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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Two more weeks!

The Devil and Tom Walker

I have failed entirely to mention this musical, now playing, that you should go and see. It's adapted by my good friend Dr. Pennino and the music is by Rob Kendt.

See it!

The Devil and Tom Walker!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Interview with Kevin Podgorski and Brian Olsen

Orange Hanky Productions will be presenting "F*ck Me B*at Me L*ve Me" at the Kraine Theater, opening on Thursday May 1st. I've known Brian for several years - from my days with Gorilla Repertory Theater. I got a chance to send a few questions to Kevin Podgorski, the playwright, and Brian, the director, about this upcoming play.

Check out their website here for ticket information.


1. The title of your play is certainly going to grab some attention. What should people expect from a show called F*CK ME, B*AT ME, L*VE ME?

Kevin - A raw and honest glimpse into the lives of 4 characters who need something, but have no idea what it is or how to get it. They resort to sex, thinking that's the vehicle that will either help them out or allow them to escape. There is nudity and sexual situations. It's not gratuitous but rather necessary and understandable in the context of the characters and where they are in their lives.

Brian - Something provocative, I would hope. They may be expecting something that's just viscerally, physically provocative, but they'll come away with something emotionally and mentally provocative as well. The show has fucking, beating and loving, all of it is extreme, and none of it is gratuitous.

I would like to say that this play contains one physical act which I personally have never seen presented on-stage before. It's completely integral to the plot, it's about one character trying to get something he desperately needs from the other, but it certainly presented me with some unique difficulties in staging it. I'll just leave it at that...

2. I love how you treat Love in the title the same way you use Fuck.
As if they're both worthy of censorship...

Brian - They are! At least, to these characters they are. None of them know
how to properly deal with either. Words get censored because we
consider them dirty or dangerous, and "love" can be just as dirty and
dangerous as "fuck". More so, really, because love, misused, can be so much more manipulative and hurtful than fucking. In this play, for these four men, the fucking and the beating are easy and safe compared to the loving.

Kevin - I think people use one to get to the other and confuse one for the other all the time. I've done this and I know others have as well, think that, "Oh, if I let this guy fuck me, then he'll love me," or "he's fucking me, so he must love me." I think people self censor love or fucking all the time, telling themselves that all they want is sex when they're just too scared to admit they want to be fully loved by someone. And of course so many people think that just because they're naked and fucking that they're experiencing intimacy with another person when they might not necessarily be doing so.

3. How did the two of you come to start working together? What do you feel are some strengths of the partnership?

Brian - Kevin and I met in the Playwrights and Directors Workshop at the Actors Studio. I was new to it; Kevin had been with them for a while. I saw a play of Kevin's, "Mary Christmas", and I was really drawn to the writing, I thought it was very strong, very subtle, and I decided that the next time he needed a director I was going to pounce. Well, a few months later he needed a director, and I pounced. That play was what is now the first scene of "F*ck Me, B*at Me, L*ve Me", and I fell in love with it right away. It's an actors' piece, really – some people read it and don't get it, because the characters almost never say what they're really feeling; in fact, the characters almost never know what they're really feeling. But a good actor reads it and sees how much there is to be mined, and when a good actor performs it, it's just brilliant.

Kevin and I work together really well – we're both strong believers in collaboration, and we developed a great working relationship over the course of developing this play. I believe very strongly in this piece, and trust Kevin's writing implicitly; Kevin trusts that the choices I'm making in my direction are all working toward telling the story that he wants to tell. Our egos don't tend to clash – we don't fight (knock wood), and when we disagree about a line or a moment, we each listen to the other and try different alternatives until we find what works. Ultimately, my job is to make sure that every moment in the play tells the story that Kevin wanted to tell when he sat down to write it. What I enjoy about working with Kevin is that he takes what the actors and I do in rehearsal and brings that to his rewrites; even rewriting in rehearsal based on the discoveries that are being made. My favorite part of directing is helping to bring a playwright's vision to life, and the more involved the playwright is the better, so
working with Kevin is perfect for me.

