- 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, January 30, 2009
I think I'm going to re-read Rabbit, Run. I was too young the first time.
Anyone out there an Updike fan? Any particular favorites? Any thoughts on the passing?
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Did no one send the GOP the memo that eight years of Bush policies and tax cuts have produced exactly nothing for the economy?
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
Many an Emerson College graduate from my era felt keenly affected by the comings and goings at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA. Tony worked at Emerson briefly and directed me in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (I was Givola) and Richard III. Two of the best experiences I had in college. He's a dynamic character, a kick ass fight director, and basically took no bullshit from us. Loved it.
For those inclined to know such things, in Richard III, Matthew Trumbull and I played the murderers, and we had the pleasure of killing one David DelGrosso, playing Clarence.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
1) Geraldine Ferraro was being interviewed. She appeared to be talking to Shepherd Smith from a dark room with about 5 guys all looking at dark monitors. She looked lonely, shunned. She complained about the security, and said she was "moved." Hi-larious.
2) They had some chirpy blonde interview Dana Delaney at a ball. (I assume more popular stars saw no reason to talk to Fox.) Delaney pointedly said she was supporting a woman's right to choose tonight. The interviewer was not fired... on camera.
3) Instead of an American Flag, they kept cutting to a gigantic plateful of crow.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
She sang a song that's been bugging me since I heard it. It's awful, generic pop (not a shock) but it bothers me on a different level, sort of like the misuse of the word "ironic" in that song ironically called Ironic.
The song is about a girl who likes a boy. Uh huh. And she calls him Romeo and he calls her Juliet. According to Google, the song is called Love Story. The end of the song is this young couple deciding to get married.
Harmless pop dreck. Except, of course, the use of Romeo and Juliet. Who, you know, die tragically. DIE. That's the meaning of their f*cking literary existence. It's not called The Happy Story of Romeo and Juliet. These kids wind up poisoned and stabbed because of miserable hatred. It's a story about intolerance, not love.
Calling someone your Romeo might as well be calling him the guy who bought your ticket to cross the River Styx.
Just for the f#cking record.
Going back into my cave now.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
99seats was basically saying "Hey, let's remember that this is awesome and we do it because we love it."
George is talking about something else: that joy can be used to deadening effect, to avoid hard truths and devolve critical faculties. (I know I'm being reductive here.)
Now... I think if you remove George's point from 99seats blog posting entirely (they really have NO relationship to one another) then there's some truth in that. Broadway productions like Mamma Mia, for example, offer little to no artistic merit, say nothing of value, cost a pretty penny. The trick of productions like these is to almost force people to surrender to the idea that the whole thing is fun, and as long as it's fun, it has merit. They feel a sort of joy as they clap their hands and stand up and sway, but in doing so, lose the battle for critical thought.
George and I don't agree on much, but I do think that there are ways in which popular entertainment and popular theater use the idea of joy, a simulacrum of joy, to condition audiences. You are enjoying this, so it's good and you should have more of it. (When you do heroin, after all, you're having a very good time. So I'm told.) Even if Ryan Seacrest, American Idol and Mamma Mia! are soul deadening exercises in mediocracy, they use this sort of chipper, cackling "joy" to bludgeon us into a stupor. Then, when we're faced with something that requires more of us, or doesn't offer these simple pleasures, we don't know how to respond. Our ability to dig deeper can be eroded.
That doesn't mean that real joy doesn't exist and that it can't be found all over the place. And that, as 99seats notes, we shouldn't look for those moments of joy in our own lives that come organically from truly wonderful things.
Maybe I'm being too generous or misinterpreting... but that's how I see it.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
He takes Joy's lunch money and then tells Joy that if Joy tells Joy's Mom, he'll just kick Joy's ass.
He trips Joy in front of everyone in the cafeteria and Joy is totally humiliated.
He say "Hey Joy!" and Joy says "Yeah?" and he says "You're a jerk, Joy. A complete knee-biter."
Joy comes up to Hunka and says "Why can't we be friends?" and Hunka says, "Friends with you, Joy? Don't make me laugh."
