About Me

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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.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Through A Glass, Briefly - Part 2

Part 2 of my little look-see into my own 20s is a run down of what I've done as a playwright up until now. That's the wonderful thing about blogging: I can write about myself without having to justify it.


THE MESSAGE. My first play was produced at The Players Ring in Portsmouth, NH by a gentleman named Gary Newton, who has since passed away. The play was about a man named Barclay, who receives a message that he must meet a woman, who he has never met before, from a gentleman who comes knocking on his door late one evening.

Newton read it and said that he "understood it" to me, while I was working for a Chocolate Shop called "Harbor Treats" during my summer as Romeo. It was written while I was in college, and the small production, taken entirely seriously by this earnest troupe, made me feel like a true writer. Newton may have been the only person that did understand it. Thanks to him, wherever he may be.

THE PROPOSALS / FEBRUARY AND OTHER SEASONS. These two have never been professionally produced. Of the two, I think February rather holds up now. February and Other Seasons is a series of short scenes wherein characters trade lines, or keep their lines when other change theirs, etc. It's a scene-exercise on steriods, but I still enjoy reading it. Proposals was a bit more clunky... a sort of nameless dread play about a guy who can't tell the difference between the women he loves. They were read to some of my new friends in New York in a small room somewhere in midtown, and one of those in attendance was Katherine Gooch. They were used as a sort of evidence by Katherine, later, to Chris Sanderson that I could write a play.

THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR. This was a project proposed by Christopher Sanderson. Apparently, he originally discussed it with Kirk Wood Bromley. In any case, he was looking to produce a play of King Arthur, written in verse. A Shakespeare version of the Arthur legend. Having never written in verse before, and having only a passing knowledge of the King Arthur myth, I immediately offered to write it. Having performed nothing but Shakespeare since I walked out of college didn't hurt in structuring it. Austin Pendleton, when I was acting with him, gave me some very good notes on it, but read it mostly because he felt that it was dramatically impossible to write a play about this particular story. I was too young to know that it was a foolish thing to attempt in the first place.

It was written in 2000, and produced outdoors along a path in Central Park in October 2001. Obviously, it was immediately after a date I won't bother to write down, and it was incredibly cold outside. The production was also rife with personal conflict between Chris and I, to the point where he walked off the project, leaving me to complete his directoral work myself.

In the end, though, it has been the play that has produced the most outward success for me. It produced my first and only review from the New York Times, which was, to my joyful surprise, high praise. The play was published by Martin Denton in this anthology, and is soon to be published in its own by Playscripts, Inc. Two monologues from ARTHUR will appear in a collection of audition monologues by Smith and Kraus, due around February of 2006.

As a play, I still enjoy it, but I've never since returned to verse in any real way. I did write a verse play called "The Idiot Servant" not long afterwards, but it's still sitting on my laptop, three years later, waiting for a proper re-write...one which honestly may never come.

REASONS FOR MOVING. This play might be considered an odd follow-up to a five-act verse play. It is a two-hander, passed on the poem "The Tunnel" by Mark Strand. It was produced by my friends Sean Elias-Reyes and Michael Colby Jones under the banner of "The Local Productions."

It was directed by Russel Marcel, who has since relocated to California and become both a husband and father. In fact, Russ, Sean and Michael are all married now, and both Russ and Sean are fathers. And so it goes.

The play starred both Sean and Matthew Trumbull, who also played Bedeviere in Arthur. Matt and I met freshman year of college and have been close friends ever since. He was in the readings of the abovementioned Proposals and February and Other Seasons, in the first reading of The Message, and later was in my short of the Metropolitan Playhouse, 465.

The play was produced at HERE Arts Center. There is review of it to be found here.

465. A short produced by the Metropolitan Playhouse as a part of festival of plays in May of 2003, based on the short poem of the same name by Emily Dickinson. A review of it can be found here. Featuring Matthew Trumbull (as noted above) it's a bleak little picture of a man, cheating on his wife, in a hotel room. Nothing too fancy, but I did include the poem, which was part of the deal.

GENESIS. An adaptation of medieval mystery plays produced by Scott Reynolds at Handcart Ensemble in June of 2003. I also directed this piece, and spent a great amount of time on it in a basement in Harlem. Featured Tim Moore (who played Merlin in Arthur), Debbie Jaffe, Barrett Ogden, James Mack and Jay Leibowitz, a good friend whom I met at Emerson College. The genesis of Genesis was a production I directed while at Emerson College of the text of Abraham and Isaac. Incidentally, playing Isaac in that version was John Gregor, who wrote the music for this later Off-Off Broadway production.

