|The Freehold Forum
Spring Quarter 2010
Hello Freehold Community,
The blossoms are out which sends a clear signal that spring is here. The other clear sign it's spring?
Freehold's sensational spring classes are now open for registration!
We are excited to share with you some great articles and Freehold news including:
*A fascinating interview with new Freehold faculty member and Tony award winner, Dinah Manoff Mortell
*An illuminating article by Gin Hammond on her recent production
*A fun chat with the threesome known as Le Frenchword including John Leith, Sachie Mikawa and Carter Rodriquez who recently performed as part of Freehold's Studio Series 2010
*An introspective article by Orion Baker on his experience volunteering as part of the Engaged Theatre residency program at WCCW
*Plus student and faculty news and a reminder that our Faculty Showcase and Benefit Tickets are now available for purchase (event: April 5th!).
Wishing everyone a fabulous, colorful and creative spring!
FROM THE STUDIO
with Dinah Manoff Mortell
Manoff has been acting since the age of seventeen when she auditioned for and
was accepted to the Actors Studio in New York. She won a 1980 Tony Award
and a Theater World Award for her performance in the Broadway production of
Neil Simon's "I Ought To Be In Pictures" and has numerous other theater
television, she was a series regular on "Soap," "Empty Nest" and has starred in
numerous TV movies. She wrote the story for
and produced the television movie "Maid for Each Other," and wrote
two episodes of Empty Nest, one which featured her mother, the actress, Lee
Grant. Dinah is happily married to Arthur Mortell, and is the proud mom of their
three boys, Dashiell, Desi and Oliver. Five years ago the Manoff-Mortells left Los Angeles and moved to Bainbridge Island, where she is currently writing
and teaching acting at the Bainbridge Performing Arts. We are thrilled that Dinah will be teaching an Advanced Scene Study class focusing on the work of Raymond Carver at Freehold this spring quarter. To see Dinah's complete bio: http://www.freeholdtheatre.org/faculty
have an extensive background as an actor, performing in LA and New York. What has it been like to
live and work in the northwest, specifically Bainbridge Island?
working part was not really factor until I started teaching last year. My
husband and I moved here to raise our three boys; twins who are now 8 years old
and a 12 year old. My focus was on getting them out of Los Angeles. I came up here with the
intention of refocusing my life and priorities.
such a relief to focus on my family and it's been fascinating living
here. We love Bainbridge, the schools are amazing and we are around so
many like-minded people. Honestly I was afraid I'd be the loudest person
on the island, but fortunately I haven't found that to be the case. I've
made great friends and found more creativity here than I could have fathomed.
I've found a great community of writers as well. I would never want
to move back to Los Angeles. Plus, I get to have a horse here
which I love!
|FROM OUR THEATRE LAB
the Bones with Gin Hammond
Gin Hammond is an actor, writer, producer and Freehold faculty member. Gin's play RETURNING THE BONES is
based on the true story of her aunt, an African American doctor, Caroline
Beatrice Montier, (aka "Bebe") now 84. After being invited to
finish her medical degree in Europe shortly after WWII, Bebe has to choose
between staying in the South (and continuing to risk her life in the fight for
Civil Rights), or escaping to Paris to live a life she's always dreamed of.
can you share with our readers what inspired and motivated you to write and
perform Returning the Bones?
(photo at left: Gin Hammond performing Returning the Bones)
was growing up I hadn't heard much about my Aunt Carolyn (aka Auntie
Bebe). We didn't grow up near any relatives. In my 20's, I
realized how ridiculous it was that my nuclear family was pretty much all
the family that I knew. I didn't like feeling cut off from my own history.
I was compelled to find out more about where I come from. I was
very nervous about facing rejection, about being the wierdo relative who
shows up out of nowhere, but it was worth the risk. My Aunt
Carolyn was very welcoming to me and generous with the family stories, and
spending time with her made it easier for me to eventually connect with the
rest of my extended family.
