- 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.
Friday, October 31, 2008
It's the more successful institutions that get the funding love and get the strings attached. Generous new grants seems to rain down primarily on companies like the Public; companies that are adding power to an already powerful brand. Nonetheless, they all depend on the liquidity and goodwill of private institutions. The more a non-profit theater grows, the more it relies on a smaller and smaller list of larger and larger funding sources. Ticket sales are a small part of the math, especially as you become a larger company.
The market has gone south. The economy has been "maybe in a recession" for a year. In New York, the state provides more arts funding than the NEA does. New York State just declared that it was in a financial hole. Off-Off / "Indie" companies may feel the heat and their company member's respective day jobs; but it's the larger institutions that are being punished for growth. We all want small theaters to become flush with cash; but the cash is tied to the invested endowments of families and foundations. When the market tanks, the first to go are organizations that are mid-sized, growing, and successful.
Essentially, you can't move, in our current economic model, from a successful small theater with a solid audience and few paychecks to a larger, more stable institution where the actors get $400 a week without a steady infusion of cash from private funders. In this way, instead of theaters becoming successful on the merits of their work, or the priorities of the society, their survival is about not only courting private funds, but the health of those institutions - something theaters have no control over.
This is the free market for theater producers and actors alike: want to get paid? Pray for the health and safety of Phillip Morris.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
National Playwrighting Month starts in three days. Sign up at their brand spankin' new and shiny website here.
Woyzeck is about German Peas. The seeds, one might say, of Germany.
Which seeds did Buchner lay in Germany in 1837? His own. He died and fertilized Germany, long before the play was ever finished or performed. Peas are brought forth from the soil. Hence: Buchner's own body is a part of the great soilmother from which the peas of early productions of Woyzeck must have been birthed. The peas are the issue of Buchner's own deathwomb.
So... when we see Woyzeck eating peas, we can see him as eating from the loam of Dead Buchner. Why not cut out the bullshit though? Why not have him eat a life-sized replica of Buchner ON-STAGE and have the body labeled "PEAS!?"
Christ, am I not the only one that sees the post-modernist metatheatrical possiblities of this?
I see, as I sculpt this in my own mind, a bare stage and a man dressed in a loin cloth. He is eating his own author, and behind him, his love sings "Inch by Inch/Row by Row/Gonna make this garden grow" over and over, as the lights change and the music becomes more and more foreboding. Then, when she gets to the part of the song that goes "Old Crow a-Sittin' on a tree / got his hungry eyes on ME" ... WE KNOW SHE MEANS THAT HE'S BEEN DRIVEN MAD!!!
Other characters will be performed with puppets. tm
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
MILWAUKEE SHAKESPEARE CLOSING ITS DOORS
October 28, 2008 - Milwaukee Shakespeare is closing its doors due to lack of available funding.
Despite generous support from private and public local, state and national foundations and granting organizations such as UPAF and the NEA, the company’s primary source of operating funds is the Argosy Foundation. Due to the current financial climate, the Argosy Foundation has eliminated support from Milwaukee Shakespeare in order to put itself in the best position to continue to grow and support the community in the future. For this reason, Milwaukee Shakespeare cannot continue its season as planned. While ticket sales have been at a record level so far this season, ticket income only provides a fraction of what it costs to keep a non-profit theatre company running. Milwaukee Shakespeare has been actively seeking and achieving outside support, but the growth has not been sufficient to withstand this loss in its primary source of funding.
A sign of things to come? Unfortunately, you can count on it.
Any other similar activity you're seeing out there?
- Bluebeard's new draft is done and I've sent it around a bit.
- I was, unfortunately, denied a grant by the NEA this year. My genius is once again overlooked! They won't laugh at me once I've completed the ultimate superweapon, however.
- One of the reasons I'm looking forward to November 4th is that I am finally tired of reading political blogs and articles and all that stuff. It's gotten to be overload. I've been watching these people run for office forever. It's enough already. I want to listen to NPR and hear them talk to a painter, and not a pollster or former CIA operative for once.
- Speaking of which, did anyone else hear this episode of Fresh Air? Robert Baer says that he believes the Osama Bin Laden is dead. He says it really plainly. It's totally under reported.
- I'm contributing a short piece to ReVamped this year.
