- 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.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
When Clinton attempted to present the legislature with a fully-formed bill for them to debate and sign, he was attacked for leaving them out of their own process. Now, Obama has opted for an approach more in line with the actual way the government is set up to work. That's not bad leadership. That just means we have a system that's designed to allow for easy obstruction.
2. I believe in the public option and I believe we can't achieve true reform without one. But I also think there are initiatives on the table besides the public option that, if passed, will fundamentally improve health care for everyone. It's easy to focus on the uninsured, and forget that those Americans with insurance, even presumably decent insurance, are still trapped and abused by the system.
One of the awful facts of our current system is that it relies on employer based coverage, which ties good health care to your employment. This means that leaving a job, striking out with a new business, taking risks financially: they all become life or death decisions with possibly catastrophic risks to your finances and your health. If you have insurance (like I do), the control of a for-profit system has made indentured servants of us all. If each person's right is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness... isn't this against our core principles? Of course. The public option isn't just to help those without insurance currently get coverage: it's to free those with insurance from the fear of losing it.
Insurers abusive behavior towards those that pay high premiums in good faith should be literally criminalized. To create confusing forms, to seek to deny claims based on technicalities, and to reward the withholding of service for payment rendered is not only hardly a free market service, but is a business practice akin to lying. To sell something, and then not provide it, is fraud. In all the legislation that I've read about, there are provisions that would penalize insurers for this type of behavior. That alone, with no other reform, is a huge step improvement. Simply put, the law must be changed in order to force insurance companies to alter their own behavior. Their excuse is never that what they're doing is right...their excuse is that it is currently legal to deny coverage for any purpose they see fit.
3. The principle of budget neutrality has never applied to making war. Why does it apply to making people healthy?
4. Raising taxes will harm no one. At all. Period. Those advocating against raising taxes on the wealthy are doing so without an ounce of principle. Woody Guthrie would write songs about them if he were alive. Where's our Woody Guthrie these days? Oh yeah, he's probably sponsored by United Healthcare.
5. If the public turns against health care reform due to false advertisements, false claims and an inaccurate media: does that mean their concerns become correct and codified into law? There have been plenty of good and correct things that were publicly unpopular in certain places before they happened. Like getting into World War II. There were many states that, if you polled them with modern methods during the 1950s and 60s, would have been very against the abolition of Jim Crow laws. Should those poll numbers have dictated policy then?
they meet Giles, who may be their chance to move up a notch in the world…
Please join us for a reading of Christine Whitley’s intimate and gripping
portrait of lives enmeshed in dependency, betrayal, and hope.
At: Battery Dance (above the Access Theater)
380 Broadway (two blocks below Canal, between Walker and White Streets),
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Do you know who shouldn't be even ASKED to defend themselves? Gates and the President. Who are simply acting like rational people in the face of all-too-typical bias and abuse of power.
Sometimes, the press just makes me want to puke.
I do not have an agent. I'm not sure what it takes to get one. I have written pilot scripts, I have been reviewed by the Times favorably, I've been published, I've been produced. Maybe I need to win an award or go to some meeting no one has called me about. Maybe without an MFA from Brown or Columbia, agents figure you're still playing minor league ball.
No sour grapes. One continues forth anyhow. As a practical matter, not having an agent means that there are larger institutions that will not allow you to send unsolicited entire scripts. One must, instead, send a cover letter, 10 page sample, resume, synopsis, a small container of your own urine, and a grainy nude photo. Okay, okay. The last two aren't entirely standard. I've just heard you that if you know anything, you send that stuff too.
More often than not, doing this dance, I get someone who kindly writes that they will read the entire script. This often is a letter that makes me dance around my apartment. Because, really, I know how busy they are. If they don't want to read it, they really don't have to. I take it as a compliment and it makes my heart warm. The idea that they might, you know, actually do something with the full script afterwards isn't even a major concern. You can't expect miracles.
Such is the emotional life of the unagented playwright.
Recently, a breach of etiquette occurred between yours truly and a major theatrical institution in New York City. I won't name them because it's incredibly stupid to pick fights with major theatrical institutions. Let's just call them Theatre I'd Like To F-ck or TILF. (I would put out for them in a major way if they'd just ask me out on a date. They have no idea.)
Anyway, as an unagented playwright, I sent this TILF a cover letter, sample pages, etc for one of my new plays. Their website has the standard caveats that amount to this: "We do not accept unsolicted scripts. Send us stuff and we'll look at it. It will take us 1-3 months to get back to you. Don't get mad if it takes us forever to reject you. We give full consideration to each script."