Kevin - What I love about Brian is that "he gets it." He is so smart and knows how to really read and analyze a script. I write this stuff and half the time, have no idea what I'm writing, but once Brian works the play, he clears up so many things for me. I have constantly sat through rehearsals and had "aha…that's what that means moments." Brian is the intellectual counterpart to my subconscious writing. I can't speak for other playwrights, but I know for me it is horrifying to hand my words and my soul essentially to a director to play with. I fear that my vision, my intention, and my passion for the piece will be lost in his or her interpretation. With Brian, I have absolutely no fear of that happening. I know with utmost certainty he will get what I'm trying to do and will help me through directing get to my goal…he won't sacrifice my vision for his own, but will rather combine both into one concise vision. We're a perfect collaboration I think and complement each other's strengths and weaknesses very well.

Brian - I was nervous about whether our artistic relationship could translate into a business relationship as we became co-producers and co-artistic directors of Orange Hanky Productions, but that's working out as well. Neither of us has ever done this before, but we seem to have found our roles and split up the duties without having to discuss it all that much. Even now, as opening approaches and the tension builds, I find we're able to rely on each other completely.

4. Tell me a bit about the cast and crew. Who's involved?

Kevin - Brian, I'll let you answer.

Brian - We've got four great actors involved: Felipe Forero, Jeff Goldfisher, Jim Halloran and Jason Romas. They all really get the subtleties of Kevin's dialogue, how much there is simmering beneath the text. Kevin hates when I use the word "brave" – he feels, rightly, that actors tend to be called brave for playing a gay role when they wouldn't for an otherwise-identical straight role – but the bravery of these actors has nothing to do with playing gay. All four actors have to go to some very dark places, and make themselves extremely vulnerable, emotionally and physically.

Our design team has done some amazing work as well –I'll name-check them, because they deserve it: Arnulfo Muldonado is our scenic designer, Ben Tevelow is our lighting designer, Ben Ridgway is our costume designer, and Mike Allen is our sound designer. The Kraine is a great space, but we are limited by the fact that we have to share it with other productions; everything has to be set up and put away before and after every show. Our design team has really taken this limitation as a challenge, and have created the world of the play far better than I would have thought possible.

5. There are countless shows every day Off-Off Broadway. The question is always...why should someone choose to see this particular play? What are you offering that you passionately want people to see or hear?

Kevin - I believe to the depths of my being that this play is something most people have never seen before. We present issues that affect gay men in a way most plays do not. The play is honest and raw. It doesn't try to come up with solutions but rather depicts rarely discussed topics in a frank manner. I didn't censor myself…I went to the limit of where I thought I needed to go. I wanted to show a real gay relationship with all its flaws and perfections, dirty, truthful, and unapologetic. There is nothing in this play which does not come from a place or truth. I wanted to treat this love relationship as just as important and on the same level as a heterosexual relationship. I defy anyone to leave the play without having some reaction. Some might hate it…some might love it, some might be offended…either way, people WILL have a reaction. I know that as fact.

Brian - This play is about how what we want may be different than what we need, and how we very rarely can tell the difference. I hope that people will come away from this questioning the patterns that they themselves may have fallen into, and ask themselves whether those patterns are really what they want for themselves, and whether they have the courage to break them.

What I'm very proud of with this play, and what has inspired the mission statement of Orange Hanky Productions, is that this play takes being gay for granted. The characters are gay, they're fine with being gay, that's not their problem. Even the closeted teenager's issues aren't about being gay. Coming out stories are important, there's still a place for them, but that's not what we want to do. I hope that this piece will challenge some people's preconceptions about what "gay theater" can mean.

But mostly, I hope people will choose to see "F*ck Me, B*at Me, L*ve Me" if they want to see a challenging, provocative, smart, funny, moving evening of theater.

