The Freehold Forum E-Newsletter
     FALL 2009
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In This Issue
Althea Hukari
MJ Sieber
Freehold's Fall Class Schedule
Upcoming Freehold Events
Norman Bell
Studio Series 2010
Freehold Faculty Performances
Freehold Student and Alum Shows
Dear Freehold Community,

We are saying a fond adieu to summer and looking forward to the treats of fall and there are many for us here at Freehold ... our Annual Fall Open House on September 15th in the evening, a panoply of classes and much more.  Check out some more things to look forward to in this issue including:

*Althea Hukari's hilarious reflections on life at Freehold in the early Pasqualini-Smith era as well as her excitement teaching her Play Reading Group and Intro to Acting classes

*MJ Sieber's insights into how "everything is changing"

*Norman Bell's thoughts on preparing for his SUBPRIME show

*Freehold Faculty and Students' upcoming shows

*Freehold News and Upcoming Events - two great upcoming events - Freehold's Annual Fall Open House and the New Play Lab's Showcase.

We are adjusting our e-newsletter schedule so that you will now be receiving our e-newsletter quarterly to correspond with our fall, winter, spring, and summer class schedule.  In an effort to stay in touch, we will also be sending a hard copy of some of the not-to-be missed articles to our larger Freehold Community.

"Delicious autumn!   My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."  -   George Eliot
Here's wishing you all a "Delicious autumn!"



Kate Gavigan
PR Manager
Freehold Theatre
[email protected]
(206) 323-7499 x14

AltheatopInterview with Althea Hukari

14/48 Althea Hukari is a passionate and experienced teaching artist. She was Freehold's original Head of the Intro to Acting Series, and has worked regionally as an actor, director, and performance coach. Althea holds a BA from Oberlin College, and studied with Klauniada, Pasqualini-Smith, and at the University of Washington's Professional Actors Training Program. Her 1998 solo show, My Own Private Masha, secured her an Artist Grant from the Seattle Arts Commission for a full length work. Her next play, The Orchard, secured her an Oregon Literary Fellowship, a coveted spot in Mead Hunter's Portland Center Stage sponsored PlayGroup, the first-ever Fresh Northwest New Work Award from Coho Theatre, and was featured in the 2009 Portland Fertile Ground Festival of New Work. Althea has been living, teaching, writing and directing plays in her home town of Hood River, Oregon for the last ten years and is excited to return to teach at Freehold and Cornish College for the Arts this fall.

Althea, we are excited to have you teaching at Freehold again. Can you share your history with teaching at Freehold and what you're excited about in returning to teach here? 

I studied w/ Robin at the old Pasqualini-Smith Studio in 1987 before coming on board at Freehold as their very first hired acting teacher back in the day. I was Head of the Intro Series at Freehold-- where I pioneered the Scene Study/ Text, Personalization, and Rehearsal & Performance classes as well as co-teaching The Shakespeare Intensive and offering classes in Eastern-European-style clown work and writing -- until I moved to Oregon in 2000. I attended the University of Washington's Professional Actors Training Program, but did not graduate with my class-which included current illustrious Freehold cohorts Annette Totounghi and Dan Tierney. (Nothing they say about me is true...) I am excited to be returning to the theatre town I know best, and to see my colleagues working and teaching and creating in that town. Life is long and art can be hard -- especially given the vagaries of late capitalism. I am joyful that Freehold has weathered the latest storms and is still here to offer guidance and opportunity to theatre artists at all levels of craft.

Continued ...

MJSieberTopEverything is Changing by MJ Sieber

MJ SiebeMJSieberr has been a working artist in Seattle since graduation from Cornish College of the Arts in 2001 with a degree in Original Works. Since that time he has appeared as an actor on the stages of Seattle Rep, Intiman, ACT Theatre, Seattle Children's Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Co, Book-It, The Empty Space, Village Theatre, Wooden O, Theatre Schmeater, and Strawberry Theatre Workshop where he just finished playing John Merrick in The Elephant Man and has directed The Water Engine and The Lady Day. He is a Founding Member of New Century Theatre Company and appeared in their inaugural production of The Adding Machine. He also created the web series Ask An Actor and The Barry Reinhardt Show. This summer he directed his first feature film 'haven't seen a soul in years'.

