- 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.
Friday, September 30, 2005
Bush didn't say that of course. Why would he? He gave Bennett the "tsk, tsk." No wonder the people of the Ninth Ward in New Orleans think the levees weren't fixed because the Government wanted to kill poor blacks.
William Bennett, author of "The Book of Virtues" and a conservative bigwig (former Education Secretary) was trying to make an argument that the reason that crime is going down is because abortion is on the rise. He stated that the logic is "tricky" and that if every black baby in America was aborted, crime would go down.
I'm sure he thought he was just talking in broadly academic terms, and that he "meant to say" something else. That's really too bad. He didn't say "if you aborted everyone on the earth there would be no crime" (which is true); he said "if you abort all the black children there would be less crime." That's because he connects crime with black people. And maybe it's just that attitude that isn't exactly helping the African-American population dance a happy jig to capitalism's tune.
If Bush won't say it, I will:
Bennett, get your face out of Mein Kampf and go home and hold "The Book of Virtues" to your chest and cry. As long as you possibly can. We'll tell you when to stop.
Either Richard Kelly is a visionary genius who can see the untapped, avant-garde potential of Buffy, The Rock, Miranda Richardson and Mandy Moore; or he's let the DVD sales of the Donnie Darko "Director's Cut" drive him out of his ever-living mind.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Anyway, I think they're friggin' large writ pop Gods who bother to have brains. And their website has always been this ever formless piece of abstract art. I hadn't been back there in a while, though... after Hail to the Theif came out and was fine (brilliant for anyone else, good songs from them) I sort of said "Someday they'll have a new album" and left it at that.
Now there is a Radiohead Blog called "Dead Air Space" (linked above) that is pretty much what you'd expect and hope for. Sometimes getting what you want is nice. Band members besides Thom being snarky, pictures, hints at the titles of new songs ("Suit Doesn't Fit" "Pay Day") and Thom himself acting like someone has been poking him in the back with a stick that's shaped like the conscience of the human in a dark, miserable British attic since he hit puberty.
Lovely. Enjoy it. I've always wanted to write plays like these pricks write music.
I was raised in a Christian household, and I will say with all sincerity that it never occured to me as a child that being Christian also meant being a bluthering, self-centered, isolated buffoon. The idea that this woman, with her utterly simplistic worldview, is speaking to foreign leaders is one that should send shivers down the spine of anyone with a sense of history.
Everything that the neo-conservatives have brought to the table in the Middle East would play like a greek tragedy, if the neo-conservatives had any good intentions. In order for it to be tragedy, I believe, we have to feel that something is lost for our hero. There is a mix of cynicism and pure childishness in our foreign policy: we combine a sense of moral correctness even as we kill thousands and speak in religious tones, and then scratch our heads when anyone implies they feel we're in a religious war. Then they blow themselves up, and we say "Islam is bad, it makes them blow themselves up."
Is it more morally justifiable to induce young people to kill others, than it is to induce them to kill themselves?
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
At the time, I viewed it as the rare story-of-the-day that was actually sort of heartening. Guy goes nuts, woman talks him down, he turns himself in.
Guess what? She gave him some of her Crystal Meth, and addiction she was trying to kick. She says she hasn't touched it since the episode. Is it easier to really enjoy some nice lady reading you some spiritually dogmatic crapola after she gives you some nice, soothing drugs? Quite likely.
I mean, she's brave and all. But it looks very much like God needed the help of "ice" to get his message across with these people. Not that there's no precendent for this type of thing. Alcohol gets people laid and cigarettes give you extra breaks at work. Why shouldn't Crystal get you out of a hostage crisis, and make you a national hero? It's a far more powerful drug.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Was Louisiana just wearing a short skirt and drunk?
hate the people of this village
and would nail our hats
to our heads for refusing in their presence to remove them
or staple our hands to our foreheads
for refusing to salute them
if we did not hurt them first: mail them packages of rats,
mix their flour at night with broken glass.
We do this, they do that.
They peel the larynx from one of our brothers’ throats.
We devein one of their sisters.
The quicksand pits they built were good.
Our amputation teams were better.
We trained some birds to steal their wheat.
They sent to us exploding ambassadors of peace.
