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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.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Today, dear readers...

...I'm sleepy and a bit numbed to the world. My buddy Marshall is coming to hang with me for a few days...he's in town from DC. Should be fun. Otherwise, I've little to say. I am writing things, and mailing things, but basically, I'm in the day job zone and Pam's outta town so I'm not getting enough sleep.

Short version... I am no good to anyone.

Which is why I would like to ask you, if you are reading this, to provide the content that I am unable to provide.

Tell me and one another, if you would be so kind, about your high school theater experiences. Were you in a musical? If so, which one? Who did you play? Did your school have an actual theater program, or just an English Teacher with free time?

Share! I implore you!


Joshua said...

English Teacher with free time and a substance abuse problem (not substantiated but definitely suspect) . . . who was fired my senior year.

Productions of LIL ABNER (chorus)
UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE (Lou Martin, class clown)
GREASE (Doody, of course)
MASH (Frank Burns)
MEET ME IN ST LOUIS, the non-musical version (don't remember who I played because the production was so bad).

Ian W. Hill said...

My grade school - which actually went up through Grade 9 and so also covered the first year of high school - had very little in the way of theatre, and as the actual theatre was being gutted and renovated my last year, we instead did a variety show in the school cafeteria - I played the Stage Manager in a scene from Our Town (the previous year, like Joshua above, I'd been in the chorus of Lil Abner). Usually the school did musicals, and an English teacher would handle the book scenes and the music director the rest.

My boarding school had a great theatre program with a dedicated teacher - David V. Rowland - and, two of the three years I was there, a tech director who taught courses as well. It was underfunded compared to most big-name prep school programs, but it was taken seriously.

Sophomore year, I acted in Landord Wilson's The RImers of Eldritch (Judge/Preacher), As You Like It (Duke . . . whatever, the evil one), and Jean-Claude Van Itallie's Interview from America Hurrah!.
Junior year, I was the "Male Voice" in Uncommon Women and Others, I directed the next part of Van Itallie's trilogy, T.V., and I played Creon in a new (and excellent) translation of Antigone done by an English teacher and a Classic teacher.
Senior year, I acted as Rev. Hale in The Crucible (name drop: opposite Uma Thurman as Abigail Williams), I didn't want to act in Oklahoma! (parents had complained that the theatre department was doing too many depressing or weird dramas and it was decided to do a nice musical for once), so I directed The Skin of Our Teeth instead. I must have acted in something after that in the Spring, but I can't remember what.

I'd always loved acting, but had expected to be completely focused on film for the rest of my life until doing theatre at this school - Northfield Mount Hermon - really got theatre into my system but good.

Adam said...

It was the same director who wrote and directed the plays for middle school who also ran the program for high school. I was 14 starring as a chinese railroad worker in a two person play by Hwang. The other guy was white too. I also was Pozzo in Godot, Paris in R and J, Paul in Paul's Case, Eugene in Brighton Beach Memoirs, Sammy in The Dark at the Top of the Stairs.

It was fun. That's where I learned a love of theater.

The teacher, Dr. Franklin S. Gross is now deceased. They named the auditoium in the new school after him.

Scott Walters said...

I am SO glad to hear that there is someone else in the world who can't sleep and gets all puddled when his SO is out of town. I once directed "The Tempest" in Minneapolis, and it was the longest 4 weeks either of us ever spent. Although getting back together was good!

Anyway... Believe it or not, I grew up in a public high school that had not one but TWO Drama teachers! Tom Spraker and John Burns, both amazing men who did everything they could to keep me going. I did the following:

Camelot (Chorus)
Spoon River Anthology (multiple roles)
Nobody Sleeps (Spike)
My Fair Lady (one of Doolittle's drinking buddies)
Lo and Behold (can't remember the name, but it was the Lead!!!)
Mame (Ito)
I also directed my first play: a one-act called King of the Castle.
And both Burns and Spraker supported me when I formed a summer theatre that the city funded and that rehearsed and performed in their theatre. VERY trusting and patient. Good, good men.

Qui Nguyen said...

I had a really great High School theatre program led by an amazing teacher, Delaine Gates. Our Thespian Troupe number was 42 which, because I was an uber Douglas Adams geek, made me happy beyond belief. Ms. Gates still runs the program to this day. Most recently, she traveled a group of students up to NYC to see my show “Trial By Water” in 2006. It really meant the world.

No Crime Like the Present (Don’t remember the role)
Double Door (Still don’t remember)
Jerry Finnegan’s Sister (The first show I ever directed)
Curate Shakespeare As you Like it (Amiens/Jacques)
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Snoopy)

Anonymous said...

