- 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.
Monday, July 31, 2006
Saturday, July 29, 2006
There are US Senators that would like to do this with English, of course. So let's not pretend to be smug. Let's just laugh until they can get the muzzle on.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
I’d like to thank you very much for your great comments on Pig Farm. As you mentioned that you are 30 years old, and that you wish tickets would be $20, I wanted to tell you about HIPTIX.
We started HIPTIX as an audience development program. Tickets are usually $31.25 for plays and $36.25 for musicals and they are available to audience members aged 18-35. It is completely free to join. For Pig Farm, we have certain days of the week for only $16.25. I would love it if you would check out www.HIPTIX.com and urge your readers to do so as well.
Well then, can't hurt to sign up can it? The Roundabout produces some fantastic theatre during the year, and any service that provides those of us under the age of 36 to spend a little less and see a little more is a very good thing.
(Glad to know I could as "Hip" by the way. I'd like "www.BadassTix.com" to be specifically designed for my demographic someday.)
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
He's brilliant. It'll be great. Buy it. Order it as soon as you can. David is my mentor as a playwright, a generous, witty, warm, wicked guy. The book is about same-sex marriage. Not objectively...his experience being married to his husband Jason. Front lines of the civil rights movement, I'd say.
Also, in support of my brother Danny, buy his partner's books.
Here they are.
They help keep my brother and Joe eating and paying rent. They're also subtly subversive reads. They are almost Judy Bloom for the young gay man. In a culture that treats Gay Culture like a challenge to the status quo, a little "Wonder Years" is just the thing.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
What strikes me, looking back on the experience of watching this play, is that the intended audience is under under 35 and the actual audience is over 55. This is how I felt about the Broadway run of "Bridge and Tunnel." Because of ticket prices and because of how these things are promoted... my friends and I (I'm 30) rarely get the resources to see these things once, let alone multiple times. Being that I'm an exceptionally interested viewer (a playwright and theatre blogger) it says a great deal that I was brought to this play by a free ticket and an organized effort.
Think of it like this..."Pig Farm" received a negative review from Charles Isherwood, and that, we know, can make or break a show in this town. Why is that? "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" got universally bad reviews, and it's breaking box office records. A.O. Scott even wrote an article about why movie critics BOTHER.
So, if the Times can break a play, and not a movie (excluding the national figures and sticking locally, because you KNOW you saw the Dumb Pirates Movie) ... why do plays like Pig Farm (essentially the next thing out of the pen of the Urinetown team, and it's brilliantly funny) gather so little buzz among their true audience?
First of all, the audience is dwindling. We know this. Enough said about that.
Second is that ticket prices are absolutely restrictive. Unlike movie reviews, which are read for water cooler talk as much as actual dollar guidance, reviews of plays are guiding a far greater allocation of resources. $50 tickets to see a play, even one as entertaining as PIG FARM, is too much for most of the audience for which PIG FARM is written.
The third issue is obviously advertising. How do movies combat the critics? Mult-million dollar advertising campaigns, big stars, DVD sales... every way to surround and interest an audience is available to them. Theatre audiences are not given this sort of intense advertising, and therefore, must be reached in a new or different way. Runs are limited, audiences are local, and plays are unknown. So how do you create the sort of interest in plays that turns a risk-averse, aging audience into a young audience, hungry for the next big play, checking the listings to see where they should go?
One step may just be what you're reading right now: Grassroots and blogging. Not too toot our collective horns (we're not anything to write home about yet) the fact is that media is far more democratic than it once was, and opinion is far less of a precious commodity. I'm sure Charles Isherwood and Ben Brantley don't feel competitive with the blogsphere, partially because they welcome (or I would hope they welcome) a healthy discussion of their criticism and an acknowledgment that someone is paying careful attention. Broad discussion is good for us.
So...what did I think of PIG FARM? It's a lot of fun. I haven't seen URINETOWN (can't afford it) but I can see why Isaac is so enthusiastic about this play. It's got physically inventive comedy, gracefully enacted. The language is joyfully bizarre and distanced. The direction GETS the text perfectly, and the actors all seem in just the right world. I laughed my ass off. I would. I'm 30.
