- 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.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Going to see Rasputina tonight in Williamsburg with my ladyfriend.
Are you dressing like anything frightening? Or just attaching a short skirt to a nurse's uniform or cat suit like everyone else in NYC?
I think my favorite ever tasteless Halloween costume was worn, in college, by my friend David DelGrosso. He dressed as a "Stranger." Pockets full of candy. It was a command performance.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I don't care what his justifications might be for a wishy-washy response. Torture is illegal.
Might I add that I increasingly dig Chris Dodd?
1. Get something to write with.
Pencils are ok, but can break. Many people use computers. Old typewriters work, but not if you live in a rental. The neighbors complain.
2. Think of your favorite story then outline the plot.
For example, Harry Potter, Hamlet, Little Red Riding Hood or Lysistrata.
3. Replace names of old characters with names of friends and family. Change details to match your era.
Write this all down in a notebook so you know who is supposed to represent who. (Example: Priam = My Dad, Leonard. Trojan War = Iraq War.)
4. Decide how you want to sell the play.
Then, decide on the Act Structure. If you do not want to sell it, write it in five acts, and so on down. Ten minutes sell well, but you can't fit as much into them. Most writers choose the middle ground. Go for many two acts. That's not too tough. One act at ninety minutes is more popular these days. Seriously, whatever works for you. I mean...how successful can you really be anyway?
5. Replace words of one story with your own words.
"We must refrain from the male altogether.... Nay, why do you turn your backs on me? Where are you going? So, you bite your lips, and shake your heads, eh? Why these pale, sad looks? why these tears? Come, will you do it-yes or no? Do you hesitate?"
Elizabeth Connon (my mother's maiden name) says:
"All I said was don't let them get you on your backs, and you get all up in my grill. You aren't worthy to call yourself women! Control yourselves and end this war in Iraq!"
6. Do this for a while.
Like Mad Libs, only it's art. The longer it takes, the more work you appear to have done. So take your time.
7. Give your play a catchy title.
Put verbs before nouns until you hit it. Examples include Bedding the Beast, Kicking Uncle Swifty, Snorting Heaven, Tearing the Tears, Popping Cherry Blossoms. The combinations are endless.
8. Read over what you've done. HATE it.
Don't like it. If you do like it, you are failing to understand the nature of this world and your tiny, insignificant place in it.
9. Show your play to others.
Explain to them that this play isn't finished, that it's a rough draft, that you think it needs work, that you're hoping the influences aren't too apparent, that you're feeling confident, but would really like their advice.
10. Repeat this process with people who have increasing amounts of money.
Do not improve the play, but change it. This is development.
11. Mail the play to a lot of people.
12. Explain, in detail, to all who would listen, that the reason you aren't produced more often is that you don't have an agent/grant/degree from a good school/connections/rich Father.
13. Enjoy the illegal or legal drug of your choice.
Simple enough? I thought so.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Where do you find excellent "performance on the web?" What does "performance on the web" mean to you? How does it relate to theater? Is it a marketing tool, a new medium to explore? Do you listen to podcasts, download BBC radio plays, watch YouTube channels that I am unaware of that highlight opera or dance?
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
We return, nonetheless, with this minimalist feast by the pop star Jewel. According to the fan page from which it was copied and pasted, the poem is either from linear notes to an album, or her book of poetry "A Night Without Armor." As it makes no difference, I will simply share the poem and then we can discuss the merits therein. Pens at the ready, scholars!
I wrote those nice
poems only because
the honest ones
would frighten you
1. When this poet says "I," does she mean, "an MTV generation pop star without even a hint of shame or irony" or does she mean Fiona Apple wearing a fright mask?
2. Jewel adroitly separates the word "nice" and "poems" here. She also separates the words "because" and "the." Explain how this chicanery adds special resonance to those terrifically dull words.
3. When Jewel says "honest," does she mean honest with herself about her skill as a poet?
4. The final word of this poem is "you." Clearly, as a reader, we are being implicated, even accused, of being so weak and sheltered that we would be frightened by true revelations about the singer's life and feelings. Have you seen those photos from Abu Ghraib? Has Jewel?
