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

Review: Terrors of the mind grip you tightly in “Phantasmagoria VIII: The Chains of Fire”

Phantasmagoria VIII

“Phantasmagoria VIII: The Chains of Fire” makes effect use of some classic tales of madness.


ORLANDO – Classic horror literature, in the minds of many, probably means monsters – Bram Stoker giving us the bloody-sucking terror of his vampire Dracula, or Mary Shelley creating the lumbering hulk made of fresh corpses that becomes “Frankenstein.”

Still, not all writers of long-distant eras felt they needed to invent hideous creatures of the night to scare their readers.

One of the great pleasures of watching the continuing series known as “Phantasmagoria” is their exploration of classic horror literature – tales that this talented cast recreates for their Orlando audience, often with bone-chillingly effective scares.

And now with the eighth installment of the series by actor, director and playwright John DiDonna, “Phantasmagoria VIII: The Chains of Fire,” we have reminders that some of those writers of earlier centuries saw no need for monsters to be lurking in the shadows outside. Our own minds could be much scarier to confront.

Here are two examples: how much fear and anxiety can you generate from …. Teeth and wallpaper?

Quite a bit, you might be surprised to learn. Continue reading

Terror in the dark awaits you in A Petrified Forest

A Petrified Forest

A Petrified Forest has been scaring Central Florida audiences for years.

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS – There’s a place in Altamonte Springs where people have been known to scream in terror. No, it’s not the fight for a parking space or the long lines at the Altamonte Mall, but an open field on State Road 436.

For those who think the Halloween season is about getting your blood pumping as you nervously walk into the darkness, then quite a few very scary folks are waiting for you to take the terrifying stroll down a “Haunted Scare Trail” known as A Petrified Forest.

Located just before the intersection of U.S. 17/92, this attraction has been scaring people every Halloween season for years now as a highly popular Halloween Community Event. The main attraction is the two Scare Trails, which are both quite long and feature uniquely themed rooms and scares lurking everywhere.

Not surprisingly, as A Petrified Forest has built up a loyal following of folks in love with a good scare, this attractions has grown over the years. This month, it features not just the ghouls waiting to jump out at you, but also an entire night of entertainment with live bands on stage, food concessions, and even Backstage tours (and the chance for you to do some of the scaring as well).

Freeline Media reached out to Sylvia Katherine Viles, the director of A Petrified Forest, for her thoughts on why folks love getting scared, what she does to motivate her performers to be their scariest, and why this is truly a must-see event this month. Continue reading

“Phantasmagoria” is back for more eerie Halloween tales of terror

Phantasmagoria

“Phantasmagoria VIII: Chain of Fire” opens on Oct. 13. (Photo by Chris Bridges)

ORLANDO — Phantasmagoria.

If you hear that word in Orlando, it’s likely to mean something special, something unique, to a whole lot of city residents. And the first thing they’re likely to note in their minds is that it must be Halloween season.

“Phantasmagoria” is the long-running series of theatrical shows that have been performed every October for nearly a decade. The show, created by writer, director and actor John DiDonna, features a troop of 40 performers who entertain audiences with circus-like tricks while also recreating eerie tales of terror from the vaults of classic literature. The shows offer a unique mix: dance, music, large-scale puppetry, and acrobatics. Classic authors like Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and Mary Shelley have all been given their due by the Phantasmagoria troupe.

There is also a traditional VIP event after each show, where audiences who purchase the VIP tickets can see some extra neat tricks being done by the performers.

The series has become so successful that it’s also been performed at the Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival, and DiDonna has also taken it out on the road, with shows in Atlanta, Baltimore, and other cities.

And not surprisingly, now that it’s October, “Phantasmagoria VIII: The Chains of Fire” is arriving right on schedule. Continue reading

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