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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.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

A piece of monologue

I'd like to share a little bit of my most recently produced play "The Americans." Just to take a second a way from editorializing, and to "show" as much as "tell."

An excerpt from "The Americans"

I once wrote a poem about a girl. About standing on the beach in New Jersey, with a girl who I loved, and she didn’t love me. We spent time together, usually because I was adept at working myself into her life…and she must have known. But frankly, she was never going to love me. I wrote it about nighttime at the ocean, and the jetty, and how it was all black. Simple things. I said that she would never know that I was her foul-mouthed Romeo. Some piece of purple prose. I was younger than I am now. If you can believe that. I wanted to be big. Important. Homeric. You know…Superman in sneakers.


But I never stood with this girl on the beach. I’ve never been to the Jersey Shore at night. I kissed a few girls, but all of them tasted like salt.


I wonder if anyone ever loved me and never told me. I still wonder. I wonder if I could have made that person happy.


Ever been happy? Really very happy with big white teeth? Smiling like in a commercial? Talking to a friend, feeling young and alive and full of happy yellow sunshine?


I haven’t. I often wonder what makes people feel that way. I mean, why they would want to. Because when you feel that way, you stop. You stop moving, doing, working. You are nothing but a moment of satisfaction. You barely exist.


I never want to be so resigned. Happy and resigned. This is it, I’ll think. ‘I’ve done it. I’ve found it.’


I don’t want that. To be finished. You write one thing and then you write another thing. And you go to work at your day job and they hate you there, and they smile at you anyway and they think “When will this man quit?” or “Why does he work here?” but they don’t say anything and neither do you. You look around at the way the world works, this country, this city. You hear people talk about the fall of Democracy and the two-party system and the widening wealth gap and the royal family and the Supreme Court. You wonder what you could possibly do to change it. If you should try to change it? You say to yourself each day that it’s not impossible. You say, “I can change this.” But you’re no fool. You read. You know better. You know from Steinbeck that you can’t keep the fields from turning to salt. You know from that poetry teacher in high school that you are only trying to make yourself feel better by dragging your bones along the scuttle and rocks. You know from Emily Dickinson that you should never leave your home. You know from Shakespeare that it’s all a mess of arms and limbs and swords and ghosts and there is no point in trying to make sense of it…that it’s just a show for someone else. You know from history that you are not in the ruling class and you know from Edgar Allen Poe that you will be quiet and lie down one day, penniless, never knowing what became of you.


You know what I am talking about. The unchanging world. American to the core. Resigned and hateful, hopeful and defeated. The hand wave as a grand gesture. Nothing at all…except grand. It is grand. But it’s nothing. Nothing at all.


You don’t have to read the poem. Not if you understand that. Not if you know, in fact, why I wrote it. Because I didn’t want to wind up satisfied and accepting. I didn’t want to lie down with my arms folded and say “There is nothing I can do. Let the sun crash into the earth.” What I want is to say “This is how I change things… by offering this up. I offer it up.” And up it went.


That’s why I wrote it. That’s why I write all of them. But this one… it exploded. And that was really not my intention. My idea. But that’s the risk you take, I guess. When you make offerings.


I remember, though, at that moment… the most dreadful part was that there was nothing I could do. That it was a complete moment, a finished thought. The thing had happened. It was over. And all I was doing was sitting there. What else could I ever do again that would create such a thing. And it wasn’t me…it was “The Americans.”


Was this the feeling of satisfaction? Of completion? If it is… it’s like someone takes your heart right out of your mouth.


Spang! said...

This is one of my favorite parts of this play, Matt. So beautiful.

david d. said...

It is a great speech.
And someday, when this is published and profitable, I will sue you for that "girl from New Jersey... knew she would never love me back" bit.

Alicia said...

So glad I got to see this piece both as a table reading and on stage. Just lovely.

P'tit Boo said...

That's beautiful Matt.
"Eternal Sunshine " feel... not sure why ...

Tim said...

hey Matt, where can I see this play?

Freeman said...


The play's last production was at the beginning of 2004. If anyone would like a copy of it in entirety, they're welcome to e-mail me and ask for one. Otherwise, stay tuned to my blog for news on any upcoming productions.