On George Hunka's blog, he does a rundown of his recent wave of praise and of the comings and goings around the tiny scene. What I find lovely is that after being praised for keeping the theatrical blogsphere aware of itself, he goes on to do precisely that. Can't even help it.
He does, though, attempt to deflect my "Godfather of the Theatrical Blogsphere" line.
Hunka, you misunderstand. I mean it in the way that one might mean "Godfather of Soul."
Now... Get On Up! Get on the scene-a. Get on the scene-a.
Ahem. Enough of that James Brownishness. We're writing about theatre here. Turn on something classical before I start having fun.
And on that note: Theatre Ideas posted from Denver today, regarding the "purpose of playwrighting" issue. As usual, all of this is entirely subjective. I'm sure some playwrights think of themselves as makers of meaning, and others think of themselves as bookbinders. Shakespeare thought he was a businessman; Andrew Lloyd Webber thinks he's a composer. So it goes with self-awareness, such as it is.
Now that's established my opinion as pointless, I'll give it: I still have no idea what "making meaning" really is. Meaning doesn't come from the writer, it comes from the person observing. I get choked up when I watch Sam pick Frodo up on his shoulder in Lord of the Rings. My girlfriend says "Which one of them is Frodo?" That scene has great meaning for me. The scene itself is shown to both of us, and we find the meaning for ourselves.
Scott asks if playwrighting itself isn't the "ultimate vanity" when he's pressed on the idea that "making meaning" is vain itself. I would say there are far greater evidences of vanity than expressing oneself; if anything it's a far more generous form of vanity than others one might find. Running for public office requires far greater vanity than writing a play, especially a good play, which I think requires a great deal of humbleness and honesty. Humbleness and honesty will only get a person elected to the school board, if that.
Playwrights (and novelists and poets) are open to charges of vanity only because our society so rarely sees a desire to express as a generous act. Neither Scott nor Allison Croggon are being fair to one another by making the assumption that within expression, inherently, is a sense of self-importance. If a person feels self important (Tony Kushner) or not (Kafka, Emily Dickinson) they can still express powerful truths. Vanity is not inherent to expression. If you are vain, your writing will have that quality. If you are passionate or earnest or shy, it will reflect that. The truth will out in the work itself.
Whether we choose to "make meaning" or "tell stories" is really what makes us distinct artists from one another. I would write a play differently than Scott or Allison, I'm sure, which is precisely as it should be.
- 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.