- The One-Minute Play festival was a fine time. Thanks to everyone who worked on it.
- Is it really warm in here, or is it just me?
Monday, October 27, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
I have it on good authority that Saturday is sold out. Sunday is selling fast. Should be a madcap affair and lots of fun. I hope to see you there.
Tickets can be boughten in this imaginary "place."
Shstrng Prdctns (producers Dominic D'Andrea, Toby Knops, Ashlin Halfnight) presents the 2nd Annual One-Minute Play Festival.
The 2008 One-Minute Play Festival writers are (in no particular order):
Ed Napier, Liz Meriwether , Brian Dykstra, Rachel Axler , Caridad Svich , Bixby Elliot, Chiori Miyagawa, Robert Askins, Justin Deabler, Jeff Lewonczyk, Alex Beech, David Zellnik, Matthew Freeman, Jihan Crowther, Ross Maxwell, Sam Forman, Kobun Kaluza , Carla Ching, Graham Gordy, Cassandra Medley , Anna Fields , Ken Urban , Kristoffer Diaz, Susan Bernfield, Leslie Kramer , Michael Sendrow , Victor Lodato, Meghan Mostyn-Brown, Courtney Brooke Lauria , Anton Dudley , Saviana Stanescu, & Rob Urbinati
And Alumni Writers:
Kyle Jarrow, Clay McLeod Chapman , James Comtois, Emily Conbere , Bathsheba Doran , Ashlin Halfnight, Michael John Garces, Sibyl Kempson, Rajiv Joseph, & Anna Ziegler
PLUS special surprise guests!
Carlos Armesto, Dylan McCullough, Kim Weild, Claire Lundberg, Dominic D'Andrea, Lou Moreno, Shelley Butler, Jacob Krueger, & Michael Gardner.
Tickets are $18 dollars online pre-sale, and will be available for $20 at the door.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
We loved it. As much as I enjoyed and was engaged by How Theater Failed America, I think I this piece is stronger. Daisey's interlocking narratives of his own visit to Los Alamos, Sam Cohen's work on the Neutron Bomb (particularly harrowing and bizarre) and the history of "Homeland Security" psychological portait of our most destructive impulses.
The piece is puncuated perfectly by his writerly style and appealing performance. It's topical, certainly liberal, but never detached or sophmorically infuriated. Daisey has more than an instinct for a good story: he has a curiousity that augments the entire proceedings.
You should certainly pick up a ticket or two.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I'm from Eastern Pennsylvania. Born in Bryn Mawr, lived in Collegeville and then lived in Boyertown, PA from the 6th Grade until I went off to college. I'm went to Pennsylvania Governor School for the Arts. My mother still teaches at a public high school there and lives in Oley, near Reading.
Guess what? That's a racist area. There are public KKK gatherings in Boyertown, for the love of God.
There are lots of reasonable, good people from my home state. Great universities, great theater, wonderful culture and folk art; it's not a terrible place. But there's a boatload of bigots there, no doubt about it. Anyone who claims to be offended for hearing that either doesn't like being called out for their own attitude, or doesn't actually live there.
Sounds like the Kentucky Cycle meets Pushing Daisies. Or something like that.
Either way, I'm there. And you should give it a go too. Here's where you can grab some tickets.
Here's where you can read more about the production.
And here's Johnna Adams blog.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The, when McCain had the chutzpah to ask Obama for an apology because others took exception to the racist undertones of the McCain rallies, Obama shed some explicit light on the subject.
It was classy, and smart, and he made it look effortless. It made McCain seem trapped in making a small argument in times with big problems.
The less said about the hackneyed "Joe the Plumber" nonsense the better.
I'd also like to add that autism and Down Syndrome are very different things.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Looking forward to picking it up today.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Here's my nine-point plan for the global economy:
1. The credit crisis is fundamentally about a lack of confidence in the banking system. We desperately need the Fed and the Treasury to create an emergency fund to supply bankers with unlimited lap dances in the Champagne Room in order to boost their confidence.
2. Don't sell out your stocks or mutual funds. Try smoking them instead.
3. Buy shares in the Internet. It's too big to fail.
4. Start hoarding leather scraps. Can be boiled for broth.
5. Pull out your member (if so equipped) and slap Sarah Palin across the face with it. Is that sexist? Okay, McCain then.
