- 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, June 30, 2009
Here, for my own edification and your amusement, is my rundown of this year's summer flicks. I do not count Public Enemies (it's not a summer movie, it's a Michael Mann movie in the 4th of July slot while Will Smith is on vacation) and Harry Potter. Harry Potter has too many spoilers in libraries and bookstores. Also don't count Away We Go, because come on. Come. On.
I have not seen: The Hangover, Night at the Museum, or Angels & Demons.
If you haven't seen UP, you're a fucking imbecile. Are you busy being a good citizen? Fuck you. Go see this incredibly sad and beautiful movie. Or I'll cry all over your so-so important friggin' shoes. This is the best Pixar film to date, better than Wall-E (which I loved).
...are you still reading this? Go cry and watch UP. GO! Now. The rest is hogwash!
2. STAR TREK
I know a lot of people would put Drag Me to Hell above Star Trek. I thought it over a fair amount. For me, they're both pieces of genre hackery done by directors and writers who know the form backwards. Star Trek edges out Drag Me To Hell, for me, because it simply does more tricks that are hard. It allowed for a completely new cast of actors and deviations for the original Star Trek, without tossing out the existing mythology. Here's a reinvention that doesn't have to pretend George Clooney never wore the batsuit. It was funny without being lunkheaded, exciting without being confusing, and the cast is appealing and fresh. It truly made something that felt new from something we all know well.
3. DRAG ME TO HELL
Did the opposite. It did exactly what we wanted it to do, with gusto. It's a playful and raucous, if modest, return to horror for Sam Raimi. What more is there to say? It made me wince and holler. Did it surprise me? Not a lick. I knew it would be solid, and it was.
4. TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN
Yes, I put this above the two below. And yes, it's a racist, endless, headache inducing, over-indulgent mess. About half-way through the movie, a giant robot that was apparently stolen from Douglas Adams tossed out notes gives our main characters an exposition scene that changes the plot entirely for no reason. The only character anyone wants to see, Optimus Prime, spends 3/4th of the movie under a tarp.
Why is this better than the two below?
Because it is, in its ultimate unending crass monstrous idiocy, a sort of high-water mark for summer movies. It was apparently made by the US Army, a toy company, some computers, and a set of explosive devices. Not that you can even tell. Whenever there is more than one robot on screen, Michael Bay pulls in really close so you can't tell what the fuck is going on. Half the movie is a blur with the sound of a jet behind it.
It has moments of such beautiful awfulness. When "The Fallen" looks up and pronounces "NOW I WILL TAKE YOUR SUN!" to no one. When our heroes look up to see the arrival of the cavalry and say "It's the Jordanians!" It is, by all reasonable standards, dreadful in so many ways that it transforms into a metal monster, roars, crushes you beneath its truck-feet, and leaves you for dead.
I mean, seriously. Seriously. This is the kind of movie you can talk about with your friends for hours. "Why can the Decepticons turn into college girls?" "Why couldn't Starscream talk in the last one?" "Why are the Trees from Lord of the Rings in Shia's heaven?"
I still want to see a movie just with Kevin Dunn and Julie White. They are great in both of these movies, as, um characters. Clearly actors who were just told "Have fun." And they did.
5. TERMINATOR: SALVATION
Man, I wanted this to be good. It does try, here and there, to walk and talk like a Terminator movie. It even has a crowd pleasing moment or two. It is, though, the shell of a better movie, with a few rather bad ideas and editing that seems to say "100 minutes long or die!"
Sure, it's not as actively offensive as Transformers, but it seems so inoffensive as to be forgettable. Transformers rises to heights of absurdity yet unheard of. Terminator: Salvation doesn't bother. The ending is sticky sweet (a strange choice) and John Connor's struggles become the generic struggles of Apocolypse Hero #45. No one makes an impression. Sure, there are a few good robot scenes, and one rockin' cameo. But it's the shadow, the echo, of far better movies.
And Helena Botham Carter? Yeowch.
6. X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE
This movie sucked my hog. Think about this: in X2 (a really good movie) they show us Wolverine's past in a series of cool flashbacks, and then we wind up in the very room where he was turned into a metal boned freak. Then, he battles another victim of the same program.