Kevin - I think it captures who I am as a writer and defines what stories I want to explore with my writing. Brian, the actors, the designers, everyone who has worked on this production has done an amazing job and they have sacrificed their time and energy for this production. I want people to see their work, their professionalism, talent, skill, and bravery. As a playwright, I sit in my room and imagine these stories and write this dialogue. To have a director and actors take my story and characters and to fully commit to it with the same love and compassion I have is the greatest gift I can imagine. I am amazed and eternally grateful for that gift.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Must be doing something right

Sorry for the light posting lately. Obviously, we've been getting reviews, audiences, and working our way through the tumult of this production, especially one that seems to get such strong reactions.

One way I know we must be doing something right: no one, not reviewers, not audiences, not even those in the production, have a mild opinion about both the play and the production.

It's wonderful and a little exhausting for me. But I'm proud of the play and I do encourage you to see it. We're open until May 10th...plenty of time for you to work us into your schedule.

For those with an eye on the price of tickets...our tickets are $18. Our top ticket price would be cheaper than the discounted tickets for a lot of other options you might have. That's true of a great many productions in the city and I think it's worthy of mention.

Tickets for When is a Clock can be reserved here.

There's also a lot of great work coming up or currently running elsewhere.

Rapid Response Team has their final show of the season on Sunday April 27th. Lots of great people involved. Read all about it here. Should be a kick. $10 tickets at the door, Bowery Poetry Club. Isaac writes about it here.

James Comtois and Nosedive Productions are set to open "A Colorful World" which I will be seeing early and often, no doubt. It opens May 8th. Tickets can be reserved here.

My good friend Brian Olsen will be directing a play called F*ck Me B*at Me L*ve Me at the Kraine, opening May 1st. I'll be hopefully posting more about it soon. I'm excited to see it and Brian's a very talented guy.

The Brick has a cast of thousands shoehorned into Billyburg for Babylon Babylon. Hell yes, everyone should see this. I will be seeing it soon. Tickets? Here.

Go see all of these!

And don't forget about When is a Clock while you're at it. I'd love to see you there.

Mike Daisey in Gothamist

Great interview with Mike Daisey in Gothamist today.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

New York Times...

...reviews "When is a Clock."

Also, Martin Denton responds to the play here.

Reserve your tickets here.

Edmund Freeman

I am a descendant of this man.

Respect me.

Bully Dance Reading Tonight

Reminder: reading tonight at the Access Theater of Bully Dance by David Valdes Greenwood. RSVP here.

The Blueprint Project

Take a gander. Sounds like a fine night at the theater. I certainly hope Catherine Trieschmann spent yesterday eating chocolate cake.


Gideon Productions presents The Blueprint Project, a unique spin on that beloved old workhorse, the evening of short plays. We picked four brilliant playwrights (Mac Rogers, August Schulenburg, Crystal Skillman & Catherine Trieschmann) with distinctive voices, styles and predilections, and we provided them with this plot:

A Body lies on a bed. A Longstanding Friend surreptitiously examines the body. The Spouse enters and confronts the Friend. They argue until the Coworker enters to announce that the Medium will arrive soon. One of the three tries very hard and almost succeeds in convincing the others to stop the Medium from coming. Two of them have a confrontation that injures the third. The Medium enters and animates the body, which reveals the secret. Someone tries to leave. Others try to stop the departure.

Even though the writers all worked from the same blueprint, the results are astonishingly varied. We've got a modern reimagining of Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale, a Sci-Fi thriller, a comedic reunion of the "Fab Four of Psychictry" and a blank verse exploration of a messianic cult. Each piece is wonderful on its own merits and the evening as a whole is a fascinating glimpse into the writers' process.

Directors John Hurley and Jordana Williams have assembled an amazing cast, featuring Clay Adams*, Claire Alpern, Jason Howard*, Erin Jerozal, Tom Knutson, Anna Kull, David Ian Lee*, Rob Maitner*, Michelle O'Connor, Alex Pappas*, Vinnie Penna*, Zack Robidas, Vanessa Shealy*, Isaiah Tanenbaum, Jennifer Gordon Thomas and Cotton Wright*

*appearing courtesy of Actors' Equity Association

We hope you'll join us! Seating is limited, so we recommend purchasing your tickets in advance:

The Blueprint Project, Part I: The Medium

Wednesday April 30-Sunday May 4 @ 8pm
Total Running Time: about 90 minutes

Tickets $15-http://www.theatermania.com/content/show.cfm/show/143351

The Puffin Room-435 Broome Street

R/W to Prince St., 6 to Spring St., B/D/F/V to B'way/Lafayette


Monday, April 21, 2008

Pennsylvania Primary Prediction

Hillary Clinton will win, but the margin of victory will be narrower than she'd like. Both will declare victory.