FROM OUR STUDIO
Studio Series 2010
Congratulations to all of Studio Series 2010 participants. Your hard work and dedication made the 2010 Studio Series a HUGE success.
We had a chance to sit down with one of the acts that performed this year at the Studio Series: Le Frenchword which includes John Leith, Carter Rodriquez and Sachie Mikawa (pictured below), all Freehold Meisner alums.
Interview with Le Frenchword
The piece you did at the Studio Series called Kawa-Ui while hard to
describe included a bunny dance, Sachie being given birth to and Carter and
John reminiscing on the "old days". How did you three come up with this piece?
Carter: It was a
process. We would throw stuff at the
wall, you know ... throw Sachie at the wall ... whatever stuck, we kept.
Sachie: Well there were 4 of us originally.
John: Yes, the fourth Beatle left us.
Carter: Ah yes, the amazing Miss Brynna Jourden and then
there was the "old one."
John: Well not old so much as "the great one"
Sachie: He's fitter than all of us.
Carter: Yes, the incredible George Lewis who was a central
figure in helping us develop the piece.
John: George would
say "ok you all need to come in with something next week."
Sachie: Yes, that's
how the bunny dance came to be. It was a
punishment from George where he said "you have to do some stupid move."
John: Brynna had this great question which helped focus us
which was "what could we do if we could do whatever we wanted?"
Sachie: She was also really great in leading us to some
movement exercises which really helped a lot as well.
|FROM OUR THEATRE LAB
Visiting Purdy by Orion Baker
Orion Baker is a Freehold student who has been participating as a volunteer in Freehold's Engaged Theatre residency program at the Washington Correctional Center for Women. He and other volunteer artists along with Freehold's Artistic Director Robin Lynn Smith and Freehold faculty member Dickey Nesenger have been working with the women from Purdy for several months to produce a play based on the women's writing. The performance will be held for the public in April at the prison and will also be performed for their fellow inmates.
Visiting Purdy/Washington Women's Correctional Center for Women (WCCW) for the first time, having learned a bit
about the importance of going into new situations without expectations, I felt
adequately unprepared. Since I have no
previous experience with prison, I took care to try to ignore my notions about
what it would be like inside.
Nevertheless, I have found myself frequently surprised.
I was surprised to find out that the guards aren't gruff,
and that many of them aren't even serious.
I was surprised that some of the walls were painted with elaborate murals. I was surprised that being in a room full of
prisoners feels remarkably similar to being in a room full of any other type of
person. I was surprised that there were
cherry blossoms in the central courtyard.
Most of all, I am continually surprised by the diversity and depth of
artistic talent possessed by the women in the Engaged Theatre program.
Dickey Nesenger , John Longenbaugh and others will be participating in Olio! on Friday March 26th, 7 pm at Ouch my Eye (1022 1st
Ave. S.). The event will be full of
music, busking, and improvisation performances, as well as a silent auction of
faux props and original play posters.
All proceeds for this event will go towards Bit Part, a play
festival and Belltown street fair hosted by Freehold Theatre, in collaboration
with KNOCK Magazine, and produced by Ampere Art. The winners of the KNOCK
International Play Contest, judged by Dickey Nesenger, Maria Semple, and John
Longenbaugh, will be published in issue no.13, "The All Play Issue," to be
released during the festival.