In this endless movie, that appears to have been shot with the budget of a TV movie, we see the exact same ground covered far worse. We also meet Sabertooth again, even though we're never told why he is now a Shakespearean actor, and not a hulking pro wrestler. Ryan Reynolds? Will.i.am? Some dude with long hair playing Gambit? All of this made me want to bleed in my popcorn.
Wolverine was awesome in the Bryan Singer movies. He's not even offensively treadful in X-Men: The Last Stand. In Origins he is empty of all that was once cool. He chats with old people. He gets gushy with girls in cabins. He is a little boy in a frilly outfit.
To top it all off, the movie ends with him losing his memory because he is shot in his unbreakable head. I was waiting for someone to say "Have the protocol droid's mind wiped."
Here endeth my self-indulgence.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Here's the link to purchase tickets for Sunday 6/28 at 3pm.
Well...Sunday is the final performance of Glee Club and it is, as of now, our second sold out show. Thanks to everyone who has seen it, and those who are coming on Sunday. The cast and staging and music are all exceptional, I'm proud of the work being done, and to have my name attached to it.
We may try (not sure) to add a few extra seats if we can, so watch this space if you're planning on walking up and trying to get a seat.
We are looking into a possible extension, but with a large cast to schedule, it's hard to say if we'll be able to add dates. There are some talks about maybe just bringing the show back for a full run next year, on its own. We'll see. That's a long way off.
The important thing right now is for us to live up to expectations and deliver a great show on Sunday. Thanks to all the great reviews and comments about the production!
The Antidepressant Festival continues on until July 4th. Lots of great shows to go and see! So go and see them!
What always struck me about his defense against charges of pedophilia was that instead of simply saying nothing ever happened, he attacked the idea that what he had done was pedophilia at all. The man simply did not see (it appeared to me) how his actions could have been seen as sexual. Here is the loneliest person on Earth, trapped in Neverland (literally) trying to be loving to children. I don't think it takes much expertise to understand how his wires were crossed.
The press, of course, ate it up. We all did. He was a freakshow, a good joke. No matter that he'd given his entire adult life, and most of his adolesence, the the happiness of other people.
What about his plastic surgery. In this, I'm afraid, he was just ahead of his time. Today it's strikingly common to see plastic surgery among some of the most famous and beautiful people in the world. Hell, Megan Fox (the Transformers pin-up model) is...what? 22? And she has already had plastic surgery. Nora Ephron, that bastion of good taste, goes on public radio to rail against aging and defend cosmetic surgery. Looking at the carved and bleached face of Michael Jackson is looking in an unforgiving mirror.
I don't really know what to say, really. His life was just incredibly sad.
We ask too much of each other.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
See you soon, Mike! I'm sure I'll be seeing tons of your creative output elsewhere.
You should again.
"I may be mistaken, but it does seem to me that Deerslayer is not a work of art in any sense; it does seem to me that it is destitute of every detail that goes to the making of a work of art; in truth, it seems to me that Deerslayer is just simply a literary delirium tremens.
A work of art? It has no invention; it has no order, system, sequence, or result; it has no lifelikeness, no thrill, no stir, no seeming of reality; its characters are confusedly drawn, and by their acts and words they prove that they are not the sort of people the author claims that they are; its humor is pathetic; its pathos is funny; its conversations are—oh! indescribable; its love-scenes odious; its English a crime against the language."
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
"Artistic directors of theater companies have maintained that no discrimination exists, rather that good scripts by women are in short supply. That claim elicited snorts and laughter from the audience when it was repeated Monday night, but Ms. Sands declared, 'They’re right.'"
Provocative, no? Read on!
The Times piece notes reasonable trepidation about the use of doollee.com as a main source of data. Nothing against doollee.com, but it's a catch-as-catch-can database and I'm not even entirely sure how it's updated.
For example, here's my own doollee.com page.
I've never personally updated this. I assume because of the blog, whomever is updating my page does so by pulling information from here. (Thanks if you're reading this!) Since it's no one's full time job, and since I don't get involved, there are discrepancies.
- They don't include the small production that I had in NH in 2000 of a play called The Message. (Long forgotten!)
- They don't include the currently running Glee Club.
- They don't include What To Do To A Girl but instead include The Standards of Decency Project, the festival in which it ran.
- They don't note the short play I ran at the Metropolitan about five years ago called 465.
- Trayf, which ran at the Brick, is missing.
