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.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Columbus, Ohio

Pam and I just got back from a wonderful trip to Columbus, Ohio. Matt Slaybaugh is a great guy, and a generous host. We bought some comics, had a tasty diner at Lindy's, enjoyed some Columbus ice cream, and were there for both the Pride Parade and ComFest. And we saw Wall-E, which is gorgeous.

Oh, did I mention seeing Tom Waits in concert? Holy Shit he was amazing.

Friday, June 27, 2008

First Reads

Well, here I go with my first guest post.  The Talented and Vacationing Mr. Freeman has left his blog in the hands of David D. and myself,  and the pressure is intense.  Will we fuck it up.  In fact, I already have.  I accidentally posted about nine words five minutes ago, and then frantically scoured the "Help" menu for instructions on how to delete.  I fixed it, but not with a steady hand, not with a steady hand.  If this blog were a submarine and I was the new captain, there would be some sidelong glances amongst the crew right now.

Still, onwards!  

I just completed the first week of rehearsals for Boomerang Theatre Company's Central Park production of Shakespeare's As You Like It, opening July 19.  Very exciting.  Working with a totally new group of folks.  Of course, that always makes the first read a tad nerve-wracking.  First reads, the traditional kick-off to rehearsals, are such odd social and artistic interactions.  Folks that have worked together previously (and harmoniously) are always excited to see another and work together again, and are instantly chummy.  Others must then make the choice to start introducing themselves, or wait for introductions to be made to them, or try my tactic, which is to pretend to search for something in my backpack until the director starts talking to the whole group.  When As You Like It met for the first read, I didn't know a soul, except perhaps for the director Matt Johnston, whom I had met on a handful of occasions and at auditions.  I am just naturally shy at such gatherings.  I thought everybody else knew each other, but as Johnston later informed me, that was not the case.  The cast came together from many different paths and sets of connections; many more people were in my boat than I thought at the time. 

 It was a traditional table read, and started with introductions around the table, role and name.  Does anybody retain this information immediately?  Someone can say "I'm Joe, and I'm playing The King of Italy".  Joe, King of Italy, will then direct lines at me for the next two hours, and immediately afterwards I will only remember that the guy with the Decepticon t-shirt is the King of Italy; his real name will be a mystery to me even though I learned it at precisely the same time I learned he was The King of Italy.  

And then the reading begins.  Somebody's got the first line.  Somebody has to open themselves up to the keen ears  around the table.   Everybody suddenly sits up, shifts in their chairs, looks ahead to their first line, listens.  How high will the performance bar be set, for this, a simple first read?  Will everybody laugh at the funny lines?  Will everybody know which are the lines that are supposed to be funny?  Will everyone be oh-so-clever, without an ounce of heart?  Some actors are dyslexic, and reading aloud may be a evening-long struggle for them.  Others give as monotonously neutral a first read as possible, to process their words on their own terms.  Brando fell into this camp, it has been said.  Artistically legitimate, but it can certainly make for a long night.  

First reads, for me personally, are like exhibition games; they don't count, so why the hell not try to hit the home run?  You strike out, fall on your face, who cares?  Part of the fun of being an actor amongst actors is the sense of play and fun that is allowed; I don't see why that can't apply to first reads as well.   It follows then, if actors are allowed to actually try and play the scenes to the hilt at the first read, mistakes will happen, and the whole production, in fact, will not be cursed.  But it is hard to escape this fear.  No one wants to be the focus of the collective thought "He's not actually going to do it like that, is he?"  Shows are trepidatious journeys for everyone involved; we have all been on such journeys that have gone nowhere good, and it is impossible to not yearn for immediate assurance that will not be the case this time.  For the record, As You Like It is on the awesome track to Awesomeland.  (Blogger.com says "Awesomeland" is misspelled, but I've been there, Blogger.com.  That spelling is dead-on; can you handle it?)

I have been in shows that have discarded the table for the first read.  Mr. David D. directed such a show that was my first production in New York.  It was called...As You Like It.   David D. threw the first read up on its feet, the blocking got made up as the read went along, and it was engaging on a whole different level.  The playing field was leveled; good "readers" were on as unsure footing as those whose skills laid elsewhere.  Neutral readings were of little use when actors had to move to some degree as well.  It does allow less time for the actor to concentrate on what they are saying.  But the playful, experimental energy is palpable.  It also lessens mental distractions that are familiar to a first read; who's hot, who has a curious birthmark, who has comic books in their bags, who will be your mortal enemy, who will be your drinking buddy, etc.

How about you?  Actors, what do you go through with first reads?  Directors, how do you like to conduct them?  Playwrights?  Does anyone prefer a first read-less process, and go straight into scene work?   

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pouring Some Out...

Guest Post from David-

I have recently been thinking- perhaps under the larger heading of "Mortal Panic"- of how many theaters I have learned, performed and directed in that are gone.