Daemond Arrindell produces the very popular weekly Seattle Poetry Slam now on Tuesday nights at 8:00, only $5.00 and at a new location: the ReBar. For more information: http://www.seattlepoetryslam.org/
Gin Hammond will be performing her play Returning the Bones (picture at left) at the Solo Performance Festival on March 11, 19, and 20 at 7:30 pm at Theatre Off Jackson. Excerpts from the play can be seen at youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p1IMpnhd_M and more information on SPF and Gin's show: http://www.theatreoffjackson.org/spf4.html#bones
Cyrus Khambatta is announcing an artist
call for creative site-specific works for a new program Art on the Fly,
turning Seattle Streetcar into a huge art ride through South Lake Union and
Beyond the Threshold's new Spotlight on Seattle series featuring
Seattle-based companies. Thanks to support from the Department of
Neighborhoods, artists will be compensated between $200-$1,350 per project
(depending on the number of dancers and scope of the project) for Art on the
Fly. Cyrus is heartily encouraging individuals to apply. Go to www.phffft.org/sidf-apply.html
and download the application and guidelines to submit a proposal. If you
need more info, contact Abigail Wallace at Abigail@PHFFFT.org
Darragh Kennan, Amy Thone, MJ Sieber, Paul Morgan Stetler (all Freehold faculty members and members of New Century Theatre Company) are producing On the Nature of Dust by Stephanie Timm, May 5 - May 30th (in association with ACT Heating Lab). Tickets available through ACT Ticket Office: (206) 292-7676 or https://www.acttheatre.org/TicketsPlays/
John Jacobsen is stll
shooting his tv show for PBS, The Artist Toolbox. John just interviewed
Chef Daniel Boulud (one of the few 4 star chefs in the US) and Isabel and Ruben Toledo (she
did Michelle Obama's dress for the inauguration and he is probably the greatest
graphic designer in fashion working, does all Nordstrom's ads), and also filmed
the legendary jazz pianist, Ramsey Lewis. Isabelle Allende is next! John also just
got hired to direct and produce a new tv pilot called The Perfect Sweat
for The Discovery Channel. The FilmSchool just had its 2nd Annual Oscar Night
Auction which grossed over $160,000. John is also buying the
rights to a Roald Dahl book and writing the script to make that into a movie.
More information on The Artist Toolbox: http://www.mogajacobsen.com/
George Lewis created 2 clown shows in Argentina this past year. One of them is a solo show with a woman
named Victoria Almeida. It is a multimedia clown piece called "The last time I
threw myself off a precipice", and tells the story of a clown contemplating
suicide. It is performed every Friday night at Teatro Picolino in Palermo at 11:30 pm. There was a 4 star review in La Nacion, the "New York Times of Argentina." George is going back into rehearsal with Nata Voltage (photo above) with a piece entitled "Mal de Mar" (Sea Sick), which is a kind of
clown existential journey. They performed it for 2 months, and will do a more
extended run opening in June. If you are going to be in Argentina, George offers comps for both shows!
John Longenbaugh's play Perspectives will be performed as part of Stone Soup's Original One Act Play Festival, May 13-16 and May 20-23, Thursday - Sunday, 8:00 pm and 2:00 pm. Tickets available at (206) 633-1883 and details at: http://www.stonesouptheatre.org/whatsbrewing.html#festival2010
Keira McDonald is producing the Solo Performance Festival, SPF #4, March 3 - April 5th. Always a FUN festival! More information: http://www.theatreoffjackson.org/spf4.html
Troy Mink has a new solo
show Evenings With Carlotta going up at Annex Theatre April 30 - May 21, Friday and Saturdays, at 11:00 pm & will be doing a
character, improv based piece for the upcoming Faculty Showcase and Benefit. The link
to the Annex/Carlotta show is: http://www.annextheatre.org/pages/season23.html - scroll down on the page to get to the listing. Photo at left: Troy Mink as Carlotta.
Paul Mullin's play The Sequence has just been published, available at Original Works
NewsWrights United is gearing up to research and report another Living
Newspaper, this one about new media called, The New New News: A Living Newspaper. He and his colleagues hope to produce this in August, at the Erickson Off-Broadway
collaborating with Strawberry Theatre Workshop.
Marya Sea Kaminski will be reading from her own work for Hugo House's event Laws of Attraction at Kane Hall on UW Campus on Friday, March 19 at 7:30 pm. More information: http://www.facebook.com/pages She is also currently working on Condo Millennium, (photo above) a performance spectacle, which will be at the Northwest Film Forum on May 13 - 15, 2010.