5. The title of the poem is P.S. What makes that especially precious?
Beat me to death with a CD copy of Pieces of You. Ten extra points for sparing me ever hearing her voice again.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Some quick and unedited thoughts:
The Zoo Story is an American classic and one of the greatest single acts ever written. With this additon of a first act, Albee seems to seek to refocus and deepen The Zoo Story. To give Peter a better balance with Jerry, who absolutely dominates, famously, the action of the original.
How does it work? It's hard to say objectively. The Zoo Story carries not only a rich history, but is a perfect piece in and of itself. Homelife (the first act) isn't necessary. Peter's relative silence is a part of who he is, and giving him context doesn't change how he responds to Jerry on that park bench in Central Park. It didn't, to me, seem as if the play was a 'new' full-length. Peter & Jerry feels more like two separate plays on a theme.
That theme, though, is intact: the thin film between what is civilized and what constitutes animal behavior. With Homelife, Albee presents a conversation between the balled up Peter and his more open wife, Ann. Certainly, in Homelife, Albee retains his ability to shock. But in many ways, it feels like a smaller, less developed version of The Goat or Who is Sylvia? The Zoo Story, by contrast, feels that much more rich and punchy. Not because Homelife deepens it, but because Homelife's stakes are simply lower. Jerry, by contrast, has so little stake in things being as they are, that Ann seems more like a conspirator than a provacateur.
One side note is the grammatical jousting that Peter and Ann engage in ("I would gather my wits about me." "You would gather your wits together"). The echoes with The Goat are rather loud here, and it's not my favorite mode of Albee's newer work. While it might be said to reveal a bit of over-education on the part of our leads, more than that, it seems like Albee channeling Strunk & White. It's a comedy bit, with little teeth, except to remind the audience that precision matters to the author. The Zoo Story more clearly lacks this story of 'red-pen-chic', and it's the better for it. There's no filler and no fetishizing of pedantry.
That all being said, Peter & Jerry does work as an evening. It does create some deepening of Peter's internal struggles, and the tone doesn't feel disjointed, which is a minor miracle considering how many years have passed between the writing of each. A production of Homelife without the Zoo Story seems less likely than the reverse, but it seems that's not a goal of Albee's anyhow.
Certainly worth a look. Glad I saw it. Still mulling the whole thing over.
Anyone out there taken a look at these pieces recently, or as an evening? I'd love your thoughts.
Friday, October 19, 2007
I saw the show on opening night and attended a few of the developmental readings. It's a rather rare show for New York theatre, and it has an enviable realism and humanness that I think most anyone would enjoy.
Departures less tells a story than it gives the audience a peek into an all-too-familiar time and place. Cara is a young American living and going to school abroad, whose visa has run out and must return home. Her boyfriend, a mess of a kid with a charming gift of gab, is full of impossible stories of their future and ill-fated plans for them to stay together. We see these characters with all their young passion and fragility and failings. Our window into their world is a tiny room, and when they leave the room, finally, we can't see them anymore.
One line, in particular, summed up the play for me. In the midst of a late night drunken fight, Cara accuses Andrew of being selfish. His response: "But I spent my entire summer with you." To me, this is the perfect encapsulation of love like this: it lacks any perspective, but it feels so immediate and intense. Spending an hour in their bubble is like spending an hour in any young summer romance: it's rife with desperation, surrender and a joyful sense of freedom. These two are smart and fight smart: they hit each other below the belt, and then go out and get pizza.
The actors both bring their A-game to the play: Keira Keeley makes this fragmented, self-conscious and intimidating Cara incredibly sympathetic; Travis York somehow makes the endlessly overwrought Andrew seemed doomed and magnetic. When he cuts himself shaving (you'll see what I mean) you can see how hard it is not to stay and bandage him up. He's the boy so many of us have been, and the boy so many of us have seen: entertainingly damaged, brilliantly pugnacious, all of his inadequacies just make him more attractive.