This TILF is big on its dedication to new work, of course. But we all get it: chances are, your unsolicited script will, after a little consideration, be sent back to you in your SASE with a little frowny face. Everyone gets it. That's fine. Still, one does submit. In the hopes that you're unrepresented excellence will be noticed.
I mailed the TILF my sample materials and a nice letter on February 11th of this year.
On February 13th, I received an e-mail that said this:
Thank you for submitting [NAME OF PLAY REMOVED TO PROTECT MY BABY.] Unfortunately, after careful consideration we have decided not to pursue this project.
Thanks again for your interest in [NAME REMOVED TO PROTECT MY CAREER.]
Now...I am not naive. I never truly expected much in the way of 'careful consideration.' But let's be pretty plain: if I mailed the script on the 11th, and it took a day to get there, and I was e-mailed in at 3:30pm the next day... either this TILF had a sudden uptick in efficiency, or some intern found my submission immediately thrown in a rejection pile and got it in his or her mind to knock out some busywork, or there was a sudden and terribly important meeting called about ME alone because they didn't want to waste my time, or there was something about my materials that made them suddenly go "Oh my Lord, No. Tell him No! Quickly! Quickly!"
It doesn't actually matter. It was likely in their office for less than 24 hours before it was put into the pass pile.
We all know this happens. But we pretend it doesn't. We all do this sort of dance of denial. They say that it takes 1-3 months to get back to you. They don't mean that each submission gets its own personal meeting. They mean the stack of paper is very high and getting higher. Don't expect a phone call in the next week, just because you finished a play.
It's just that words like 'careful consideration' should have meaning. And if they don't, they should carry the illusion of meaning. All I ask (this is where my standards are) is that I am allowed to pretend that my submissions are not an empty exercise. I ask literary departments to support my illusion. When I got that e-mail, my first instinct was laughter. Were they serious? Did they really just say "after careful consideration?"
I tell this story not because it's a shock to anyone. We all know that literary departments are outgunned and surrounded and covered in tough choices and are paid less than part-time public school teachers.
I do think, though, that if an institution cannot honestly consider new scripts from unagented writers, it should say so. I think it's time for a little more transparency.
I am certain that, considering the sheer number of scripts that likely pass over this TILFs various desks, they're basically unaware that this happened at all. That's perfectly fair. Heck, they might get it right 90% of the time. But I suspect there is a real part of being in a literary department that's just about the paper shredder. I mean, it's a tough job, reading plays. But it's not supposed to be waste management and disposal.
And it is not news that there is still massive racism in America.
Now could we please talk about health care reform?
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
David Cote writes in the July 23-29 2009 issue of Time Out New York, in an article called Fixing New York theater:
"5. Bloggers: Engage/Enrage
This item will generate noise (and that's the point): I wish bloggers would mix it up more. Does it take a Rachel Corrie fiasco to generate heat. The theater blogosphere has been dull, insular and quiet lately. We need more arguments, more dirt, more bloody know-down-drag-out fights. Not just self-promotion, obscure manifestos and production diaries. And here's hoping for a new breed of long-form critics worth reading."
First of all, I've had this blog since January of 2005. That's four and a half years of writing in this space. It took me less time to get a BFA. I don't feel particularly guilty about having quiet patches or using this space for self-promotion. Between actually pursuing my career as a playwright, working a full-time job as an Assistant Director in a cubicle 40 plus hours a week, and trying to have a life, the blog sometimes is not my top priority. Sue me. I am not a citizen journalist. When I have nothing in particular to say, or nothing of merit to add to a conversation, I don't see why I should make shit up. It won't fix New York theater, that's for sure.
So...has that blogosphere been dull lately? I'd give that a big yes. Scott Walters has gotten a grant and left his New York bashing ways behind, although we did give each other a pair of parting middle fingers before stopped writing Theatre Ideas. George Hunka, who is a gracious guy, has sort of agreed to disagree with a lot of the more network-y-NY blogosphere. David Cote got into a blog argument with Terry Teachout, briefly. And there was this little dust-up about Emily Glassberg Sands, but it didn't exactly set my site meter on fire. There's little news in 2009 that there is sexism. It sounds like an old story, told again, by younger people who think they just discovered it.