More information: http://www.nwfilmforum.org/live/page/calendar/988
Matt Smith will be performing his latest work entitled All My Children at Hugo House about a man, Max Poth, who tracks down the now grown children of long-ago girlfriends--and claims to have fathered them all. The show runs May 28 - June 12, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm. For more information, http://www.hugohouse.org/content/matt-smith
Billie Wildrick will be doing Samson at SPF #4 (Solo Performance Festival) on the 18th and 29th: http://www.theatreoffjackson.org/spf4.html. She will be then doing On the Town at the 5th Avenue Theatre: http://www.5thavenue.org/show/onthetown0910/and then followed at the 5th Avenue with Candide, info: http://www.5thavenue.org/show/candide0910/
FREEHOLD FACULTY SHOWCASE AND
Monday, April 5th
Doors Open at 6:30 pm
Showtime: 7:30 pm
Bullitt Cabaret Theatre
700 Union Street
Seattle, WA 98101
Hosted by Robin Lynn Smith and Annette
Here is your ONCE a year chance to see in one evening several of our
spectacular faculty showcase their incredible talents in support of Freehold.
Here's what you have to look forward to:
*Sensational short play readings
wizardry by the
best of the best and as always
*Transcendent acting by
(if you can believe it!)
and MORE to come!
Music by Jose Gonzales and Lisa Halpern$15.00 (advance tickets until March 22nd)
Scrumptious nibbles and
$25.00 (after March
Tickets include one drink ticket (beer/wine)
bar will be available*
Come show your
(we'll be providing several ways to do
sold out last year so be sure
and get your tickets early!
Kim Fitzharris, Jennifer Hamblin, Ryan Sanders all Freehold alums will be performing in the play Recent Tragic Events at Odd Duck Studio, March 11-April 4th. Other Freehold alums include Jeff Woodbridge (director), Jonathan Locke (producer), Elizabeth Deutsch (stage manager), Nathania ten Wolde (photography and print design - photo on right). More information on tickets, times: http://www.recenttragicevents.net/play/Home.html
Sean Gormley booked a role on an upcoming HBO show called Treme and reports it was a great experience. They
spent the day shooting an exterior scene by one of the levees in the lower ninth
ward New Orleans. Sean plays an arrogant British interviewer questioning a learned
local (John Goodman) about a conspiracy theory regarding Katrina. The series is due to air
on HBO in April. Photo at left, Sean Gormley with John Goodman on the set of Treme.
Susan Bradford is using her Meisner tools as Meg in Harold Pinter's, The
Birthday Party. Susan has been directing the show since last fall, when her
company, Theatre Black Dog, took a twenty minute scene of the play to the
EBOR conference at the UW, for a group of 150 analysts. This resulted in an
invitation to take the play to a conference this coming fall in Oxford, England.
Susan directed, Waiting for Godot at Balagan theatre, two years
company has worked together on many productions over the years, including A
Lie of the Mind, Dancing at Lughnasa, and True West,to name a
few. The show is running at Isadors Cafe in Snoqualmie on March 12,13,19,20, Info: 425.888.1345 and runs
April 2, 3, 9th, and 10th at Freehold's Black Box Theatre. Brown Paper
John Leith, Nathania ten Wolde, and Parker Wolfe (all Freehold alums) and other performing artists will be performing in the Vet Arts Project (photo at left) on March 19 and 20 at 7:00 pm held at Freehold Theatre. The Vet Art Project creates opportunities for veterans to work in collaboration with artists from all disciplines to create new art about war for public performance and viewing. Hosted by Freehold and facilitated by Caroline Brown. Suggested donation: $10.00.