If I were to be locked in a theatre for the rest of my natural life and exposed to play after play after play with only brief interludes to relieve myself and eat I would still have seen more film and television than theatre.  The truth is that while I love theatre and have devoted half of my life to it what caught my eye first was film.  Film is what sparked a nerve in me to start acting.  Television is what helped me understand how a basic story is told.  As a professional actor I can say from experience that there are very few people who have success in both film and theatre.  It takes a great deal of time and loyalty to make even a small mark in either of them.  I believe that this is largely due to the fact that most actors feel that the only way they can get work is to audition (a process which is debilitating for many people).  Mounting an entire theatrical production can cost tens of thousands of dollars - on the lower end - and making a film can easily bankrupt you before you've even shot one scene.  No wonder actors feel helpless when it comes to finding and creating work.

Continued ...

Freehold's Fall
Fantastic Classes

boy image

Class Registration is now open.

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
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 class

Questions? [email protected]
or call us at (206) 323-7499


Freehold Theatre's

Tuesday, September 15
5:30 - 7:30 pm @ Freehold -FREE

*Meet our fantastic faculty
*Hear about our fall classes
*Enjoy some tasty pizza and beer & chat with other Freehold Fans  

See previews of a few of our classes including
George Lewis on Personal Clown
Dan Tierney on Intro to Acting
Gin Hammond on Voice
MJ Sieber on Intro to Viral Video Making
as well as a chance to ask questions of
Annette Toutonghi and Kate Godman

More info: (206) 323-7499



Sample Fresh New Plays at Freehold
September 17, 18 and [email protected] 8:00 pm
And September 19th @ 3:00 pm

at Freehold, 2222 2nd Avenue, Suite 200
FREE - Donations Accepted

14/48 Normantop"SUBPRIME!" Solo Performer Learns to Ask for Help
By Norman Bell

 "What the hell was I thinking?"

That's the thought that's been surfacing a lot lately as I've been coming into the final stretch of writing, rehearsing and producing  my first full-length solo show, SUBPRIME!: Inside the Heart of the Mortgage Meltdown.

I can't remember, but maybe at some point along the way the following thought went through my head: "I know what I'll do! I'll hole myself up in my room for six months and write and re-write a full-length show about the subprime mortgage industry! And then, rather than handing it off to other people to perform, I'll do it all myself! 12 characters! Forty text-heavy pages! 8,000-plus words! 70-plus minutes onstage! Slide projections! A rap number!"

Continued ...
2010 Studio Series
Don't wait to begin your musings about Studio Series 2010 ...

Brynna 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! (picture on right, Brynna Jourden in The Magnificent Quidley at 2009 Studio Series).
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 

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.

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.


MJ Sieber
is directing Lady Day at Emersons Bar and Grill for Strawberry Theatre Workshop (opening Sept. 11th at the Erickson Theatre), and  will be acting in If You Give a Mouse a Cookie for Seattle Children's Theatre, more info:

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 Website Donations Update

Thank you
to the generosity of the Freehold community we have made our matching donation goal of $1500!
Look out for our new website
launching later this fall.

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 [email protected]
with your upcoming shows and links

Kristin Alexander will perform in Artattack Theater Ensemble's production of That Other Person, one of three one-act plays by David Lindsay-Abaire presented together Oct. 16 - Nov. 7. Info at
Kristin attended the American Conservatory Theater's 2009 Summer Congress Classical Intensive and begins her three quarter Meisner training this fall at Freehold.
14/48Norman 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. (picture on left, Norman performing an excerpt of SUBPRIME for the 2009 Studio Series).  SUBPRIME! on KUOW: Norman was interviewed about SUBPRIME! by KUOW's Jeremy Richards. To listen, tune in to 94.9 FM Saturday, September 5 between 12-1pm. Or download the podcast after Sept. 5 here:;

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,


Sean Gormley will be appearing in The Good Thief by Conor McPherson, directed by John Keating, at The Players Loft Theatre in Manhattan as part of the 1st Irish Theatre Festival. Tell your NY friends!
Show runs Sept 10 - Oct 4.  More info and tickets:
An hour, an actor, a harsh tale told quietly  - NY Times

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 12/5-12/2009

Sara Rucker Thiessen begins her 11th season of Playback Theatre October 9, 2009 and every second Friday through May 14th at Traditions Café in Olympia. Sara thanks Freehold instructor Matt Smith for the training that got her started on her improv journey over a decade ago.  For more info go to:

AltheacontinuedInterview with Althea Hukari (continued)

What drew you to your passion for acting?