Is the NY blogosphere insular? Yes. It is. I wish it weren't so. I am probably part of the problem. Perhaps I should make friends with new bloggers?
I would also add that I use this space for self-promotion because it is, essentially, a very good way to use this blog. If I have a show coming up, I want you to come and see it. I want you, whomever reads this, to see one of my plays a lot more than I want to tell you what I think of the later works of Shaw.
I'm not a journalist. I think Playgoer covers that very well. And I've publicly stated my tendancy to tread lightly in this public space as I make my way as a playwright. Not use burning bridges that you plan on crossing, so to speak.
I agree we need to see more bloggers whose goal is to be citizen journalists of the New York Theater scene, and I would love them to have independent, punchy voices. I also would love to get stirred up by something fun. Mostly, when the spirit moves me, I tend to lean more on a few jokes. Perhaps, at some point, I'll write some more jokes.
I do take David's point, though. If I expect you to read this, I should give you a reason to read. So, I'll make you all a deal. If I occasionally appear to be mildly distracted or just linking to Talking Points Memo too much, give me a minute. I'll think of something. You give me the benefit of the doubt, and I promise, I'll bother to think of something.
If you act like a jilted lover, I swear to Christ, I'll just start linking to the pro wrestling websites I read. See if I don't, bitches. See if I don't. You won't be so happy then will you.
Wait a second. In an odd moment of synchronicity, it appears Jeremy Piven will be hosting an episode of WWE Raw.
No, I'm not fucking joking.
Perhaps he will hit John Cena over the head with a thermometer.
On Playscripts.com, I have one play published: The Death of King Arthur. That play has been lightly noticed there, and has sold not terribly many copies since it's original publication date in August of 2006. I like to imagine that it's lack of sales is due to the fact that it has a cast of between 14 to 25 and is relatively tough to stage. That's something I'd rather believe than people read the excerpt and don't really like it. Denial is a writer's friend.
But there's definitely something interesting I see, at least in some small way, on my information page.
I have monologues into two anthologies through Playscripts: Actor's Choice: Monologues for Men and Actor's Choice: Monologues for Teens.
Between those two books, the teen edition's excerpts have been viewed almost five times more often than the men's monologue books, and it has sold nearly double the number of copies.
That's not a small difference.
Which is not to say that even the more popular one would be on the bestseller list of any other market. It's simply the largest part of a very small market.
What might that say? That teens use the internet to look for material much more frequently than adults. That's obvious. But also that the primary market (at least for Playscripts) is high schools, without a doubt. That's where the money is, that's where the interest is, that's who is looking at the website. Probably 80% of those ordering, according to my interface, are high schools.
This is the problem with a value system based on what the market wants. If playwrights were run by the principles of Adam Smith and supply and demand, it would weed out all work written for anyone over 18. As it is, the market discourages adult work written for adults as anything other than a labor of love.
In fact, there's been significant progress. Can I say that the support from the AMA is a coup? They're a totally overblown lobby (less than a third of doctor's are members) but they still command the public attention. Or at least, they did when they helped kill the Clinton bill. They were opposed to Obama's plan, and now they're on board. What was reported more? The opposition of course.
(I used to temp for the AMA in Chicago, by the way. And later, I had a job working for the same guy that sued the shit out of them for the Sunshine debacle. Google it. None of that deepens my understanding of the issues: it's just trivia.)
What's fun for me is that this play is absolutely unlike plays I've written before (if you liked Glee Club, this isn't even sort of like that play) and the subject matter of the tale itself is elusive. I love elusive stories, things that feel true even if you can't quite say why. It does make for a script that has slipped through my fingers at times, but the more I've embraced that, the slipperiness of the story itself, the happier I am with the play. It did have some of the repetition stuff I've been working with in In The Great Expanse of Space there is nothing to see but More, More, More, but I've pulled it back a bit in the recent draft.
I'll keep you posted on where this play winds up. I hope to find it a happy home soon.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
"That leaves matters in the hands of the Blue Dog Democrats. These brave moderates are trying to restrain the fiscal explosion. But moderates inherently lack seniority (they are from swing districts). They are usually bought off by leadership at the end of the day."
Funny how the very conservative Democrats who are gumming up the works and thus turning a clear majority into a mess of compromise are, according to Brooks, brave on healthcare.