Phillip Mitchell has been cast in the upcoming Condo Millenium: A New Performance, created and directed by Marya Sea Kaminski. For more information: http://www.nwfilmforum.org/live/page/calendar/988
Eleanor Moseley will be performing in Agatha Christie Murder Mysteries as part of Theatre Northwest Group in May in Tacoma. For more information, http://www.theatrenorthwestgroup.org/
Louise Penberthy has a reading of her play The Platinum Crucible, on Sunday, March 21st, at 7:00 p.m., at 15th Avenue Coffee & Tea, 328 15th Ave., on
Capitol Hill. The play is a comedy about four cousins who have inherited their aunt's estate and the family secrets. Each of them wants a mythical platinum crucible that belonged to their grandfather... if it even exists. Louise's play Miss Hannah Comes Back, based on the short play at the Studio Series in February, will be produced by Pierce College in May. Miss Hannah Comes Back is a comic but serious look at the times when the trees don't WANT to be hugged. Performances are Friday and Saturday, May 14,15, and 21, 22. Times, ticket prices, etc., will be on the Pierce College Web site, http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/Theatre/. Louise's short play The Cougar in the Coffee House is in Little Red Studio's Erotic Shorts festival in June. In The Cougar in the Coffee House, middle-aged, recently divorced Claire gets an astonishing proposition from a young man of her acquaintance. More information: Little Red Studio's Web site, http://www.littleredstudioseattle.com/
Step I: Intro to Acting with Sarah Harlett and Stefan Enriquez
SPRING CLASS REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN AT FREEHOLD
Here are our Sensational Spring Classes:
Step II: Acting with Text with Sarah Harlett
Step II: Acting with Text with Carol Roscoe
Step III: Basic Scene Study with CT Doescher
Rehearsal and Performance with Annette Toutonghi
Advanced Scene Study with Dinah Manoff Mortell
Alexander Intensive with Cathy Madden
Improv with Matt Smith
Advanced Improv with Troy Mink
Stage Combat with Geof Alm
Spoken Word and Performance Poetry with Daemond Arrindell
Meisner Progression with Robin Lynn Smith
Shakespeare with Amy Thone
Voice with Gin Hammond
Voice Over with Gin Hammond
Playwriting I with Elizabeth Heffron
Playwriting III with Dickey Nesenger
Crafting the 10 Minute Play with John Longenbaugh
TO REGISTER: http://www.freeholdtheatre.org/studio
or (206) 323-7499.
We look forward to hearing from
Interview with Dinah Manoff Mortell (continued)
have worked in LA in film and on stage. What have been the challenges as
well as the rewards when you compare the film work with the stage work?
I am much
happier as a stage actress than doing television or film. Stage is really
comfortable for me. I've never had a problem with getting a sense of
privacy on stage or being able to experience that feeling of freedom. In
front of the camera, I have to overcome a million obstacles and use every trick
in the book to deal with that feeling of self-consciousness that can surface
for me. I know a lot of actors for whom it's the opposite ... they melt
into comfort on camera.
has it been to make the change from working in LA and New York versus Bainbridge Island?
tremendous energy performing in LA and New York, and I rode that for a long
time. In my 40s the energy started to dissipate - the roles were less and
also were less interesting. I feel like I had a great run. I was a
working actress working steadily from age 17 until my 40s. When that was
over, it was so great to not have to think "I've got to get to that
audition", do my hair and make-up, study those lines and all of that - I
didn't have the motivation to do it anymore. Also, I said to myself
"I had the best of this" and now it's time to move on.
of my work life, my kids are now well on their way as people. I'm starting to
branch out a little bit more. It's been great teaching at Bainbridge
Performing Arts. I've done several adult classes, a teen class and just
directed a one-act festival. The teaching really feeds me creatively. I'm
finding that it is an area where I can be in with both feet and be really
present for my students. I'm very excited about coming over to Freehold
and exploring the talent there. Also I'd like to be more connected with
the theater community in Seattle.
actor who has performed extensively, is there anything that you
have learned over the years that you wished you could have shared with yourself
at that age?
fun. I didn't have fun for years. I took myself way too seriously.
