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2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Freehold Theatre Lab/Studio

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Crime & Law, Inmate Support, Performing Arts Centers, Performing Arts Schools, Theater

Mission: Freehold engages artists of all levels in training and experimentation so that they may become more innovative and heartfelt in generating theatre that has a lasting impact on the community we serve.

Results: In the years since 1991, Freehold has become an integral part of Seattle's thriving theatre community, having gained a reputation as the place for serious young artists to train and take the leap into performing and creating original work. Freehold offers classes for anyone curious to explore artistic expression; acting, playwriting, public speaking, improv, whether or not they’ve had any prior training or are trained professional working in the field. Freehold’s Engaged Theatre program tours theatre productions to prisons, projects, and juvenile detention centers.

Target demographics: performance professionals, students and prison inmates

Direct beneficiaries per year: Freehold's Engaged Theatre program tours theatrical performances and workshops to culturally under-served populations. It teaches women in prison to express themselves via the art form of theater. Throughout the year, Freehold’s Engaged Theatre brings devoted artists into prisons to teach writing and performance skills and, through them, healing and growth.

Geographic areas served: Seattle, WA and the greater Pacific Northwest

Programs: Our Theatre Lab provides a forum for experimentation by professionals, the development of new performance material, and the rediscovery of classics. The Lab enables artists to explore new work - and new ways of working - in order to forge a deeper connection between actor and audience, self and community, life and art. Our Studio offers a safe place where anyone and everyone can take risks. Freehold’s students are encouraged to move theatre forward—to transform, deepen, and clarify new ways of working. From introductory sessions for the curious to master classes for practicing artists, the Studio offers an extraordinary range of disciplines and styles to help students develop a comprehensive understanding of theatre craft and acting, and to develop an artist’s greatest gift—a sense of truth—while developing the means to express this gift specifically and viscerally.

Community Stories

14 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

4 edorn12

Board Member

Rating: 5

I fell into Freehold like Alice following the white rabbit. Looking for a place to connect and explore my long dormant interest to try acting again, I began to take classes there a month after arriving in Seattle 17 years ago. In its warm, intense, no nonsense, dive-right- into it classrooms, taught by a cast of amazing, highly experienced, talented teachers, I forgot my shyness, explored my human-ness, and learned skills that have made me a more creative teacher, skillful orator and warmer, more attuned doctor. I have even written a few expressive pieces about my work and explored my artistic bones, of which we all have some. Above all, there is an insistence on authenticity and quality with kind acceptance, unparalleled by any other school I have experienced. I watch my fellow classmates blossom alongside me and feel very much a part of our community with them. Some of the best theater I have seen in the city has been in their lab - truly trying to figure out truth.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The training and community I found at Freehold truly changed my life. My heart was opened, my imagination inspired, and I learned valuable skills. I also made deep and lasting friendships.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I began classes at Freehold out of a curiosity to learn more about acting, and my life has been changed by the incredible instruction I've received in empathy, listening, and doing. I highly recommend getting involved with Freehold if you want to learn more about being a human being and engaging with the rich, deep stories of others.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Freehold provides is a safe-haven for artists in Seattle.
Freehold classes offer some of the best artistic education in Seattle, while their space provides a safe environment for artists to create. Freehold is one of the truly inclusive spaces I’ve come across in Seattle, and is essential to the theatre scene and community in Seattle.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I’ve been involved with Freehold for over 20 years. The education in acting and playwriting is superb. It transformed me in many ways, including increasing my empathy and ability to deal with conflict involving multiple perspectives. It was transformational in my authentic “presentation of self” in my role as a scientist and professor. As a result of the profound effect that Freehold has had in my own life, I accepted a position on the Board. This is a wonderful organization.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

On a five-star scale, I want to give Freehold a 10!

It is impossible to overstate the transformative power of the intimacy people - including me! - experience in Freehold classes. Steps I through III are called the “Emerging Series” for a reason; so many actor-butterflies emerging out of so many acting-class-cocoons. It’s not about transforming oneself into a completely different creature. It’s about creating, cultivating and nurturing creative spaces essential to natural change and growth - and participating in the process of change.

In class, participating means you start where you are, with no experience, (like me), or with a lot, like many of my classmates. You commit to being open and curious, to being present, to doing the work, to supporting other students, to accepting the instructor’s dynamic involvement in whatever form it takes throughout the process, and voilà! You’re an actor-butterfly! Ok, maybe not. But the cocoon-class environments created by Freehold’s faculty & staff are real ones - even on Zoom! - they are safe, intimate, judgment-free, exciting, challenging, encouraging, and, I repeat, transformative.
Join us!