They do this, we do that.
We canceled our sheep imports.
They no longer bought our blankets.
We mocked their greatest poet
and when that had no effect
we parodied the way they dance
which did cause pain, so they, in turn, said our God
was leprous, hairless.
We do this, they do that.
Ten thousand (10,000) years, ten thousand
(10,000) brutal, beautiful years.
by Thomas Lux from SPLIT HORIZON, (Houghton Mifflin, 1994)
Thursday, September 22, 2005
I was on a messageboard (yes, I did that, ok? what do you want? Blood?) and found the password to the Barcode on the above website. It's "TheIslandIsWaiting." But if you don't want an unsettling look into the mind of the LOST writers, and what is a potentially HUGE giveaway, don't read it. I'm thinking it's like early concept art in script form. But whatever that page means, you may hate yourself for reading it.
So that's that. Fun, fun. My guilty pleasure of late.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2005
I should learn my lesson and not actually write about NOT doing my job while I'm on the job, in public.
If Steve, CEO and man who pays me, is reading this: I did, in fact, do the work I needed to do today.
Nonetheless, it's funny how with an absence of deadlines or a pay schedule, I have to come up with little motivations and milestones in order to make the play finish itself. All the impulse is internal, and so are the rewards. At least, during the process.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Monday, September 19, 2005
The effect was, of course, I checked to see if I should just get a subscription to the friggin' paper. And I read Frank Rich and said to myself: "How will I link to this without paying?" I'm sure Nature will find a way.
Boy do I like to link to Frank Rich.
As I've said before, the internet will inevitably move to away from free content, especially content that is essentially reprinted content from a pay service. To be honest, I've often wondered if the Times wasn't losing itself money by providing the same content on its website that it does in the print edition. In some ways, its website provides more, with Audio Content etc. All of this is free, or was free, to its readers. While I'm sure it established the voice of the Times firmly on the internet and drove top quality ad sales... it inevitably hurt subscriptions of print volumes.
I have no numbers to support that assumption. It's just common sense.
That being said, there was already some play content on the Times website, but it was all archival. That means that the Times only revenue from readers was researchers and students looking for old articles. Otherwise it was all secondary, listing fees, advertising, etc. And by making the website's content as heightened as it was/is, it made the print edition look like a quaint product of yesteryear.
I'm not someone who thinks print needs to go the way of vinyl. I don't think that books, for example, will ever truly find a home online. But news sources have quandry...be up to date...but don't destroy your established presence in print.
I'm not sure if Times Select is a good move...but I understand it. It won't make the blogsphere and those of us who have come of tech-age in the yolk of peer-to-peer networks and shareware happy; but it might not be us that needs all of our needs met.
Will the internet simply become the new "television?" Will it become a product of buying a computer that gets you online, paying a level of monthly fee for access, like a cable bill? Some might say that television is more likely to begin to mirror the internet. You pay for your technology, your pay for your provider, and then you pick and choose, with your charge card, service you want to receive above and beyond basics.
Will it really be a bad thing that the consumer dollar directly decides what is produced, as opposed to ad sales and demographics? Will that affect content? Questions abound.
I just don't have the cash to read Krugman at work while I'm pretending to pay a great deal of attention to other things.
Perhaps the Times is just trying to increase my productivity. Not theirs.
I wish that was interesting, but at least it feels like some sort of resolution.
Today, at my strange job, I have to request a death certificate from Wisconsin. I shall have to post exactly why at some point.
Friday, September 16, 2005
But some of this is accurate either way. I have never particularly been a fan of this play, and I think it speaks to the state of contemporary playwrighting that it is and was so heralded.
I saw the Broadway version of Proof after it had already won it's Pulitzer, with an understudy, a few years ago, with my Mother in tow. She liked it.
Productions of Proof, since then and probably earlier, are now staples of the regional theatre circuit. I have 2 actress friends that I can think of that have performed the leading role in Equity roles; and I'm sure there are far, far more happy actresses, actively not chewing the scenery in the mopey role as Catherine.