When Joy tries to sleep at night, he fears dreams of Hunka, cackling.
Years ago, Joy was hanging out with all his awesome friends, just being cool and stuff. Hunka ruined all that. Joy never hangs out with anyone awesome anymore, and it's all Hunka's fault.
Joy put on this new shirt that he thought looked totally great, and Hunka made fun of it for, like, weeks.
Hunka kicked Joy's pet fish. Imagine kicking a fish. That's f*cking cold. (Joy really loved that fish, too.)
Hunka put Joy in a scorpion deathlock. If you know anything about wrestling, you know that really hurts.
Joy avoids Hunka's gaze, like a low status monkey.
Hunka likes to make Joy flinch for fun.
Hunka posted this YouTube video of Joy's ex-girlfriend getting high and telling everyone what a lousy lover Joy is. It might be the worst thing that ever happened to Joy. He practically had to move because of it.
Quoth Hunka: "It is a joy that leads to the continuation and valorization of ignorance rather than knowledge."
Note: Apologizes to all involved. I am in a silly mood.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
It's a time for reflection. The last eight years were humiliating, brutal, painful. Bush did terrible things, and our society was complicit in those things. Obama becomes president of a country at war and in the mist of an economic paradigm shift (to put it diplomatically).
But you know what? From 2000 - 2008, I cannot tell you nothing good happened to me personally. In fact, quite the opposite. My entire writing career to date spans the Bush years. I met my girlfriend over the Kerry-Bush debates.
Today, I feel like hearing about good things. So let me ask you this: What is one really fantastic thing that happened to you while Bush was in office? I'm just curious. Did you get married? Did you get a play published? Did you get a great review? Did you move into the world's best apartment? Did you get a new cat? Did you lose your virginity?
What happened besides the end of the world, in your world?
Friday, January 09, 2009
When I moved to Alabama, I figured out that this was no longer going to work for me. Quite simply, I could no longer afford to send plays out to companies who charged submission fees. I could no longer pay for my own productions. I had been bled dry.(This is why I recoil when theaters ask theater artists for money to "stay alive." It's an upside paradigm. It's as if I had to pay money to work. Can you imagine giving your job money so you could work? I don't mind helping with funding nonprofits, like lending my time for grant writing. But don't ask me for money, especially when you don't pay playwrights a living wage to begin with.)So, I went out of business. This was the one of the basic reasons I quit theater. I was too ashamed at the time to admit it. It's taboo to talk about debt, especially in specific terms. I don't mind because a) I'm paying it off, b) I'm not going bankrupt like others and c) becoming honest about the situation frees others to be honest as well.
This isn't to demonize those who are affluent, but I've often wondered how much success in theater is tied to the ability to simply afford it. Sure, there's a talent factor and a connections/education factor (I'm looking at YOU Brown University MFA graduates!); but it's a perverse hardship on many writers who come from modest means to afford living in expensive cities, self-produce, have memberships to various organizations, afford mailing costs, etc.
You have to spend money to make money in almost all industries: but those industries often offer some rate of return for hard work. Even if a playwright goes into debt and does become a success, very few of us will be able to pay down the accrued debt without some other source of income. If you're going into debt for law school, the expectation is you're about to become a lawyer, after all.
When I first heard that they were $300,000 in the hole, I was shocked. The financial crisis had hit a lot of places in a lot of different ways, but it seemed like a lot of money to suddenly go missing. Way too much money. I was actually very gratified to read that article, because then it makes sense. Plus I was glad to find that there were consequences for someone. Like the bankers and the bailout, too often with arts organizations, they have these shortfalls and whatnot and do these fundraising pushes, but the people at the top keep their jobs. That doesn't make any sense at all. If we expect the CEO of Lehman Brothers to step down, we should expect the CEO of a theatre to step down. We should expect the board to step down. Their whole job, legally, is to check the numbers and make sure everything is kosher. And clearly, they didn't.