Kyle Ancowitz (who has been a partner of mine since around 2003 at this point) does some of this best directing work here. The staging is inventive but never distracts, it only augments the intimacy that the play requires.
Nytheatre.com and Aaron Riccio both have wonderful reviews of the production (far better than this one). You can get tickets here. It's not too long, so there's plenty of time for drinking afterwards, while you compare your own impossible romance with whomever you may bring with you.
Viagra and Hearing Loss.
Now all we need is a title! With an exclamation point!
Thursday, October 18, 2007
The first line:
House Democrats on Thursday failed to override President Bush's veto of a children's health insurance bill that opponents said was too expensive.
I fail completely to understand how this doesn't read...
House Republicans block override of Bush's veto.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Suffice to say, I'm feeling very good about it. I shared a very tiny bit of it last week. It's not far off from the themes that seem to pop up in my work here and there. There's work to do, clarification and such, bits that need to be curled back in and parts that need a bit of trimming. All that said, I'm very much looking forward to sharing it with a larger audience and seeing how it resonates.
Thanks to everyone who was reading last night. Really, really great work on short notice.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Mr. Branagh can be a fine film actor, but at this point in his screen career it’s safe to say he has no feel or facility for cinema when he’s calling the shots behind the camera. Almost every setup looks wrong: poorly considered, awkwardly realized, ugly. (The cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos has done fine work elsewhere.) Mr. Branagh fiddles with the lights, tilts the camera and hustles his hard-working actors upstairs and down and back again and into an elevator as small as a coffin built for one. He embellishes the screenplay’s every obvious conceit and word, hammering the point until you feel as if you’re trapped inside the elevator with Milo and Andrew, going up and down and up and down, though nowhere in particular.
Anyone get a chance to see this? I'm on the fence now. I really want to like it.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
There’s something happening. To me. To you. Trees bow towards us when we walk together. The constellation Orion has ceased to exist. Flies grow spontaneously from garbage and rotting meat. Genetic research invents a cabbage with the mind of a dolphin. My muscles atrophy. Your husband sleeps with a woman half his age. Your son dies in a tragic accident. We blow cumulonimbus clouds from the bottom of our lungs onto unsuspecting strangers. The earth’s temperature suddenly becomes completely stable and refuses to change. All the Catholic Saints visit a single woman in Pakistan, who has no idea who they are.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Rather excited by the whole thing. I'll let you know what I think, shortly.
Update: Um, yes. It's quite good. You'll see. It's quite, quite good. Quite. Um, good.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
It's the oldest story in the world—boy meets girl, boy loves girl, boy loses girl—but it feels new again every time it happens to you. And as an audience member at Kristen Palmer's play Departures, you feel like it's happening to you all over again, because director Kyle Ancowitz's visceral production puts the audience in such intimate contact with the stage that you're (literally) trapped in the bedroom with a couple as they work out their relationship. The production makes physical the play's emotional subtext, its structural metaphors, in rich and powerful ways. - Loren Noveck, nytheatre.com
A sterling review of Depatures over at nytheatre.com. I couldn't agree more. Read here.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
We all want to see ticket prices come down across the board, but without government funding, it seems unlikely anyone can get there without renaming themselves "The Apple Store Theater Company" or "Microsoft's Players" or "Time Warner's Improv."
Let's suppose that all of the established Off-Broadway and Broadway Theaters received buckets of cash, reduced prices, but received corporate branding... would that be a deal that effectively extends the audience for plays? Would it cause a chilling effect in bolder works (politically challenging plays might not make some corporate sponsors happy, for example)? Or is the only real issue that a big corporate logo ontop of the Public would look crass-as-all-hell?
So...is it a deal you'd be willing to see, if it meant that ticket prices would uniformly drop everywhere?
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
What strikes me as particularly sickening is that in his entire presidency, Bush has vetoed four bills. Four. Two related to stem-cell research, one bill that had a withdrawal timetable for Iraq, and this bill that expands healthcare coverage.
So...no to curing diseases, ending war, or children's health. It's a truly enviable record.
Of course, we are paying Blackwater more than $1000 a day per solider in Iraq. But expand children's health insurance? The price tag is too high.
