ASC alum Jean Marie Koon is playing Mrs. Coade in Eclectic Full Contact Theatre's production of Dear Brutus, September 22 to October 28.
Gretchen Sonstroem has taught acting in the Chicago area for over twenty years and is known for her passionate, dynamic and inspirational style of teaching that respects both the creative and technical aspects of the craft.
Her midwest theatre credits include performances with Madison Repertory (playing Annie in all three plays of The Norman Conquests trilogy), Strawdog, Apple Tree, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Bailiwick, and Writers' Theatre in Glencoe, where her favorite portrayals were George Sand in Dear Master and Anne Sexton in My Own Stranger.
Gretchen has also directed Three Viewings, Twelve Angry Jurors, The Odd Couple, and Sylvia at Oil Lamp Theatre in Glenview, as well as Girl at Clockwise Theatre in Gurnee, Hedda Gabler, and Spoon River Anthology in Chicago.
Gretchen has her Master's Degree in Performance Studies from Northwestern University where she studied text analysis with Frank Galati and movement techniques with Mary Zimmerman. She also trained at Circle-In-The-Square Theatre School in New York City, studying both Uta Hagen's and Mira Rostova's systems.
In addition, Gretchen enjoys artistic forays into playwriting (including her play The Psalm of Levi Yoder at Northwestern University, which starred Annabel Armour and Jane Heitz), memoir writing (she's working on her first book), and the adaption of oral histories for the stage. Gretchen also integrates the physical aspects of the performer through her study and teaching of yoga, having received her teacher certification from the Chicago Yoga Center in 1997.
"I love Gretchen (Gretchen Sonstroem, Instructor- Level 3)! Her feedback is on-point, insightful, and revealing. She asks the right questions to bring out the best in our performances. I love how she emphasizes using emotional intelligence to explore our characters. I've only had positive experiences here and I can say I've become a better actor for it."
— Jesse Pazmino
"I loved Gretchen Sonstroem's (Level 3) class very much. It greatly surpassed my expectations. She was specific and knew exactly which areas I needed to work on. I felt very safe; Gretchen often encouraged risk-taking. Her personality and feedback really pushed me to always bring my best work to class. I always recommend taking a class at Acting Studio Chicago."
— Selena Johnson
"I really enjoyed her (Gretchen Sonstroem, Instructor - Level 2) teaching style, her passion for acting and people really helped me see acting as a high-level art form. She also wonderfully blended logical thought processes with complex human emotion in a way that was really intellectually stimulating. In the beginning of the session, Gretchen would constantly stop our scenes, sometimes even before the first line was uttered; this used to frustrate me until I realized she was emphasizing the level of detail required to properly analyze and perform a scene. Her passion for acting, teaching, and people is both inspiring and contagious.--- The teachers that I had here are phenomenal and helped me grow so much as a performer. They are some of the best teachers I’ve had, regardless of setting."
— Level 2 Student