Which is exactly what everyone expected to happen a month ago.

Mike Daisey Day

There's a review up of Mr. Daisey's new monologue in the New York Times today, and there was a Sunday feature about reactions to How Theater Failed America.

Also, over at the Artsjournal "temporary blog" Program Notes, Jason Grote speaks on audience surveys and does not leave out a mention of the monologue either. Grote's posting is pretty great. Take a look.

It's good to see all these questions raised. So what happens next?

A great play and an open bar

The BCTG Reading Series continues tomorrow night with David Valdes Greenwood's Bully Dance. It's not only a wonderful play, read by wonderful actors.... but there is an open bar. All you have to do is RSVP.

Bully Dance

by David Valdes Greenwood
Tuesday, April 22nd, 8p

with Frank Anderson, Michael Bell, Samantha Desz, Sean Fri, Nell Gwynn, Jonna McElrath, Adam Rihacek, and Jane Titus

in the Access Black Box Theater
380 Broadway, 4th Fl.
New York, New York, 10013

Seating is limited - please RSVP at bluecoyote - at - bluecoyote.org

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Opening Night of When is a Clock

Tonight we open officially. Apparently we've already sold a fair number of seats, and I expect a full house. If you're coming tonight and haven't reserved tickets, you might consider doing so.

Tickets here.

Website here.

I'll see you there.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Atheist Viagra!

Isaac Butler announces his next project, a production of Atheist Viagra by Dan Trujillo. Sounds kick-ass.

Oh... and they have a blog for the project!

When is a Clock items of interest

Carl Jung wrote that he received information from visions and dreams that that he could not have known prior.

33 is, among other things, the atomic number for arsenic and an important number in numerology. So I'm told. There's also that Jesus thing. It also sounds good, at least to me, on paper.

Prima materia, in alchemy, is the basic substance of all matter before it takes on a form.

I learned most of this from Pam.

A night off

Well tonight we take a break from When is a Clock and then we open, officially, tomorrow night. Previews have been extremely exciting, as they would be, and I'm proud of the play and the work being done.

Thanks to George Hunka, who stopped by to check it out and has nice things to say here. I appreciate it.

Now, I am going to watch Battlestar Galactica, do the dishes, and lie down.

I hope to see you on opening night!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Onwards and upwards

When is a Clock has now played twice, and I'm thrilled by how it's going. But I am, of course, tired. I'll be posting lightly a bit. Suffice to say, thanks to those of you that have already said some very kind things.

Tickets are here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

When is a Clock First Performance is Tonight

Tonight is the first preview of When is a Clock and our first public performance. I'd love to see a crowded house tonight, so if you're making decisions about your time for tonight, think about including our play in them.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

New York Times Shines a Light on the OOB Budget Survey

This is an article that I am very, very glad to see.

The Showcase Code reform argument has now hit the blogs, the Village Voice and the New York Times.

I hope Equity is paying attention.

Micael Feingold: This is our Youth

Feingold compares Adam Bock and Itamar Moses to Edward Albee.

A quote - "The idea that what affects the play's people cumulatively should have the stature to affect us, the audience, as a group seems to have drifted out of the playwright's consciousness."

h/t isaac

If you haven't heard...

...let Michael Casselli tell you, over at Ecotheater.

Not a pretty picture. NYTW fires it production staff and closes the department.

Of all the jobs in theater, production always seemed pretty safe to me. I know nothing except what I'm reading on blogs, so I won't comment too much on it. Mr. Casselli seems to speak for himself.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Rehearsing When is a Clock # 7

A few thoughts:

Been a busy week. The first stumble-through came and went, but I stayed out of it and went to see Paul Simon with Pam. I was there last night and watched some excellent work being done, adjustments and staging all coming together.