Obviously, Proof provides two top notch actresses the opportunity to be down in front, acting their hearts out, in a Pulitizer Prize winning, Tony Award winning, honest to goodness play. They also get to use the men, for once, as drapery. Surely there's something about that sort of play that's needed in an art that is infused with thousands of talented women, and roles for about One of them in any given play. So I see why Proof is so often produced, in this way. It's a small market for great women roles in well-regarded plays.
Proof is also entertaining, because it's a love story. Sure, there's some hoopla about math, but it never really factors into the drama the way Chaos Theory factors into Stoppard's Arcadia. There's also a twist about Catherine's father being a ghost, which is all well and good.
But if you think about plays from Albee, Mamet, Miller, O'Neill; they put Proof in high contrast. This play is light as a feather, stylistically inert and its subject is the ennui of a white, pretty genius. And the reason that our characters are mathmeticians is to ensure the title is a pun. I'm not saying that this play is incompetent, unwatchable or unentertaining. It's just not what I assumed would win a Pulitzer. A playwrighting award in Wisconsin maybe. But not the Pulitizer.
Who are the Albee's, Mamets, Millers, and O'Neills of today? When David Auburn wins the Pulitzer Prize with Proof, are the pickings so slim? I know that this seems silly to bring up so many years later. I'll use the film as my excuse. It's my blog, after all.
Perhaps Bush is the Greek Tragedy King, who was going to fail the moment he was crowned.
His speech that was dedicated to the rebuilding of New Orleans was rhetorically weak, delivered with his now trademarked shoulder shrugs and head bobs that suggest a teenager defending his decision to use the car without permission. His assertion that the US cannot exist without New Orleans strikes me as just so much wind and smoke; New Orleans and its poor couldn't be viewed as essential to him until a poll number was attached to their collective bodies.
The dead couldn't hear the President's speech. And I suspect that the Nation has finally stopped listening.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
This actually infuriates me. And not because of Keillor. Insteand, because suddenly this bastion of liberal politics, humor, good sense, and a spokesman for liberalism to the mainstream of middle America, is getting attacked because he is executing his power under the law.
It seems to me that the blogsphere, as great as it can be, also has some expectation that it is beyond or above libel or copyright law. I'm not particularly familiar with what can be deemed satire, etc...but the "Praire Ho Companion" t-shirt, especially if it is being sold, is undoubtedly making money off of someone else's established work. And in a way that he deems inappropriate. And instead of saying "Ok, crossed that line..." this blogger has decided to call Keillor out.
This is embarrassing. I remember the first time I heard a friend defend P2P file sharing of MP3s and neither of us could define exactly why it wasn't taking money out of the hands of bands we loved. But if you tell that to someone that does it, they treat you like a Republican.
Frankly, there is nothing about being a liberal that means you don't believe in intellectual property, the rights of an artist to control his material, or the simple right to be respected if your views don't jive with the person making money off your name. This isn't a question of Keillor vs. Bloggers. It's a question of what's legal. And since none of us know exactly what's legal or illegal about what our mnspeak.com gent did... let's back off.
I'd also like to add...his response to Keillor was a threat that will be karmically bad. The idea that you shouldn't mess with a blogger or he'll simply smear your name... it's a dangerous line of thinking. I'm not saying Keillor is being "cool." I'm saying he's within his rights, and smearing him because you don't like what he's up to, or because you weren't smart enough to know the limits of intellectual property infringement; that makes you no better than the Republicans. It means: "I have a bullhorn, don't mess with me."
Since when is the Blogsphere supposed to be used as a threat? It's where we spread ideas. If we're willing to smear a man who is among our best representatives in the red states, over a T-Shirt, we really are missing the point.
Shame on the Daily Kos for making it worse, by the way. Never like to say that, because I love them over them. But that's a big miscue.
The Festival is dedicated to Edgar Allen Poe: works that reference him, tell his story, stage his stories, whatever. I had an existing project that, when I rethought it, fit perfectly into the mold.
Finding a way to match a project to a festival theme puts a young writer in the position of instantly compromising, some might say. On the other hand, it does get his work and ideas out there, and forces him to approach a piece differently.
Frankly, I'd been trying to write a one man show for a particular friend for several years, and when I said to him: "I'm going to propose it to 'x' theater company." He agreed to go for it.