6. Keep tabs on the market indexes by reloading your browser every few minutes. Seriously, it helps.
7. Stockpile intoxicating spirits. (Obvious.)
8. Consider retiring later. Like 85.
9. Grab your ass with both hands and hold on.
As for my own personal plan, I'm going to:
1. Reduce unnecessary monthly expenses, i.e. pants.
2. Start sleeping in my car down on the Brooklyn waterfront.
3. Acquire cheaper vices, i.e. sexing the homeless.
4. Back-up job plan: assembling people's IKEA shit in exchange for gold and silver jewelry.
5. Back-up retirement plan: wandering, naked and raving, in wilderness.
Like Paul Krugman, I'm going to permit you lunatics to comment on my ideas. Go for it.
Pictured are Michael Hardart and Amanda Jones
Listen, I know I'm not unbiased. I was raised by an Episcopal priest. But I find the dull bashing of religion by smug pricks to be a dead end, self-congratulatory exercise.
I don't begrudge atheists their perspective and I'm at the very least agnostic. I also think that religion and religious tradition is an important part of the national conversation, a part of history as well as culture. I believe that religion has driven a lot of positive social change and created a framework for a fair amount of charitable behavior. It's been a force of harm and silliness, but its also been an organizing principle for community and kindness.
The fastest way to move yourself away from the center of American life is to treat religious faith as an enemy. Even within the world of religion, there's a struggle between those who take the lessons of faith and use them for good, or those who use those same lessons to do harm and justify their own selfishness. I live in the politics of that every day working in the Episcopal church.
I'm sure there are plenty of artists and liberals that are a member of a longstanding religious or spiritual tradition. I wonder how often they don't mention that, because they'd rather not defend themselves in this climate. The culture war cuts both ways.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
George Hunka's Superfluities turned 5 years old on September 30th. He takes note of it here.
George and I, especially when I was still getting my sea legs as a blogger, had our arguments, but off-line we've always gotten along well. He's got a serious mind and a good heart and great convictions. He's always been pure in his priorities and if you click over to his blog, you'll never find a post that's less than adult, considered, and passionate.
Who knows? Maybe an editor will take his Organum and quite properly publish it, and we can all say "We knew him when."
Until then, congratulation to George on 5 years of investigation, instigation and information.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
I'm sort of a DC fan only when Crisis stuff rolls around. I have fond memories of Crisis on Infinite Earths as a kid blowing my mind; then I read Identity Crisis (on loan, which I thought was ok, but not really a Crisis story). I loved Infinite Crisis because it seemed like a natural extension of the original.
This one... is odd. It's growing on me. It's being written by Grant Morrison, who is notoriously apeshit and is going hardcore for this Jack Kirby oddball New Gods stuff and using it to make an incredibly screwed up story. I've never really seen a superhero story exactly like it, so I'm enjoying it. But I will say it's...creepy. Really creepy. It's got weird stuff like Vandal Savage becoming Biblical Cain and the "Anti-Life Equation" and long forgotten characters like Libra taking center stage. Characters you'd only know if you had a copy of Who's Who in the DC Universe back in the day.
I wrote this post for David DelGrosso and Jason Grote, I think.
I think I've filled up my geek meter for the day.
I've played the game all the way through on the PS3.
The picture chosen is not from the game I played. It might be from the PS2 version, which apparently features different scenes than the Next-Gen version, but it's hardly representative of the game.
The review itself is weirdly unspecific. It doesn't name the central character in the game, or the actor that plays him. It talks about digital lighting effects, but the main draw of the game is the physics engine. It doesn't mention the game's main set piece (the Star Destroyer scene). It doesn't talk about what's annoying about the gameplay, doesn't name any of the planets (says "natural landscapes"), etc. etc. I mean, there are tons of games where you jump around on platforms. This one has loose controls and a bad camera.
It just seems like the sort of generic review that would never pass muster if it was about a film.
That's not to say I don't respect Mr. Schiesel's clear reference to the Clone Wars cartoons.
I know it's really not a big deal, but it was bugging me.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Do I think Obama won? I do. But mostly because he's simply more coherent. It wasn't a thrilling debate performance; he's just solid and sharp in the setting.
