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.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Playing with Canons: Podcast

Click here to listen to Martin Denton discuss the upcoming anthology "Playing with Canons," which features a play by yours truly.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Be obscure clearly

From ELEMENTS OF STYLE (Strunk & White)

"Be clear.

Clarity is not the prize in writing, nor is it always the principal mark of a good style. There are occasions when obscurity serves a literary yearning, if not a literary purpose, and there are writers whose mien is more overcast than clear. But since writing is communication, clarity can only be a virtue. And although there is no substitute for merit in writing, clarity comes closest to being one. Even to a writer who is being intentionally obscure or wild of tongue we can say, "Be obscure clearly! Be wild of tongue in a way we can understand!" Even to writers of market letters, telling us (but not telling us) which securities are promising, we can say, "Be cagey plainly! Be elliptical in a straightforward fashion!"

Clarity, clarity, clarity. When you become hopelessly mired in a sentence, it is best to start fresh; do not try to fight your way through against the terrible odds of syntax. Usually what is wrong is that the construction has become too involved at some point; the sentence needs to be broken apart and replaced by two or more shorter sentences.

Muddiness is not merely a disturber of prose, it is also a destroyer of life, of hope: death on the highway caused by a badly worded road sign, heartbreak among lovers caused by a misplaced phrase in a well-intentioned letter, anguish of a traveler expecting to be met at a railroad station and not being met because of a slipshod telegram. Think of the tragedies that are rooted in ambiguity, and be clear! When you say something, make sure you have said it. The chances of your having said it are only fair."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sample of the text of Genesis

In preparation for the release of Playing with Canons, I thought I'd share a bit of Genesis on this blog. Below is some of "The First Murder (Cain and Abel.)" As you'll note, it's a hodgepodge of one of the existing cyle plays and my own text. One thing I adore about the original plays is how simple and straightforward they are... there isn't too much meandering in poetry.

This takes place just after their tithe, and just prior to the murder itself.


Abel. Cain, this not worth one leek!
Thy tithe should burn well without smoke.
Cain, brother, that is ill done.

Cain. No, but go we hence soon;
And if I may, I shall be
Where God himself shall not see.
There will be none who may spy
With eye or other means, not even Him
Inside that room.

None know of places out of His sight.
But I will find them, and respite.

Abel. Dear brother, I will fare
On the road where our betters are
To look out for all, empty or full.

Cain. Shouldst thou go? Nay abide a while.
We have yet a fearless bone to pick.
Hard! Speak with me before thou go.
What, dost thou think to ‘scape so?
No, stay! I owe thee a foul play
And now is the time that you’ll repay.

Abel. Brother, why are you so in ire?

Cain. Why burns thy purse in full a fire?
While mine, while offered, barely smoked
Right as it would us both have choked?

Abel. God’s will, I believe, it were
That mine did burn so clear.
If thine chokes, am I to blame?
Know you nothing, brother
Or the world as’t works?
Of kindness repaid in kind
And likewise selfishness?
Faith resides inside the air
And not inside the curious
Of question and of matter.
You seem to hate too much
Both kin and King alike.
You excuse failures crutch
To make your fire not light.

Cain. Yea! And thou shalt repay my shame:
Never before has one man’s burden
Felt so assured to kill for certain.
None in Paradise need make divide
And while outside, less must reside.
With cheek-bone straightway
Shall I thee and thy life divide....

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Berlin Opera cancels "Idomeneo"

My good friend Ian G. sent me this via e-mail. I thought he wouldn't mind me posting his thoughts, as it's worth some discussion...