Practicalities. Such is the way of things. Then again, if they accept our submission...I've got to actually WRITE this thing.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
What strikes me about this film is that it is incredibly boring. I get the feeling no one in the United States has watched "Animal Planet" or the Discovery Channel much lately, because there are far better documentaries about the world of wildlife than this overlong and shamelessly manipulative Disney-flick. The March of the Penguins is as overrated as Kill Bill (both friggin' volumes) and I am proud to put those movies in the same sentence together. Here's a few reasons why:
1. It asks us to "pick a side." The Penguins are the good guys. It's the first time I ever saw a seal treated like Jaws. It was hilarious that the penguins would swim about, killing fish for food, and when a predator shows up that eats Penguins, he is treated to the music from Psycho. Ever wonder what the fish think of the Penguins?
2. The narration could have been written by a committee of eighth graders. I laughed out loud when I heard Morgan Freeman say "The pain is unbearable" as a Mommy Penguin sort of picks at a dead Baby Penguin. You know what the Mommy Penguin was feeling inside? Um...no. You don't. Neither does Morgan Freeman. No one understands Penguin feelings. No one. But I think it's safe to say that it wasn't dying of ennui.
3. About 3/4th of the dramatic action of this film was huddling for warmth. I'd rather watch an Andy Warhol film...at least we know he's TRYING to put us to sleep.
4. I'm not a heartless bastard: I did think the baby penguins were cute. But Anne Geddes takes throw-up-on-a-carseat cute pictures too... and it doesn't mean she should get an Oscar Nomination. At least Human Babies grow up to do stuff like make art and start wars. Penguins babies grow up to continue to huddle for warmth.
5. Did anyone else feel vaguely uncomfortable with the Penguin sex scene? Ooooh....yeah! Penguinsex.
6. If you think that March of the Penguins is proof of "intelligent design" then I ask you why God ("the designer," sorry) would make these cute little animals, put them on top of the world, freeze them to death, let their babies die, and put them smack dab in the middle of weather that is INTENDED to kill them. It sounds like our intelligent designer is the Deity equivalent of the Marquis de Sade.
7. Bird suck as a dramatic subject. They have souless, black eyes that seem to say "I have no idea that I'm alive." They eat, poop, fly, die, and they leave in almost perpetual fear.
So, hey...if the conservative right likes this movie, let 'em have it. I'm going to watch that documentary about the ASL Gorilla, Koko. I love her, and she's not a bird.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Even in these trying times, I shall say "porno" whenever I can.
Check the above link out though...Dershowitz pisses on the dead. But you know, this is a move I'm absolutely down with.
When we had two weeks of Lionizing Reagan after he died, I was nearly going to kill myself. That "heroic President" began the trend of conservative whitewashing that has only been moved into a perfectionist zeal by the Republicans of today. Reagan was a dangerous man, and his death did not bring a tear to my heart.
So let's make sure the truth comes out...whenever it can. It's never too late.
Monday, September 12, 2005
The speech which included "Let's go back to the good old days" made me very quietly turn to my immediate right and put my visage into the waste paper basket. If I hear one more incredibly rich lawyer that just happens to have a Southern accent talk about law and government like it's a dusty game of catch, I'll light all the waste paper in the basket on fire.
Now there's a jackoff on NPR who's talking about how the right to privacy is NOT in the constitution and is considered an "inherent" right and why isn't the "right to life" considered "inherent." Then he said there have been 40 million abortions and therefore "40 million people killed in this country" because of Roe vs. Wade.
These are the people claiming we should all give Roberts a pass, that he's "well-qualified" and the President should have who he wants in there. Then WHY are we having a hearing, crew? What's the point? And when you say stuff like "Abortion is Murder" really loudly again, right after saying "confirm this guy" we all get a little, um, ancy.
Because you are, um, I know you guys hate it when we say this...um... Christian Totalitarians? Religious extremists? Terribly dangerous.
John Roberts opening statement was "I have no agenda."
That is true of no man, woman or child on the earth.
That's like me saying "I have never spoken to another human person in my life."
