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” was performed at the Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival.

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

Yoga and animal adoptions merge in a special event on Saturday

Cats and yoga
TAVARES — How do you combine our love for exercising, healthy living and physical fitness … with a love for cats?

That’s easy. It’s call “Meowga”!

Or, as Elisha Pappacoda, the public information officer for the Lake County government noted, “You bring the yoga mats, we bring the shelter cats!”

This event is being held on Saturday, Nov. 4 at 10 a.m. at the Lake County Extension Center, 1951 Woodlea Road in Tavares, as a way to have fun with a certified yoga instructor leading the class, but also as a way to raise awareness of the need to find homes for the cats and dogs now in the Lake County Animal Shelter.

It was the Animal Shelter and LEASH Inc. – an organization that works to ensure that feral cats are spayed and neutered – organized Meowga as a way for residents to get together and relax, stretch and unwind – surrounded, of course, by carefree felines from the shelter. Who knows, maybe one of the participants will decide they want to adopt one of the cats, too. Continue reading

Review: Teens presenting a superb version of “The Diary of Anne Frank”

Diary of Anne Frank Hagerty High

The Hagerty High School Purebred Productions just did a superb production of the Holocaust drama “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

OVIEDO — There’s a tendency among us “serious” community theater folks to shun high school productions, perhaps with the mistaken impression that it’s going to be something quaint, thoroughly unprofessional, and valued mainly by parents cheering on their teens. You know how us highbrow types don’t have time for that.

High school theater departments would no doubt beg to differ, and insist that with dedicated drama teachers and students who have developed a passion for acting and delivering a powerful story to the audience, they’re just as capable as any professional theater company of doing extraordinarily good work.

Hey, and guess what — they’re right.

A striking example of that goes to the theater department at Hagerty High School, where their PureBred Productions team of director Trevor Southworth and his very gifted student performers spent this weekend delivering a searing production of the Holocaust drama “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

Performed in the Hagerty High auditorium, the vast stage lent itself quite well to the set design of the Amsterdam attic where Anne Frank and her family hid with other fleeing Jews from the Nazis. The set included multiple rooms and even the stairs leading to the roof, where the kids could spend some time away from the adults. Continue reading

Review: What’s with “The Hound of the Baskervilles”? It’s Pawsome!

Hound of the Baskervilles

Steven Lane is Sherlock Holmes in the Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s supremely silly version of “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” (Photo by Luke Evans).

ORLANDO — “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” the new production at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, may be the supreme version of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel — supremely silly, supremely goofy, and perhaps one of theater’s great defenders of the bad pun.

If you’re tired of theatrical productions of 18th century plays about depressed people who do depressing things and suffer morbid endings, “Hound” is your anecdote for sure.

This version of the Sherlock Holmes saga about the hunt for a man-killing-beast in England, adapted by Steven Canny and John Nicholson, is a wildly campy send up of all things Sherlock, with a three person cast trying in often extravagant ways to out-mug one another. You can tell when actors are having a grand old time on stage, and this is one of them.

From the very opening moment, when actor Chris Crawford comes on stage and hears the ominous, menacing howl of a hound getting closer and closer — and then dies one of the hammiest deaths in theater history, the Fourth Wall between audience and performer gets shattered as actor Simon Needham comes out to interrupt the proceedings and announce that they forget to mention some important notices before the show started. Hey, better late than never, right?

The Fourth Wall gets broken a lot (including a few times in Saturday night’s show that felt improvised) as the three performers make a mad dash for larfs. Sherlock Holmes purists, at least the more dour ones, are likely to find not much of Doyle’s book in this one, but it’s hard to deny that this Monty Python-esque madcap adventure isn’t pretty hilarious most of the time. Continue reading

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