Basically, there crowd for this play didn't really get it. I don't blame them. It wasn't precious, wasn't meaningful and there weren't any songs or moments of flashy stagecraft. It's a big fatty cheeseburger from a Gourmet restaurant, cooked bloody red. It's for those of us that go to Paul's on St. Marks and don't make reservations for French cuisine each weekend. It's a play for the kind of people I WISH were going to the theatre more often.
SO, for all of y'all that want to see something worth your time, and to show that there is a young audience out there that would like to check out this type of theater... here's a discount code provided by the Roundabout for slightly less expensive seats:
35% off tickets to Pig Farm, now through September 3rd Only. Tickets only $39.75-$46.75 (reg $56.25-$66.25)
Call 212-719-1300 or visit www.roundabouttheatre.org. Be sure to use code PFINTE. Offer subject to availability. Cannot be combined with any other offer.
Hopefully in the future that discount will say $20. But that won't happen unless we make it clear that we're interested in coming to see these plays.
Other thoughts on PIG FARM...
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Four glasses and a mug, all empty.
Two toy race cars - Gifts from Kyle for my last two birthdays
Three Star Wars action figures (Darth Vader, Yoda and Luke Skywalker) in collector packaging.
Netflix Movies - (Superman I and II and Sleeper)
Four CDS - The Darkness "Permission to Land" Thom Yorke "The Eraser," some Jazz from Isaac and mix that Pammy made me.
A picture of me, my brother Michael and my sister Katie from when I was about 4. I am wearing plaid pants and am a little blonde.
My work ID.
A bottle opener and a beer.
A scented candle.
"Natural Novel" - loaned by Isaac.
A picture of me and my pal Marshall at our friend Matt's wedding.
A collage Pammy made me on our 1st year anniversary of programs, quotes and ticket stubs.
An empty coffee cup.
An empty Soviet Flask.
Some pieces of paper from my new play.
In other news, I'm working more quickly now on my adaptation of "The Shadow," which is a mix of text and the original story, with my own entirely new text and scenes as well. It's a story that contains commentary on idealism and the art of writing and class struggles and identity. Quite a bit of fun, anyhow.
Saw the movie "Edmond" today, William Macy in David Mamet's early work. Macy is quite good, as always, but the play is dated and feels like an early effort. The biggest issue with the main character isn't that he acts badly (racism and murder, etc.) It's that he's an imbecile who makes choices and arguments that are either contrived or naive, in equal parts. His series of complaints to hookers, for example, about their rates begs the question: "Does he think that a straight lay SHOULD be $35? And if so, what does his opinion about the state of the world count for? He's a sheltered baby with a knife."
And so on...
Friday, July 21, 2006
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
I am returning herewith without my approval H.R. 810, the "Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005."
Translation: Fuck the Senate and the House. I am King.
Like all Americans, I believe our Nation must vigorously pursue the tremendous possibilities that science offers to cure disease and improve the lives of millions.
Clearly, not all Americans believe this. Many are imbeciles, who believe in abstinence education and banning legal (and therefore safe) abortion.
Yet, as science brings us ever closer to unlocking the secrets of human biology, it also offers temptations to manipulate human life and violate human dignity.
Like Terrifying Animal-Human Hybrids which are being sold on the black market for slave labor. Wait...no, I'm sorry. That's a pile of bullpucky I was just spewing.
Our conscience and history as a Nation demand that we resist this temptation.
Our conscience and history does not mean, I guess, resisting the temptation to invade Iraq. History proves that we will totally win that one.
With the right scientific techniques and the right policies, we can achieve scientific progress while living up to our ethical responsibilities.
Meaning...not the "left" scientific techniques and policies?
In 2001, I set forth a new policy on stem cell research that struck a balance between the needs of science and the demands of conscience. When I took office, there was no Federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research.
A science which was then in its infancy. Pun intended.
Under the policy I announced 5 years ago, my Administration became the first to make Federal funds available for this research, but only on embryonic stem cell lines derived from embryos that had already been destroyed. My Administration has made available more than $90 million for research of these lines. This policy has allowed important research to go forward and has allowed America to continue to lead the world in embryonic stem cell research without encouraging the further destruction of living human embryos.