"From the Times today: The Berlin Opera has cancelled a production of Mozart's "Idomeneo" because one scene features a character holding the severed heads of Jesus, Buddha, Poseidon, and -- here's the problem -- the Prophet Muhammad, and the opera's directors would rather not have a performance bombed:


This is a level of potentially blog-worthy scariness that I'd not seen before: a theatre company preemptively pulling work before anyone has a chance to object to it, for fear of violent retribution. Is this paranoia? Cowardice? Good sense? Letting the terrorists win? I haven't sorted that out…

What I am starting to worry about is that cultural institutions globally might reach the same conclusions as the Berlin Opera, and succumb to a kind of preemptive terrorism, silencing themselves out of fear. I may be overreacting, but if we allow our fears of terrorism to dictate what we can do in our work, where does it end? Art that is not free to offend without the artists risking genuine harm seems to me the first step down a path to no art at all. Or am I being unreasonable?"

Words to Live By

"The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends."

Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, Foreword



Queer Feminist Theater in L.A.

Or somesuch.

Thanks to Boo for linking to "The Violet Vixen."

The Vixen describes herself as offering "a queer feminist perspective on theater and performance art, mostly in and around Los Angeles with occasional forays into wider theater news and sporadic book reviews." Sounds fantastic to me.

Her post on NewYorkCentrism is sharp.

Go say hello!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Playing With Canons

A new anthology on the way from the New York Theatre Experience, which contains an adaptation of my own. Take a look at the offerings here. There's an interview with me as well.

Take a read. Let me know what you think.

Friday, September 22, 2006

A little about what I'm writing

I'm currently working on three different plays, all of which at odd times and in fits and starts.

The first of which is "The Shadow," which I have been blogging about a bit and will continue to do so. Isaac has asked that I get a first draft finished at the end of the run of "In Public." I love deadlines so, of course, it will be done.

The other play is currently titled "The Man Who Caught Death in a Bag." It's shaped a bit like "The Americans" in this early stage. ("The Americans" featured three characters, named by the letters D, T, and F, who spoke to the audience in dovetailing monologues.) The new play has three actors on stage, but they all portray the same character, who is currently named "Matthew Harbaugh." It struck me that a few observers viewed "The Americans" as being three different versions of the same person. I'm making that quite literal in this new play.

Here's an excerpt from the evolving first draft:

So here’s the deal. Since we’re all going to talk. My name is Matthew Harbaugh. Which, might strike you as instantly odd, because it seems like half of my name was changed to protect the innocent. Fair enough. I make the rules.


Another rule is that there are these other two Matthew Harbaugh’s, right there. In my bedroom. Or what looks like my bedroom. And they can’t see me.


Just for the purposes of our play. Which is called “The Man Who Caught Death In A Bag.”

Did you ever get the feeling that forces beyond your control are conspiring to make you quit your job and drink too much? Just because someone, somewhere is entertained by it? God or whoever? God, probably.

This is called “The Boy Who Caught Death in a Bag.” Not very creative, if you think about it.

That’s how I felt when this book fell into my lap. My mother had passed away and my brother and I were going through old boxes and there it was. I put it in my bag before my brother could see it. I don’t know why, but that’s exactly what I did.

For the record, my real name isn’t Matthew Harbaugh, and as of this writing, my father isn’t dead. And the one who writes things about death is me, not him. But here we are, watching a play about exactly that. And here I am, talking about Fathers and Death. So it goes. But yes, my name is Matthew Harbaugh. And so are theirs.


That will do for all normal purposes.

The third project is in outlining stages... a fake "history play" in verse. After seeing Richard II at the Classic, it occurred to me that I would love to use the history play format and style, but invent something entirely false... a myth of a King, told in verse, as if it were a "history." Why not? Why shouldn't I?
Onwards and upwards.

Friday Utterly Random 10

Just whatever's up... 10 things that I'm all about right now.

1. A Poor Player, Gasp Journal and Intermission - Always nice when some new voices make a little noise.
2. Buy this! Because you like me so much!
3. The United Nations.
4. Rosh Hashanah.
5. Fools and Lovers at Moonwork. Great company. I heartily recommend this. Features my pal David DelGrosso.
6. Finally watching "Deadwood."
7. Albee and Remy (our cats) are in full blown crazy-ass mode. Hilarious, but makes each morning just a little more exhausting. Oh Kittenhood.
8. The ridiculous "compromise" between Bush and members of his own party, to essentially allow for torture while condeming it. This has about as much teeth as a General Assembly resolution.
9. The nytheatrecast. Great stuff for anyone interested in a wide range of voices from the Indie Theatre scene in NYC.
10. Arbitrary 10th thing.