We had a drama program in high school, but I wasn't too interested in it. I played soccer for two years, got tired of that and then tried out for the musical because I was in chorus.
The musical was organized by the chorus teacher, a history teacher, and the band teacher. If you were in chorus or band you were pretty much expected to at least try out for the musical.
I was in the chorus of The Pajama Game my junior year.
My senior year I was in the chorus of 42nd Street and I understudied Maggie Jones.

danielle wilson

Jigsaw said...

There was, indeed, a drama... well, not so much a department as a category, as it was a very small school and couldn't afford departments per se.

For years, I did theater with Rob Mish, who then went on to some college somewhere and I lost track of him. Having a hard time remembering what all I was actually in under his regime. There was always a fall drama and a spring musical, and it seems I would have been involved in both, but... hmm. It gets difficult, too, because there was a summer drama program, also at the school, also headed up by Rob Mish, so I get confused as to which shows were there and which shows were high school. (And actually, he directed the middle school shows as well, for an additional pondering.)

Anyway. High school. I was some random background character in Twelfth Night (a coup, as I was the only freshman who got into the show). Some random kid in the Miracle Worker. I know I was Barnaby in Hello Dolly.

At some point Rob left and Brad Stoller came in. I think it was my Junior year. He got saddled with Up the Down Staircase, and all the boys in the school were either white or black, so I ended up getting cast as the mexican kid because I was the only one who could do the accent. Still sort of bothers me, but there we are. He then cast me as Bill Calhoun in Kiss Me Kate (and apologized, because I was the only guy in the school who could dance). My senior year we did Peter Schaffer's Black Comedy, which I believe he chose because he wanted to be able to give me the lead instead of the other popular senior, who wasn't as good for the role. That spring they did Grease, and I didn't try out, because I hate that show more than anything else ever performed on the stage.

Ah, memories. Or lack thereof.

Zack said...

We had a wonderful teacher named Tom Ulmer, who sadly passed away two days before I opened in my "Hamlet".

5 years of a summer grade school program called Children's Educational Theater in Salem, Oregon. I started doing musicals back then ("Babe in Toyland", "Charlotte's Web", and Geppetto in the musical "Pinnochio").

High School credits:
"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"- (Protean)
"Little Shop of Horrors"-Voice of the Plant
"The Music Man"-Harold Hill
"The Monkey's Paw"-Irish Sergeant
"You're A Good Man Charlie Brown"-Snoopy
"Don't Drink the Water"-Asst Director
"The Secret Garden"(Musical)-Archibald Craven
Community theatre production of
"The Lion in Winter"-John

I was actually be prepped by my voice teacher to apply to become an opera singer, if you can believe that.

LB said...

Musicals! The big budget bastard of HS drama...these were my first love:
HMS Pinafore: Aunt or chorus or something
Lil Abner: Mamie
Grease: Jan
West Side Story: Anita (and I am REALLY white.)
You're a Good Man Charlie Brown: Lucy

Then I went back and directed the musicals at my old High School for a couple of years after college: Into the Woods and Camelot (I didn't pick either).
Two drama teachers over my career:
1. laurie- who was also a casting agent in Seattle and would get us extra parts in movies in the summer. She ate a lot of red licorice and was very stressed out and finally had to take some time off.
2. The we got a fresh faced college grad - not a lot of chutzpah when picking shows, but really nice. I took over the musicals over for her when she had babies.

Troubador said...

My first musical theatre experience was as a member of the percussion section of the school orchestra in our production of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana.

For many years after that, while listening to recordings of Carmina Burana, I invariably found myself playing "air tambourine".

True story.

Freeman said...

Love all these responses. Amazing how much Lil Abner and Grease there is.

I, for what it's worth, was in the "Chorus" of Into the Woods. During the big group numbers my school added a bunch of us dancing around in other fairy tale related costumes. I was dressed as Robin Hood. Had green tights. That was my only musical.

I was at a public high school that had had a very prominent theater program in the 1960s and there was still this weird nostalgia for it. Probably because the man who directed that era, Ray Fulmer, was still there but was no longer associated with the theatre program. Instead, theater (which wasn't a department or program so much as an after-school club) was run by Donna Jorgensen. Very dedicated woman who really allowed us to do whatever we liked.

We did an evening of short pieces where she let me do pieces of Savage/Love for example.

Some of the stuff I did...

Arsenic and Old Lace (guy who bites it, minister I think)
Mousetrap (Giles???)
Actor's Nightmare (George)
The Zoo Story (Peter)
Spoon River Anthology (Various Roles)

I wrote my senior class play with my buddy Marshall. The play was called "Chasing Harvest Moon." No, you can't read it.

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