All of the challenging, funky and lived-in spaces that Emerson College had at 69 Brimmer Street have been gutted and, I believe, have become luxury housing. The Actor's Workshop in Boston, where I directed SubUrbia for The Other Theater, (starring a young, still-acting Matthew Freeman as Jeff), is now a building with a lot of little medical offices in it.

That old Theater Row building, that was on the corner of 42nd Street and Dyer, was a big part of my life when I got to New York City. We rented out the old Abingdon Theater space on the fourth floor to do a production of As You Like It, and then Matthew Trumbull and I got involved with Pulse Ensemble, who used to do shows on the bottom and second-story level, as well as in the courtyard in front of the... was it the John Housman Theater? (Also, has anyone noticed that Wikipedia has thorough articles for every comic book character in the world, but no comprehensive listing for New York City Theaters? I could easily find out who all of Wolverine's old girlfriends are, but no entry for The John Housman Theater to let me know if that is the place I'm thinking of. Do the Theatre equivalents of comic-book geeks just not like Wikipedia?)

Well, anyway, that's all torn down. That corner will eventually have another big condo building on it, I believe.

So, risking mortal panic of your own, what are some of the theaters you worked in, loved or perhaps begrudgingly loved warts and all that are gone? Spill some out for us.

This weekend

Pam and I are off to Columbus, Ohio to see Tom Waits in concert. I'm also playing to meet Slay out there in person.

Should be a fine time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A little extra blog for your buck

So lately I've been posting a little infrequently, as work and life and summertime have made things a bit more complicated for me. To remedy this appalling lack of content, I have invited my dear pals David D. and Matthew Trumbull to throw in a few postings here and there.

Both are fine actors and clever gentlemen. We've been friends since 1994. Too long, really. Perhaps this blog experiment will be the thing that finally ends our friendship. At long last.

For those who follow my work, David and Matt have been prominently featured in many of my plays, most recently "Trayf," "The White Swallow" and "When is a Clock."

Welcome guys!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Bevolicher!

The guys and gal at Troop! have a YouTube video that f*cking a$4grab*s your ch&ad and grips it so tightly that you feel your n**dles go sla*nte. It will face you and tear you apart. It has NO eyes!

I went to Emerson College with these beautiful people. Worship at their black hooded hoods.

Oh Schnappp! REMIX!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Benefactors at Folding Chair Classical Theatre

On Sunday, I got a chance to see a Michael Frayn play at 78th Street Theatre Lab that I'd never seen before: Benefactors as presented by Folding Chair Classical Theatre.

The play is a dissection of class competition and generosity. The generosity in Benefactors is deceptively corrosive, and kindnesses, even those with good intentions, are performed with a roll of the eye, at least, or a twist of the knife. It's rare to see a perfectly constructed and well-acted play with no trickery to prop it up. The play never feels playful or clever: it feels smart.

It's playing for one more weekend and I heartily recommend it. The four actors (James Arden, Lisa Blankenship, Francine Margolis; and my good friend Ian Gould, who was featured prominently in When is a Clock) are fantastic, and Marcus Geduld's spare direction hits all the right notes of a deceptively complex piece.

Thursday is already sold out, so get your tickets for the last three performances here.

George Carlin Dies at 71

71 years old.

One of the great Americans is gone.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

While I don't want the perfect to be the enemy of the good...

Obama supporting the FISA "compromise" and rejecting public financing is a double whammy of "dammit!" I can't say that I'm terribly shocked to see that a politician I admire would act with expediency (Clintons anyone?) and it doesn't reduce him to the level of, say, an evangelical neocon, it is disappointing.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My response to the Tony Awards

They happened again. August: Osage County and In the Heights won a lot of awards.

Playgoer Liveblogged it. You might find it interesting if you like the Tony Awards. He's the champ, that Playgoer.

I was playing Metal Gear Solid 4 all weekend instead. It is...wonderful.

Also, this is a video of Baby Sloths.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Articles of Impeachment from Kucinich

Dennis Kucinich presented these articles of impeachment against George Bush to the House.

It's been tabled, of course, by spineless leadership. The reason given, now as always, is that it would be divisive and time-consuming. One might wonder how time-consuming doing nothing for the environment has been. And how one might balance a concern for divisiveness with the impeachment of a President that performed countless illegal actions in bare view of the country, with no consequences except declining poll numbers.

Give it a read. It's damning.

Bravo, Dennis, for having principles.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Why, Freeman, Do You Post So Lightly?

Because, in fact, I am quite busy.

I saw How Theater Failed America this weekend. How's that for being late to the dance? I'll post about that shortly.

Am seeing Trujillo's play and Folding Chair's production of Benefactors this week.

I also have every intention of buying a Playstation 3 this week, in order to play Metal Gear Solid 4. It is important to me.

So, dear readers, how are you?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Enough said.


The Film Festival: A Theater Festival

Just wanted to take a sec and plug The Brick Theater's The Film Festival: A Theater Festival. Their annual summer festivals are always cleverly built and wonderfully subversive - perhaps none as genre upending than this one. I look forward to checking out as many of these shows as I can.

If anyone involved in the Festival wants to let readers know what they should expect, please comment away.