Three Shows to Recommend

Per Isaac's post, there was an idea floated amoung the NYC bloggers that we should all talk about this today.

So hey, check out the original post and tell me what you think about the Fall Season, if you haven't already.


Fall Previews can be found...

James Comtois
George Hunka

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bloggers Chime in on NYC Centric Blogosphere

Well, this is fun, no? Lots of thoughts about NYC and its detractors/defenders. This is something that comes up periodically it seems.

Tom (A Poor Player) writes about his take here.

Isaac and Tom have it out a bit here.

Laura give everyone a piece of her mind here.

Some of the many out-of-NYC theatre blogs?

Laura, in my comments section a few posts back, notes...

Her own

Bill Clinton interviewed about Torture

Take a listen.


New York - Theatre Blog Central

I'd love to draw some attention to this post, which takes issue with the New York Central theatre blogs.

I'd note Don Hall, out of Chicago, as a bit of solace...

What is interesting is that the internet need not be localized. So are there theatre bloggers outside of New York City we should be paying more attention to? If not...why not?


Civiliation deaths in Iraq, as of July.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

On a side note...

I'd like to apologize for the lack of much substantive posting of my own of late. I've got myself waist deep in day job work, as well as writing three plays (if you count the one I just started) and a few non-theatrical writing projects as well. I'll be posting at a bit more length when it's possible for me to do so. In the meantime, this is all I've got for you.

What you're looking forward to seeing...

So George Hunka put this together for the NY Times a little while ago.

So tell me...what three of these shows are you most looking forward to? A brief explanation is also nice.

For me:

1. Heartbreak House - To see what Kyle thinks so highly of in Shaw. I get that the essays are great...but the plays leave me cold. I'm going with an open mind.
2. King Lear - at the Classical Theatre of Harlem. Oh yes. Oh yes.
3. The Coast of Utopia - I will count these as One. Because, well, I can. My list.

Going to have to check out My Name is Rachel Corrie as well. After reading the text, I'll be honest, I'm not as enthusiastic. Certainly stagecraft and acting are missing components for me right now...but the text itself is rather slight. At least, that's my first impression.

How about you? What are you looking forward to this Fall?

Compare and Contrast

Bush's speech to the UN yesterday.

Bush's speech to the UN before the Invasion of Iraq.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Objective Truth

Remember that White House aide, quoted by Rich in his introduction, who said that a “judicious study of discernible reality” is “not the way the world really works anymore”? For him, the “reality-based community” of newspapers and broadcasters is old hat, out of touch, even contemptible in “an empire” where “we create our own reality.” This kind of official arrogance is not new, of course, although it is perhaps more common in dictatorships than in democracies. What is disturbing is the way it matches so much else going on in the world: postmodern debunking of objective truth, bloggers and talk radio blowhards driving the media, news organizations being taken over by entertainment corporations and the profusion of ever more sophisticated means to doctor reality.

- IAN BURUMA - in his review of "The Greatest Story Ever Sold" by Frank Rich


Bush's speech on the fifth anniversary of 9/11 was rife with contradiction, factual failures, and impossible connections. For example, the speech stated that Saddam Hussein was not connected to 9/11...and then claimed that the "War on Terror" would be somehow lost if Iraq was deemed a failure.

What was the analysis of the speech? Commentators commented on the quality of the speech. ("Was it a political speech or not?" "Did the President change his polls numbers?" "Did people believe the message?") Very few, it seemed to me, in the mainstream press, spoke simply about how it based on a false conclusion and made false connections. Certainly, there were commentators that did... but it should not only the stuff of the Op-Ed page. If the facts are in question, why is questioning those facts treated as opinion?