First of all, Obama's approval ratings are still well north of 55% personally, and as he becomes the prime messenger of the Health Care Message, it will gain approval. It's humiliating that congressional Democrats are allowing the press to cover Michael Steele and Mitch McConnell as if they're anything but minority lightweights and comedians, but apparently Obama is the only Democrat the press will give a microphone these days.
Most people won't admit this, but they don't actually give a damn what health care costs. We need health care reform. It often amazes me how Senators and Congresspersons hold the line on costs when the question is whether or not people can go to the hospital, but will vote to approve money for as many guns as they possibly can. Any question of higher deficits from Republicans and even Blue Dog Democrats who voted in favor of our two major wars, and voted for the Bush tax cuts, are hollow and should be treated as such. When the health care industry is lining their pockets, they become fiscal conservatives.
Suffice to say, what I suspect worries the American people isn't the technical details of the bill or the costs. It's that Democrats can't control a debate when they have the Presidency and majorities in both Houses of Congress. I would bet any money that those people who don't approve of the handling of the health care bills aren't upset that the bills might pass. They're upset that they might not.
The sense of not only community but organization in the Off-Off Broadway or Indie Theatre world has grown significantly since I arrived here in 1999. The efforts of organizations like the New York Theatre Experience, the NYIT Foundation, and the League of Independent Theater (to name a few) are having a cumulative and unmistakable impact.
Here are this year's nominees:
Johnna Adams, Angel Eaters (Flux Theatre Ensemble)
Derek Ahonen, Amerissiah (The Amoralists Theatre Company)
James Carmichael, Stomp and Shout (an' Work it All Out) (Babel Theatre Project)
Nat Cassidy, The Reckoning of Kit & Little Boots (Gallery Players/Engine37)
Kate McGovern, Blue Before Morning (terraNOVA Collective)
Mac Rogers, Universal Robots (Manhattan Theatre Source/Dark Brew Productions)
Martin Dockery, The Surprise (soloNOVA Arts Festival)
Ira Gamerman, Dated: A Cautionary Tale for Facebook Users (Elephants on Parade 2009, EBE Ensemble)
Jeff Grow, Creating Illusion (soloNOVA Arts Festival)
Kristen Kosmas, The Scandal! (The Management)
Kitt Lavoie, [Pwnd] (Rising Sun Performance Company)
Nico Vreeland, The Interview (Elephants on Parade 2009, EBE Ensemble)
Cirque du Quoi?!? (Human Flight Productions, Inc. & Gramily Entertainment)
Creating Illusion (soloNOVA Arts Festival)
Miss America (LaMaMa ETC in association with Split Britches)
Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (New York Neo-Futurists)
Traces (soloNOVA Arts Festival)
Coming, Aphrodite! (LaMaMa ETC in association with Watson Arts)
Like You Like It (The Gallery Players)
Ragtime (Astoria Performing Arts Center)
The 103rd Annual Performance of Ruddigore, or The Witch's Curse, Presented by Murgatroyd's Hospital for Mental Rehabilitation, Ruddy Gore Maine (Theater 1010)
The Apple Sisters (The Apple Sisters)
The Who's Tommy (The Gallery Players)
Blue Before Morning (terraNOVA Collective)
Lee/gendary (HERE Arts Center)
Still the River Runs (Zootopia Theatre Company)
Stomp and Shout (an' Work it All Out) (Babel Theatre Project)
Suspicious Package: an interactive noir (The Fifth Wall)
The Reckoning of Kit & Little Boots (Gallery Players/Engine37)
Universal Robots (Manhattan Theatre Source/Dark Brew Productions)
Martin Dockery, The Surprise (soloNOVA Arts Festival)
Leigh Evans, Traces (soloNOVA Arts Festival)
Jeff Grow, Creating Illusion (soloNOVA Arts Festival)
Abena Koomson, Cozi Sa Wala: Magic Words (soloNOVA Arts Festival)
Micia Mosely, Where My Girls At? (Nursha/soloNOVA Arts Festival)
Una Aya Osato, Recess (FRIGID Festival)
Geordie Broadwater, Stomp and Shout (an' Work it All Out)
Nat Cassidy, Any Day Now
Gia Forakis, Blue Before Morning
Vit Horejs, The Very Sad Story of Ethel & Julius, Lovers and Spyes and about Their Untymelie End while Sitting in a Small Room at the Correctional Facility in Ossining, N.Y.
