- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
There's a clip in the Top 100 of Fox News taking it hard during the inauguration. The clip is called, I believe, a Fair and Balanced Inauguration. Very good stuff. Go Vanity Fair.
It amazes me that Bush thinks he can make Social Security the main issue of his second term. It is all smoke and mirrors, obviously: Social Security is a hot-button topic that pulls focus away from the war we started, the mess we've made, and the growing sense that we're in way over our heads. Maybe the MILLIONS of protestors against this war were right? Couldn't be...those people are hippie pacificists with no job. Or, perhaps, got good grades in college, which discounts them from Bush's direct radar.
Loved that Dick Cheney, in response to a question about Iran recently, said "we don't want a war in the Middle East." Of course not, that would be foolhardy. War is bad. Dangerous. Social Security, now that's where the MEAT is. Let's talk about that. Much more confusing, so many more numbers. Lots of interest rates to discuss, fuzzy math, Greenspan to consult. (Can we have 80 BILLION more dollars for Iraq please?)
Oh, and the National Endowment for the Arts (Bush version) is spending some of the two dollars they have to rub together on a book of the writings by soldiers who return home. Something like "Operation Homecoming." I'm sure we'll have lots of words like "Freedom" and "Did my job for my country" and "So glad to get home and see my wife." I'm looking forward to that piece of 'literature' from our fair and balanced, Bush approved, Federal Arts foundation. Laura Bush, to be fair, did stand next to a big picture of Shakespeare and wave and say "We like Shakespeare! We don't hate you fucking carnies!" You know who else likes Shakespeare? Everyone. I dare her to stand next to a picture of Samuel Beckett and identify him by sight. Or Edward Albee. Or Sam Shepherd for that matter. And he's even been in the Movies.
Winter can really kick a person's mood around. I go from being nearly giddy with my girlfriend, to being utterly enraged, to a sort of bleak funk. At least I know January hasn't kicked the liberal ire out of me.
Question: How's the winter treating your mood?
This is a puppetry/dance/musical piece about an American who visists Bulgaria in 1925 and writes his daughter letters. Pop Quiz: When's the last time you gave Bulgaria in 1925 any thought at all? Be honest. I won't judge you. Would you really like to?
I went with my girlfriend, Pam, who was barely able to contain her laughter. She was wiping tears from her cheeks, folks. That sort of laughter. Silent, painful, inappropriate laughter. Really, one of the best kinds, if you're watching it from the side, like me. I think it's cute as hell. She, of course, was being tortured by a thousand tiny clowns with feathers.
The fact is, we were watching things happen that can only be treated by adults with a sense of irony with a chuckle. A man in a giant Yetti suit actually put the standing microphone up INTO his faceless Yetti mask, stroked a puppet and sang a song about the Sacraments. Oh, and there were people dancing with little swinging weights. Rolling around, trying to commune with these damn things or somesuch. Rolling on the floor. And there was a red horse, that you wouldn't know anything about at all if you didn't read the program. Sort of a horse. A horse's head and feet. And...well...you get the picture. A hodgepodge of random stuff, some of it as silly looking as my high school english teacher would look in a Speed-o.
Afterwards, Pam profoundly apologized for laughing. No need, of course. The only people who wouldn't laugh out loud at these nearly hypnotized looking puppeteer/dancers performing these ridiculously "weighty" and earnest movements are either there to review the show (me, for example) or probably a little insane. Or just so convinced they HAVE to like it that their pride has coopted all normal brain activity. That's not to say there isn't anything to enjoy in Lyubo but there is a TON of semi-coherent masturbation going on too that just needs to be taken for exactly what it is. Oh, and if you dress up like a big, white Yetti and stroke a puppet, you better not get on the microphone.
It's a strange balance to hit: accessible, brilliant, new art that doesn't pander to the MTV Generation...but also isn't designed only for rich tourists or the blue-haired crowd who just can't get enough Billy Crystal and Chicago. The far end is stuff like this and Richard Foreman. Those artists who basically think that as long as they explain in the linear notes that they have some REASON for dressing up like a potted plant, covering themselves in honey and letting bees polinate them, that we are to take it seriously.
We're caught in the middle, I fear. Cursed with good taste. Or, at least, taste of some sort.
Monday, January 24, 2005
Love to get some thoughts on this...
Friday, January 21, 2005
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Another one stops kicking.
Here's my review.
I did, in fact, name-check Foucalt and Jung to impress my girlfriend, if anyone was wondering.
