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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.

Monday, October 17, 2005


There's an interesting discussion going on over at Theatre Ideas, regarding the desire for a more traditional and "sacred" attitude towards the Theatre.

Personally, I'm happy to invite a broader audience to the theater and leave old forms behind. I'm happy to live in the world of Durang, Beckett, Mamet, and Albee. The Greeks never connected with me. I was born in 1975. Sue me.

Ok, that's glib.

Essentially, we can't have it both ways. We can't talk about how audiences are leaving the theater in droves, and then try to bring them back by offering them a spiritual or sacred experience. I think that there is something to be said for using words, scenes and characters that connect on a subconscious level, an archtypical level, but I think for the most part, we're living in the United States in 2005 and have to find a way to connect to the current audience, as they are, in their hearts and in their minds and in their bones. Otherwise, we're blowing the same smoke at them that threw them into the comfort of the easy television and exciting, blow-em up, close up, easily accessible film.

There has to be a middle ground between the hopelessly arty and the utterly pedestrian. I think this conversation about moving towards Greek theatre and the ritual of theater is a bit, if you'll excuse me, self-righteous.

Don't get me wrong: I love the more complex and challenging plays and the rituals that can be found in theater. But I'm not a layman. Can't we create good theater that appeals to people, that draws the buzz they need in order to be drawn in, and let them discover the even more exciting and complex as they see fit?

We'll never get them to come to us like they come to Church. Unless you want to hand out a collection plate. Because, let's face it, Church doesn't sell tickets.

We need to move what does sell tickets (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) off the boards and move ourselves onto it. Wishing for yesteryear is not the way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

read your commentary on that... I think that there is a fine line, yes... however, I think what needs to happen in playwriting nowadays is the ability to demolish the fourth wall, or the barrier that is caused because of overkill of movie screen vs. theatre seats, or audience, or proscenium, or whatever. There is not enough PARTICIPATION anymore between all the elements of theatre-- esp. audience. Therefore, they are bored the minute they "sit down" in their seats. I feel that the sacred and the spiritual aspect of great theatre is only revealed through immediate, immersive understanding of the "event" they're witnessing, not necessarily the material itself. I don't know. Hope that makes some sense. Thanks for the topic.