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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, January 18, 2006

The work I'm doing as we speak

A few random thoughts to share today...

The play I'm currently working on is entitled "The Most Wonderful Love." It's due for production in the early summer here in good old NYC. It's a comedy in three acts.

Now, I'm in the midst of a rewrite because the first draft had a reading that lasted just over three hours long. That's a bit of a test of any audience's patience. It also meant to me, knowing the script, that there was a great deal of fat on it.

I've been working closely with a director by the name of Kyle Ancowitz, who directed my last three act comedy "The Great Escape." That play was lean and mean. This new script has more than double the number of characters, and a wild ending, and music... you get the idea. It's a bigger play, more ambitious, but also more unruly.

By the time I've got it under control, it shouldn't seem ambitious. It should seem, well, full. Not overburdened.

Working with Kyle has been a bit of a revelation for me. Partially because I've rarely worked with a director I trusted to share my sensiblity about my work before. I've had experience with directors who have very strong opinions about my plays. But that, and the price of a cup of coffee, will buy a director... a cup of coffee. Directors should seek playwrights they trust and like to work with, just as playwrights are encouraged to guard their work closely from unwelcome influence.

One that that helps me tremendously is that this play is NOT being workshopped. I don't honestly know what the term means anymore. It sounds like a band of journeymen are approaching your precious, delicate play with a pair of pliars. It's an ugly term, and an ugly process, and yields plays that have less and less to say.

This play is being worked on precisely because Kyle will soon be directing it and his company will soon be spending money getting it on the stage. And my audience (hopefully some of you among them) will be watching it produced, not "staged" or "read." That makes a tremendous difference.

So much of this business is voodoo. What you call yourself, where you work, who is standing next to you, what sort of morning you had...how you feel and what you believe and what weird and false energies and you can bring to bear on that day to make something happen. Being on the course to production transforms the process into something that feels more like it should to me.

Anyhow, as I talk sideways about how far along I am (not as far as I tell people, but not as behind as I think I am), and work on whatever else is popping up in my head (it's usually in the midst of a rewrite I get the urge to write anything else...), I'm also trying to remember not to edit the humor out of the play, and not to assume anything about the script, and remind myself that most of what I wrote was put there by accident.

Last night I watched the first third of the Peter Brook Mahabarata on DVD Then, I put on a Windows Media playlist (Aimee Mann, Ben Folds, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Radiohead, Wilco right now), fiddled with my resume, rewrote the beginning of an entirely different script called "The Lower River" and the worked a bit more on tightening up "The Most Wonderful Love."

I wrote a little on the blog in between and looked at websites about LOST. And talked to my girlfriend, who is working on a mix tape.

Last night's most profound thought? It's hard to write comedy after watching a Sanskrit epic.

What are you all up to? And what, if anything, would you like to know about my plays?


Devilvet said...

regarding workshops, I've had great experiences with them.

But, I have usually directed my own playscripts or adaptations, so I havn't had to worry so much about someone or some people altering or watering down my message.

The actually script comes to me at a slow rate and hearing the words out loud and seeing people move around an empty space can really help inspire me towards the resolution or steps inbetween if I already have the resolution mapped out.

The first thing that usually comes to me are images then a little text. I ge little comic books or stroyboards usually before i have a well made text with subplots.

My own self directed workshops help me turn those images into action.

Can you tell me a synopsis of your "Wonderful Love" and "Great Escape"?

Freeman said...

Synopsis? Not unless you're about to offer me a grant.

I'm sure they'll come out in fits and starts. Anyone interested in some images from Great Escape or The Americans can find them on the Past Productions part of Blue Coyote Theater Group's website.

Zay Amsbury said...

I only recently discovered that there are a slew of playwright blogs on teh intrawub. It's neat to see others struggling with the archaic.

I'm working on a rewrite as well. Same sorts of distractions. Yesterday I worked on the play, toyed around with my Pocket PC, fiddled with the design of my website, read some Lee Blessing, and managed to talk myself out of starting the new play, "The Mesmers at Home."

The play's "Live/Work," a depressing little Chekhovian comedy. Everyone in love with everyone else. Not much action. Mounds of words. Unrequited everything.

Freeman said...

Vet: Short version, in all honesty, of the "plot" of the Great Escape is that a young man comes home, after an extended absence, to find him Mother remarried and his adopted sister on the rampage. Their eventual conclusion is to hold their mother hostage in order to make emotional demands.

I'll hold off writing down a synopsis of "The Most Wonderful Love" because I'm currently writing the play.

Zay (if that is your real name:) I find myself stuck with mounds of words often. My director/partner often reminds me to "think of the Cheetah" (his hilarious words) when shaping my play.

Zay Amsbury said...

Zay. Yeah. I was born Isaiah, but got stuck with Zay so early it ended up on all my school records, and then at 12 I had it legally changed.

"Live/Work" really wants to have mounds of words. Generally speaking, my first drafts are too little rather than too much, which is the opposite of most writers I know. I'm purposefully letting myself go with this one, though.

At the same time I'm writing a much more restrained piece called "Invisible Object." Big beats between words.

My website's: zayamsbury.net.

P'tit Boo said...

I am interested in what you have to say about writing comedy .
Did you set out for the play to be a comedy , or did it end up a comedy ?
How do you *try* to be funny ?

Freeman said...

Hm. Worthy of a full post, that question about comedy. My first thought is...it's just a tone. When I'm in the mood to make myself laugh, I write comedy.