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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, 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...

12 comments:

Christine said...

I don't understand what you mean...

Freeman said...

Let me put it this way...

Should a playwright take a theory or intellectual stance (anti-Aristotle; minimalism; surrealist) that defines his or her work? Like

"I write minimalist plays."

Christine said...

Oh. Hmmm. I guess if it floats their boat and makes for a good play, sure. But it seems like adopting a theory or stance has the potential to be sort of stifling or narrowing.

That being said, everyone has a style...

Travis Bedard said...

As a non-playwright sometime writer ----

I think there are benefits to doing some work with a defined outlook simply as an exercise, though I don't think it will be their best work. But it will enable the writer to flex on a style better in the future.

i.e. Sean Owens wrote a surrealist play Breton's Dream. There was no folding in the edges, it was a SURREALIST play (surreal in style and populated with surreal versions OF surrealists). Most of it worked, some of it didn't...
but what it did was give him a comfort level such that when he folded surrealism into his show Girlesque it wasn't clunky at all.

If that makes sense.

Zack said...

No. But that would be a hard and fast rule in itself. Whatever gets you writing, if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

Only an ameliorist blogger, one who denies the true bodied catharsis of tragic eroticized intertextuality, would raise such a question in the first place. If a dramatist is truly to be numbered among the Rebel Gods of Theatre, she must propound a theory of the theatre. If her theory is sufficiently replete with polysyllabic vagaries, she has prepared the feeble minds in the audience for her tragic poetic dance.

John said...

If you're writing as a theorist you're writing theory.

No one pays to watch theory.

If you define yourself, before putting pen to paper, or worse, afterwards in editing, as a subscriber to some Theory, you're writing a Party Line.

I don't go out on a Friday night to listen to somebody trying to convert me.

Surprise and argue with yourself when you're writing.

Leave the theory to the people with steady jobs.

Jamespeak said...

I don't think so, no. It often ends up making the play less of a play and more of a term paper.

Then again, maybe there are playwrights that need that razor-sharp discipline and put on amazing work. Hell, I won't begrudge them that (if they're out there).

David D. said...

I can't contribute to the discussion from the writing point of view, but I have to say it is hard to play theories onstage.

RLewis said...

No, as long as they understand the old saying, "originality is lack of information."

Anonymous said...

In an effort to comprehend what's been going on at Grad School over the past two years, I recently looked through all of the things I've learned on every piece I've written.

From all of that, I put together a "method." It's not a theory, although it clearly points at a particular point of view wrt what a playwright does.

But if it is a theory, it's reverse-engineered from practice, as opposed to the other way around.

My notion is that if I understand exactly what I'm doing and how I do it, it will be easier to change things that don't work down the line.

Now, as I write, I stick to this this method. Then I'll look at the result, and change it accordingly.

It's an experiment.

Of course, even the best theories leave corners of the sublime moment unturned. Shutting down inspiration or the opportunity to surprise oneself is a suicide of the soul.

Balance, balance.

Z.A.

Adam said...

I kind of think you say "I write minimalist plays" after you have already written it. That's marketing. not writing. You write it and then you ask people abotu it and think about it yourself and then decide where it goes. Or that's one way anyway, if you can do it the other way and it works, great, but I suspect it will be harder.