Look, I hate to break it to you, George, but in science and technology terms 5 years is as old as Windows 2000. You can't buy a computer made 5 years ago for more than $200 bucks at a yard sale. So, it stands to reason a restrictive policy on developing science that is 5 years old and gives less money to medical research than Bill Gates gave while I was writing this...should be upheld at all costs.
H.R. 810 would overturn my Administration's balanced policy on embryonic stem cell research.
Perish the thought.
If this bill were to become law, American taxpayers for the first time in our history would be compelled to fund the deliberate destruction of human embryos.
That doesn't seem so bad. American taxpayers fund the deliberate destruction of the living every fucking day.
Crossing this line would be a grave mistake and would needlessly encourage a conflict between science and ethics that can only do damage to both and harm our Nation as a whole.
Um...doesn't that same logic apply to the Atomic Bomb? And that could ONLY kill people. Stem-Cell Research can help people who are alive, and suffering.
Advances in research show that stem cell science can progress in an ethical way. Since I announced my policy in 2001, my Administration has expanded funding of research into stem cells that can be drawn from children, adults, and the blood in umbilical cords with no harm to the donor, and these stem cells are currently being used in medical treatments. Science also offers the hope that we may one day enjoy the potential benefits of embryonic stem cells without destroying human life.
I love it when he thinks we should just withhold funding until the "hope" arrives. Science policy based on hope is akin to trying to build a computer by encircling a bunch of microchips with a prayer group.
Researchers are investigating new techniques that might allow doctors and scientists to produce stem cells just as versatile as those derived from human embryos without harming life. We must continue to explore these hopeful alternatives, so we can advance the cause of scientific research while staying true to the ideals of a decent and humane society.
So, by all means, let's discourage passionate people using known techniques from helping others. It's more decent and humane to wait until they can do it in such a way that doesn't piss off people who bomb women's health clinics.
I hold to the principle that we can harness the promise of technology without becoming slaves to technology and ensure that science serves the cause of humanity. If we are to find the right ways to advance ethical medical research, we must also be willing when necessary to reject the wrong ways. For that reason, I must veto this bill.This man needs to read "Beyond Good and Evil."
GEORGE W. BUSH
THE WHITE HOUSE,
July 19, 2006.
Yeah, don't remind me where you live. It makes me pretend to put a gun in my mouth.
I heard an interview where a defender of Bush's said that it wasn't a political decision, it was a moral one. What struck me is that neither of those things should factor into his decision at all. The issues here are scientific, period. Bush, and many like him, believe you can bend science to your moral will. Unfortunately (and this applies to the Nuclear Bomb) science will be there regardless of our moral aversion to it or embrace of it. We can try to use science with a moral center (Nuclear power for energy, not weapons) but we cannot stop progress. No matter how hard we try.
I once read this book called Ishmael. I'm sure many of the blogger have heard of it. It's about a man who communes with a talking Gorilla, who claims that humankind is on the wrong path and should abandon all talk of progress and get back in touch with nature before the Industrial Revolutions eats it.
My thought about that infantile ramble was, of course, "Much Luck." This will not happen. The only way the internet will disappear is when something far better replaces it. The only thing that will kill our need for oil is when we can draw power from other sources more efficiently. We cannot go backwards. Progress is the key. The past is an illusion, a memory and a tool. It is guidelines. But it no longer exists, and it will not exist ever again.
One of the wonderful and horrible things about life and time (insofar as we understand them) is that the new keeps coming, and it will not stop coming. That means we die, to make room. It means that when they built the gun, it was inevitable that someone was going to be killed with it. It also means that when things like rights for gays become part of the public discourse, no amount of temporary flailing can stop the inevitablity of gay marriage and gay acceptance. The future ALWAYS beats the past.
One thing that ultra-conservative Americans truly want is to pretend that they are the future and they offer a "new" vision for America. The truth is, they are the past wearing a 1950s space helmet...no one is fooled. The word "Traditional" dooms them to eventually lose. There is no such thing as tradition, and there is nothing set in stone except progress.
We will never, ever stop progressing. We can carefully try to guide that progress so we don't kill ourselves. But we can't take anything back, and we can't put on the breaks.