Kyle and I took an early morning trip just over the PA border and filmed some footage of Route 11 near Easton and on Route 78. Also, we ate at The American Grill. We were the only two people there. Service was excellent (coffee poured repeatedly and eagerly) and we had some top-notch scrapple. Kyle's first scrapple, which he tried with maple syrup. All of this is a good and joyful thing.

We're using some footage we shot in the show. Also heard some of the music options, all of which I thought were groovy.

We have tech and dress this weekend, and then the first of three Previews (the Off-Off Broadway version) on Tuesday. Lots to do. Props and logistics and costumes. Lots of figuring out where "The Book" is on-stage at any given time.

I saw the clock in question yesterday for the first time. I like it. It's a pretty little thing.

A few trimmings of lines here and there this week, but nothing too momentous. We added a bit that includes a name-check to Mr. Boston. The booze of champions.

I hope to see you and your friends at When is a Clock, at the Access Theater. Blue Coyote Theater Group is doing tremendous work, as always.

Read about the show here.

Listen to the podcast interview here.

Purchase tickets here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Free Tickets for Download - Women's Project

You heard about this, right?

Want to encourage this type of thing? Participate. It's free.


For the preview period (April 11 through 19) of Women's Project's new show, Catherine Trieschmann's comedy crooked directed by Liz Diamond, 1000 free tickets will be downloaded from the Women's Project web site, www.WomensProject.org.

Paul Simon at BAM

Last night, Pam and I went to see Paul Simon's Under African Skies concert at BAM. David Byrne did "You Can Call Me Al."

Yes, it was perfect.

When is a Clock's first performance is in 5 days

Yesterday Kyle and I were up at 5 am to drive around and record some video for the play. That's right: We're modern.

Tickets to When is a Clock can be reserved here.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Babylon Babylon opens April 11th

I wanted to mention to my readers that Babylon Babylon sounds friggin' cool and I recommend you check it out.

The description from their website:

Undoubtedly the most arrogant, grandiose theatre project ever attempted! Experience the Fall of Ancient Civilization in an intimate Brooklyn performance space as a cast of dozens recreates the Temple of Ishtar, home of ritual prostitution, gyrating priestesses, doomsday prophets, grasping plutocrats, undercover lovers, displaced Jews, seekers of bloody vengeance, invading Persians, and a lion.

And look at the talent involved:

Written and Directed by
Jeff Lewonczyk

Created with and Starring

Gyda Arber, Fred Backus, Aaron Baker, Ali Skye Bennet, Eric Bland,
Danny Bowes, Katie Brack, Lily Burd, Michele Carlo, Hope Cartelli,
Maggie Cino, Michael Criscuolo, Katherine Cudney, V. Orion Delwaterman,
Siobhan Doherty, Marguerite French, Melina Gac-Artigas, Adrian Jevicki,
Gavin Starr Kendall, Kamran Khan, Angela Lewonczyk, Jeff Lewonczyk,
Toya Lillard, Roger Nasser, Robert Pinnock, Robin Reed, Iracel Rivero,
Heather Lee Rogers, Alexis Sottile, Adam Swiderski,
Elizabeth Hope Williams & Rasha Zamamiri

Assistant Director: Jessica McVea
Stage Manager: Lindsay Vrab
Choreographer: Amantha May
Fight Director: Qui Nguyen
Costume Designer: Julianne Kroboth
Lighting Designer: James Bedell
Video Designer: Jason Robert Bell
Sound Designer: Dave Shim
Technical Assistance:
Chris Connolly

Here's details and how to get tickets.

Here's the Babylblog Blogbylon.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Is it just me...

Should this article, about Richard Jenkins, be given to all actors who feel daunted by questions like "NY or L.A.?"

NYITF OOB Budget Study Released Today

Survey results that are a step in the right direction, especially in terms of talking realistically about the cost of doing business...

