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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 26, 2007


On the train this morning, I was listening to On The Media on my iPod, and then BBC Newspod. It occurred to me, listening, that just about every day I'm struck by a compelling story, something that could easily form a narrative for a play.

There is something in me, though, that seems to inherently understand what I will write about and will not. Not so much as an Editor, but instead as a Guide: I can and will write about certain subjects, certain types of subjects flow easily from me as a writer, other topics, as compelling as they are, don't hit that nerve that would make me want to craft an outline and create characters.

For example: I think that corporate scandals are fascinating and full of fantastic characters studies. I have yet to feel any urge to write a play about that topic.

Poverty isn't a topic I feel the urge to write about.

Racial issues is a topic that's dear to me as a human being, but I fail utterly to write about it.

Religion, faith and emotional violence, though... are topics I do consistently write about.

I'm curious if other writers and directors have that same experience. That what you find engaging to read about or hear about doesn't always translate into something you feel the urge to explore creatively.


Mark said...

It depends, of course, since as a director I'm not the original creative on a project. Something I find compelling in life may not appeal to me when it's presented in a certain dramatic (or undramatic) way.

I'm curious, though, since you're so interested in religion, why not poverty? The bible has a hell of a lot to say about helping poor people and I always wish the religious left would have more to say about this.

Freeman said...

Good question. Not sure I know the answer. I'll qualify this: I work and live in a culture that's religious. I am, though, not religious.

I think the religious left actually DOES a great deal more about this than they say about it.

As for me... it don't find myself writing often about topics, but in terms of story. Religion winds up IN my narratives, because its been a part of my life.

Maybe I simply view poverty as something I'm unqualified to write about. Or maybe I feel as if there's something condescending. Or maybe, simply, I don't feel that I have anything dramatically interesting to add to the topic of "poverty."

As an originator of something creative, I need to find a hook in a project that I'll continue to be involved in and find surprises in as I write it for months, and live with for years. Poverty, all by itself, doesn't offer that for me. I think that economic differences, class and priviledege are more interesting to me along those lines. Those topics can touch on "poverty." For certain.

It might be that a writer who has directly dealt with poverty in his or her life might find nuanced and engaging ways to dramatically stage it. I haven't had that issue. I'm decidedly middle class, and very much within the known "power structure" (my father is clergy, my mother an educator) so those things draw me, maybe, moreso than being entirely outside that power structure. I've never been there.

A piece of it may be that I enjoy satire and absurdity... and I don't feel the need to satire those who are impoverished or make them seem absurd.

TJ (Joshua) said...

Hmm, I guess I'm more interested in people than anything else in terms of subject matters . . . I've written about a lot of subjects already . . . I've written quite a big about all things, but of course not everything . . . there are those things I'm not interested in and those things I'm interested in but don't feel I'm quite ready to tackle yet, for whatever reason . . . in particular, I feel I have a damn good play / novel / whatever in me about Christianity and the negative impact it has on society . . . but I haven't found a way into the story yet, a reason to tell it beyond my own feelings . . .

I guess that might be it, I dunno . . . I'm at a loss to explain why I write certain things . . . mostly because they seem like fun and partly because, once it's done, I'm not obsessed with it any longer . . .