The Death of King Arthur was produced in late September, Early October of 2001...and the NY Times Review had a loose reference to the event in it's closing paragraph. Then, last year, when "The Americans" was produced, I was told by anyone within earshot that it was my 9/11 play...including Martin Denton, my closest friends, and the producers.
This was, as a matter of fact, news to me. I hadn't intended it at all. After watching it and seeing the images of the play, though, it's hard to disagree. I thought I was writing a play about the power of artwork. Or expression.
And isn't 9/11, on some level, about the power of expression. Even if that expression is of desperation, fear and hopelessness?
Newstand, here I come. That's a tough one. But I guess I have been reading the Times for free for about two years.
It occurs to me that this is about to start happening more and more: free stuff going pay. Like Napster turned into an Ipod.
Bearer of good news...that's me.
Also, Mr. John Devore seems to have laid down a few fighting words on the nytheatre i.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Now, I'm not about to tighten it before it's finished, and some of my other plays have actually been on the shorter side... but the rule tends to be comedy is brief. Unless you're Chekov, and the jokes only work in Russian. (This last statement is, of course, not true. I'm not a reliable narrator.)
Some of the length may simply come from a glut of characters (some of them are as yet unintroduced at 50 pages in... hmmm). Reasons for Moving had two actors, Great Escape had four, The Americans had three. This is looking at eight or nine, and I've given almost everyone a rambling monologue or six.
Am I getting messier or just more ambitious? Who can say?
And has anyone else noticed that a bigger cast means more audience? It only stands to reason. Sadly.
Friday, September 09, 2005
At least Evolution leaves some room for creatures such as this mating and making a living in the marketplace. It's a cruel, sick freak; human nature. But at least it's coming from somewhere we can all recognize.
As far as I can tell, no particularly intelligent designer would have created such a unfathomably complex being.
I'm not saying there's no God. In fact, my father is an Episcopal Priest. I simply don't believe that Lack of Knowledge + Religious Fervor = Science. In fact, I'm shocked that anything plus anything equals Tara Reid.
That's biology for you. You don't need a God to make a baby and give it a beer.
My friend Michael is a real estate agent in New York, who heard through some grapevine or another that Dick Cheney was M.I.A because he was closing on a new mansion.
Now, I've seen the polls, I've heard the story about Rice getting yelled at in NY for buying shoes during Hurricane season, I've heard the bit about Laura Bush calling the biggest thing in the Zeitgeist the wrong name, and I've seen the racism in the the culture bubbling up like the sewage that it is, and I've even seen the press not crucify Barabara Bush when her human mask slipped off for a second.
But for the love of God, Cheney. There are thousands who are homeless, and you're buying a place up the street from Rumsfeld? BEFORE stopping by to check out the damage?
I would say "have a heart" but well... it's just too easy.
What, exactly, do these people have to do in order to get fired?
The Fringe's success has brought about a great deal of anxiety, it seems, for the theater community in NY. I think there's something we inherently mistrust about a Fringe Festival that has a press release about their sell-out performances.
Memo to the Fringe: If you want your street cred, you won't be running around with your marketing figures. You'll be running down the credentials of the artists that you gave space to last year.
Street cred, such as it is, doesn't interest the Fringe much because they're getting New York Times cred. They're producers now, moreso than ever before, and in the current climate, it's what is demanded of them in order to stay afloat.
That's why to me it comes back to Arts Subsidies. Over at the nytheatre i, The Drilling Company's Hamilton Clancy speaks to the current Catch - 22:
"Our company [TheDrillingCompaNY] is about the same age as the Fringe and I know they are probably experiencing similar organizational pressures—namely to produce "income bearing" revenue to sustain their activity. Unfortunately, the corporate "giving" community that smaller organizations have access to favors fiscal success over artistic brilliance. The two are cousins only when a truly talented artist teams with a truly inventive entrepreneur. Sometimes they are one and the same."
The idea that you must show that your work has financial and commercial merit before you're given grant money... Much Luck to all of us. That's entirely backwards and entirely true.
The supremecy of the market to establish what is valuable in our culture needs to be fundamentally challenged. Which is why stronger, fully realized National Arts Subsidies would serve not only as a cash infusion (frankly, it couldn't do much in that capacity) but as a shift in the attitude of the powers that be. Something that says to the major public: "We pay for certain things, like art, because they are simply good for us. We keep it inexpensive and accessible, because we need it."