Download the PDF here.

Here's what their press release says...

Groundbreaking Off-Off Broadway Budget Study

New York, NY-April 7, 2008: The New York Innovative Theatre Foundation, a not-for-profit organization supporting the Off-Off-Broadway community, released the findings of their statistical analysis of Off-Off Broadway's budgets today. Questions for the survey focused exclusively on production budgets. The results prove that the OOB community is actively producing high-quality productions at affordable prices with paid actors and production value. The survey is the first in a series that will help raise awareness of the contributions of the OOB community.

Some of the highlights of what the Foundation learned are:

* 67% of the community is spending between 1k-20k on their productions
* Over half of the community is paying their actors

"I found some the results to be very surprising," said Shay Gines, co-founder of the IT Awards. "It is important for our community to have this kind of baseline statistical information. Whether a company is trying to get a good deal on a space rental or trying to obtain sponsorship from a local restaurant, knowing the standards within our community will prove to be very helpful."


So...what do you see here, dear readers?

For example...paying their actors...how much? The stipend? Seems like if 85% of all Off-Off Broadway productions are 16 performances and under (at least according to this data) that most productions are working either non-Union or within the Showcase Code.

This also shows just how many companies are directly affected by the Showcase Code and its cap of numbers of performances.

I'd be curious what non-New Yorkers think of what they see here too. In fact, especially.

Mark Penn

I'm actually starting to feel bad for the guy.The press just wants to eat him. He can't be, you know, evil.

He's not Karl Rove, the pigf*cker.

Monday, April 07, 2008

When is a Clock - Discounted Preview Tickets

When is a Clock
will have three preview performances, April 15th, 16th and 17th, and on those nights tickets will be $12. That's $6 cheaper! A whole beer! HOLY CRAP WHAT A GOOD DEAL!

You might find yourself wanting to come to see the show on one of those nights. You should, then, do so.

Here is where you can order tickets online.

Here's the Blue Coyote website.

Now here's a TWIST that I swear I totally wasn't expecting...

August: Osage County wins Pulitzer.


Freeman - Now with 99.9% more snark.

Friday, April 04, 2008


As a closing thought for the week... all of you read my girlfriend's absolutely kick-ass, totally non-theater related blog-of-amazing-things Phantasmaphile don't you? It's on my blogroll, but I wanted to take a second and highlight it.

It's awesome.

For example...here's an interview she did with artist Lori Field.

Anyhow...take a look. Inspiring, beautiful work is all over it. She's got it going on.

Rehearsing "When is a Clock" # 6

Watched some scene work last night. Good work being done. I haven't given everyone the easiest time with some of the monologues and scenes, but it's wonderful to see good, smart actors and a smart director getting into it and figuring it all out.

How I personally tell the difference between good scene work and counter-productive scene work: one looks like a conversation, the other looks like a game of questions.

Lots of good conversation last night.

Blurted out, by accident, a glowing personal review of someone's performance when they asked their director: "What do you think?"

I must learn to keep my mouth...shut. At least, more often. No one asked me.

Also last night I spent a fair amount of time pushing Shadowfax (Kyle's car) with his girlfriend Lindsey, so the thing would start.

Shadowfax is the Lord of All Horses.

Isn't nice when someone shares a little common sense?

"Just drink when you're thirsty."

What a concept!

BSG S4 Begins Tonight

I just wanted to mention it. There hasn't been better Science Fiction on television in years. Maybe ever. I'll be sad to see the series go.

David Cote: Jesus

It's true. The man has a Savior-esque quality.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Building and Dismantling

Although I've been primarily focused on my upcoming production lately (plug!), I've been reading all sorts of semi-related thoughts around the theatre 'sphere. Playgoer takes notice of the salaries of Artistic Directors in New York; Scott Walters at Theatre Ideas seems to think this indicates that the non-profit model is far too corporate. (Don't tell that to commercial Broadway Producers, who think that non-profits are practically subsidized, take on less risk, and shouldn't be eligible for their Tony Awards...)

