|What I've Learned About Transgressive Theater
By Scot Augustson
Scot 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!
|ART DONATIONBY 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.
as Deep Play
by Cathy Madden
Cathy 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.
adapted excerpt -beginning and conclusion--from Cathy Madden's article for the
Congress Papers for the 8th International Congress of the Alexander
"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
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."
Ackerman, Deep Play (Ackerman 1999, 7)
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.
"Follow Your Bliss ...
Find that Class"
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!
|My 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.
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'.
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
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
|Interested 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
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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.
Sneak Peek at Freehold's
Fall ClassesClass Registration will be open mid-August
but here is a first chance to see what
fun classes loom in the future.
Step I: Intro to Acting with Dan Tierney and Althea Hukari*late summer classes
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
or call us at (206) 323-7499
It's time to start thinking
of projects for
2010 Studio Series!
"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
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|
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 http://www.seattlepoetryslam.org
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
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.
will be remounting his play How to be Cool
. The play is running from July 23 through August 8th. For more information, http://ursamajortheatre.org/
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: http://www.5thavenue.org/
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.
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, http://www.ontheboards.org/
is performing in Das Barbequ
at ACT from July 31 to September 6 (see picture above). For more info, http://www.acttheatre.org/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, http://intiman.org/2009Season
play Next to Normal
is on Broadway!
For more information, http://www.nytix.com/Blog/2009/02/next-to-normal-to-play-broadway.html
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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, www.subprimetheplay.org 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.
p.m., and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. For more info, http://www.foresttheater.org
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, http://www.seattlecoldreaders.com
Krista Erickson will be performing in The Producers at Seattle Musical Theatre running from September 18 - October 4. For more information, http://seattlemusicaltheatre.org/
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
Phillip Mitchell is performing in The Twilight Zone: LIVE at Theater Schmeater until August 8. For more information, http://www.schmeater.org/
Carter Rodriguez will be performing in Seattle Shakespeare Company and Wooden O's summer production of Richard III. For more information, http://www.seattleshakespeare.org/woodeno/
Jenny Schmidt will be appearing in Penguins at Annex Theatre running August 14 - August 28. For more information, http://www.annextheatre.org/
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, http://themastersplay.com/
|What I've Learned About Transgressive Theatre
By Scot Augustson
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
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
question to you.) Here's why: done well, it startles the audience,
think in a whole new way. Get's the juices flowing. If you've turned
on its head you are making your views see everything from a new
Juxtaposing the medieval world of the cloister with the modern
"The Sopranos" causes some delightful cognitive dissonance. A whole new
peri-social paradigm is constructed. They may have come for the laughs,
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, www.annextheatre.orgBack to top ...
|Teaching 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.
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
*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
*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
If we use the definition of play
offered by Huizinga, then every Alexander Technique class, workshop and
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
we need lightness in our world?
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.
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 www.freeholdtheatre.org
Back to top ...
|The Meisner Progression - Additional Interviews on August 11th
FOUNDATION: STEP I
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.
INSTRUMENT: STEP II
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
TEXT: STEP III
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.
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.
Back to top ...