I was so hard on myself. I didn't have fun acting until my late
30s. What I finally realized is that acting and performing is supposed to
be playful. The most important thing I bring to the students in my
classes is playfulness. My experience is that the minute you start
criticizing yourself as an actor you become blocked
you look back at your work studying at the Actor's Studio in New York, are
there a couple of things you could share that you learned that have been
important tools for you as you worked as a professional actor?
mother, Lee Grant, still moderates at the Actor's Studio and when I'm in New
York I often go back and watch the sessions. The Actor's Studio is a great
place to see actors take charge of their own work and process. They use
the sessions to bring in whatever they feel they need to work on. There
is a lot of private-moment work - a lot of work on characters that might be
challenging for them or even characters no one would ever cast them in ... so
there is a really marvelous jumping off the cliff/not playing it safe feeling
to the work. The opportunity to having been raised as an actor in that
atmosphere was incredible. One of the things that I learned at the Studio
is that the most interesting and exciting work is when you don't know what is
going to happen next. This idea is something I try to convey to other
actors. Listen, ... sometimes the sessions are awful, indulgent and
boring but luckily you have great moderators like my mother or Ellen
Burtsyn who delineate bullshit from process. At its best the work is very
deep and raw. The actors are encouraged to work in the moment, to stay
out of results.
excited that you will be teaching an Advanced Scene Study Class focusing on the
works of Raymond Carver. What draws you particularly to Raymond Carver's
I came to
Carver late in life. I remember the first time I read his stories, my jaw
dropped open. I thought "these are so dramatic ... I want to get
actors into this work!" I went to
the Artistic Director at Bainbridge Performing Arts and said that I wanted to
get actors working with Carver's stories. That's what started me
teaching. I took all of these non-professional actors and we started to
work on these scenes. We did lots of sensory work, emotional recall, and
improvisation and it was truly revelatory. After the session
was over I watched "Short Cuts", a film by Robert Altman and Frank
Barhydt, which is inspired by nine short stories and a poem by Raymond
Carver. It's a masterpiece. Altman had done the same thing, using improv
mixed with scripted dialogue to get the heart of the characters and their
stories. I read that when Altman started working with Carver, he felt the
only way he could dramatize the stories was through improvisation.
there any particular hopes that you have for your students upon completion of
your upcoming class with them?
so much humor in Carver even in the midst of all that tragedy. The
students will get to really know Carver in the way that might know Chekhov.
My hope is that they'll burrow a little deeper in themselves as actors,
stretch just a little bit farther. Above all else my goal is that
everyone has a swell, good time.
you think about the work you'd like to do in the future artistically, what
roles, characters, plays or opportunities would you like to tackle?
if you will, is to take the next indicated step. For right now the next
indicated step is Carver at Freehold Theatre.
will be teaching Advanced Scene Study at Freehold this Spring Quarter.
For more information on this class or to register, go to: http://www.freeholdtheatre.org/studio/catalog/128
Back to Top ...
|Returning the Bones with Gin Hammond (continued)
inspiration for the script was the stark contrast between the grace and faith
my aunt demonstrated while working for change that she didn't even anticipate
witnessing in her lifetime, and the stories about all the U.S.
citizens who gave up on their country in some form or
another during our last administration. I thought about how
incredibly seductive it would have been for my aunt to accept all the invitations
she'd gotten to stay in Paris, (living the glamorous
life of the Black expats of the time), rather than
return to the United States to battle the aggressively ignorant, and lethal, Jim
Crow laws. Spoiler Alert: She was one of the "Unsung Heroes" that
Obama invited to his inauguration.
(Photo at left of Bebe)
preparing for the role you had to embody 28 characters, many of whom had a
variety of dialects. I was particularly struck by how seamless a
transition you make from character to character. What is your process for
preparing for these characters both in terms of dialect and character?
Getting into character actually depends on the character: with historical
figures such as Eleanor Roosevelt and LBJ, I could study YouTube videos and
simply mimic them, doing exercises similar to what I teach in my Dialect and
Character Class; e.g. what's the mouth posture, attitude, and musicality?
Family members that I portrayed were a different matter: except for the main
character (my aunt), all the relatives I portray had already passed away.
