About Me

My photo
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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A question of psychology

Do you feel that the science of "hard-wired" human behavior and genetic pre-determination makes it challenging to write drama? If your worldview is not Freudian, and you don't believe a person is the sum of their experiences and choices, but is more an external mirror of evolutionary and genetic forces... how does that affect how you write them?

This isn't an endorsement of either view. It's just a question I've been considering. To write drama, there is some part of it that seems to blame choices. If one character would only choose differently, or act with free will, they would be free or happy or safe. Plays have a belief in free will built into their DNA it seems. Even in the Greeks, where the Gods are acting upon human beings, human beings do seem free to act as they choose, and are punished for it or not by other free thinking entities.

If you view human nature as a product of environment, genetics, chemistry; where does that take psychological drama?

1 comment:

E. Hunter Spreen said...

I've been thinking about this since you posted and can't come up with a good answer except to say that when I'm writing I don't think in terms of good or bad choices - I think in terms of what a character wants. From a character's POV they want what they want and because they want it, it represents a "good" choice for them. The audience may see things otherwise and maybe the character will come to see it that way too or not. I want to say that psychology doesn't enter into it for me.

That said, I've been playing around with the idea that people are just lists of attributes, preferences, experiences or even reducible to their personal effects - ie. a set of cancelled checks, a pair of red pumps, a letter written home to Mom. It seems to free me up and my characters seem richer. Then I focus on writing scenes of conflict (that old trope) that arise when people each want something and set about trying to get it. This seems to work even with some of my more esoteric material.