2 Kowan R.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Freehold Theatre has been a life-changing venue for me upon moving to Seattle. They offer the best acting instruction, HANDS DOWN. I would even go as far and say that the quality of the courses being taught here rivals any expensive acting conservatory.

Freehold Theatre is a true gem.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was fortunate to come across Freehold three years ago through a random conversation with a colleague. I have since taken a variety of classes including Steps and Meisner Series. These classes and the instructors such as the wonderful master Robin Lynn Smith and the amazing Meg McLynn have had a profound impact on my life both as an actress and a human being.

Over the past three years, I have been encouraging friends, family and colleagues to take acting classes at Freehold and I usually offer different reasons why: the self confidence that this work offers, the opportunity to explore one’s identity deeper, the ability to find a voice of one’s own through exploring imaginary circumstances… the list goes on. But above all, at the core of this work one will learn ‘empathy’ and find more ways to exercise compassion. When our world is filled with so much fear of ‘others’, what is a more important tool than empathy? To understand our shared torments, joys, and sorrows as humans regardless of our gender, race, or school of thought. In my experience, empathy is at the core of the acting method thought at Freehold.

Since September, I have become a board member at Freehold. I believe Freehold’s mission to deepen the transformational power of theatre through experimentation, training, and performance shines through their offered classes, their instructors of choice and their community work and I am proud to be part of this mission as a student and a board member.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

I took my first acting class at Freehold in 2015 and that's one of the best decision I ever made.
I got to learn from amazing teachers and got a great atmosphere and facility to network and grow into the profession. They have a variety of classes from voiceover to how to be a clown(!) and I am super grateful to be able to have opportunities to learn from each one of them.

I knew about basic acting fundamentals before taking classes at Freehold but didn't really have a way to put everything together that worked in practice on stage every night. I am very technical and knowing every single detail helps me and Freehold class curriculum helped me bridge the gap in my understanding of a character and living it on stage. I will be forever grateful for that.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

To be in this space, where I am seen and appreciated gives me joy. Freehold is ran by a team of big hearted People, and I am blessed to have stumbled upon Freehold during my search for self-expression and acting. This is a safe space for community, and a space where growth is welcomed. Not just with the students but within the staff itself. Even though everything seems far from reach right now, I know that Freeholds doors are always open. Thank you for the opportunity and joy.

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

I started classes with Freehold in 2000 taking classes as a nascent actor. The soul of truth which is nurtured is what kept me studying and supporting them, and lately being a board member.

Freehold reaches out and brings together people from all walks of life in a safe and accepting environment.

The community outreach programs for the underserved in our communities is another big part of their mission. The most moving performances I've ever seen are those done by residents in prisons in in the Engaged Theatre Program where they work with our faculty to create and produce stories based on their lives creating a two way connection humanizing people on both sides. I also had the privilege to be cast in a professional Shakespeare production which Freehold also does in which these productions are brought to underserved communities. It remains a high point in my life. The talk backs with the residents in the prisons when they were performers and when they were audience are insightful and deeply moving for all involved.

3 Steve M.9

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a student at Freehold I have transformed my craft based on the training I've received there. The faculty are all working artists who care deeply about their students' development both as artists and as people. I can't say enough about the quality of the training and of the people at Freehold.

3 JennyKm

Board Member

Rating: 5

Freehold holds a special place in my heart. From the moment I walked through its doors I felt a warm welcome, and never intimidated. The quality of teaching is amazing and so affordable. The teachers are all working professionals and not stuck in stale academic ways of teaching. Lessons are fun! Unlike many "exclusive" performance art schools that make you feel they're doing you a favor to have you as their student, Freehold is an inclusive place that makes you feel valued, that they are lucky to have you there. As students of Freehold, we are all accepted as who we are, and we learn to embrace and cultivate our own uniqueness - quirks and all. We are treated with respect and curiosity, and we are encouraged to collaborate instead of compete. The staff are so friendly and the teachers are real mentors/coaches that challenge us and help us get closer to being the best version of our authentic selves. Freehold has an essential role in Seattle's theater scene. I greatly appreciate its role in serving the culturally under-served populations, including women in prison. I love being part of Freehold's community!

3 Daniel M.7

Board Member

Rating: 5

Freehold is the oldest and best acting studio in the northwest and is the one place to study acting in Seattle. Freehold's dedicated faculty and staff provide an environment to safely learn, grow and make bold choices. Freehold's mission to engage artists of all levels to become more innovative and heartfelt so that they may create theatre with a lasting impact is what makes it a cornerstone of Seattle's theatre community.