I once had a long discussion with a friend of mine, Jordan Atkins, who I lived with in Chicago after college. He is a Vegan, runs a straight-edged hardcore label, and is quite the director himself. Did great work with Genet. Also, strangely enough, Jordan played Championship High School Football in Texas. So honestly, there really isn't a topic I wouldn't feel comfortable taking his view seriously on.
His view, and it's not uncommon, is that everything is political. That the "political" is simply how we act as a society, and every action in a society that is part of against the structure of that society (all actions that I can think of) is political.
Walking a dog can be political to an animal right's activist. Buying a car is political to Critical Mass. Eating a hamburger is political; buying diamonds for a wedding is political; standing on a stage as opposed to appearing on a screen is political... it's all about who is observing the act and what they find important. And, even if we "pick our causes" that doesn't mean that you're not affecting a battle being fought somewhere, unbeknownst to you, with your dollar.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Not One Dime Day - Jan 20, 2005
Since our religious leaders will not speak out against the war in Iraq, since our political leaders don't have the moral courage to oppose it, Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20th, 2005 is "Not One Damn Dime Day" in America.
On "Not One Damn Dime Day" those who oppose what is happening in our name in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending.
During "Not One Damn Dime Day" please don't spend money. Not one damn dime for gasoline. Not one damn dime for necessities or for impulse purchases. Not one damn dime for nothing for 24 hours.On "Not One Damn Dime Day," please boycott Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target...Please don't go to the mall or the local convenience store. Please don't buy any fast food (or any groceries at all for that matter).
For 24 hours, please do what you can to shut the retail economy down. The object is simple. Remind the people in power tha! t the war in Iraq is immoral and illegal; that they are responsible for starting it and that it is their responsibility to stop it."Not One Damn Dime Day" is to remind them, too, that they work for the people of the United States of America, not for the international corporations and K Street lobbyists who represent the corporations and funnel cash into American politics.
"Not One Damn Dime Day" is about supporting the troops. Now 1,200 brave young Americans and (some estimate) 100,000 Iraqis have died. The politicians owe our troops a plan - a way to come home.There's no rally to attend. No marching to do. No left or right wing agenda to rant about. On "Not One Damn Dime Day" you take action by doing nothing.You open your mouth by keeping your wallet closed.
For 24 hours, nothing gets spent, not one damn dime, to remind our religious leaders and our politicians of their moral responsibility to end the war in Iraq and give America back to the people.Please share this email with as many people as possible. Commercial speech must not be the only free speech in America!
Friday, January 07, 2005
Littany of Offenses from the Declaration of Independence:
"He has refuted his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people."
You know what would make me hopeful? World peace. Or at least, the United States at peace, for starters.
I read today in the New York Times that US Troops are currently attacked on average 70 times a day in Iraq. This is after Ramadan. It's expected they will go back up to pre-Ramadan levels of 80-85 times a day. In 2003, the average was 50 times a day.
While this is happening, of course, and we watch the leader of the free world slowly transform his opinion from "We Will Stop Osama Bin Laden" to "We will not tolerate the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction" to "We are not looking for weapons, but spreading democracy" to "We might get something that looks like voting, and that would at least be something, I mean...something," he's nominating as the Attorney General his Texas gimp-slave, who was responsible for a legal defense of torture. Our Attorney General had to say on record: "I'm against Torture" because people were skeptical.
And shouldn't they be? Because he is lying directly to the Nation. It's done every single day, who is actually surprised?
Let's confirm this guy. Oh, and pray for his reign as the leader of the Law Enforcement is a "Hopeful Experience."
Thursday, January 06, 2005
Go Barbara Boxer! Send her some support at her website, let her know that she's representing our interests and the interests of open dialogue and debate.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
And there's Freepress.net. I think that the free press is much better to party with than the dopes at CNN, yo.
Love to know where else people find is a great source of reviews and information. There are a few others out there that I'm lukewarm on. Occasionally another Off-Off Review site goes up, has pretty formatting and good intentions and then stops being updated regularly (OffOffOnline.com is an example). Then there's the Off Off Broadway Review. Which not only offers terrible writing, useless reviews and unmanageable listings, but has been doing so for years and making artist (gasp) PAY for that service. Shame, you bastards. I will shame you until you quit.
Theatermania (based in NY) looked to be a welcome addition, but has since gone the way of icky commercialism and has cut back considerably on their reviews and coverage. A ticketing site with content, more or less. They have pretty thorough listings though.
