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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 15, 2005

A quick note about "text" and academia

Take a look at Theatre Conversation and Superfluities and then read this:

I noted to MattJ that questions such as these, I felt, were impractical and ultimately not going to bring him to much of an end. What I note there is that instead of worry about the broad terminology and vocabulary of art, it's better to focus on one's own preferences and aethetics and choices.

George stopped in to offer what appears to be encouragement and defense for MattJ.

We all butter our bread differently, gentlemen. But I can honestly say that when I am sitting at my "typewriter" (what a romantic notion) I do not consider the effects of the postwar period on what comes out of my fingertips.

The more consciously you consider your influences and the theory behind your work, I suppose, I feel the more self-consciously those influences will appear and less intuitive your own work will be. I love to watch Beckett because he kicks me in the gut and makes me insanely jealous and makes me laugh and feel hopeless and human all at once.

I think that we often find comfort in the idea that Beckett was a "product" of his time and his influences. That makes it easier for us to feel as if there is not something elusive and unreachable about being a great artist: that his or her work comes from a tradition, and if we follow that tradition or "figure it out" we, too, can have access to that greatness.

If that was true, of course, there would be nothing noteworthy about the acheivements of the true geniuses of art. Modern, post-modern or otherwise.

No amount of reading about art will make anyone a great artist.


kirabug said...

I admit, I didn't read the other links, but I have to argue with your last point.

If you have not the talent to be a great artist, no amount of reading about art will make you a great artist. However, the best artists apply significant hard work and employ awareness of their craft - be it theater, painting, dance, etc.

I'm a mediocre comic artist right now, but I've only made it to mediocre because I've studied the "best practices" of the good ones, and applied what I felt was relevant to my own craft. I rely on my talents for my writing, but I rely on the analysis and editing skills engraved in my English degree to turn a "good idea but poorly constructed" story into a polished story.

I'm not sure how having more knowledge of one's craft could be harmful to their art.

Freeman said...

Hey Anne,

Actually, you make a good point and distinction here. I should be clearer:

It's not that I think that we shouldn't learn about what we do. It's simply that I believe that it's very easy to float into the realm of the rarefied and forget that it is all in service of something very basic, which is "how to make things."

When we use increasingly abstract terms, I feel all we do is distance our art from our gut, sometimes.

P'tit Boo said...

No amount of reading about art will make anyone a great artist.

True and also an artist who doesn't read about art and who doesn't see art or engage in dialogue about art will never be a great artist.
Talent only gets you so far. And you know that.

Matt. I love reading you . And sometimes I feel you get really defensive with the academics. Is it because you have not gone to school yourself ( I don't even know if that's true... I am asking )?
If that's the case, being defensive only shows your insecurity about that. You should feel secure that you can engage in dialogue just as much as anyone else. Which seems to me the point that you are making.
I am just curious about that because you are so thoughtful and articulate and willing to engage back and forth in conversation . But when academics start popping up, you seem to judge , attack and be unfair. Like when telling Mattj that he is perhaps bragging rather than engaging in questions...
Why is that ?

Freeman said...


I think that's worth a response. I'll say that I did go to school.

And that I'll address exactly what you're asking in a full post, one I think that George and MattJ (and everyone) deserves to hear.

I will re-iterate here, though: I'm not against reading about or gaining a great deal of knowledge about any given subject. Intellectual pursuits are worthy and important. And I don't feel that MattJ is bragging. In fact, I love reading his posts and would love to have him out for a drink.

I simply think that it's very easy to become lost in abstractions, and lose the thread of what's productive.

MattJ said...

cheers freeman. Bottoms up!

P'tit Boo said...

Thanks Matt. Now I am even more curious...

kirabug said...

Matt wrote:
When we use increasingly abstract terms, I feel all we do is distance our art from our gut, sometimes.

Now that I agree with. I'm interested in improving my art, but I could care less about the influence of the feminist perspective on the neoclassical era. Too meta for me.