Related, in my mind, is Jaime Green's endorsement of lower ticket prices in order to perhaps attract a new or younger audience (as I noted here as well) and Scott's call for Decentralization of the American Theater (notice the capital letters!) which can be seen in any number of his blog posts, which are based primarily on the assumption that American Theater is too focused on major markets, that it's biased against regional sensibilities and too, again, structurally corporate.

A lot of this seems to have been inspired, in all honesty, by Mike Daisey's The Empty Spaces which sparked it's very own conversation right there and then.

All in all, a rather dire view of the state of play in America.

So I wanted to take a second to respond and react to the overall discussion. Just for my own gratification, and maybe some food for thought.

We blame ourselves.

It's one thing that Philadelphia Eagles fans have in common with lovers of American Theatre: we hate our team. Our team lets us down. Or team gets to the big game and drops the ball. Our team does ok sometimes, but we know they'll eventually cock it up.

We ask for the press to acknowledge writers who are younger, then they do christen the next big thing, and we think they picked wrong. We want a vibrant economy of regional theaters, but if they do plays that were produced in New York, they're not regional enough. We do not want theater to die (theaters shuttered, audiences gone, no pay for anyone), but they charge too much money for tickets and pay some people too much and other people too little.

Certainly some of the concerns are valid. We should be skeptical and critical. It's a virtue. But the tone tends to be one that gives little room of the realities of the market, and leaps to the terminal failings of theater within the system. There are lots of people toiling away in these big and small institutions for little to no pay for the love of our art, who work to find artistic space and battle with financial constraints and realities every day.

I don't hear a lot of praise for their hard work. Just observations at what they aren't doing.

You have to build, not dismantle.

Listen, I sympathize with people that think the Industrial Revolution was a bad idea and that we should all go back to living in small agrarian communities. I'm not a huge fan of the inherently corrupting nature of an unregulated free market or a culture that views unfettered, ubiquitous advertising as par for the course.

But we can't go backwards. It just doesn't work that way. New technologies are coming at breakneck speed (note: Blogs. Where were they 10 years ago?). Even corporate models that have been foolproof for years are unsure how they will sustain themselves in an economy where media and entertainment can be easily stolen, shared, copied, and bought without a physical product. Television advertisers are worried that no one is watching advertising anymore; video games are encroaching on the ratings of sporting events; the newspaper industry is in dire straights: this is reality.

I hear concern about the salary of the Roundabout's Artistic Director as almost amusing: in a world where television advertisers pay the amount he makes in a year to show a 30 second spot on some television show on ABC... its clear we're focused on the very small picture.

Artists, and people who work in arts organizations, are not all small "c" communists. I don't relish living in a collective where I share my food with a bunch of other actors and playwrights or what-have-you because I no longer believe in the "corporate" theater. I don't believe that my work should be given away for free, and I do, yes, like to have my own apartment and go to the movies and download music and go out to eat at restaurants. I didn't leave my consumer card at the door when I said "I want to write plays and get a BFA."

I bet most of the people who work in subscriber sales, or box office, or marketing or development for NYTW and MTC or the Guthrie (and hey...I don't mean to speak for you...this is just a guess) don't want to stop what they're doing, sell their cars, and hold up a torch next to a field so someone can do Hamlet without having to beg for corporate sponsorship.

So...what would I LOVE to see? Theaters become more successful. Sell more tickets. Receive more government subsidy and support. More patronage and donations. I want audiences to become excited by new writers and exciting new work. Effective marketing and advertising of really fucking great plays (including mine! plug!) that help everyone become more successful, make more money, feel artistically more free, and do the sort of work they want to do.

We can build that. We can excite audiences, we can sell more tickets, we can pay everyone more effectively, we can get better deals with the unions, we can make our case and win our case.

But we can't dismantle the system, and we can't be successful by pulling away from it, simply pointing out its already terribly obvious flaws, or just hiding in a hole of artistic distance.

Everyone has different values.

I am not of the opinion that the truth is of equal distance between two points. That's a weird fallacy of the current American discussions. I think there are some prescriptions being written out there that are true, and some that are false. But I do not think we all have the same goals, or perspectives, or values.