Over at nytheatre.com, they've got a full boat of YouTube clips to promote these piece. Check it out!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Primary Comes To A Close...?

As all signs point to Hillary Clinton finally bowing out of this historic Democratic Primary, I would like to take a moment to laugh loudly at all the Clintonites and media that absorbed and parroted her argument about seating Michigan and Florida delegates. She couched her argument in terms of some sort of moral standard: how could we discount the votes of those in Florida and Michigan? This is a Democracy! One vote, one person!

Of course, this is absurd and it's always been absurd. That fact that she's making this argument gives me all the more reason that I'm secure in my vote for Obama. It's a shame that she's willing to pit the voters of Michigan and Florida against the rules of her own party...all it does is make winning those important states more difficult for the Democratic Party in November. It does...almost...nothing...else.

A primary is not a pure national election, is it a party nominating process that has specific rules made up by, essentially, a very big club. The rules are wonky and often counter-productive. But if the Democrats decided that their nominee should be decided by a dart board, they could. It would not make for a smart process, but it would be completely within their rights. The fact that Florida and Michigan's Democratic leadership chose to skirt the party rules and move their primaries up is what disenfranchised their voters, and that, in the end, is not the fault of the current leadership.

Fault aside, many voters probably DID NOT go to the polls when they learned their votes were not being counted and candidates were not running in their state. That fact alone should disqualify some high-minded talk of democracy being made mock of. Clinton wants states counted that benefit her, and because no one else was on the ballot in Michigan, and because name recognition was the only SORT of running going on in Florida, she received those votes.

If name recognition were the entire contest, Clinton could have been handed the nomination at the start, and moved on. She, in fact, came in THIRD in Iowa to begin the very long process of finally giving up the ghost. When all the candidates were in the race, she didn't win. When the primary is primarily uncontested, she did just fine.

She also did well where primaries were hotly contested. That shows just how tough she is. But in the end, she hasn't won, and wins only by intellectual slight-of-hand, and that has been true for a very long time.

It's time for her to stop doing damage to her legacy, to the party, and to the Democratic Nominee. Especially with smoke and mirrors and disingenuous outrage about "counting every vote." If she truly felt that way, her own math wouldn't start counting on February 19th.

Let's hope she makes the right move tonight.

Monday, June 02, 2008


Jewel has a 7th Album!

According to the prophecy, the 8th shall end all Humankind! Repent!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

George Lucas raises Darth Maul

Now who wants to say a bad word about George Lucas? Because his daughter is going to kick your ass.

I'd go and buy one more ticket to Crystal Skull if I were you.

Colorful World

I got to see Colorful World on its closing night. While this posting won't help the Nosedive Crew in terms of ticket sales (buy a ticket...oh...wait...) I wanted to take a second to say how much I enjoyed it, how well put-together it was, and that the acting was phenomenal.

James Comtois certainly wears his source material on his sleeve in this production, being Watchmen and a lot of the Dark Knight Returns stuff. But he diverges in a few key ways that makes the material his very own, and I truly found those departures rewarding.

The first was that Comtois removes the idea of flight entirely from the superhero genre. His characters, even the most powerful ones, are earthbound at their core, in more ways that one. With his main super-powered character Overman, Comtois blends Superman and Dr. Manhattan. But in the end, Overman is entirely new... a character who loses touch with his humanity because of actual experiences, not because he has mastery over all atomic structures (like Dr. Manhattan) or because he's essentially alien (like Superman.) He has telekinetic powers, he's nearly impervious to pain, he's an entirely new kind of human being. But he's also a son of a cop, someone who never wanted to go into law enforcement, who finds himself to pure embodiment of tyrannical law through power. And because he cannot fly, he never gets the bird's eye view that Superman or Dr. Manhattan are afforded. When he escapes, he escapes to a jungle. He can be found. He is not invisible. He is never freed entirely from being human.

Which is what makes Comtois solution to this all the more unique: he shows the importance of finding kinship. That being alone, lonely, or singular is essentially a dehumanizing experience, and the moment Overman meets his match, his response isn't the sort you'd see in the movies... he finds himself suddenly humanized.

It's the new place Comtois takes this material. Certainly there's a great deal in Colorful World that is said in its entirety in Watchmen or elsewhere. But this particular take on the material, that kinship is a humanizing force, is the sort of healing statement that makes this material not a product of 1980s nuclear fear (as is Watchmen) but a product of the current era. That in order to be citizens of the world, no matter how powerful we are, we need to see peers in the world, not challengers to our power.

If Overman represents, in many ways, the United States... a new and young nation with power far beyond its ability to maturely handle... then Overman enacts the very odd misanthropic fantasies that the US does. Better to wipe out what we don't understand, or wipe out what challenges us, than to seek understanding. Perhaps the best thing possible for the US, in this way, is the growth of other world powers, of peers, whose interests coincide with ours. That check our behavior, reflect on us, and make us a sibling, not an enforcer.

My congratulations to Nosedive and to James. Well done!