Matthew J. Nichols, Still the River Runs
Suzi Takahashi, Lee/gendary
William Apps IV, Amerissiah
Nicoye Banks, The High Priestess of Dark Alley
Roy Clary, McReele
Clint Morris, Like You Like It
Jeffrey Plunkett, All the Rage
Chris Thorn, Most Damaging Wound
Ivanna Cullinan, The Granduncle Quadrilogy: Tales from the Land of Ice
Brynn Curry, Like You Like It
Phyllis Johnson, Blue Before Morning
Maura McNamara, The Real Thing
Constance Parng, Lee/gendary
Aura Vence, The High Priestess of Dark Alley
Julian Elfer, Twelfth Night, or What You Will
Jaron Farnham, Still the River Runs
Steve French, Still the River Runs
Jason Howard, Universal Robots
David Ian Lee, The Reckoning of Kit & Little Boots
August Schulenburg, 8 Little Antichrists
Katrina Foy Stomp and Shout (an' Work it All Out)
Soomi Kim, Lee/gendary
Jan Maxwell, Scenes from an Execution
Nedra McClyde, Miss Evers' Boys
Kate Middleton, Avow
Elyse Mirto, Any Day Now
(Not) Just A Day Like Any Other (Christopher Borg, Jeffrey Cranor, Kevin R. Free & Eevin Hartsough)
Blue Before Morning (Kether Donohue, Phyllis Johnson, Jenny Maguire, Chris McKinney, Flaco Navaja & Jennifer Dorr White)
Most Damaging Wound (Bard Goodrich, Ken Matthews, Megan McQuillan, Michael Solomon, Michael Szeles & Chris Thorn)
Oph3lia (Laura Butler, Drae Campbell, Dawn Eshelman, Connie Hall, Ikuko Ikari, Hana Kalinski, Eunjee Lee, Mark Lindberg, Alanna Medlock, Jy Murphy, Jorge Alberto Rubio, Maureen Sebastian & Magin Shantz)
Stomp and Shout (an' Work it All Out) (Geraldine Bartlett, Brian D. Coats, Katrina Foy, William Jackson Harper, Khris Lewin, Carolyn McCandlish, Joe Mullen, Frank Rodriguez, Christopher Rubin, Jeremy Schwartz, Joe Sullivan & Andrew Zimmerman)
Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (Joe Basile, Jill Beckman, Christopher Borg, Jeffrey Cranor, Cara Francis, Kevin R. Free, Ryan Good, Alicia Harding, Eevin Hartsough, Sarah Levy, Erica Livingston, Jacquelyn Landgraf, Rob Neill, Lauren Parish, Joey Rizzolo & Justin Tolley)
Universal Robots (Esther Barlow, Jennifer Gordon Thomas, Jason Howard, David Lamberton, David Ian Lee, Michelle O'Connor, Ridley Parson, Nancy Sirianni, Tarantino Smith & Ben Sulzbach)
Drew Cutler, Still the River Runs
Mark Ettinger and Paul Foglino, Coming, Aphrodite!
Kimmy Gatewood, Andy Hertz, Rebekka Johnson, Sarah Lowe and Jeff Solomon, The Apple Sisters
Gerard Keenan, Angel Eaters
Dave Malloy, Beowulf - A Thousand Years Of Baggage
Nick Moore, 23 Knives
Keith Andrews, Like You Like It
Edward Elefterion, Shadow of Himself
Leigh Evans, Traces
Soomi Kim and Airon Armstrong, Lee/gendary
Austin McCormick, The Judgment of Paris
Stefanie Smith, The Selfish Giant
Michelle Beshaw, The Very Sad Story of Ethel & Julius, Lovers and Spyes and about Their Untymelie End while Sitting in a Small Room at the Correctional Facility in Ossining, N.Y.
Emily Morgan DeAngelis, Angel Eaters
Olivera Gajic, The Judgment of Paris
Hunter Kaczorowski, Like You Like It
Becky Lasky, Stomp and Shout (an' Work it All Out)
Karen Ann Ledger, Twelfth Night, or What You Will
Lucrecia Briceno, Lee/gendary
Ian W. Hill, The Granduncle Quadrilogy: Tales from the Land of Ice
Andrew Lu, Still the River Runs
Jennifer Rathbone, Angel Eaters
Federico Restrepo, The Very Sad Story of Ethel & Julius, Lovers and Spyes and about Their Untymelie End while Sitting in a Small Room at the Correctional Facility in Ossining, N.Y.