I can come up with events and hooks, solid ideas, characters, disturbing juxtapositions. But the plot itself of any play I've written since King Arthur (which of course needed only a little massaging in order to push it's square pegs into verse structures round holes) has been rife with loose ends, odd lines in early drafts that wind up in the trash bin because they were simply placeholder to get me from point A to point Z. I'm a messy writer, often writing something just because I think the title is cool. I think I actually wrote and entire bad play, since discarded, under one title, only to attach that title to what wound up being an entirely different play. The play was "The Americans" and the second time, the title was in the right place.
In "Divorce in Love" there was a subplot about a Key. I had no idea where it was going, or why. It's just a simple, mythological image and it helped me get the play started. It's a key to...where? What? Why is it being hidden? See? Fun. But now it's out. Kaput. No need for it, served its purpose. Fare thee well, my bright star.
For a while I thought the play would be a rewrite of the Bluebeard story. But Bluebeard isn't a drama at all, it's just a little nightmare that speaks, in its way, directly to the sex, fear, mistrust and death of the entire concept of coupling. Anything I write in this play at all is likely to echo that, therefore.
I also thought that Mother would have three sisters named Grace, Faith and Hope. Alas, Faith and Hope are no more. (I'll just leave that statement where it is.)
All of this is just dandy. I am leaving in, though, Lill's disease. Lill is the 11 year old daughter of Mother and Father, an internet right-wing celebrity that's been homeschooled and has a disease which Mother describes in this way. (A little bit of the play, early draft. Copyright Matt Freeman, crew.)
It says here that you’ve got a voracious herpes mastication complex and a variety of blood deficiencies. You’ve got brittle bones, an allergy to peanuts, and a great number of weak cells that could suddenly implode, causing anything from AIDs to anthrax. In the midst of all this, for no particular reason, it says you may well have the autumnal mumps and the vernal equinox. The fact is, if you walk out of this house when it’s more than forty-five percent humidity, below forty five degrees, or when the sun is between noon and six o’clock by any good sundial, your entire body will burst into a mass of carbon and plasma.
Does that help darling?
Cheney finally quoted in the New York Times.
We got "around it?"
When? Right after you finally showed up?
These people should be strung up.
"If there's a place on the face of the earth that has the resources to deal with these problems it's the United States of America, and we're going to get it done," Mr. Cheney said here in one of two rare question-and-answer sessions with reporters. "There's no question there were problems with respect to the evacuation in New Orleans. We've gotten around that problem now, and I think everyone's focused on the future."
Thursday, September 08, 2005
We're always screaming into the dark, to a five-person house. That's the Off-Off secret handshake.
Anyhow, if anyone checks in on this and has a very clear idea of what they'd like to read from a playwright who's willing to waste his breath out here, do let me know. I'm all ears.
In the meantime...
Much luck to this new season (as soon as it comes) because the summer has not proven a high point. September is on the March.
If anyone who happens to grace this weblog knows how a poor kid could get his hands on an early copy of the new Paul Auster book, Brooklyn Follies, which I believe will be on the shelves in November... do e-mail me. There are a great number of favors I would do for someone who showed me that kind of kindness.
I harp on, and I will continue to do this, National Arts Subsidies. This isn't unattainable on the scale it deserves; other nations do far more than we do with far less money.
Metropolitan Playhouse has a deadline coming up for proposals, which has changed my focus a bit on finishing up some nuts and bolts stuff for that. We'll see how that goes and I'll keep those who are interested, posted.
"Divorce in Love" is probably going to be worked on today, in this fine afternoon, while I am paid to sit in this office. Today the focus is volume.
I don't know if this makes me a pedestrian, haphazard writer, but I really think that I'll never get this thing written if I don't just write a whole bunch of it, too much of it. Then go fix it. And boy will I ever have to fix it.
George Hunka...meet George Hunka. Hilarious.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Now, in an effort to work things more smoothly, I'm already re-working things. And I've got about 48 pages and barely anything in Act II, let alone III. (I'll have to do some blogging on the three-act structure and why I insist on it past the point of all logic and commerical reason.)