Wow, that might be one for my head-shrinker... I am a passionate observer of the world. Acting was the first thing I discovered that seemed to make use of all of me-- my heart and soul and intellect and voice and body and senses and memory-- my love of the spoken word and the hidden truth - and my sense that we are here to somehow be of service to one another. Well, you asked. Acting helped me make use of what I know about what it is to be a human being living in this world.
You're going to be teaching a Play Reading Group here at Freehold. How would you describe this class and what inspired you to want to teach it?

Great Plays Read Out Loud. Really, that's it. That's what the class is about. Plays are built to be shared, to be heard, not experienced silently on the page like a novel. Scripts are like blue-prints for the 3-D theatre experience. But that's the rub-- a lot of people are intimidated by trying to read blue-prints. Don't you need some special training to do that? And the dirty little secret of most theatre people is that even we DO NOT READ ENOUGH PLAYS. It is the rare theatre artist who can truthfully claim otherwise. So I started this class to invite people of all stripes and level of skill to sit down in a comfy place with good light and great scripts and read out loud together. I give hints for decoding the blue-print, I provide some context for the plays we read, and I facilitate discussion about them after wards. The class goes together (love those student group rates!)to see at least one of the plays performed live on stage. Sometimes we have a local playwright join us for a Q&A about a work of theirs we've read in group. The Play Reading Group offers would be actors, directors and playwrights a way to become more familiar with the form and audience members a chance to peak behind the curtain.
In your bio, you note that you studied at the Pasqualini-Smith Studio (the studio Robin Lynn Smith co-founded prior to her work at Freehold).  What stands out to you thinking back to that time working with Tony Pasqualini and Robin Lynn Smith?

Three things: 1) Commitment. 2) Commitment. 3) Commitment. But seriously, folks... When I first met Robin Lynn Smith, I thought here is a woman on fire. And on fire for all the right reasons-- which is the rarest thing. She spoke to the deepest part of my theatrical longings-- diving without hesitation beneath the cloudy surface. She made me think it was possible for an ordinary mortal like me to serve the theatre. I will always be grateful to her for that. The second thing I remember is that funky old space on Eastlake. It smelled of reptiles which some guy kept in the basement. We used the back door onto the fire escape as "The Door", if you know what I mean, The Door which is always magically locked and cannot be opened by the person outside The Door during improvs. I was working with Dan Morris on the opening scene from Seahorse, in which just such a locked door is key. Robin kept coaching me to "stay with the truth of the moment, do not let him in until he MAKES you let him in." (She might not have known about my stubborn Finnish heritage.) Finally, after who know how many minutes of Dan standing on the fire escape (soaking wet, if you know the scene), pleading and screaming and howling for me to let him in, we hear from an unknown upstairs neighbor, "FOR GOD'S SAKE, LET HIM IN!" Lastly, I would feel remiss if I did not mention that watching Tony Pasqualini in rehearsal and on stage was an education in itself. He was - and no doubt still is, he lives and works in LA now-- courageous and smart and available and always, always willing and ready to go THERE - whether getting THERE meant trudging another furlong down the path he was currently exploring, or turning on a dime and going 180 degrees towards someplace brand new. Remarkable.
When you think about the work you do as an actor, director and performance coach, what excites or energizes you?

I am still thrilled by the chance to be of use. I think art is essential to our lives as human beings. This world is full of distractions that can lead us to forget who we are, to lose touch with our human-being-ness. Years ago, during rehearsals for (the Freehold sponsored production of) Uncle Vanya, our director, Russian-born Leonid Anismov told us that "the purpose of theatre is the education of the human soul." That still rings true for me. My soul seeks educating. And if I can pass something of value on to other souls, I want to do that, too.

