In the early months of 2022, Freehold explored a form of collaboration working with Engaged Theatre Artist and DJ Jennifer Moore to form the new Curated Residency Program. This program intends to support the winding roads that artistry can take and to open our space to a vibrant community of artists, without expectation of final product. One of our resident artists from this first pilot was Hanan Hassan (she/her). We spoke with Hanan shortly after the completion of the residency to hear how the process was for them.
Freehold Theatre: What were some expectations you had going into the residency? Would you feel comfortable talking about what you worked on during the residency?
Hanan Hassan: I was first contacted in the midst of writing a song that I was excited about and had started mapping out the visuals for the song. I knew I wanted part of the song to be in a dark room with a projector to project visuals onto objects spaced out around me as one location and the other would be my ideal room.
I brought some friends and spent time figuring out how to represent my physical presence in a space like the Black Box. The residency was very helpful for planning for the second half of the music video. And it was really fun, as I was experiencing utilizing the space, I got to fill the physical space with my imagination. I felt a lot of freedom with utilizing the space and imagining what the visual would look like.
There was one day where I filmed a reference in the space and had planned on using the Black Box for the music video visuals but needed a projector. And that is how the creative process goes. You have a vision and then there are challenges that come up. Now the piece is filmed and I’m really happy with it. I’m working on editing now.
FH: Was your creation process during the residency different from how you normally create?
HH: One thing that was different was having the space before knowing what I was going to do with it. Usually I would have a vision then scout a location and look for a place to do work. To have the location beforehand pushed me to actively be creative about what this is going to look like. It became a place to conceptualize, whereas I would usually have the idea ready to go, where it’s going to happen
It was fun to think and move things around — it felt like I was in theater! I did plays growing up but my younger sister is an aspiring actress and to watch her go through her process and watching her experience gave me a perspective when I was utilizing the space of when they would be rehearsing and figuring things out. And becoming aware of what can work regardless of whether you have a fully built out environment or just a blank canvas.
FH: How would you like to see the residency grow and evolve?
HH: I would hope that the city would support a program like this and put money into it so that we have resources to provide to artists. I see the vision and I would love to see external support because how kind and generous is it? It was such an unexpected blessing from Freehold that I didn’t anticipate, for you to open up the space and to have so much trust for me to play around in the space. I know there are a lot more artists that would love to take part in something like this
FH: What would you say to someone who may be interested in doing the artistic residency?
HH: When doing the walkthrough with Freehold, pay attention to what you can utilize in front of you. Be open to reimagining everything and to think about how you can fill the space with your imagination.
FH: Is there anything else that you’d like to share?
HH: I’m excited about the future. I’m working on rebranding with my friend who’s part of my collective. We’re trying to get more funding behind our work, before it was for fun and to make it work from nothing. But now we’re trying to structure as an LLC or a nonprofit to be able to create our own income and receive funding. We want to help other artists bring their visions to life as well, in a way that honors the ideas in their mind and that is unlimited.
It’s cool to see the different music video production houses all around the US like Lemonade in Chicago, Boy in the Castle. But they’re run by well-off, young white dudes who get to jump in with immediate trust and financial backing. We’re asking questions like: What does it look like to create a system to create quality visuals for artists around the city? What does it look like to get the team paid? It’s an exciting idea.
I really enjoyed the process with Freehold and was really grateful for the stipend provided. I used it for costuming and wardrobe and it helped make sure that the vision came to life. I want to see more of that for artists in Seattle.