Bush's denial of stem-cell research reflects on him the dim light of a man who makes decisions based on an inhumane code of personal gratification and dogmatic servitude. If he does Veto the Bill (as of this moment he hasn't yet, although it seems he will) he will probably hurt a lot of people. But stem-cell research is a scientific fact, and it will be here, fully funded and supported, soon enough.
Monday, July 17, 2006
"I have mixed feelings about Showcase Code in New York City- I do think that there could be more middle steps between Showcase and the Off-Broadway contract, which is currently too large of a gap.
But I do feel like this question needs to be posed: I am not trying to put myself out of work, or-- well out of Showcase, at least-- but as Showcase Code keeps being raised as the Bugbear of the indie theatre scene, I think we need to stop and ask: Why do you have to have Equity actors in your show? If the play or the theatrical concept (I suppose the latter term I am using to cover things like Improv or Alternative comedy stage shows), if what you have for the audience is original and interesting enough to carry more than 16 performances and the production is not being produced just to Showcase actors seeking representation or paid work but rather to launch a new play or piece, then why not do it without Equity members?"
I think this is worthy of a discussion: What do Indie Theatre producers stand to gain by using Equity actors? The "Showcase Code" was designed to treat all less than scale paying jobs simply as opportunities for actors to show off their wares to agents. That intent may be a far cry from what the Showcase Code has become in practice in 2006, but the rules still essentially say "Pay the actors or do not use them." Fair enough.
James Comtois recently used an all Non-Equity cast, which means "Nervous Boy" can be seen again this year without an issue. "The Most Wonderful Love" had five Equity members in a cast of nine, which means it can't be seen again in this form for one year in New York City (as far as I understand.) I don't regret a single casting choice: I regret that we couldn't build the show further from the momentum it had started to gather, for myself, and for the cast.
For the sake of discussion, what would happen if Indie producers stopped using Equity actors entirely tomorrow? A complete moratorium on Equity actors, so that shows could run more than 16 performances without penalties. Would Actor's working outside of any union restrictions find themselves repeated taken advantage of? Would the union lose members because the ability to perform in New York would be limited by Equity membership? Would the scale of the Summer Festival scene (The Brick's Annual Festival, the Midtown International Fringe Festival, the Fringe Festival, etc.) be massively reduced, for example? Who would suffer more...Equity actors or Producers, Directors and Playwrights?
Let's talk about this.
Friday, July 14, 2006
to draw attention to a phrase he's recently coined.
The term is "Avant Populi," which he applied to both "The Most Wonderful
Love"and Ian Hill's latest work.
I'd like to, if I can coax him publicly, invite John to define the term. I
think it's about as clever as it is apt. Also, I like to get his
big lying mouth out in public so he can shake it around for my amusement.
John? Are you awake? Somebody wake up Hicks.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
My quick two cents:
Off-Broadway is dying and Broadway is a circus. What does that leave? Off-Off Broadway is increasingly "what is happening" in NYC. That means to me:
1) Off-Off Broadway must be rebranded.
2) The Showcase Code needs to reflect the economics of theater in NY and help producers and actors, not help to shut down the momentum of most alternatives to Broadway in the city. Actor's Equity should be focused on helping (not harming) the economic viability of the art it is designed to protect.
3) Theatre must create a new audience.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
for the Valerie Plame leak was Karl Rove.
Another example of the curtains not matching the drapes. The Bush Administration treats the press like traitors to the State when they reveal his illegal behavior. They treat the leaking of "Classified Information" from sources they don't control as a threat to the 'safety of the American people' or some such rhetoric. (They have also been classifying documents at a record rate. 15 million in 2004, which is more than twice the number of 2001, for example.)
When they approve of leaking classified information, though (in order to punish political enemies, no less) they lie and then throw the weak link to the wolves ("Let Scotter take the fall.")
Now, after all that, after Rove seems to have been let off the hook, Novak says "Now that the investigation is over, I'll tell you the truth." Novak, that elderly snake, and Rove, that pig-faced Goebbels, might as well be giving the entire country the middle finger.
The truth comes out but only after they feel safe.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
"Looking for Richard" which I've always found
a humiliating excercise to behold.
It makes American actors look like Shakespeare
is utterly beyond them.
I've never understood why it's considered worth a look.
Unless you like to watch a car wreck.