Even though the jobless rate just rose again, and the economy is in full-blown disaster mode, it looks like the stimulus package (which is clearly being designed to get support from both sides) is going to get heat from fellow Democrats, too.
I'm not saying that to be a good Senator is to fall in line with the President, but for the love of God, be real. The Senate passed the Wall Street Bailout faster than it appears they intend to pass stimulus for the average American citizen.
Hopefully this is all just bluster (Obama hasn't even been sworn in yet, after all) and when it comes down to brass tacks, they'll get it done. Nonetheless, the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate appears addicted to shooting itself in the foot.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Your legislators need to know there will be significant economic losses to the state and to our communities....and it may well include major JOB losses.
Remember, we only have 5 days to make our voices heard in Albany, so do it now. Because on January 13, many of you will travel to Albany to meet with your legislators and we want this message to be there when you arrive.
Click here to send an email to your legislator.
Please forward this message to everyone you know...and don't know. If our message goes viral again, we will have huge numbers.
The last time we emailed legislators, you sent 14,300 emails to the Governor and your legislators. This time let's make it 20,000 emails. Numbers matter. Everyone pays attention when enough people speak out.
Send a message today. http://capwiz.com/artsusa/ny/
| ______________________________ |
|Facts you need to know...|
2008-09 Budget (current fiscal year ending March 31)
The Governor proposes an additional $7 million cut to the current local assistance (grants) budget. This will eliminate almost all NYSCA funds that have not yet been awarded from the OCTOBER and DECEMBER cycles
It's also massive (they announced the show at 1 hour and 50 minutes, but I think it ran longer); untethered and almost too much. At times, it seems like a parody of itself, and at other times it's just an avalanche of awesome.
It might not be everyone's cup of tea. In fact, I'm sure it's the opposite. But it's definitely worth a look and it's free. Free, I tell you.
So go and see it.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
From their website:
Magic Theatre Must Raise $110,000 By Friday:
Help us support our Magic by raising $350,000!
How are we doing?
Each seat = $5,000 raised
Help us fill these seats!
San Francisco's nationally acclaimed new plays theatre, MAGIC THEATRE, has raised $240,000 since its initial appeal seven days ago. With the funds raised, we began rehearsals for our next production—Tough Titty by Oni Faida Lampley—slated for previews beginning January 24th. Our staff, furloughed for two weeks, is back at work with pay. In order to continue the 43rd season beyond Tough Titty and stay open, MAGIC must raise a total of $350,000 by January 9, 2009. The funds will allow us to retain staff, continue the season, and remain responsible to our creditors.
In a world where more and more theaters are eliminating the challenging and risky work of mounting new plays altogether, please help us fulfill our commitment to new work. We're $110,000 short of our goal. You can make a difference. Please donate now.
Our core value of risk over commercial gain makes MAGIC a challenging endeavor in any economy, and going forward, MAGIC is committed to a new model of financial stability for a new world—without compromising our mission. Today however, MAGIC's accumulated debt of $600,000, combined with sharp declines in earned and contributed revenue due to the global economy, place us in imminent peril of shutting our doors in March.
For 42 years, San Francisco 's MAGIC THEATRE has been central to the cultural life of the Bay Area and beyond, giving life to some of the most important, diverse, and powerful voices of contemporary American artists, including four Pulitzer Prize winners. From its humble beginnings in a Berkeley bar, MAGIC has emerged as one of the crown jewels of American Theatre. For those of you who have sent us money, large amounts and small, we are grateful. If you have waited, please donate now.
In an attempt to close the gap between MAGIC's expenses and revenue lost as a result of the recession, the Board, in concert with the staff, raised additional funds and cut the $2 million budget by over $300,000. The closing of MAGIC THEATRE would be a great loss for artists and audiences here and across the country. The second largest theatre in San Francisco , MAGIC employs 200 artists annually and touches the lives of tens of thousands of people. We need to keep our artists and our work on the stage!
