Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Ensemble Diaries:
TSP Ensemble Member Lisa-Marie Newton

The Seeing Place Theater is thrilled to announce its 2016 Fundraising Initiative. As a part of the initiative we want you to give you a chance to get to know our members, so we gave them a little challenge. To start, the Seeing Place asked each of its members 3 questions which they could answer via text or video:

1) What is your hometown?
2) What is your dream role?
3) When was the last time you contributed to a campaign and how did it make you feel?

We then asked them to craft a little blog post about what brought them to The Seeing Place and why it means so much to them. We hope you enjoy getting to know our ensemble!


Many years ago, I was just starting my journey as a performer and I had what I thought was a miraculous experience. I was playing Christine in “Phantom” by Maury Yeston (NOT the Andrew Lloyd Webber version, thank you), and we were in the middle of a 6-week run. On Friday night, we had all witnessed the 2 lead men have a truly remarkable performance. They were both extraordinarily talented guys most of the time, but this particular night, they were on fire – singing and acting with a passion I hadn’t seen before. They both told me that they hadn’t known where it came from, they just went with how they felt.

So, as a joke, on Saturday afternoon, I told the woman playing Carlotta that if Friday was a night for the boys, Saturday should be for the girls. And somehow, from the moment I stepped onstage, a miracle occurred. I honestly had no idea what was going to happen next. I was somehow genuinely surprised by everything that happened during the show. I sang every note correctly, said every line correctly, but it was completely spontaneous and in the moment. I don’t think I even really understood that phrase at the time, but it was how I described it. I also realized that after emotional scenes, I walked offstage and was completely unfazed, whereas I would normally take some time to stop crying offstage. It was fun, it was glorious, it felt like I was flying! And for the first, and only, time during the run of that show, the audience held their standing ovation until I walked out for my curtain call.

Lisa-Marie Newton
Afterwards, the director came to me and said “I don’t know what you did out there tonight, but the show should have been called Christine!” I, of course, had no idea what had happened either. But I have spent the past 18 years trying to find that again. It was honestly a highlight of my life, and I want more than anything to have that experience again. I think most actors could tell a similar story. For most of us, that is the reason we do this: there is a complete and utter high that is felt when you are in the moment. It is why people meditate. It is why people take drugs. Being completely in the moment is the meaning of life – and most of us don’t have a sure-fire way of getting there.

I have found that moment a few times since then, and I’ve found some tools that help get me there. But it is always what I am hungering for when I act.

When I first saw BOY GETS GIRL at The Seeing Place, I had a very similar experience. I didn’t know the play, but I was absolutely on the edge of my seat – feeling everything the woman at the heart of the story goes through. It was thrilling. It was what made me want to join The Seeing Place. It seemed to me that the performers onstage were flying. They were living in the moment of the play – they weren’t merely speaking lines, or emoting feelings, or trying to reach the audience, they were simply behaving in the actual moment of the play.

Lisa-Marie in NEXT TO NORMAL
Since joining the ensemble of The Seeing Place, I have begun to understand why this happens on their (now our) stage. The amount of intricate understanding of each moment, and the amount of genuine honesty in each moment from each performer is astonishing, and is precisely why their productions feel so full of life. The founders of the company tell each incoming member that they don’t use set blocking for productions (other than fight choreography), which scares a lot of performers, but it totally set me free. There is a ton of intricate work that goes into understanding a play and a character – a ton of work being genuine and truthful in that character and play – and then there is the freedom to simply behave in the moment.

Even in our weekly workshops at The Seeing Place we do this sort of work, and I can feel how freeing it is. As we do readings of plays, we are always encouraged to be simple and truthful and genuine – to truly talk with each other, rather than reading lines. And I have felt how different that is from other groups I have read with – to have a full (scripted) conversation with another human being. I saw it in both THE PILLOWMAN and GIDION'S KNOT (two shows that closed The Seeing Place's last season) because I watched them multiple times. Each performance was a full story on its own. A Friday night GIDION'S KNOT was a very different experience from a Sunday afternoon GIDION'S KNOT. Because the actors were fully in the moment.

I cannot tell you how excited I am to be a part of this ensemble and how looking forward I am to performing with them. I’m extremely proud to be a part of The Seeing Place, and I hope you will join us as we all learn to be in the moment.

Learn more about Lisa-Marie at


To help create new work with Lisa-Marie and The Seeing Place by contributing to our campaign, visit

1 comment:

  1. I love this. It's really scary but truly thrilling to be in the moment on stage, because anything can happen (and does!) And you can feel an electricity in the air as the audience waits on pins and needles for the next moment. It's always so wonderful talking to audiences after the show who remark that they feel like their somehow spying on us - like the scene work was so intimate that it was like they were watching a real event. What a compliment!


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