Althea will be teaching our Play Reading Group and an Intro to Acting class starting this fall quarter at Freehold.  For more information on these classes, call us at (206) 323-7499 or go to

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MJContinuedEverything Is Changing by MJ Sieber (continued)

We are lucky enough to be living in a time when everything is changing.  The internet has only been used as a household mainstay for 12 years or so.  But this is more than enough time for it to completely transform the way we view the world around us.  Specifically, what people all over the globe choose to share. was created in 2005 and allowed everyone with a camera to be heard by anyone that cared to listen.  The result is not always positive or even interesting to most people but I guarantee you that for every YouTube video that is uploaded there is at least one other person on earth that finds it appealing. 

The rules are difficult to establish because the art is moving too quickly for anyone in charge to follow it.  I recently made a movie for a budget of $6000.  No one was paid, we had a bare bones crew and not a single permit to shoot anywhere.  We plan to release it online as ten episodes.  In doing this we get to have complete control over our film and distribute it in whatever fashion we choose.  Granted we will probably not make a single dime from it, but we are able to offer up our unique vision to the world, uncompromised for anyone to take or leave. 

Ultimately this is what the internet had done to media.  Before, we would tune into the evening news or turn on the radio and wait to hear about traffic or weather.  Now we are able to take or leave any bit of information that is out there, and choose to do so whenever we please.  As artists this is our biggest tool.  If you want the public at large to see you in a show, reach out to them as they sip their morning coffee and convince them that it is worth getting out of the house.  Use the web as an intermediary.  The more you produce, the better you will become at figuring out how to tell your story.

Robin asked me if I would be interested in teaching a class about viral video making and I leapt at it.  I was trained first as an actor and later as a writer and director.  After I graduated from Cornish College of the Arts, I quickly became interested in creating things for myself.  It is a compulsion.  Over the last four years I have taught myself how to film, write, direct, edit, and distribute videos online.  I feel a great sense of pride for any little project I am able to put into the ether for my friends and family across the world to take or leave as they may.  I often think of these no budget videos as street theatre; many people will walk by without giving it a second thought, but a few will stick around.  They will laugh, be moved or even leave inspired.  The greatest gift one artist can give another is inspiration. 

MJ will be teaching Intro to Viral Video Making at Freehold this fall starting October 17th.  For more information, call us at (206) 323-7499 or go to:

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NormancontinuedpageSUBPRIME:  Solo Performer Learns to Ask for Help by Norman Bell (continued)

Honestly. What the hell was I thinking?  Well, I'm an only child. So I guess I've got this tendency to want to do everything myself.  But in the end, there was so much to do, I was forced to do something I'm very good at doing: Asking for help. It was hard, but I had no other choice. I simply could not do everything myself. And so I asked. And boy did I get some help.

My director is Gin Hammond - Freehold voice teacher extraordinaire and winner of the Helen Hayes Award for her work on the solo show "The Syringa Tree".  My lighting designer is Reed Nakayama, who just did a superb job lighting Strawshop's "The Elephant Man".  And most recently, a friend and talented illustrator Jason Bott agreed to illustrate the slides for my "Larry the Loan" slide presentation (and if you're asking yourself "Who the heck is 'Larry the Loan?',  well, you'll just have to come to the show to find out.) In addition to this, my wonderful wife Zoe - a talented writer and performer in her own right - has been one-hundred percent supportive every step of the way.

As a solo performer, I guess there will always be a part of me who will want to do it all myself.  But there's another growing part of me who's learning how to ask for help and then receive it. Because what I'm learning is, even with a solo show, there's plenty of room to give people the opportunity to use their talents to help make a project the best it can be.
Norman Bell will be talking about SUBPRIME! on KUOW Presents this Saturday, September 5 between 12-1pm. Tune in to 94.9 FM, or visit
after Saturday and download the podcast. SUBPRIME! premieres September 11, 12, 18 and 19, 8pm, at Voxbox. 1205 E Pike Street. For more info, please visit: To buy tickets, please visit:

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