Some people might read my dismissal, above, of full on rebellion against the system as self-serving or, worse, conciliatory towards something broken.

As a writer in New York City, I can only pretend to relate to those who work outside the major cities and how they feel as if their work is not acknowledged, perhaps, as it should be.

Anyone outside of New York City likely doesn't give a hoot about the Showcase Code debates and discussions.

Those who have never worked in the media, written reviews or articles for magazines, likely have a very different point of view on the responsibility of the media to write a certain way, as opposed to those who may read this, as critics and editors themselves, who know the pressures and concerns of simply making it to print.

I say this because I need to remind myself that my direct interests do not necessarily translate into truths about the "American Theatre" as a whole. Which is, of course, perfectly ok.

Everyone is in this together.

On the other hand, there tend to be small efforts in isolated places to do good works or make changes, and the entire community does not seem able to come together (in any way I notice) to put forth major initiatives. For example... some for-profit industries will literally promote their industry. ("Got Milk?") We need a bit of this. We need to say "Theatre... come see it" in some unified way.

And the only way to get initiatives like that to happen is to use this new wonderfully democratizing force, the 'net, bring people together, and look up from the short term concerns, briefly, of individual programming needs and look at each other as partners.

If New York Theater Workshop and Manhattan Theater Club and the Roundabout and the Guthrie and Southcoast Rep and whomever else thrive individually, that's wonderful but localized. If they thrive together, we all thrive.


That's a few thoughts. For you. From me.

Now back to plugging my show. Which is called "When is a Clock." It opens on April 15th.

Have I linked to 99seats yet?

If not, I am now. Good stuff.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


"Amelie" isn't REAL?

Life is a cruel mistress!

National Performing Arts Convention Blog

Jaime will be blogging (in addition to her regular duties) in this new and lovely location: The National Performing Arts Convention . Her first post is entitled "The Value of a Cheap Ticket." Check it out, add to your bloglines, comment, and be generally aware of this great stuff...

"The fact is, there are people who will buy tickets to daring, weird, new work. But usually, those people are young, and usually, those people do not have a lot of money. The math is alarmingly simple.

Here's what we know:
Current audiences are old and rich.
Current audiences like safe programming.
Younger audiences are more likely to support adventurous work.
Younger audiences don't tend to have a lot of money."

Obama takes in $1 million a day

So Obama's March haul was $30 million, or a million a day. Sure he's a national candidate, but the people who are giving to him aren't necessarily billionaires. Heck, I've given him like $75. Not a ton of money, but I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Which makes me think...

Does your theater company accept donations online? And does it ask, often enough, for donations? Let's say you get an average of (with big and small donations) $10 a day per month. Or $300 a month. Or around (give or take a day or two) $3600 a year in donations. Let's say you just make that your goal for online donations, barring any additional fund-raisers or ticket sales or selling t-shirts or bake sales or free donated booze parties.

Is that huge? No. Will it help? Yes. How much work do you need to do? Sign up for Network for Good and send out some e-mails.

You are doing this already. Right?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Question for You

Do you think a playwright should approach his or her work from a certain defined theory (their own or one they learned)?

Does it hurt or help the playwright to do so?

Honestly curious...

Rehearsing "When is a Clock" # 5

Had a full weekend of rehearsals, after we recorded the podcast. Postcards are ready. They look great to me. Weird stuff.

Not much that I can say about rehearsal. It's going well. I had a moment that I do not recommend to any playwright: I revealed my soft underbelly in public. I had a self-conscious moment about a line and jumped up to say "Cut that line." Kyle informed me, rightly, to shut up and sit down and that I should let the actors perform the line.

We proceeded to hear versions of the line sung, in the style of Kabuki, as if delivered by Sam Spade. It was exactly what I deserved.

Added note: In "When is a Clock" I talk a bit about the "cuisine" of the Pennsylvania Dutch. I was delighted to read this on the New York Times about the food on the road for Barack Obama. So terribly validating.