeks
Through cumulative exercises based on the work of Sanford Meisner, the actor learns to be habitually available to and affected by life that is actually happening in the moment, and to fully release instinctive, uninhibited responses. The class culminates in a work with text.

Winter; 12 weeks
Students continue the exercises from Foundation, supplementing them with work in personalization, preparation, and other tools in order to access a meaningful inner life and "make real" the text and imaginary circumstances.

Spring; 12 weeks
Applying the work from Foundation and Instrument to scenes, students focus on detailed, in-depth text and character work -- analysis, subtext, particularization, and moment-to-moment process work on scenes.

For the interview, you are asked to bring a resume, to be prepared to talk about your intentions, why you want to take the class and describe your prior experience.

Robin Lynn Smith (Founding Partner/Artistic Director) has worked for the past 27 years acting, directing, and teaching in Chicago, Boston, Seattle, and New York, where she directed Curse Of The Starving Class Off-Broadway at the Promenade Theatre. As Artist in Residence at Seattle Repertory Theatre, she directed several productions, most recently the workshop of New Patagonia by Seattle playwright Elizabeth Heffron. She has also directed at The Empty Space Theatre, New City Theatre, ACT, Seattle Children's Theatre, and Intiman Theatre (where she is an Affiliate Artist). At Freehold, she directed the award-winning investigation of THE SEAGULL, AN ALTERED LIFE, THE THREE SISTERS, THE TEMPEST and for the Engaged Theatre Tour: VERONIKA FALLING. She directed Common Threads: a Journey Home, which was created and performed by inmates at the Washington Correction Center for Women. She has taught at NYU, the University of Washington, and is presently on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts.

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