A review of it can be found here, and an interview with me regarding the production can be found here.

This play's connecting movement pieces were entirely designed, choreographed and directed by my friend David DelGrosso, who at the time was fresh off of a tour with the Aquila Theater Company. David and I met at Emerson College during Freshman year as well, and he, Matt Trumbull and I have been attached at the hip ever since. He hasn't been in many of my productions, as he had been on tour for what felt like centuries, so it was a thrill for me to hand over the production to him during this piece. His work was phenomenal, as it always is. He's also one of the closest friends I've ever had to this day, and just a tirelessly hardworking actor.

I felt it was good to get this one out of my system. It was at least a sort of return to verse (which puts the lie to my earlier statement) but honestly, more of a return to a subject matter that has been a part of my life since I was conceived. Unfortunately, my father didn't make it out to see this one. I'll always be curious what he would have thought of it.

THE GREAT ESCAPE. The first of two (and looking to be, potentially three) productions by way of Blue Coyote Theater Group. This play was the first of what are becoming overtly personal plays. A dark comedy in three quick acts, which recounts the story of a young man who is overcome by confusion when his mother remarries. His (and his adopted sister's) solution is to wrap her up in a burlap sack and tie her to a chair. Directed by Kyle Ancowitz, who went on to become a great friend and current collaborator on my newest play.

A review can be found here and interview with me regarding the production can be found here. Photos are available on Blue Coyote's website here.

This play marks the only play I've ever had that was advertised in The Onion, and that made me smile very, very broadly.

THE AMERICANS. As I am wont to do, I followed up a three act dark comedy with a three character, 80 minute, monologue style piece which recounts the story of a young writer whose poem causes his apartment to explode. It's been dubbed my 9/11 play, but I've always considered it a play about writing. It's also not very funny.

The characters are named D, T, and F for reasons that might be obvious to anyone can read the names mentioned in the above paragraphs. Anyone who thinks I'm more ambitious than obvious, though, is welcome to that opinion.

The play was directed by Gary Schrader and I'll honestly say that he's a quietly unheralded marksman. Not only did he take a text-only play and provide it with a series of beautifully realized stage pictures, but he allowed the action and the text to soar as well. I was thrilled with it.

This marked, for me, a return to acting after a lengthy absence. I performed the role of the writer (how fitting) in the role of D. Kyle Ancowitz performed F and Vince Gatton (who was fabulous) performed T.

This is currently my favorite of the plays (don't let the other plays hear me say that) and it was surreal to be performing in it. The production was also the first that was seen by my girlfriend, Pam, and I thank whatever God may be up there that she liked it enough not to break up with me on the spot. I think we'd be dating a month when she saw it.

A review can be found here and photos can be found on the Blue Coyote website here.

This production prompted a nice write up for me on the New York Foundation for the Arts website, which can be found here. If you're wondering what "Silent New York" is, after reading it, I can only say, I hope to show you soon.


That brings us up to date. I completed my latest draft of my newest play "The Most Wonderful Love" about two weeks ago, and I'm hoping to see it produced this coming year. The first play produced in my thirties.

As a writer, beyond the playwrighting, I've been intermittently reviewing for nytheatre.com and my freelance writing appeared in Maxim Online (television reviews), Gamespy.com, Complex Magazine, and MTV Magazine (video games, ladies and gentlemen.)

All in all, a fine time was had by all. And as I sit here, writing this at 1:38am on December 7th, 2005, it's nice to enjoy a look back and find all these old quotes and play "This Is Your Life." Not a bad ten years.

Thank you for your indulgence. Onwards and upwards.

"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." - Tennyson


MattJ said...

I didn't see it, only read about it in your blog just now, but I'm intrigued by what information I do have on "The Americans," sounds like my kind of play...

allneonlke said...

Happy Birthday, Freemonster!!!!!!!!

david d. said...

A fine and productive 20s. And I am sure the 30s will be onward and upward indeed. Glad to have been a part of them.

PS- Did you only tell us about the plays of your 20s so you wouldn't have to talk about "No More Bicycle Wheels"? That is still my favorite.

P'tit Boo said...

Ok . I want to read No more Bycycle Wheels, however old you were when you wrote that !
Not bad indeed..

I wish I was more prolific. I am such a slow worker. I write and then rewrite and rewrite and then i fix all the punctuation and then i do it again. That's why I didn't become a painter. It's even worse... you're never done if you don't want to be !
Any secrets on being prolific ?

Freeman said...

Secrets on being prolific?

Don't write all the time. But when you do write, finish. Also, steal a lot. It helps.