I had to go from stories I'd heard and the way my living relatives would tell
the stories. For example, anytime anyone was quoting my grandfather,
they'd use their lowest pitch, speak really quickly, and add a coughing "tick"
that I've since incorporated. With family members as well as people I had
little or no information about, I also went through a checklist of sorts that
included what chakra they were operating from, what their "sentence of
greatest need" was, and what the psychological gestures were that grew out
were the specific highlights and challenges in preparing for this role and how
did you overcome the challenges?
were so many enthralling stories that it was difficult to know what to
keep and what to edit out. There's one scene I've since had to edit
out. My aunt grew up in a strangely privileged kind of situation in a
very small town in Bryan, Texas. When she first arrived
at Howard University as a freshman, there was a talent show survey that
went around asking if she had any talents. She wrote "play
accordion, guitar, and saxophone." They picked her to perform,
and she dressed up in her little cowgirl outfit and not only played
"Home on the Range" (she mentioned there was no Black music on the
radio when she was growing up), but she even yodeled. The entire school
was laughing and at first she thought they were enjoying it but gradually she
realized they were laughing at her "as if I was a comic! And then
they had the nerve to shout for an encore!" This country gal
eventually became student body president and was chosen to be one of a handful
of medical students chosen to represent the United States in Europe.
actor Marcel Davis was like a dramaturgical partner when I first started writing
the play. Some good friends also helped with their feedback at the play's
very first (and very long) reading. Local actor/director Carol Roscoe,
and NYC director Victor Lirio were quite instrumental in helping me give the
play shape during the two subsequent staged readings. Jane Jones,
Co-Artistic Director of Book-It Repertory Theatre was my final director, and is
accustomed to transforming entire novels into play-length performances.
My tremendous respect for her talent made it easy to trust her recommendations
and take greater artistic risks with the play.
I get to
quote Eleanor Roosevelt in the play, and it's a quote that suits my aunt's
philosophy to a "T." "When you simply follow your heart,
what others call bravery becomes a matter of course."
Hammond is teaching a Voice class and a Voice Over class at Freehold spring. For more information on those classes, go to: http://www.freeholdtheatre.org/studio/classes/3
Gin will be performing Returning the Bones as part of the SPF Festival March 19 and 20 at
Theatre Off Jackson.
a preview of Gin's performance from Returning the Bones go to:
Back to Top ...
|Le Frenchword Interview (continued)
Carter: It was definitely an interesting process where
somebody would say something, sometimes something stupid ... not me of course ...
but someone else and then we would improv on the stupid things we liked. We worked on this in one form or another for
over 2 years, about 8 hours a week. Yes,
it does take that long to produce 20 minutes for a show.
Sachie: We also are all pretty visual people so we wanted to
incorporate a lot of different mediums including musical things.
Carter: George helped
also with the structure of things by saying "I have this much time to work with
you guys ... let's do a show."
John: As we started working together, we started seeing
themes and started to build on those.
Themes like "cults", "death", "black holes". The scene that involved two cell phones came
out of something I would play around with at a local coffee shop and the end
result of working on it with everyone is very different with where it started.
Carter: Right, like
there is this one place in the piece where we say the word "California" in a
little drawn out way, which came out of me making fun of something Arnold Schwarzenegger
did and saying "well at least he pronounces the word California right" and then
it riffed from there.
You worked on this piece for quite a long time. Was it mostly improvised or was their a genesis
of an idea that evolved?
Sachie: There was a lot of writing, talking, crying, talking
John: It was a lot of
fun but hard too. It was a hot process
for us. More than anything we had this
incredibly safe place where we could bring in whatever we wanted and see where
they would go. It definitely felt like
giving birth - great but not always easy.
Carter: We all came
from the clown world so we all brought that sensibility to trying out things.
Sachie: There was a
lot of joy in doing it. It was often the
best part of my week to meet these people and say it was ok to be so whacked.
