The Merchant of Auschwitz

The Merchant of Auschwitz (1999). Photo Eric Webber

The Merchant of Auschwitz (1999). Nils Ivan Swanson (L) as Shylock and Jim Miller (R) as Bassanio. Photo Eric Webber.

The Merchant of Auschwitz
adaptation by Brian Freeland based on William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice

A young jewish student, captured in a time of madness, is caught with a copy of The Merchant of Venice. What follows is a debate acted out through the text of one of the most controversial plays of our time.

“In the winter of 1943 I was a member of a company which performed before the SS guards at the extermination camp of Auschwitz. We actors received prodigal hospitality and were waited on by prisoners—long columns of whom we saw with our very eyes. We were greatly astonished at their wearing only striped prison smocks in the middle of winter.”
– Dieter Borsche, German film star

The Third Reich mobilized mass audiences on a scale amounting to a cultural revolution—not so much to expose them to propagandist theatre, as to turn their very presence in the theatre into propaganda.
– Richard Grunberger, Third Reich historian

Production History
April 16 – May 29, 1999 : The LIDA Project Experimental Theatre :: Denver, CO

Best Experimental Theatre Production, Westword
Best New Play (Brian Freeland), Denver Drama Critics Circle Award Nomination
Best Sound Design (Jeremiah Lyman Moore), Denver Drama Critics Circle Award

Media Coverage
Flesh Wounds
, Westword

The Company
Direction: Brian Freeland
Producer: Catherine E. Worster
Dramaturgy: Mary Martin / John Schuttler
Translations: Anne Angyal 

Sound Design: Jeremiah Lyman Moore
Scenic Design: Jason Humphrey
Scenic Painting: Anne Angyal
Lighting Design: Brian Freeland
Costume Design: Lisa Mumpton / Catherine E. Worster
Properties Design: Catherine E. Worster
Dialect Coach: Heather Hollingsworth
Fight Choreography: Dane Torbenson

Portia: Tara M.E. Thompson
Bassanio: Jim Miller
Shylock: Nils Ivan Swanson
Antonio: Josh Hartwell
Jessica: Lisa Mumpton
Lorenzo: Paul Cure
Launcelot: Steven Brown
Nerissa: Patty Mintz Figel
Salarino: Sara Casperson
Salanio: Julia Truitt
Translator: Anne Angyal
Hitler Youth: Chris Hale

Dress Her Like a Cowboy

Dress Her Like A Cowboy (1998).

Dress Her Like A Cowboy (1998)

Dress Her Like a Cowboy
a devised work of Tara M.E. Thompson & The LIDA Project *

Production History
February 6 – 28, 1998 : The LIDA Project Theatre :: Denver, CO

The Company
Direction: Tara M.E. Thompson
Sound Design: Jeremiah Lyman Moore
Scenic Design: Brian Freeland
Lighting Design: Tara M.E. Thompson
Costume Design: Catherine E. Worster
Properties Design: Catherine E. Worster & Brian E. Lewis
Video Design: Jeremiah Lyman Moore
Graphic Design: Rick Griffith

Marta Barnard: Savannah Raddison
Nils Ivan Swanson: Alexis Raddison
Donna Hickey Jackson: Katie Lee
Robert Miiller: Ricardo Swanson
Monica Schuster: Randi Candace
Kristi Meek: Jane Doe
Tamara Bradley: Ashley Burke

* Development collaborators:  Marta Barnard, Tamara Bradley, Brian Freeland, Donna Hickey Jackson, Kristi Meek, Robert Miiller, Jeremiah Lyman Moore, Monica Schuster, Nils Ivan Swanson, & Tara M.E. Thompson.


Eighty-Four (1997).

Eighty-Four (1997).


This tale of the ultimate “Negative Utopia” paints a grim future filled with Double-speak, Telescreens, Thought Police, and the ever watchful eyes of Big Brother. Written in 1948 this adaptation connects Orwell’s warning of the future to the ever changing face of modern technology and current society.

Production History
October 24 – November 29, 1997 : The LIDA Project Theatre :: Denver, CO
January 9 – 31, 1998 : Studio 44 :: Denver, CO

Best Experimental Theatre Production (1997) – Westword
Top 10 productions of 1997 – The Rocky Mountain News
Best New Play (Brian Freeland) – Denver Drama Critics Circle Award Nomination
Best Direction of a Play (Brian Freeland) – Denver Drama Critics Circle Award Nomination

The Company
Direction: Brian Freeland
Assistant Direction: Nils Ivan Swanson
Stage Management: Tara M.E. Thompson
Lighting / Projection Design: Brian Freeland
Scenic Design: Brian Freeland
Sound Design / Original Music: Jeremiah Lyman Moore
Properties: Brian Houtz

Winston: Guy Williams
Mother / Prostitute: Debra Shirley
Young Winston: Colin Smith
O’Brien: Gregory Ward
Julia: Catherine E. Worster
Syme: Brian E. Lewis
Charrington: John Shupp
Thought Police / Party Worker: Sean C. Vernon
Thought Police / Bartender: Nils Ivan Swanson
Telescreen Voice: Tara M.E. Thompson
Big Brother: Dan Hiester
Activities Director: Kathryn Gray
Emanuel Goldstein: Terry Burnsed


Hamletmachine (1997)

Catherine E. Worster and Nils Ivan Swanson in Hamletmachine (1997). Photo by Eric Weber.

by Heiner Müller

From the mind of the late Heiner Müller comes this elegantly deconstructed treatment of the Hamlet myth, placed at the fall of Communism and the dawn of the new Millennium.

Production History
April 18 – May 11, 1997 : The LIDA Project Theatre :: Denver, CO

Best Experimental Theatre Production, Best of Westword 1997

The Company
Direction: Brian Freeland
Lighting Design: Brian Freeland
Sound Design: Brian Freeland
Scenic Design: Brian Freeland
Costume Design: Katharine Guthrie

Paul Cure: Father / Polonius / Hamlet 3
Katharine Guthrie: Horatio
Brian E. Lewis: Laertes / Hamlet 2
Nils Ivan Swanson: Hamlet 1
Tara M.E. Thompson: Gertrude / Lenin
Catherine E. Worster: Ophelia / Marx