Otherwise it's print and things like Backstage or industry trades... mostly either overlooking things that are less than $50 a pop, or not timely, or really light on coverage of theatre.
Judge for yourself, of course.
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Increasingly, Off-Off is saturated by other actors, close-friends and the occasionally curious. But rarely do those without some vested interest in the event show up just to be enlivened or entertained.
So the question becomes... are we a tree falling in the forest that no one heard?
Monday, January 03, 2005
Day jobs are a strange animal for the arts in America these days. We need them, absolutely, because there just isn't enough money to go around unless you're incredibly successful, and even that money is relatively fleeting. But on the other hand, it ties you to working for what amounts to be the Kings in a land of serfs. With debt, loans and credit out there, let alone a high standard of living, work of this kind is enforced. It's indentured servitude, obviously. But hey, no one over 16 doesn't know that.
That being said, there is an upside, which is interacting with the world outside of the arts, which is really where art should be speaking and coming from anyway. And it does provide one with trips to the doctor on occasion, which keep us all from suddenly dropping dead.
What is really the best sort of work to take up an artist's time when they're pursuing their true goals? Work that's engaging (and therefore presents the danger of sucking in real energy and interest); work that's incredibly dull (which can feel absolutely brain-numbing, but won't threaten your passion for your real work); evening work so you have your days free; day work so you have your evenings free? Work that pays well so you're more free to do what you like (even though you might get used to a lifestyle that's a bit of a trap); or work that's meager (uncomfortable, but a constant reminder to kick your own ass and make a living as an artist?)
To me, this is not just for the artist's themselves, its for the culture. In a nation that speaks of values and spirtualism whenever it butters its toast, it is a shame to not treat the arts as a leisure activity, but an essential to a culture that speaks of the humanities and proports to have a kind, questioning, democratic population.
This helps remove the idea that the arts are valuable from the value of the dollar. The dollar is a fickle master, and it favors what is sold, what is marketed and often what is easily palatable to the most number of people. It is based on demographics, the creation of trends, and in the invention of needs that simply often don't truly exist. It thrives on excess, not necessity.
The arts are a necessity. They are the expression of the many religions, souls, ideas and histories of individuals, and the more free the arts become, the more our cultural discourse rises. It aids democracy, and I would argue (and will) that it attacks the social ails that we often use guns, police and prisons to solve.
The simple fact is 300 million dollars is more than an increase in investment; it is a statement that our country values the arts and views them as important for the citizenry. It is often argued that the less arts funding the government hands out, the more private companies and citizens will contribute. Instead, I believe a statement from the highest levels that the arts are just as valuable as the market will begin a change in the outlook of the culture. It will encourage and enable private citizens and companies to let the arts further into their worldview; it will create a sense that money for the arts is investment in a stronger people.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
Also, the 2005 Budget for Defense is 401 Billion Dollars. The National Endowment for the Arts is 130 million dollars. The entire budget for most publically run corporations exceeds the entire federal funding for the arts in the United States. The population of the United States is nearly 300 million people. We don't even provide a single dollar for each person in the United States, federally, for the arts.
The Actor's Theatre of Louisville had in 2001 an annual budget of around 8 million dollars. They survive on about 40% ticket sales. The Federal Government in 2005 gave them 50 thousand dollars. Here is a link to the 2005 Theatre Grants. As you can see, they barely make a dent in most of these theatre's modest budgets. It amounts to "good faith funding." This can barely provide full funding for a single show in a season at one of our countries top regional theatres. To put it in clear perspective, many of the people who live and work in Manhattan have an annual, non-bonus salary that competes with or exceeds the projected federal funding that The Actor's Theatre of Louisville received in Grants from our government this year.
Here is, also, the website that highlights the Appropriations History for the NEA. Arts funding in this country has never hit 200 million dollars. Huge cuts hit during the Contract With America period, with slight, token funding increases since then.
Just a few thoughts to get me started.
Then I went on my usual defensive ranting about who these forums could be easily corrupted and informed by corporate interests, co-opted by marketers, etc. That a Blog from a Microsoft employee, for example, seemed like just as much a method of controlling public opinion than learning what the public had to say.
It occurs to me that I am often rather closed off to technology, suspicious, a little uninformed and opinionated. So what better way to show her a little respect and respect her opinion that actually see what this is about first-hand. To not only learn about it, but participate a bit and see if I experience exactly what she was describing.
So this is my first entry. I would say that my primary interests are theatre, arts funding, and how this culture needs to re-prioritize. That's vague, yes, but hey, consider this a test run.
Off to the races...