Bruce Steinberg, Blue Before Mornin
Dan Bianchi, Dracula
Katie Down, Blue Before Morning
Austin McCormick, The Judgment of Paris
Nick Moore, 23 Knives
Chris Rummel, Twelfth Night, or What You Will
Asa Wember, Angel Eaters
George Allison, Twelfth Night, or What You Will
Jim Boutin, Coming, Aphrodite!
Tristan Jeffers, Stomp and Shout (an' Work it All Out)
Michael P. Kramer, Ragtime
Caleb Levengood, Angel Eaters
Blair Mielnik, To Barcelona!
Saturday, July 18, 2009
My last two interviews, with Adam Szymkowicz and James Comtois, proved popular and fun. It looks like the next three podcasts upcoming are also Playwrights in Conversation pieces. I feel like a trendsetter! But there is no host of the Playwrights in Conversation series that can match my panache!
Either way, when the new podcast is up, you will be the first to know.
Friday, July 17, 2009
All of these people, for some reason, would rather sit in a committees (and let the industry once again hijack the debate) than see substantive reform. And there will be no such reform if it isn't passed before re-election campaigns ramp up. Period. It says a lot that all the members who are asking for a slow down are well-known to be sympathetic to conservatives more often than not.
The truth is, the cost is secondary to the existence of the plan. Once the plan is in place, then you can tinker with cost reductions. But you can't get rid of it. That's the whole point. Medicare is now a fact. Don't like it? Tinker with it? Try to eliminate it and see if you get elected.
We need this plan. It's time.
Of course, there's the easy way to pay for it: let those wealthy enough to buy private insurance pay slightly higher taxes. The only place that is controversial is in the beltway. To most Americans, its common sense.
This is not a debate about cost, by the way. I'm tired of hearing it framed that way. It's about making sure that everyone can get medicine and be treated for their sickness and live healthy lives.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I, personally, don't have much problem with Garvey's approach here. It's uncouth and ugly, but I'll be honest: I find it refreshing. If there's anything I've found a bit dull in the blogosphere lately, it's the lack of real argument or criticism. Sands has been showered with attention for her paper, and the report makes some bold claims. That's fair game. If Sands believes she's being lied about, or falsely represented, then she can answer it. Or she can choose, with her far greater reach, to ignore it and let her paper stand on its own. I've no urge to defend her character. Not because I'm heartless, but because the role she has assumed is one of authority. Authority has to be earned, sometimes under fire.
I took utterly mild, entirely ineffectual note of one small problem I could see here, from a layman's perspective. I admire Garvey's honesty and his fearlessness. Do I think he might be unfair at times? It's likely. But Sands has received the benefit of the doubt elsewhere. He doesn't give it to her, and there's nothing at all wrong with that.
We are often distracted by the nature of an argument, as a manner of dismissing the argument itself. We are also are incredibly disengaged from argument in the blogosphere as of late. It's not only on the blogosphere. The US is a place of enforced rules of public conversation. The media asked pre-approved questions. The harshest debates are often sound bite factories, with no blood drawn and not an honest moment to be found. When we see someone actually questioned, even in a mild and harmless way (see Katie Couric and Sarah Palin) we are practically in shock. It's an event all by itself.
I know for me (and this is why my blogging has been remarkably insubstantial at times) that it doesn't behoove me to criticize major news outlets or colleagues or even people I hope to work with someday in this space. Why would I do that? I am not an aspiring journalist: I'm a playwright. It's bluntly foolish for me, in the midst of establishing a career for myself, to make mock of the people whom I hope will review my work, risk offending fellow writers, or other professionals. That's why I often don't review what I've seen here, or write much at length about the work of others. Even if I like it very much, it can come off as overly kind and disingenuous. If I'm tough on another artist... to what end?
It's a conundrum, and I hope to be as transparent as possible about it. My name is on this site, and I don't use a pseudonym. I'm attaching my posts and thoughts to the public record. I am, therefore, cautious.
Here, we have essentially a report by an undergraduate, and still, the urge is to be careful of her, as if she's made of glass. I don't really understand it. I don't see what benefit there is to calling for unilateral disarmament of edgy, even tough, criticism. Garvey isn't cautious. Which is what makes it, for me, so unusual.
More please. Not less.
