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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, August 10, 2006

The Shadow - a public process

So Isaac Butler (who blogs about this here) and I had a bit of coffee and then he showed me a copy of "The Shadow" by Hans Christen Andersen. A very dark story, one that appealed to me instantly. So I agreed to write a version of it for him to direct. Which I've begun to do.

I was speaking to my longer-time-collaborator and pal Kyle at a bar the other night (while Devore got drunk) and he mentioned that blogging struck him as a place where work could really be discussed and opened up and artists could talk about their art, but instead, he saw it often as a series of discussions about other bloggers and the occasional "topic" of outside interest.

So, it occured to me that Isaac and I, both being bloggers, were good candidates to open up our process together to the public. I've written about 15 pages of the script so far, pieces of which I'm sure I'll post as they evolve. Our thought is we'll write about this from birth (now) until it hits the actual stage. Hopefully, everyone will feel free to comment on this process, engage with Isaac and I on it, and we'll see what happens.

Of course, usually I'd hesitate to open up my work to this sort of scrutiny. What frees me of that (and I'll be open with this) is that I feel involved with and passionate about the piece, but it's not a play that I feel is so precious and personal to me that I don't think it can't take on this little experiment. Also, I'm getting stubborn as I get older... so I figure I'll write it the way I write it and everyone will get a chance to see two young artists hashing their shit out. Will blogging the process change it? Undoubtedly. But hey, that's part of the ride.

So... for a start, here's a link to a copy of a translation of the text that I've been using while working on the play. It's not a pretty translation, which is something that appeals to me. Take a look, and tell us what you think.


devore said...

Very interesting, gentlemen.

I look forward to seeing how you publicly collaborate, especially with a peanut gallery that isn't, how shall we say, shy.

As a playwright, I'll offer that I subscribe to a school of thought that one might refer to as "highly fucking suspicious."

I like to think it's like a pair of rival magicians. There's plenty I can, will, and want to share about how I get from A to B. But I'm very superstitious, and whatever mojo I have, whatever tricks I have that allow me to find those rare five minutes or so when the pistons fire, and the god damn muse shows up are mine, mine, mine...

BUT -- you know, I'm also a hack writer, my living is to never be precious about my words. And perhaps a group vision can be achieved; maybe I'm just an alienated, shifty misanthrope.

So I'm applauding. A blog might be the ideal place for the group editing of a theatrical work. Just make sure the buck stops somewhere. I'll remind you all of the joke about the camel being a horse designed by committee...

Kyle said...

Just for the record, I wasn't trying to shame Freeman into writing a play *publicly*.

I was trying to shame him into quitting his blog. (Nice work, Kyle. My next project: freezing beer.)

I was trying to explain that my beef with the theater blogger community is that although everyone's plainly reading and getting worked up about each other's blog posts, it doesn't seem to me that bloggers are reading or seeing each other's plays with the same dedication.

Maybe it's just because the blog-scene is so fresh and you're just getting to know one another. Or maybe it's because some of you live far away, like in Boston. Maybe it's because you're all bored at your office jobs and blogging is just plain easier (full disclosure: I'm drawing pay in an office right now).

But I hope it's not because free-form opinions are more interesting than plays. Or that you all secretly despise each other.

p.s. (sneer)

Ian G. said...

Ooooo, very interesting story. Clunkily translated, but that's OK too. I will be lurking with interest.

Jamespeak said...

VERY interested in seeing how this unfolds.

Anonymous said...

I read The Shadow.
I may be jumping way ahead here but, based on the story and based on your blog and Parabasis:

August 09, 2006
Why Do They Stay Away?

How is this play your beginning going to remedy the August 9th post by Parabasis ?

I hope I get to eat my words. I will gladly do so, if this brings Zack back.

Buddha Cowboy -NYC

Freeman said...

Buddha Cowboy - if that is your real name -

Perhaps by creating a sense of openness and awareness about this play, people will be curious to see the final results. That could help.

It's my impression that the subject matter isn't an issue. It's knowledge of the material.

As for Zack not enjoying live actors performing...short of suddenly only writing for TV, I can't fix that. I can just write the best play I know how and make it relevant and make people aware of it.

When you say "You hope you eat your words..." I'm curious what you mean. Are you skeptical about the story or the ability for that story to be an effective play?

Zack Calhoon said...

I'm very interested to see how this show progresses. It has a chilling simplicity to it.

I'm also fascinated to read about another writer's process. I'm very interested to hear how other writers deal with blocks and what kind of rituals they use to get the creative juices flowing.

I just started writing last November and have become quite addicted. I finished the third draft of my first play entitled "Krueger" and finished the first draft of a film noir radio play called "Marlowe, P.I." which will be performed this fall as part of the Dreamscape Theatre's end of the season fundraiser.

I can't wait to read "The Shadow".

Anonymous said...

"When you say "You hope you eat your words..." I'm curious what you mean. Are you skeptical about the story or the ability for that story to be an effective play?"

Yes. I'm skeptical. But like I said I'm jumping way ahead and simply read the story, where you guys go with it could be anywhere.

As for my name, in the past people haven't liked me posting as anonymous, so I put a handle to it for easier reference. If this is irritating I can stop posting to your site. I don't want to cause mischief.

Buddha Cowboy - NYC

Freeman said...

Buddha -

No, it's cool. No worries. You can post however you like. I was just trying to be funny because it's a fun little pseudonym.

Skeptical is just fine with me.