Is it possible to have an effective media, cultural dialogue, or democracy when facts are marginalized? Or is the desire for "objective truth" a fool's hope? Is there such a thing as reality, or only versions of reality?

And, of course, are blogs hurting or helping?

One side might argue that blogs create a counterpoint to the mainstream media, provide a team of layman fact-checkers, not beholden to salesmen or advertisers.

One might also argue that the sheer number of voices means that fewer and fewer are heard, and that since messages are narrowcast to niche readers ("Conservatives" vs. "Liberals"); we are all preaching to the converted and disseminating an ever evolving party line.

Personally, I don't believe in the concept of "balance." It creates the illusion that all points should be given equal weight. Truthfully, if an arguement has little or no factual merit, it should be disregarded as in error. Simple. Just because there are two sides of an arguement doesn't mean both sides are equally correct. To pretend that is so is to forgo the toughest part of true analysis... seeking what is true.

In the end...what role do facts truly play? Shouldn't they bethe goal of all media and media consumers?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Show him he's not welcome

He uses NYC for political gain all the time, and the cameras don't seem to notice how much we despite it. No matter how large the protest, he tends to just smile and shrug. Maybe now that his poll numbers are down someone will notice how unwelcome he is in the city that was actually struck by September 11th.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday Utterly Random Ten

I know this is supposed to be fun placeholder for Friday and about Music... but I don't have an iPod or a "playlist." So I'll be using this to follow the crowd in a different way... 10 things that are randomly on my mind, for fun and linking.

1. Mercenaries - I am playing this video game on Xbox.
2. Bob Dylan: Loving Theft.
3. My Cat, Albee, drools when he's happy. It's a cute little mess.
4. Wii is going to be brilliant. It retails at $250. One will live in my house.
5. Worstward Ho.
6. The Lost Experience Video that reveals the meaning of 4 8 15 16 23 42. I care about this for some reason. I really do.
7. Pam has good taste.
8. Landover Baptist Church.
9. Brian DePalma must stop hurting the public.
10. How much did Starbucks pay for this?

Richard II at CSC

Thanks to an invitation from a reviewer friend of mine, I spent a few hours with Brian Kulick's Richard II at the Classic Stage Company last night. I could prattle on about the performances and the design and the direction... but there are reviewers out there who will do that for me, in full blooms of contradiction and quotables. I won't bother to contribute to that...frankly... what I thought about the production was mixed and there's an end.

I will say that watching a play about a king (who is universally accepted as annointed by God) be deposed because of his own financial mismanagement, wrong-headed warmaking, self-indulgence and arbitrariness, felt, shall we say, relevant.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dada Post?

Pink post.

Rest in Peace Ann Richards

Twice the human being that our fake President ever will be. Three times.

I know people roll their eyes at looking at a 5 second ad over at Salon, but their blog has a nice sentiment about Richards today.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Thanks to Russ

For alerting me to this.

Oh and Russ...we all love and miss you too!

Fundraising Questions

Maybe I'm just lazy, but I'm enjoying sitting back and reading so many wonderful comments from readers. I'm no expert, just one more curious person, going about his business.

Fundraising is on my mind of late. Tell me (and each other)...

1. A way you've found that's successful to raise money for your company/production
2. A fundraising method that you've found unsuccessful or frustrating (your own experience or something you've observed)
3. Do you tend to put your personal funds into your productions?
4. How much do ticket sales factor into your production decisions?

Share...and you shall karmically receive.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tuesday Wish List

Actors: What role is out there you want to perform, but haven't yet?

Directors: Name the play that you aspire to direct.

Playwrights: Is there a play on your desk, or in your head, that you someday hope to see produced?

Designers: Is there a play or musical to which you wish to lend your talents?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Lorca still ignites passions in Spain

Somewhere in Spain, people believe political theatre matters. Even if it's, you know, the right-wing lunatics... it's something.

Today is Today

5 years. I was rehearsing "The Death of King Arthur", working at a place called Principal Asset on 44th and 6th, and living on 49th and 8th with Sean and Bobby.