Giving medicine to kids? Socialism.
Gyda Arber, Michael Criscuolo, Jessi Gotta, Anna Kull, Marc Landers, Brian Silliman
Dead Things Kill Nicely
Best Served Cold
The 78th Street Theatre Lab
“For sheer playful fun, make this gory confection your Halloween treat."Time Out New York
“Sheer, merry sadism, sexual savagery, and witty humor."The Off-Off-Broadway Review
A deranged psycho killer, deaf to pleas for mercy, tries one last-ditch effort to dodge the cops through the reluctant help of one terrified hostage. Molly, a young teen looking for a quick snog in the woods, now has to cover a zombie hicky. And Brianne has to keep Marybeth from pulling the trigger for just eight more minutes, but learns that, when talking for one’s life, time has a way of slowing down.
This is The Blood Brothers Present: PULP, Nosedive Productions’ follow-up to last year’s Blood Brothers Present: An Evening of Grand Guignol Horror. James Comtois (The Adventures of Nervous-Boy), Qui Nguyen (Men of Steel, Living Dead in Denmark) and Mac Rogers (Universal Robots, Hail Satan), New York indie theatre scene’s hottest — and let’s face it, sickest — playwrights write three original works inspired by the pulp horror comics and short stories of the 1940s and ‘50s.
The Blood Brothers Present: PULP features graphic violence and strong sexual situations and is recommended for adults only.
The Blood Brothers Present will be performed at the 78th Street Theatre Lab (236 West 78th St. at Broadway) October 11-13, 18-20, 25-27 (Thursday through Saturday). All shows are at 8 p.m. and tickets are $18. Subway: 1 to 79th Street; A to 81st Street; or 1 2 or 3 to 72nd Street. For tickets call 212-352-3101 or visit www.theatermania.com.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Self-promotion. Blogging. Hand in glove.
Go on over to Playscripts.com and check it out.
Monday, October 01, 2007
I did a quick Google search and found out this much.
You can download it from their website on October 10th, and pay what you want. The actual CD doesn't hit until December.
I am very happy about this.
So here's the million dollar (literally) question. Radiohead is saying directly to its fans, pay what you want for our album. Of course, right now, that's a huge nod of faith to its fanbase. The question becomes, what will you pay? What is the value you place on this? Will you pay nothing and take advantage of the band's generosity? Or would you pay extra to encourage this type of thing and support the independence of the band?
I think this really cuts across a broad spectrum of media purchasing decisions. If all purchases were treated as donations, would you pay more for things you value? Would your dollar become, truly, a way to vote?
Let's make this a little simpler. I'm just curious. If your favorite band (whomever it may be) did exactly what Radiohead is doing...how much would you pay for their new album, knowing you could have it for free with their blessing? $5? $10? More?
Come see Departures this week and enjoy a special discount:
Blue Coyote Theater Group Presents:
Cara is an American ex-pat living in Britain who decides to return to the US after three years abroad. But with the death of her father and loss of her childhood home, what is she returning home to? Complicating things further is the boyfriend who refuses to let go. DEPARTURES is a touching two hander starring Keira Keeley (from Adam Bock's Obie-winning play, THE THUGS) and Travis York (from Anne Washburn's THE INTERNATIONALIST) that crosses time zones and continents to explore questions of family, home, and homelessness.
Featuring Keira Keeley* and Travis York*
Thursday-Sunday, October 4-28 , 2007
At the Access Theater Gallery
All performances at 8pm.
For more information, visit: Blue Coyote Theater Group
Tickets here or (212) 868-4444.
George Hunka is at a new website and has decided to discontinue comments. He's returning after a bit of time away. He writes:
I've determined that I will no longer maintain comments for individual
posts; the comments too often devolve into arguments about one thing or another
which tend to befog rather than clarify issues.
Is there a ring of truth in that? Either way, here's where to find Superfluities now. What do you think?
Isaac Butler talks about bit inside baseball about blogger-reviewers here. And asks who you support for President.
Me? I'm just going for some coffee. Weird that it's October already, no?