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.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Getting Reviews

So, the Playgoer's discussion about Press Coverage has been really illuminating I think. Read about it here and here.

I'd love to talk more about this from the outside. What have been our experiences and what have we learned?

For me, I've often been covered by Martin Denton, who takes special care to review as much of the New York theater scene as he can. In fact, the only reviews that Genesis, Reasons for Moving, The Great Escape and The Americans received were from him. My most reviewed play was The Most Wonderful Love which was covered by Martin, but also the Times, Showbusiness Weekly and Time Out. (Time Out and Showbusiness weren't too kind, the Times and Martin were exceedingly so.) Other than that, The Death of King Arthur was the first play I'd had produced and it got a Times Review and...nothing else.

What connected "Arthur" and "The Most Wonderful Love?" They had the same press agent and well-established companies backing them up. Plus, four-week Showcase Code runs.

A few questions to spark a bit of thought...

1. Have you ever hired a PR rep, and if so, how successful was he or she for you?
2. Have you ever been extremely successful in marketing your show and getting reviews without any press representation? (For bloggers: Do blogs help or harm?)
3. If you're not a fan of how the print media goes about chosing what to review: how should they go about choosing productions with their limited space and time constraints without using PR reps and press releases?
4. Have you ever done "everything right" and found yourself with no reviews to show for it?
5. What is your best success with getting reviewers? What was the biggest frustration?
6. If you have experience as an editor or reviewer: share with us a particular story that you felt showed how things work and why.

My comments section is your playground!


MattJ said...

I have no insight to impart. But I hope others do, it's a very good box to open, thanks.

Stolen Chair said...

Can I add a question to your list, Matt?

If you HAVE received good or fair press from one of the big 3 (Times, Voice, TONY), what have been the ripple effects? Bigger houses? More attention from presenting orgs? Easier to get a big 3 review the next round?

Freeman said...

Good question and good point.

My experience, limited as it is, is that while there is a bump in attendance, with a Showcase Code show, it's hard to turn that into momentum. You get 16 performances total. So if you have the Times review come out after, say, show four, then you have 12 shows to make that review work for you. That is, if it's a good review.

I would say that these things certainly have helped attendance, but I've gotten no evidence that one sparkling review means that the Big Three are suddenly on your radar for the next one. Example: Arthur got a nice review, Reasons for Moving (my next play) got no interest from anyone except nytheatre.com. My review provided me with no particular personal cachet with critics.

I'm sure there's an alchemy to all this (producing organization, press agent, resume, time of year) but I'm not certain of how it works. My understanding is that most media outlets won't review anything that runs for less than four weeks. But I'm sure there are exceptions.

But it took me four years to get the Times to come and see me again, after the Arthur review.

There were other benefits, of course. But any review is just a tool, I think...you have to use it.