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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.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Isaac's Musings / My Responses

Issac posts a series of maxims.

We'll be working together soon, so I wanted to respond and talk about those points. See what bubbles up. Here goes...

(1) The solution to directors trying to copyright their interpretations of texts is for everyone to have less control over how work is interpreted, not for directors to have a copyright interest.

The issue of directorial copyright isn't one I'm that close to. I will say, though, that as an author, it's important to have as much control as I choose over my work. If I see merit in surrendering certain powers to a director (which is OFTEN the case) I'm happy to. There are some authors that are uncomfortable with directors approaching their work as a sort of blueprint. I understand that as well. I don't feel remotely comfortable with directors copyrighting productions, if it EVER comes in conflict with an author's copyright. Which it inevitably would.

(2) The highest goal of art is not the realization and fulfillment of authorial intent.

No, it isn't. But the highest goal of a single production may be best served by the author's intent. Often, the original intent of the original creative force behind a project is a very good thing to pay attention to. That doesn't mean there is a "correct" answer.

I'm often nervous about directoral competition with the importance of the author.

(3) Collaboration is a skill that must be developed over time. As is creativity.

I would say that collaboration is more of a skill than creativity. I'd completely agree that practice hones both of these.

(4) The director is not omnipotent in the rehearsal process. There is a difference between leadership and dictatorship.

True. I think we all know, though, that it's not a democratic process and doesn't work particularly well as one. I'm always happy with a director who is a strong leader.

(5) Genre is a useful tool, not a series of rules. So is style.

Style seems more personal, either way. A writer's style is often not very conscious. Self-conscious style is often simply affectation. The challenge for a director and actor often is to find a style that works for them WITHIN a writer's style.

Genre, though, is like wearing a suit. You put it on, it fits a certain way.

(6) Intellectual property and copyright law is out of control and hindering creativity

I'm not sure if that's true. In fact, I would make the case that while the internet is fostering a sense of freedom and sharing, there is a point at which it tramples copyright law rather wantonly. In the age of open source, how does an artist have ownership of his or her work?

(7) The director's primary job is to create an environment in which the group can be collectively creative.

I'd be curious if there are examples where this is not true. The question I have is the word "primary." Are there times where that is secondary?

(8) Being talented is not an excuse for behaving badly. Someone's talent is not an excuse to indulge their poor behavior.

God bless it. Dead on.

(9) There is nothing wrong with the audience enjoying themselves. There is nothing wrong with art being fun.

I'd go so far as to say that if you are creating an environment that is unpleasant for the audience on purpose... there is something wrong.

(10) The insistance that individual works of theater be "important" directly coincides with the decline of theater's importance as an art form.

Interesting. Not sure if it's true, again. I would completely agree that insisting on one's own importance is the surest clue that you're sold on the idea.

(11) Originality is an overrated virtue. Creativity is an underrated one.

Originality is a non-existent virtue. Nothing comes from nothing.

(12) Whether or not a piece of art "works" is purely subjective.

Entirely. Although there are some people who have a subjective opinion I find terrifying. Still, it's theirs. They can watch all the "Survivor" they want.

(13) Theater's temporality is its greatest tragedy, but can also be its greatest asset.

It's an odd thing that we thing of transience and temporality as this tragedy. We're uncomfortable with death, and the loss of moments and of things. Therefore, if something can be held, repeated, archived... it is more "valuable." Of course, a moment in time that is singular unto itself, impossible to repeat... that is the one moment we talk about for the rest of our lives.

Good stuff, Isaac. Love to hear other thoughts.

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