How about you?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Moonwork Returns

Might I plug this upcoming production? These guys produce sporadically, but always with gusto. Don't miss it.

Welcome, oh ye of the impressive title

Histriomastix. Say that three times fast.

Welcome, David Cote, to the blogosphere officially. Pop over there and say Hi.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The War in Iraq has nothing to do with Al Qaeda

Apparently this is News to some people.

Not to anyone paying attention. Or anyone who's read a newspaper.

Christ, even this guy tried to tell us. He's not exactly credible. But he's proven about as credible as these monsters.

For the record, all these links took about 5 minutes and a Google search. It's not like this info is hiding.

Friday, September 08, 2006

"The Path to 9/11"

Is paved, apparently, with letters to ABC. This one is particularly damning.

Thinking about Fundraising

As is obvious, I've been off for a while doing all sorts of day job related things. While my daily work has little in common with my artistic life generally, it has made me think a great deal about development and models for giving. I work for a Church Foundation, which definitely speaks to a grassroots model of giving. There are no tickets to Church...but there is an ongoing need therein for operational funds and annual gifts, as well as major donations and bequests. Unlike standard small developmental organizations, that function on a mix of mission statements, ticket sales, creative fundraising and grantwriting (usually with a small staff and steep competition) parishes work entirely on the assumption that their mission should be supported by those in the pews.

Now... I'm not actually advocating a change to this model for all small and large theatre companies. But I am an artist that sees the daily difficulties of theatre companies to raise the necessary money to not only mount their work, but pay those involved and properly promote their work. And often, the shared information about how this is best done comes as a patchwork of organizations (Fractured Atlas, Network for Good, The Field).

Nothing is more valuable, in my experience, than first hand knowledge and getting best practicies from other organizations.

I'm curious if there would be interest in putting together a meeting of 10-15 established Indie Theatre companies, to talk about not only their successes, but their challenges in finance. I would envision, instead of a litany of stories about the need for federal funding, a roundtable environment, where companies can learn from each other and become engaged in a larger conversation about how to encourage giving. It's a way from the small company that is largely funded on credit cards to learn from perhaps a more established company that is funded by an excellent grantwriter. I know some theatre's throw creative fundraising events, and others have spent far more money on a fundraiser than they had any hope of raising in returns. My own experiences in the church model focuses on the importance of kinds of asking and donor relationships. I'd love to bring that to a table that is formalized and prepared to aid in those discussions.

So, what do you guys think? If such a seminar was made available to you as a resource (or several small seminars) would you take advantage of it?

My younger brother

My brother Jeff is about to turn 16 years old. He went to Interlochen this summer for acting. We sat down and he said "So what's the deal with Beckett?" He wrote a play called Animus...main character's name is Matt. He told me it wasn't about me. That's what I said to my Mother. She didn't believe me...I don't believe him.

I weep. I can do nothing else. Out of joy and fear.

Drama Guild backs off Weiss

In this letter to the editor, President of the Drama Guild John Weidman acknowledges that he was (hey, I was too) in error for going after Hedy Weiss, a Chicago Theater Critic.

(For some reason, this brings me to think of the whipping boy status that Charles Isherwood has acheived on the theatrical blogosphere.)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Stopping In

Just about to head to Baltimore and sitting down for a second. Here's a quick question for all blog readers:

What is it that you, as readers, enjoy most about reading blogs that are related to theatre and the arts?

Friday, September 01, 2006

And one more thing.

Ok. Ok, I don't know. I just don't know.

Gone for awhile - Open Thread

Gone for the weekend then being sent to Baltimore most of next week for my day job. So I won't be all that regularly posting for a bit. I'll leave everyone with an open thread...here's a question to kick around...

In an age where we can all get a blog for free and say whatever we like about anything we watch... what makes someone a "real critic" as opposed to a fan or observer? Is there a distinction, truly, between the Bloggers and the "Real Media" in terms of validity?