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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, April 06, 2006

A New Manifesto

In keeping with ubiquitous and viral manifesto urge, I hereby give up the Manifesto D'Amour Theatrico. It is a statement of not only belief, but what should be believed.

This is scraps of the manifesto that I found in the pages of the unwritten manuscript of Claude Zednophone, before he was put into a sanitarium for being "too good at challenging the audience."

MANIFESTO D'AMOUR THEATRICO

The Theatre (or "Theater" or "theatre" or "theater") is a cunning snake, perhaps a hydra, without arms, like all snakes, but with many heads, which really makes it a hydra. It is a cunning hydra therefore and not a snake at all. Or, if you will, it is not what we say it is, but it is what we see, for we are only observers on the great stage of snakes.

Nonetheless, Theatre is subtle, deadly, multi-faceted but also no lucrative. It is, at best, a pyramid scheme. Think about what happened to the people who built the pyramids, and then think about the Theatre. Oh yes, I use the capital T.

Hereby, by the power invested in me by paperless publication, I say that Theatre must, like a hydra, shed the skin of its many heads, learn to accept the begging bowl as its true symbol, and build itself a pyramid of semi-heirarchical socialist design. It must become D'Amour Theatrico... the Theatre of Love.

1

Love is the air we breathe and the blood that runs in our veins. If we want Theatre to be like love, we must have a D'Amour Theatrico. It is so easy to write absurdist political diatribes, rife with the dreadful irony and ennui of our time; or write rich multicultural analyses, couched in exciting new ways to view narrative. This is the stuff of the innocent child, playing with a spade and a bucket in the sand. LOVE is hard to write about. That is why we should do it, over and over. Love, after all...what is it?

Think about it. Really.

2

The stages of contemporary Theatre (or as one might say "theatre") are overloaded with scenery and costumes, unless they cannot be afforded. D'Amour Theatrico rids us of this concern by placing all actors on-stage with only what God (or the Goddess, or the Great Spirit, or happenstance) gave them. They will be free to express Love, because when a naked person appears to be full of ennui, it is hard to take them seriously. Also, it will sell tickets and is economical.

Costumes gone? So are the sets. Because D'Amour Theatrico is suspicious of sets. They are unruly and often made with rusty nails.

3

The text vs movement dichotomy in contemporary "theater" has proven insurmountable to most practioners of this bastard art. This is because it's hard to talk and move with all the sincerity of ones heart and soul. Universities and training programs for "actors" often feed them things like breathing, vocal exercises, scene analysis. Directors are taught blocking and how to get actors to say things as if they thought of them themselves. This creates the delusion that either of these two creative forces, on their own, know anything about the all-powerful hydra of Love that is D'Amour Theatrico. I assure you, without this manifesto, Directors and Actors are bases in the woods, being offered so many fruits from the trees of knowledge that they will be thrown out of every Garden of Eden known to Christendom (Or "whathaveyou-dom.")

To practice, with accuracy and grace, D'Amour Theatrico, one must not move unless one is moved to move. And once one moves, one must not cease movement until moved to not move. Movement comes from movement. There's a physicist that supports this. No! A pataphysical parabasicist.

D'Amour Theatrico is all about movements, but if those movements are not born of Love, they are the movements of Hate. And we hate hate more than we love love.

4

Art, by its very nature, is a big, dirty lie that we are told from the time we are very young. It is undefinable, a turncoat, a traitor to the faith of its followers, and it gives nothing in return for years of painstaking work. We've all had relationships like this. Hence: D'Amour Theatrico.

5

May one say that Theatre (Capital T) is being used as the chewtoy of immortal film and instantly gratifying television? May one pose that Theatre is often begging for a dog biscuit at the door of men like the Weinsteins? When film stars come to the New York stages (like Julia Roberts) do we not treat them like kings and queens for their charity? And is not, in biblical translation, the word Charity not Interchangeable with the word Love?

Hence, when they come down from their towers made of heavenly chocolate and butter that never makes you fat, when they open the massive bejeweled doors to their fortified castles and say "I Feel Like Doing A Play"... is this not an act of Love?

D'Amour Theatrico encourages phone calls from agents who think it's time to lend their stars to something "legit." Just to keep it fresh, you know? For the papers.

6

Without Love, you are a Goat. So stay away from Edward Albee. D'Amour Theatrico will be close to him because no practioner of D'Amour Theatrico, naked and moving at top speed, could be mistaken for a Goat. We embrace Albee, and not Goats. Unless we are missing the point entirely, which is possible, because we are not paying attention. We are FEELING, not thinking.

7

D'Amour Theatrico solves the problem of leadership. Together, the actors and director and perhaps writer come together and read "the text," or whatever else they might find interesting. This is not judged. Judgment is so not D'Amour Theatrico. They come together, not at a predetermined time, but when they happen to meet. Often, it could be, that a troupe will meet because they all share the same apartment. That works well, and makes workspace less expensive.

Then, as the spirit moves them, they remove all distance between themselves and their fellow actors. To facilitate this, have only one small couch. As you read, enjoy the sound of one another's voice. Try to imitate that voice, but not in a mocking way. If one of the actors reads the contents of a cereal box with a slightly Long Island accent, do the same. Let it become all accents. Follow the moment. Love the beauty of working intuitively.

All this time, you may think, is this something like being a hydra? Precisely. Which head is the leader? None. But they all hiss and shed their skin and have no arms. Now, at least, you can be exactly like this, as a team. Also, you can move and breathe and be naked. It is art people, not science.

Because of the relatively minimal principles, it is important to not use a stage manager. They make a mess of all impulses, and insist on things like promptness and a call sheet. The Stage Manager is the bane of Theatre with a capital "T." D'Amour Theatrico is a big picture kind of snake. It does not like all this "what time is it?" crap.

8

Make sure that one member of your troupe can afford to rent a theater.

9

Finally, read some Joseph Campbell and then Howard Zinn. That will make you worry only about your own personal journey AND make you feel a part of a collective of poor, downtrodden people who cannot get out from under the thumb of the cruel rich. Internalize both impulses. Then, start moving without clothes on. Do this with as many people as you can find.


_____

And with that, I leave you under cover of darkness.

2 comments:

P'tit Boo said...

Nice !

Good stuff... wow, the blogosphere is just blowing me away lately !!!! I am coming to ny... will you be there ?

Zay Amsbury said...

This is utterly hilarious.

I'd write more but it's hard to dance naked and type at the same time.