UI freshman shows promising theatrical future


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David Freeman became involved with theater in a fairly typical way. The UI freshman started for the same reason most children begin anything: It was entertaining.

“When I was younger, just for fun, I wrote short puppet plays for my church to put on,” he said. “I started off just doing it for fun, and it still is now, but in a different way. I like to feel I’ve grown as a performer.”

The Iowa Center for the Arts scholarship committee certainly agrees that Freeman has progressed from his childhood puppet plays. Each year, the organization awards scholarships to entering theater majors who demonstrate achievement, as well as future potential, in theater. After submitting a résumé of theatrical and academic credentials, an original essay, and a 70-page one-act play, Freeman won the prestigious scholarship.

Originally from the Twin Cities area, his résumé boasts a number of accomplishments. Not only did he attend the Main Street School of Performing Arts in Hopkins, Minn., where he wrote, directed, and acted in numerous shows, he also cofounded the nonprofit theater group These Friends of Mine Theater Company,which continues to produce shows in the Minneapolis area.

“The first step toward understanding anything you’re going to do is empathy,” the playwright said. “The theater helps you to identify with individuals you wouldn’t usually understand.”

“When David puts his mind to a project, he never really lets it go,” said Ethan Weiser, David’s cofounder of These Friends of Mine. “When he’s passionate about something, he’s not going to give up or fail.”

Others say Freeman’s talent and devotion have been apparent for many years.

“One of David’s strengths as an actor is that he reads a lot. As a playwright, it is very important to be familiar with the work of others,” said William Leaf, Freeman’s high-school theater director. “He is fascinated by other playwrights’ works and the way they manipulate text. As an actor, it’s huge to be familiar with others’ works. He’s passionate. He likes to dive into things to get them correct. He likes to converse with people and gain understanding.”

His work ethic remains strong as he enters the UI’s theater program.

“I’m looking for challenges this year,” he said.

His first opportunity came very quickly. Auditions for 12 productions were held Aug. 23 and 24, and Freeman and other students prepared three-minute presentations for the shows’ directors.

Even if not cast in a role, he says, he loved the audition experience. His main goal for the theater this year is to finish with “no regrets” — something he believes he can do by seizing every opportunity presented to him, including auditioning for and becoming involved with as many shows as he is able to.

Freeman chose the University of Iowa’s Theater Department over his second choice, Kenyan College in Gambier, Ohio, partially because of UI’s location. The more heavily populated town, with its culturally diverse students and residents, allows actors to observe a wider range of people, seeing the way they walk, talk, and behave.

“I like to think of myself as an actor who works from the inside out,” he said. “Where you realize motivation, tactics, obstacles, and let them manifest themselves in your body. One of the actor’s best tools to manifest those emotions is observation of those around you.”

David Freeman at a glance

Majors: Theater and English (poetry concentration)
Dream role: Edmund in Shakespeare’s King Lear or Crow in Sam Shepard’s The Tooth of Crime
Favorite show he’s been involved with: Directing Othello with younger children
Shows he hopes to do in the future include Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

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