Press Release: Freehold Announces its Engaged Theatre Tour of Measure for Measure

Press Release: Freehold Announces its Engaged Theatre Tour of Measure for Measure

Pull Date:  September 21, 2023

“They say best men are moulded out of faults

And for the most become much more the better

For being a little bad.”

                            -Mariana, Measure for Measure

SEATTLE, WA Freehold’s Engaged Theatre brings its professional production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, directed by Robin Lynn Smith, to prisons and hospitals this fall. There will be five public showings at West of Lenin, Oct 26-30. Realizing the power of theatre to bring about a special communion between audience and performer is at the heart of our annual Engaged Theatre tour. The Engaged Theatre audiences demand greater honesty from the actors and the stories resonate with them in unexpected ways. 

For 20 years the Engaged Theatre program, unique to Freehold, has connected with extraordinary audiences across the Northwest. This fall our tour will reach over 500 persons who are incarcerated, and in-patient men and women struggling with mental health issues. We have heard from past audiences that watching the struggles of characters on stage makes them feel less alone. They feel seen as nuanced, complex human beings, and less the sum of their past mistakes.

The nuanced portrayals of its characters is one of the things that drew director Robin Lynn Smith to Measure for Measure. “It is a story of human forgiveness. Shakespeare takes these characters on a journey where they must seek into their own hearts to find choices that make room for each other’s full humanity; and in the process come to a new experience of themselves,” she said. Measure for Measure involves characters in a world where their full, complex humanity is not allowed to exist: make mistakes, learn, try again. The Duke and his community are thrown into an imbalance by the pinched intolerance of the city’s cultural climate. The Duke senses the crisis, and his own failure, and sets out to find a way to fix the imbalance.

Freehold and the artists of Engaged Theatre return eagerly to this work for the creative inspiration it confers on all of us as well as for the opportunity to experience and share in the power and “communion” that occurs between our performers and enthusiastic audience members. Smith says, “We are privileged to perform for these extraordinary audiences and have been amazed by what we continue to learn about art, humanity, identity, existence, diversity, compassion, and community when we create theatre that breaks the mold.”  Arthur Longworth, who is incarcerated at Monroe Correctional Complex, described our performance of OTHELLO, “…I was deeply moved and that startled me…”  and that he experienced it as – “…an interaction between the cast and the audience and the audience and the cast …that exists on a different level than can be achieved from conversation or conveyed in a letter – or through any other medium I can think of.”  

Measure for Measure actor and Engaged Theatre alum James Schilling describes the tour as “profoundly meaningful.” He adds: “I think everyone who makes art and tells stories wants to feel like it matters. What I really like about the Engaged Theatre tour is that the process is built around serving people who are hounds for the truth,” challenging the actors to elevate their performances.

In addition to Schilling, the cast for this year’s tour includes: Ronnie Hill, Lola Fukushima, Ayo Tushinde, Sylvester Kamara, and Shawn Beleyea. The production will include movement and live musical accompaniment, with a score composed by Gino Yevdjevich of Kultur Shock, to enhance the themes of the play. The set designer for the play is Parmida Ziaei, with lighting by Chih-Hung Shao, costume design by Doris Black, and painting by Bella Rivera. Cast across gender and race lines, reflecting the diversity of our audiences, this ensemble will bring this story simply and vividly to life.

Freehold’s Engaged Theatre Tour 2023

Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare
Director: Robin Lynn Smith 

Scenic Design: Parmida Ziaei

Costume Design: Doris Black

Lighting Design: Chih-Hung Shao

Composer: Gino Yevdjevich 

Musicians: Valarie Holt, Anne Mathews

Movement Director: Jessica Jobaris

Fight Choreographer: Morgan Grody

Stage Manager: Corynn Carignan

Assistant Director:  Paula Wilson Nitka

Public performances of
Measure for Measure: 

Five performances October 26 – 30, October 26, 27, 28, 30 at 7:30, October 29 at 7:00.

Talk backs Thursday, October 26, Saturday, October 29.

Monroe Correctional Complex, four units: October 17, 18

Washington Corrections Center for Women:  October 20

Harborview Medical Center: October 19

Tickets are Free but Reservations are Requested:

For more information:  (206) 323-7499

Robin Lynn Smith, Co-Artistic Director and Founding Partner of Freehold has directed in Seattle at Seattle Repertory Theatre, ACT, On the Boards, The Empty Space, New City Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and Intiman. She has an MFA from NYU TSOA, and she is currently on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts. Robin is the 2008 recipient of The Gregory A. Falls Sustained Achievement Award, and was recently honored by SDC, as a finalist for the 2010 Fichandler award. 

 Freehold’s Engaged Theatre program is funded in part by: National Endowment for the Arts, ArtsWA, 4Culture, Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, City of Issaquah Arts Commission, Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, Nesholm Foundation, the Norcliffe Foundation and Fales Foundation Trust.

About Freehold

Since 1991, Freehold has been a highly acclaimed center for the practice of theatre. Our Studio provides a place for actors, from inspired novices to working professionals, to train. Freehold engages an exclusive faculty of independent professional artists. Our Theatre Lab provides a forum for mature artists to research and develop new work and to re-interpret classics. 

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