In Part 1 of a series of interviews with the Director and cast of Peace Mountain Theatre Company‘s production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, meet Director Laurie T. Freed.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell readers where they may have seen shows you directed on local stages.
Laurie: Hello! My name is Laurie T. Freed. I am the Artistic Director of Peace Mountain Theatre Company (PMTC) and am the director of Arthur Miller’s play, All My Sons.
I have directed throughout DC area theatres, including Imagination Stage, Adventure Theatre, Rockville Little Theatre, Silver Spring Stage, and the JCC of Northern Virginia. I hold a Master’s degree in Theatre and a Master’s degree in Drama Therapy. I have studied with the world-renowned director, Jose’ Quintero. I worked professionally in Los Angeles, CA before coming to the D.C. area and have been fortunate to receive many directing and acting awards, both on the east and west coasts.
I began working in theatre as a stage actress. Some of my most memorable performances were as Tuptim in The King and I; Bananas in The House of Blue Leaves [in which I was presented with the Los Angeles Critic’s Dramalogue award]; The Beggar Woman in Sweeny Todd and many, many more productions. Other significant directing credits include, An Inspector Calls, The Glass Menagerie, Seascape, Three Tall Women, A Delicate Balance, Diary of Anne Frank, Of Mice and Men, and Enchanted April just to name of few.
Peace Mountain Theatre Company (PMTC) was formed in 2014. We are a resident theatre company of Congregation Har Shalom in Potomac, MD. Last year we produced Collected Stories by Donald Margulies. PMTC’s goal is to bring its theatre audiences relevant, timely, and thought provoking theatre.
What made you want to direct All My Sons?
I first encountered Arthur Miller when I was a student in high school. Those of us in an advanced English class were given the privilege of taking a college course in theatre conducted by a University of Minnesota professor. One of the plays assigned was Death of a Salesman. This play resonated loud and strong in my 17 year old heart. I saw my father in Willy Loman and my mother in Linda Loman. I knew what it felt like for a family to have dreams crushed at every turn. This play has stuck with me my entire life, and I was fortunate to play Linda Loman many years later in a professional production in Los Angeles.
You could say Miller became my hero. For me he seems to be the standard all other playwright must come up to. I don’t care if the play is a comedy or tragedy, it has to say something, mean something, and make me think and feel. Although I had lectured on Miller and his plays for my college and high school students, and played Linda Loman in Death of a Salesman, I never had the opportunity to direct a Miller play. The chance to direct All My Sons is an honor and one which I do not take likely.
When PMTC’s play selection committee met, we read a variety of plays, all of them extraordinary and worthy of production. But, when we read All My Sons, the guesswork was over and we knew we had our play. Miller speaks to the common man. He is able to explain their desires, their needs, their joy and their heartache. Although he did not see himself as an “emotional” writer, his characters are able to express emotions that all of us can identify. Politically, Miller speaks about man’s responsibilities to society as well as himself. Which leads me to your third question.
Tell us about the play.
All My Sons deals with a man, Joe Keller, who owns a munitions factory during World War II. We discover in the play that Keller gave the okay to send the Army airplane parts that were damaged. It is with this realization, of Keller’s action, that Miller weaves a story of profound importance and asks us questions. What responsibilities does Keller have to himself, his family and society, after such an action? What should be the consequence of such a behavior? What are the ethics that such a man lives by?
These are not questions of bygone days. Every political question we hear about today, be it national or international, deals with the ethical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper? And, if not me, than who? ” Be it financial fraud or mass genocide, Miller’s All My Sons speaks to issues that we hear and read about on a daily basis.
Why direct it at this point in time?
All My Sons is a complete play. The characters are your neighbors and your relatives. The story is reported on today’s television and on the internet. The play’s structure is tight, beautifully crafted, leading to a devastating end. All My Sons is relevant to every single person on this earth. It strikes hard into your innermost beliefs, aspirations and actions. It exposes the devastation that can come, on both a small and grand scale, when one fails to make the correct decision.
What stands out most to you about All My Sons?
Miller strongly expresses his belief that we all have a responsibility to our society, and the consequence for not fulfilling this responsibility is dire, affecting society as a whole as well as one’s family and self. I would like our audiences to become aware of this statement and its strong relevance to today’s world happenings.
Needless to say, I also want this to be an entertaining and engrossing night at the theatre. I love it when audiences walk out of the theatre talking and indeed arguing over the play’s ideas. That to me is what theatre is all about; to generate discussion and turn one’s emotions inside-out.
What do you want audiences to take away with them after seeing All My Sons?
One interesting tidbit for your readers is that the 100th anniversary of Arthur Miller’s birth will occur in October. Everyone associated with PMTC believes Miller’s karma is with us as we produce All My Sons this October and celebrate his birthday.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 1: Director Laurie T. Freed.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 2: Elyon Topolosky.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 3: Chris Daileader.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 4: Michael Sigler.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 5: Natalie McManus.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 6: Julie Janson.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 7: Charlene Sloan.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 8: Bill Hurlbut.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 9: Leah Mazade.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 10: Dave Dieudonne.