Of course, I'm a bit of a pseudo-technophile like everyone else. I don't have the money for neat equipment or crazy stuff...I just have my wireless Dell at home with it's low-horsepower and I try to get the most out of it that I can. When I find cool stuff (like using less Internet Explorer, which is like a virus magnet) I'm happy.
I downloaded Opera 9 at work, and I must say...quite awesome. I suggest it. Fun indeed. I like the interface, which is elegantly put together. They describe it on their site as having a "tightly written code" which I'm sure is geekspeak for "They don't write too much Ad-Ware for Opera."
One of the few things that gives me a little smile consistently is the Open-Sourcing and Democratizing of Media and Software. It's a beautiful thing.
The damage, of course, is done. The Bush Administration has proved it's point: it can create war, it can torture, it can monitor, it can hold false trials, it can murder, it can lie, and in the end, it can remain firmly in power, with little but a few lousy polls to show for its using all sense of Democratic process and moral behavior in its wake. Now that it has been forced by the Supreme Court (not even unanimously, I might add) to acknowledge that it does not have unlimited power, it will cede only the barest amount to whatever "rule of law" is still being propped up in the corner on crutches.
After years of false prisons and waging a false war... does this Adminitration deserve even the merest applause for simply offering the legal minimum to the kidnapped?
Monday, July 10, 2006
First, I got into a heated discussion with Kyle after "Nervous Boy" because I said Shaw doesn't do much for me. I respect his work (not that I've been a Shaw scholar remotely) but what I have read and seen never struck a nerve with me. Kyle insisted I look at Shaw again, as he cited him as a major influence.
Then, my girlfriend was looking around at a few websites last night and, unprompted, said: "So what do you think of Shaw?"
Finally, I see this post on Theater Conversation.
Fine. I'll read some more Shaw. I'll look at Shaw with Fresh Eyes. I will reacquaint myself with Shaw. I get it, Universe. It's Shaw time.
So, what do you folks think of Good Old G.B.?
Sunday, July 09, 2006
The highest praise I can give it was that I went with Szym and Larry Kunofsky (two playwrights) and Kyle, who directed Most Wonderful Love. Obviously, a block of writers/directors can be a tough crowd. We walked out of there singing the praises and talking about how frighteningly we related. There were moments I think all of us said "This is about me." And then, of course, disavowed this claim, when the script takes darker turns.
So, James and Peter, fantastic, dear hearts. Simply fantastic. I hope to see it again wherever it winds up going.
On a completely different note: I'm moving. And on August 1st, I'll have a very nice apartment for rent. The place is in Kensington on the F Train, with very reasonable rent. It's essentially a studio apartment with two roommates upstairs and a kitchen upstairs and a private bathrooom. We're looking to fill it right away. If anyone knows of a person looking for an affordable, comfortable place that's very near the train... drop me a line.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
I heard a few people around my office say he took the easy way out. If he's as firm a believer in God as he claimed, I'd wager he was happy to go. Everyone knows what God does to, you know, liars and cheats and swindlers.
Puts them in Office. I wonder if you can be CEO of the Heaven Corporation.
Anyhow, June has come to a grinding halt and July has come in like a Lion and I'm mixing my metaphors as quickly as I am able with these two left feet.
I'm back at my desk job and "The Most Wonderful Love" has closed and I am staring at "The Shadow" and thinking on the relative merits of ways to write "The Lower River" and I'm moving in with this young woman August 1st. All of these things create a sense of happy unease.
I saw "Faith Healer" last night which is marvellously performed problem-play. Ian McDiarmid steals the show rather handily, as I hoped he would. He did not use Force Lightning, but I forgive him.
Oh, and my back and legs are soaked from the rain. My khakis are sticking to my calves. My brown shoes are getting closer to falling into complete disrepair. I'm drinking a cup of coffee from the office next to ours... the grounds come from something called "Bishop's Blend." I'm sure it's got the Holy Spirit in it.
I feel a bit "off."
I watched Superman Returns this weekend, which has its merits, but just has weird pacing for me near the end. It just slows waaaaay down. It was, though, an homage to the first Superman movie more than anything else, and that made the big fat geek in me sing sings of exhultation. Until I ran out of popcorn.
That's my thoughts to start this fine day. How are