Monday, July 13, 2009
The initial commission for “Prima Donna” came from a joint venture of the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theater to generate new work. The Met withdrew from this project partly because Mr. Wainwright insisted on writing the opera in French, and Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, wanted to foster works in English for American audiences. This seems senseless. A Philip Glass opera in Sanskrit is an American work, but not a Wainwright opera in French?Good question. The primacy of the non-profit model means that all creative efforts are now tied to the lawyerly instincts of grant writers and development professionals. Now, plays and operas receive funding because they fall in line with stated tertiary goals, like the advancement of a certain narrow type of work. As Anthony Tommasini points out, this is senseless on its face. But isn't even the discussion slightly absurd? Shouldn't institutions like the Met and Lincoln Center fund work because of their desire to see quality?
Frankly, if any institution should be free of goals beyond simply "good opera" you'd thin it would be these.
Two thoughts so far:
1. This conservative idea that judges should not "make law" is a nonsensical appeal to a base that clearly doesn't understand watch the Supreme Court actually does. The idea that the law is fixed, settled by the framers of the Constitution, is false on its face. Furthermore, conservatives have strict litmus tests for judges about Roe v. Wade (among other things) that reveals their true understanding about how judges "make the law." This is why Harriet Miers had to withdraw her nomination. It was because the base of the party didn't believe she was a reliable vote against Roe. Conservatives won't accept a justice that isn't ideologically pure. Which is why Sen. Sessions statements about how "politics have no place in the courtroom" are dark comedy.
There has been no greater judicial activism than that of the conservative movement towards turning the Supreme Court to the right since the 1980s. So far, they've done a terrifyingly good job of winning that fight.
2. Sotomayor will be replacing a liberal vote on the court. So she will not change the "balance" of the court. Essentially, her nomination won't change the status quo of the Court at all. Except that it will have a more diverse face.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
If you haven't seen The League of Gentlemen's three seasons about life in Royston Vasey, you pretty much have to. Some of the best comedy of the last decade.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
I never gave this meme much thought. It seemed, especially when I first heard it, as good advice.
Lately, I'm not so sure. What cachet is there in dissuading the amateur from becoming an auteur?
My father, who recently retired from being active Episcopal clergy after 40 years of service, once told me of a similar purity test. He noted that around the late 70s and early 80s, young men who wanted to go to seminary were turned away. It was thought that, in your twenties or younger, that you simply didn't know enough to commit yourself to a life as a Priest. "Go away," they were told. "Live a bit more, and when you're ready, come back." This was meant to be progressive, careful and wise. Young people are creatures of whim and impulse. They really should know what they're getting into.
The problem became apparent recently with that line of thinking. First of all, many who were sent away didn't come back. They simply left the Priesthood, having had their interest discouraged. Second of all, you wound up with a narrower number of new Priests, many of them starting their careers at 45 or 50. This meant you have first year clergy who were nearing the age of retirement.
Now, it's not a perfect analogy, but I think the issue is clear: to scare off those who aren't sufficiently dedicated is self-defeating. Would it be a tragedy if more people fell into playwriting as a hobby and wound up making a life of it? Or found themselves good at it because they enjoyed it? Or if the unsure writer, who dipped his or her toes in the water of an Off-Off Broadway play, wound up making good friends, writing more plays, and happily and unpretentiously becoming a playwright for reasons that had nothing to do with his or her initial dedication to the cause?
To be fair, I'm sure some of this meme is driven by a desire to see good work. There are quite a few playwrights, young and old, who seem to have trouble distinguishing the dramatic from the theatrical. By telling those people who would rather write television to just go do it, perhaps we hope to be spared the hardship of sitting through lousy plays. But what if, instead, we said "If you're writing a TV script, how do you think you can turn it into a play?"
What if we encouraged as many people as possible to embrace what's fun and intangible about the stage, as opposed to warning the young people who aren't sufficiently "dedicated" to stay away? I think we'd find ourselves pleasantly surprised by an influx of new energy in what can be an insular community.
Monday, July 06, 2009
Sunday, July 05, 2009
On quitting her job:
"A good point guard drives through a full court press, protecting the ball, keeping her eye on the basket... and she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can WIN. And I'm doing that - keeping our eye on the ball that represents sound priorities - smaller government, energy independence, national security, freedom! And I know when it's time to pass the ball - for victory."
Thursday, July 02, 2009
Are you involved in a new, full production--as a writer, director, actor, stagehand, &c.--that you think is good? Is it running for at least a week (four performances)? If so, feel free to send me information and an invite to your show. If I am not already booked, I will come and write about it here. (Be forewarned: I will not pull punches that are squarely deserved.)