You're watching a traditional play about something like politics. A politician is meeting with a journalist off-the record. The journalist agrees to call the prominent politician a "well positioned source" and commits to anonymity otherwise. Then, slowly it becomes clear that there's more than just fund-raising shenanigans involved in this story. This political champion appears to have done some truly terrible things.
Throughout the fun little scene, the actor playing the journalist keeps clicking her pen. It's looks like a nervous gesture at first, but the longer you watch, the more you realize it seems almost like a...signal? Or even something deeper. The actor is making a point of the pen's importance in the scene perhaps. You notice, with the clicks, what is written down and what, pointedly, is not.
What you don't know is why this is actually happening. Is it because the director believes that the pen of a journalist is symbolic of something or other? Or, did the director just say... "You know what would look cool? Click the pen. I dunno. Click it after each third word that you say."
Is it possible that an arbitrary decision by the creative team and a decision with some complex thought behind it...can look exactly the same? And does it make a difference, really, to the audience member? Does how a decision is arrived at inform what we see?
Can we sense the arbitrary? Or do we just assume that everything we see onstage was put there with a rigorous sense of purpose?
- 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.