On the other hand, maybe the haphazard "race to the finish line" style wasn't the best thing for some older scripts, and I wound up putting band-aids on structurally broken legs.
I think I said something else was on my mind...which is...what am I doing working this day job? I read this New Yorker article about a schlemp minister in a Hawaiian T-Shirt that is able to rent out the Houston Astrodome. Because let's face it...the man ain't lazy. Which I can be. I don't work hard enough at just submitting these scripts. Isn't that half the battle.
By the by, George Hunka of Superfluities drove by and said hi, here. He's a good read, and a fine fellow. I'll be checking up on his stuff. Revise, Revise, Revise.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Had an e-mail chat with my pal Kyle and was reminded of an important fact of playwrighting: do stuff. Seems simple, no?
Fact is, as I'm adding to the initial motivations of some of the ancillary characters, it occurred to me that they shouldn't be ancillary. Characters for "color" or to serve simply as foils are often just failures of craft.
Also, the more specific the motivation, the more involving the play becomes. I had a few characters straddled with motivations like "She is envious" (which isn't a motivation at all) and "He wants to save her soul" which is deadly dull and broad. It's more interesting to watch someone try to get a cookie he or she can't have than watch someone save a soul.
I'm not saying that things that are immaterial aren't important in plays, I'm of the mind that those things find their way onto the stage without so much expression. It's best to incorporate broader themes into specific actions than it is the ascribe broad themes AS actions.
A playwrighting teacher might say: "But Matthew, Action is different from Motivation." That's why I never took a playwrighting class. Who likes to chatter about definitions? Leave that to the theorists.
I used to date a girl who was an academic through and through and she told me that I was hostile towards academia. She might be right. Probably just envious of people that can decipher Descartes. Nonetheless, theory is valuable to those who are analyzing artwork; making it is a different matter. The minute theory gets in the way of your craft, throw it out. It wasn't made FOR artists, it was made for those who like to read about art. I can be useful like any tool, but it's just one more wrench in the toolbox. (And here, I cease this ugly metaphor...)
Most theory is assigned after the fact anyhow. The term "Theatre of the Absurd" was coined by Martin Esslin, in his book of the same name, to categorize some artists who were working independently of one another. Ionesco and Beckett and Albee, for example, were all called "Absurdists." But let's face it: Ioneseco is a screaming banshee of lunacy, a priest of nonsense. Beckett is the only writer that I can think of that was able to make a mess of language sound like silence. And Albee is their American grandchild. His best play, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" isn't absurd at all. It's startlingly hyper-real.
Almost all my plays are incredibly derivative: I make no bones about it. The Death of King Arthur is Shakespeare-lite, written by a 24 year old, just following the rules and applying them to an old story. After that came plays that are derivative of Albee, and like him, wish they were Beckett. But hey, at least I'm shooting as high as I can. Hopefully, in the midst of it, is my voice. And I'm sure that's what Beckett said about Dante and James Joyce.
Or at least, I hope so.
As the play is going, I'm wondering now how I'll be able to keep myself from mentioning at least some sort of disaster, Hurriance or otherwise. Right now the play has a sort of rambling, sort of light language, into which I drop in references to the current conservative discourse. So it might wind up in there.
I was speaking to Kyle about a week ago regarding the sort of "side" characters and how they needed something more specific to "do." I'm still working that out. But I did, I feel, fold in an effective moment for Grace, Mother's nearly deformed, stuttering sister. She now tells the story of being bumped into at the grocery store, and upon being bumped she thinks: "Finally a husband!"
It made me laugh. She's so utterly depressing.
I'm thinking of lifting the entire Gentlemen Caller scene from The Glass Menagerie and just screwing it all up and putting it into the second act, with Grace playing Laura. I just want to tear her little heart out.
That's one thing (at least one) that seperates my cruelty from Neil LaBute...I'm not trying to chastize anyone. I just think it's funny when things get awful.
Does anyone know what I mean?
Hope everyone had a fine Labor Day weekend. I enjoyed a little time in mid-to-southern New Jersey with Pammy. Was on my best behavior all weekend. Now I'm back at the day job. As usual, I'm not busy. Will I be fired again?