McCain has moments where he appeared on top of the format, but his awkward jokes and oddball answers didn't do him credit. He says that Americans have to sacrifice their...earmarks? They'll have to be cool with him decimating Medicare? He thinks the solution to the health care crisis and the dominance of insurance companies is a tax credit to help you get into a sellers market? You think the solution to the climate crisis is...nuclear power plants? It's not ALL about style. McCain's actual answers to these questions are preposterous and out of touch.
The media tends to go straight for a debate about style. Was McCain agressive enough? Was Obama 'professorial?' It's all to fill air time so they can avoid coming down on any particular side on the issues and appear objective. The public doesn't have that burden: we're subjective viewers. It's our job to determine who makes sense. Right now, that's not McCain.
I am held in high esteem by my colleagues. That's why they invite me to all the best parties.
They reference this fun listing of all the plays in the festival, with single word descriptions, all starting with the letter "S."
McCain announces that he's going to bring up the sleaze factor because without it, he can't win. Then he and his running mate start doing the worst kind of race-baiting and fear-mongering ("Who is he?" says McCain. "A terrorist!" screams one of his supporters). The Washington Post actually reported that someone at a Palin rally said "Kill him!" about Obama.
This is simply dangerous stuff.
Obama puts out a website about something McCain was ACTUALLY involved in, and it's the equivalent? Hell no. It might not be kid gloves, but it's not veiled hate speech.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
In the spirit of this, if you have a Star Wars related question for me, I am prepared to answer it. I am in the mood. I am your one-stop shop for too-much-interest in Star Wars.
Update: I am a happy guy. Short, compact, well-constructed, and a good mix in tone between the prequels visuals and the more zippy tone of the originals. They play like the best Saturday Morning Cartoon Star Wars fans could ask for.
Am I dating myself? Do they still show "Saturday Morning Cartoons?"
Thursday, October 02, 2008
This is a job interview, not an expectations game. Who is more qualified and who is right on the issues? That's the question. The only one that matters.
According to the first snap poll I saw, that question comes clearly down on Biden's side.
Palin came off as a joke. Americans are in a serious mood, and have the sense that we are in a serious crisis. Watching Palin wink, make cute jokes, barely hold it together, repeat talking points doesn't put them at ease. I don't care if you're a hardcore Christian conservative or a hockey mom, you can't see this as a credible performance by a major candidate for office. It's amazing that her performances on CBS and ABC were so stunningly awful that THIS debate performance appeared to be an improvement.
What I found most terrifying (and I'm sure I'm not the only one) is the way in which she said "blunders." "Sure," she said, "there have been blunders." With an eye roll. Blunders? George Bush didn't drop a paperweight on his foot. He lied to the country and to congress in order to start an illegal and senseless war that is still going on; he sanctioned the torture of prisoners; endorsed extraordinary rendition to black sites; he left of thousands dead and billions wasted.
I think most people understand this. Palin, clearly, doesn't.
In truth: Did anyone watch Biden during the Democratic Primary Debates? He was direct, punchy, not as long-winded. Right now, as long as he can avoid the obvious traps (and I'm sure they're obvious to everyone around him as well) he should do better than fine. All he needs to do is bring to bear his actual knowledge.
Palin...who knows? As of now, she's humiliated herself over and over again. She's given the same speech at about 17 rallies over the last month, and she's barely seen the press. When she has, she's been slaughtered. The question is really whether she's been coached enough to pass in this debate. She was coached for her interviews as well, I'm sure.
My concern is that Biden will be so handcuffed by those concerned about gaffes that he's going to be extremely restrained. It'll make for a dull debate, and likely it'll come off as a draw on TV.
What's so odd is that we're repeatedly told not to underestimate Palin, even though all the evidence says she's in over her head. It's feeling a bit like the "We're going to lose this thing" meme that went around when McCain had a blip in the polls. It seems like a lot of smoke and not enough fire. Logic says Biden wipes the floor with her because he simply has far more knowledge. Fear of being too confident says it's a draw.
What do you think?
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Instead of fresh content, I am linking to older, lighthearted material for those who need a laugh chuckle or like to stroll down memory lane.
Rules for the Writing of Plays
Rules of the Naming of Plays