Carter: As we worked
together, some things became clearer. We
realized that the pieces we were putting together were not regular sketch bits
or improv but that they were more oblique/absurd things and that that was our
"through" line. We were able to say
"that is uniquely ours" ... kind of like being in a band. There was chemistry that came out of our
working together over that long a period of time. We realized that everything was fair
game. I also realized how important it
was to let go of my ideas and see where the group would take it which might be
someplace completely different from where I thought it was going.
John: As we showcased
pieces of the work to fellow artists, they saw the work as absurd which was
curious because I saw it as more intuitive.
Carter: Yeah, but we had all done past clown work so that
was maybe our Clown logic, that oblique angle we have.
Sachie: Yeah, our sick sense of humor.
John: George helped so much in pointing out what was the
most interesting stuff. He would just
name it "the most interesting stuff is this and not that." He would talk about being able to "trust his
eyes when he sees something that would work."
George could always find the juice.
Carter: George's "interesting" (say it slowly folks) is
different maybe how some people hear the word.
"Interesting" is does it engage me, pull me in, make me feel something.
What was it like for you at the end of working on the piece
leading up to the Studio Series?
Carter: Honestly? I was a little nervous people would see it
and go "huh?"
John: I think we all felt that way but we were also really
clear that this is what we wanted to do and while we made adjustments we didn't
make changes to what we were doing.
Sachie: It felt necessary to show up and once we were there
to bring all of my "piece of shit" self whatever that looked like. Plus, because of our connection, when people
were going through a tough time we were very gentle with each other.
Carter: Yeah ... showing up in hell days produced some of the
Have to ask where the title of the name of the piece came
from ... "Kawa-Ui?"
Sachie: Kawa-Ui is a
made up word but it comes from Kawaii means "cute" in Japanese and I thought
what could be cuter than turning it into "Kawa-Ui?"
I understand that there is more than what you presented at
the Studio Series. Where would you like
to go with the piece?
Carter: We will be doing a 7 minute section of it at Balagan
on April 17 as part of their Shmorgasboard cabaret. More info: http://www.balagantheatre.org/
We've also applied to Bumbershoot to maybe do it then.
Sachie: Our big fantasy is to do it on the North American
John: After George
left for other parts, we had to find new ways of working.
Carter: We had to look out the work ourselves and determine
what was working and what wasn't but the great one will return soon.
John: We tried Robot George but it didn't work out.
Your group is called "Le Frenchword". Where did that come from?
John: It was one of 100 names that I came up with.
Sachie: We also have Frenchword Warehouse that we use
Carter: I liked "Let's See You do Better Theatre."
John: Or "Super Creative Friends Club" or "Better Than Your
Theatre Company." But Le Frenchword seems to fit us best.
Back to Top ...
Visiting Purdy by Orion Baker (continued)
(Orion Baker pictured at left)
Many of these women are skilled writers, compelling actors,
brilliant poets and hilarious improvisers who have been drawn to theater for
many reasons, I imagine. For some it
seems to be a great creative outlet. For
some it may be a vehicle for growth and healing. For some it seems to be a social hour. For many I suspect it is as simply that
prison is boring and theater is fun.
This too was a surprise.
I expected theater in a prison to be a serious affair, deeply personal
and sometimes angry. Although those
qualities are present, this year's play about a group of people stuck in a town
where time has stopped is as much comedy and fantasy as it is heavy drama.
Telling a story with an emphasis on the passage of time
seems relevant in a prison. Time is an
integral part of life in Purdy, and not just the overarching importance of the
amount of time remaining until getting out.
The inmates' daily activities and meals are also dictated by a strict
timetable, comprised of a series of "movements," ten-minute periods during
which they are allowed to go from one location in the prison to another. While their lives on the outside may be on
hold, time inside moves decisively forward.
This was in fact one of the first things that surprised me
about this project. Its usefulness is
not relegated to some anticipated future when time resumes and certain skills
may become useful. Rather it seems to recognize
that if time is moving then life is happening, and this art, based on being
present in the moment, is useful now.
Back to Top