- They don't have an accurate theater or producer for the original production of Reasons for Moving. (It was the Local Productions, at HERE Arts Center.)
Is it wildly inaccurate? Not at all. In fact, it's rather good. All of the above are minor omissions. As a place to obtain good, clean data, though, it's not perfect or authoritative, by any means.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
"Do we allow our rights to be violated (photography, filming and audio taping of performances is illegal) or tolerate rudeness by members of the audience who feel they have the right to sit in a dark theater, texting or checking their e-mail while the light from their screens distract both performers and the audience alike? Or, should I stand up for my rights as a performer as well as the audiences I perform for?"
Suzan Lori Parks
Young Jean Lee
Ann Marie Healy
Heck, I'll throw Jessica Dickey on there just because The Amish Project has buzz.
It's honestly reassuring. Things do seem to be shifting significantly.
For all the hoopla about the lack of right wing voices on stages, I just don't see a concerted effort from the right wing to write exceptionally good plays that everyone begrudgingly admits are fantastic. It's not like there's some right wing Leni Riefenstahl out there, who, despite her belief that George Tiller was a baby killer, has written these incredibly compelling characters.
I know, I know... I just compared the right to Nazis. Sue me. It's my blog.
Just to play devil's advocate with myself for a moment... is it possible that the reason we see so few playwrights of this persuasion is that they are socially discouraged early in their development? I know I wasn't exactly writing the world's best plays when I was in college, but I had people that believed in me and encouraged me. Could, in my academic settings, it be hard for a conservative to find the same social support in a college focused on theater?
Though, as Isaac puts it, does this really bother anyone? Well, not me. But I'm sure if I were a Republican, it might strike me as particularly frustrating.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Even though the majority of Americans want health care reform, support the public option, and Obama is presiding over a majority?
How...is this.. failing? Exactly?
"In three separate studies — which Rouse calls a "triple play" — across 170 pages, [Emily Glassberg] Sands finds gender bias on the part of both men and women in script selection and production, and shows that it hurts theaters economically.
Her first analysis, derived from crunching data about plays and playwrights from the website doollee.com, reveals that women tend to write plays about women, but plays featuring female protagonists are produced less often than those starring men. And, while the proportion of scripts that get produced is fairly equal between men and women, the total number of productions is inequitable since fewer women write plays (one informal study of nonprofit theaters by the playwright Julia Jordan found that 17 percent of their plays were written by women). One way women have compensated for writing female stories is to write fewer roles, which make their plays accessible to more theaters."
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
An inconography of the Industrial body: Fritz Kahn, popular medical illustration and the visual rhetoric of modernity
Looks crazy cool.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The question is a very good one: is Dickey being unethical or taking shortcuts? Or are all paths to good drama justified? Shaw herself says that Dickey's craft made her "weep" and that The Amish Project "artfully asks serious questions about our limited capacity for charity, an exercise that spares us from the piece’s unremitting sadness." But Shaw doesn't let her reaction to the material keep her from asking key questions about how the piece was made.
It's at moments like these that I find star systems so frustrating. The review is three stars, so incredibly reductive. Shaw here says "This work is moving and powerful, but its origins make it suspect." I'm trying to think of another work that's got similar ethical issues. Or if it would have been preferable for Dickey to remove ALL real characters and fictionalize the entire event. Or if the blending of real and fiction is somehow truly experimental. Or if it is, at its core, a way to have her cake and eat it too: a trick of the playwright to fill in the holes in her experience with her the force of her imagination.
I think about theatro-journalism like Anna Deavere Smith's work, but wonder... isn't there control of the material there too? Even though the words are exact, the imitations perfect... the editing of this one-person documentary style is a form of control? What we see is carefully and certainly politically constructed. But if Smith added, even with total disclosure, a single fictional character into the work, wouldn't the entire enterprise fail? Or would it, in a way, allow the voice of the writer to be less tricky, less hidden? Perhaps what Dickey's done is just remove the pretense of objectivity. Or unlocked her ability to comment on the material by refusing to marry a play to a literal re-telling of the facts.
Has anyone reading this seen the production? If so, were you troubled by what Shaw makes note of? What concerns you about the mixture of truth and fiction? Or is there a limit? Is the use of both, in equal measures, more challenging than a completely new fictionalized world, or the pretense of pure objectivity?
