Check out Freeline Productions’ haunting original novels

Koby the stray kitten longs for a home. (Graphic designed by Sherrie Smith).

ORLANDO — Freeline Productions is the source for original fiction novels by author Michael W. Freeman, which reflect the anxiety, turbulence and often harsh realities of life following the Great Recession.
His novels “Bloody Rabbit” and “Koby’s New Home” were both written at times when the author found himself downsized from the volatile field of print journalism, searching for his next opportunity. The lead characters in both books, R.T. Robeson and William Grabinski, struggle to cope in these frustrating, emotionally demoralizing times when all that’s left is the new part-time “gig” economy. They’re living on the margins, like so many others.
At the same time, these novels are not simply about economic dislocation. In a deeply chilling way, the novels take the reader into a nightmarish existence where social norms appear to be breaking down, and a collective anger among average workers has created a hostile environment where outbursts of violence can happen at any second. Everyone is on edge, and losing control seems dangerously easy. Both Robeson and Grabinski, two mild-mannered and discrete men, find themselves living in a half-dream state where old realities have faded away. Their sense of alienation grows. Humanity is omnipresent — and oppressive and corrupting. Suddenly it’s as if the entire world was made up of James Joyce’s Jesuits, ranting about the horrors of the grave. Continue reading

Community theater is a part of Freeline’s mission

"Murder Sleep" will premiere in May at the Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival.

“Murder Sleep” was performed in May 2016. (Photos by Scott Sharky Hodges; poster designed by Jim Cundiff.).

ORLANDO — Freeline Productions started in 2008 with an original play simply called “Hooked.”
Playwright Michael W. Freeman had written the darkly comic play in the mid-2000s, and submitted it to the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival in November 2008. It was accepted, and “Hooked” had its premiere at the Orlando Fringe, the longest running Fringe Festival in the United States, in May 2009. Along the way, Freeman created Freeline productions as the artistic vehicle to produce the play.
Since then, Freeline Productions was expanded to become a full service freelance writing and editing business, but it remains a vehicle for Freeman’s passion for community theater, and will continue to produce original plays in the Orlando area. Continue reading

Revisiting the 1920s with Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost”

Jim Helsinger as Don Adriano de Armado, Jacob Dresch as Costard, and Maxel Garcia as Moth star in Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost.” (Photo by Tony Firriolo.)


ORLANDO — Were the 1920s one of the last truly great decades, a time of economic prosperity when the nation was not at war, when Jazz was born and the parties never stopped? Was it the last moment of wide-eyed optimism before the Great Depression, World War II and other upheavals brought everything crashing back to Earth?
Hard to say. But it’s worth noting that if anyone books a ticket to see the Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s production of William Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” they should also catch the ongoing production of “The Great Gatsby”.
Both plays are set in the 1920s — “Gatsby” in New York and “Love’s” in Navarre, Spain, and the production values in both are first rate — from the music of the era to one of the true stars of both shows, the fine work of the Shakespeare’s Swingin’ Sewin’ Society and Costume Shop Volunteers, who made those elegant outfits that evoke the 1920s. Try to see both productions, if you can, because they most definitely work together in this evocation of a bygone era. Continue reading

Celebrate National Tell a Fairy Tale Day by reading “Midnight on Ice”

Midnight the abandoned cat searches desperately for food and shelter. (Illustration designed by Sherrie Smith).

Editor’s Note: Today is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day, a time to reflect back to the days when myths and legends were retold around the fire or by traveling storytellers, and have since been written down and become known the world over as fairy tales.
As part of National Tell a Fairy Day Day, Freeline Productions author Michael Freeman has written his own fairy tale, simply titled ….

MIDNIGHT ON ICE

It felt like the coldest day in a long time, bitterly and cruelly so …. longer than Midnight the black cat could ever remember. Every time she would peer out from that dark, dank alleyway, the wind was so strong it felt like a vicious slap in the face. Midnight glanced up at the street light, and could see snowflakes starting to fall. All she had found as shelter in that back alley was an old wooden box. She had been hiding inside it for hours, but now she desperately needed to find food.
Midnight was starving. She couldn’t ever remember being this hungry. There were tears in her eyes as she glanced around, desperately hoping to find something, any small thing, to eat. She had spent a long time picking through the trash cans and the large dumpster in that alley, but nothing – just paper, plastic cups, and so on. Between the cold and her fiercely empty belly, it had been a heartbreaking day for Midnight. Continue reading

Polanski’s “Frantic,” and the fear of the Muslim immigrant

Roman Polanski’s movie “Frantic” was released in U.S. cinemas on Feb. 26, 1988, so it now marks its 29th anniversary. The movie was released two years after Polanski’s box office failure “Pirates,” which was also savaged by the critics. In comparison, “Frantic” did well at the box office and drew positive reviews by critics who felt it was a solid if not spectacular return to form for the Polish director.

Harrison Ford and Betty Buckley star in Roman Polanski’s thriller “Frantic.”

The movie, about an American physician arriving in Paris for a medical conference who thinks his wife may have been kidnapped, was praised as a Hitchcock-style thriller with a first-rate lead performance by Harrison Ford.
Today, “Frantic” is largely forgotten. It was made in-between two Academy Award-winning films by the director, “Tess” in 1980 and “The Pianist” in 2002.

“Frantic,” like many of the other movies that Polanski made after leaving the United States in 1978, has largely been written off as being sub-par compared to his 1960s and 1970s efforts, which included “Knife In The Water,” “Repulsion,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown.”
Seen today, “Frantic” is clearly a very well made and tense thriller. Continue reading

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