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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, May 08, 2007

George's Modest Proposal

Yes, he thinks we should eat babies. It's amazingly persuasive.

No, no. Take a look.

Personally, this doesn't seem remotely like my cup of tea. I feel very much like it's a misreading of what bloggers do. It's very easy for print media to treat truth-telling as sour grapes... but I think bloggers should enjoy their independence and embrace being a loose affiliation of independent voices.


Ian G said...

On the other hand, it might be really interesting for theatre-critic bloggers to have their own awards, if only because it seems the blogosphere is much more attuned to the breadth of quality work in New York. Most NYC theatre awards are exclusive in some way - the Tonys cover Broadway only, the Obies are for off-, there are Fringe Festival awards, but only if you're in the Fringe Festival, etc. Might spark quite a bit of discussion to have awards that encompass all of New York theatre - imagine this roster of Best Play nominees: "The Coast of Utopia", "Dying City", "Songs of the Dragon Flying to Heaven", "The Most Wonderful Love" and "The Adventures of Nervous Boy". When I lived in DC, I really liked that their local Helen Hayes Awards included the entire DC theatre scene, so tiny storefront productions are represented in categories alongside the Kennedy Center and Arena Stage and other behemoths - and the fringes best the big boys as often as not. It would be very cool to have an award where a kick-ass performance in a Blue Coyote production could put you among fellow nominees like Liev Schreiber and Christopher Plummer. Be a great way to get people thinking about the quality of theatre work, instead of the sheen and polish of a big budget.

George Hunka said...

Well said, Ian. Entirely agreed.

Freeman said...

Certainly. I actually think, though, that that's not the place of the blogosphere. We're not an institution by definition. We could lobby to make the existing awards more inclusive of bloggers voices (acknowledge bloggers as independent journalist?) but to come together as a community, in some ways, seems in opposition to the spirit of blogging.

George Hunka said...

I don't think this is really an attempt to qualify "the blogosphere"; the 'sphere is really a small part of online drama and theatre criticism available. The blogosphere is what it is, institution or not, but I'm not limiting the definition of "drama criticism" to what is written on blogs alone.

Freeman said...

We'll certainly see how it plays out. As I said, not my cup of tea. Maybe you'll put together something really valuable.

MattJ said...

I've been thinking about this a lot. And I'm not crazy about it either. It sounds fun and interesting and productive and all. But, as I began to articulate when I was a member of the CUNY panel in the Fall on blogging and criticism, the institutionalization of the blogosphere seems odd and misplaced. It seems paradoxically more geared towards blogger's own self promotion rather than toward a specific mission. And it sucks the individualization and personal touch of blogs. Not to mention sucking out the artistic discourse and replacing it with journalism.

I have to agree that I don't think this is a good idea and seems like an extension of many of the more dangerous aspects of the current trends in the blogosphere.

Mark said...

Matt J,

You've been decrying various "dangerous" aspects of the theater blogosphere for a while now, but not being specific. Can you (and I ask sincerely) please let us all know just what your problem is?


Karl Miller said...

Yeah, I think it's a bad idea.

I don't think being a blogger entitles you to any better judgment or analysis. The only categorical distinction I can make between a blogger and a MainStreamMedia person is that the former is freed from any institutional cohesion. So starting an award committee seems the quickest way to end that. Who's qualified? Where does a blogger's authority come from?

I asked these questions on Isaac's blog a few weeks ago, but didn't hear much of an answer. But it's not the blogger's judgment of theatre that worries me; it's our judgment of each other. Are we qualified by the strength of our prose? By our hit-counters? By the breadth of theatre we see? If the purpose of the blog award is to cast the net wider -- to bring the full spread of NYC theatre to the table -- then what kind of ballot system could possibly accomplish that? And at long last: who really needs another award?

I think an award committee would hammer the invigorating, sprawling, hyperlinking erudition of the theatre bloggers into a flat hierarchical system (an "arbiter of culture," to borrow one repulsive phrase). Or maybe I just don't want to read whiny posts from people who didn't make the cut. Is there anything more pointless than a blog entry that bemoans the latest Pulitzer/Tony/Obie/Helen Hayes/Jeff award list? Are we really at a loss for ways to judge and rank ourselves?

I don't have a problem with bloggers banding together to go see a show one night for free. When they're not just writing a referendum on the Times, Blogger's Night is a good way to jump-start some real conversation and to mobilize the audience. But an award can't do that.

Oh well. If George is helming the whole thing, it'll probably come together handsomely. But I already respect George's analysis of theatre, so ... what's the point, again?

Angelo G. said...

If Hunka's helming it, it'll probably be a shipwreck.

Freeman said...

For the record:

I have nothing but faith in George's judgment and his belief in the best possible outcome for any of his plans. I'm only expressing my own views on the matter.

George is utterly dedicated, and I'm sure whatever comes of it will be carefully considered before it comes to fruition.

angelo g. said...

Have faith in Hunka if you want to but you might want to keep one hand on your wallet just the same