Personally, I find the idea of cracking open history with fiction exciting. I like the idea of putting the audience into a place of discomfort this way. But, I can't be sure Dickey's trying to actually cause discomfort, or simply pave the way to an emotionally powerful work, by adding elements that serve her purpose.
I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I, in turn, saw Infectious Opportunity, which I also read before seeing the production. In performance, the play is grim as hell. There's something unnerving, chilly and perverse about the main character. Not just because he's telling a terrible lie, but because he seems so removed from it. It's a real portrait of what it means to be a successful sociopath. Definitely check it out.
If you haven't yet, definitely listen to the previous two interviews. I think they're a lot of fun.
With James Comtois
With Adam Szymkowicz
Monday, June 15, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Our tickets have been moving quickly, and I'm expecting a fair number of walk ups. If you're planning on coming tonight, definitely buy your tickets in advance.
See you there, dear blog readers.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
This morning in Congress, the House Interior Appropriations
Subcommittee, which sets the initial funding level for the National
Endowment for the Arts (NEA), approved a $15 million increase for the
NEA in its FY 2010 spending bill, setting it on a path towards final
House consideration. Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA) has once again
championed the arts and culture and proposed an increase in funding.
Please send a message to your Members of Congress telling them to
support this important funding increase!
Currently funded at $155 million, this increase would bring the
agency's budget to $170 million. In his statement, Chairman Dicks
referenced the Arts Advocacy Day hearings the subcommittee held as
demonstrating that "the endowments are vital for preserving and
encouraging America's arts and cultural heritage." On Arts
Advocacy Day, Americans for the Arts presented a panel of witnesses
before Chairman Dicks' Appropriations Subcommittee calling for a
significant increase in funding for the NEA. Witnesses included
Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center Wynton Marsalis, renown
singer-songwriter Josh Groban, legendary singer Linda Ronstadt,
Reinvestment Fund CEO Jeremy Nowak and Americans for the Arts President
& CEO Robert Lynch. Pictures from the hearing and further details
including the witnesses' testimony are available online here:
Thanks to all of the grassroots advocates for your letters and calls to
Congress and for attending Arts Advocacy Day. We're seeing the results!
The FY 2010 Interior Appropriations bill will next go to full committee
and then to the House floor for final consideration where your help may
be needed to defend against floor amendments attempting to cut this
increase. We must now put pressure on the Senate to match this funding
level. Please take two minutes to visit the Americans for the Arts
E-Advocacy Center to send a letter to your Members of Congress letting
them know that the arts are important to you!
Please help us continue this important work by becoming an official
member of the Arts Action Fund. Play your part by joining the Arts
Action Fund today -- it's free and simple:
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Monday, June 08, 2009
Professional wrestling, for the record, is just like the Tony Awards: at the end of each segment someone has their hand raised in victory, some of those victories are entirely unfair, everyone is really mean to each other. Plus, the whole thing is scripted to get the desired result for those rich shareholders with the greatest interest. It's just that instead of jsinging, wrestlers just hit each other with empty trash cans. Sure, it ain't Oscar Wilde, but neither are Shrek jokes.
Frankly, if the Tony Awards had even one ladder match, I'd tune in. How about Neil Patrick Harris versus James Gandolfini? I mean, it sounds like a mismatch, but that's the fun. Who would win?
The three kids from Billy Elliot could be the special referees.
Friday, June 05, 2009
I'm well aware that I've been plugging my show hard over the last few weeks. That ends soon. GLEE CLUB officially opens on Sunday at 2pm. If you are planning on seeing the show, and haven't decided when to come, I'd be thrilled to see you at our first show.
If you saw WHEN IS A CLOCK and nothing else of my work, you're likely to find this quite different. If you're used to my shorter pieces that pop up in festivals periodically, you'll find this has a lot more meat on its bones.
If you've never seen a play of mine before, this is as good a time as any to give it a try. I mean, you're reading my blog right? How come you've never seen one of my plays?
You can find information here. You can buy tickets here.
You can read about us getting name-checked on Gothamist here. Happy about that.
It's all better now.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Sometimes, I guess, people can discuss differences in a mature and constructive way on the internet. It does the heart good.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Monday, June 01, 2009
I hope other doctors, in honor of this man, take a second look at their willingness to practice medicine for women with some backbone.