Artistically, MAGIC is thriving, building upon its rich legacy under the artistic direction of Loretta Greco, who joined the theatre last spring. The critical success of the first two productions of this season demonstrate the rigor to which MAGIC adheres in each aspect of new play production—and the hoped for excitement, awe, and wonder that come from watching great art play out for audiences.
We need your help to raise $110,000 by January 9, 2009. Please help us keep our doors open by making a donation today of $15.00 or more.
Please give whatever you can to save MAGIC THEATRE. No amount is too small or too large. Each of you can make a difference.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
I'll note, as a sidebar, that the true intention of Isaac's a original post to was to ask how we can facilitate discussion about issues like this. How did I respond? Ironically, one might say.
Isaac posts a question about discussing the meaning of our work here. Good topic for a January day, I think. Here's a bit of the post.
Why are we so reluctant to discuss the meaning of our work?I ask this because as a director, it's frequently part of my job to discuss the meaning of a work in the simplest way possible. I recently filled out an application for a production regionally; the first sentence of it was "Play X is a play about themes Y and Z". When Dan and I met to discuss the reading of People Like Us I said (half-jokingly) "okay, let me tell you what I think your play's about so you can correct me if I'm wrong". We have conversations about the meanings of art all the time while making it and yet... we get reluctant to share these conversations with our audiences.
I'm reluctant to answer those questions. I've made a joke of the "subject matter" of my work ("They're all about my parents getting divorced!") as a way to deflect this. Which is not to say I don't have plays that feature divorce, or the loss of a spouse, or marriage. I don't, though, actually write about divorce. If I did, I would write frustratingly dull memoirs, or self-help books, or entries in a diary.
I can't speak for all writers or artists (and I know directors approach work differently) but I've come to enjoy and embrace writing without an agenda. I've said in the past that I like work that asks questions as opposed to gives answers. I suppose that's not entirely true either. Asking a question is a sort of rhetorical approach, a lawyer-ly one, to meaning. Instead of appearing didactic, we shape a pointed question. The result is the same: A play about friendship, or marriage, or divorce, or communism, or Hamlet.
My favorite artwork, though, is not about a subject. It's evocative.
Here is my favorite poem by Charles Simic:
for Hayden Carruth
If you didn't see the six-legged dog,
It doesn't matter.
We did, and he mostly lay in the corner.
As for the extra legs,
One got used to them quickly
And thought of other things.
Like, what a cold, dark night
To be out at the fair.
Then the keeper threw a stick
And the dog went after it
On four legs, the other two flapping behind,
Which made one girl shriek with laughter.
She was drunk and so was the man
Who kept kissing her neck.
The dog got the stick and looked back at us.
And that was the whole show.
What is the subject of this poem? I would argue that we lessen the entire experience by having that discussion. We miss the point. The poem is a painting.
Here is a piece of work that Pam recently posted on her blog, Phantasmaphile:
It's called "Heartland", and it's by Mike Cockrill.
I love this piece. What is it about? What is it's meaning?
Certainly, there is a long tradition of theater that is about argument, reason, presenting a subject (Brecht, Arthur Miller, Ibsen) but there's no hidden agenda with those artists. They express their meaning plainly. They don't leave their message up to chance.
There are other pleasures in theater, and in any medium, than the successful transmission of message or meaning. There are deeper pleasures to be found in almost all plays than those that come from a better understanding of the writer himself or herself. Meaning is, in many ways, a red herring. People who watch work and don't understand the meaning immediately feel they are being insulted; those who feel challenged by "hidden meaning" become obsessed with the detective work. What's missed is can be (and this is not true in all cases) the original intention of the artist himself or herself. If the goal was create something musical, chilling, grotesque, shimmering, or even green or blue or red; that goal is bulldozed, ignored or overlooked if "meaning" is the Alpha and Omega of the theatrical interpreter, or experiencer.
Recently, during the second reading of my piece In The Great Expanse of Space there is nothing to see but More, More, More, I was asked by one of the actresses a simple question: why did I choose to use cancer as a motif? I was instantly defensive, apologetic, and eventually gave the answer to the question. The answer was pedestrian.
The play, though, is about an hour and a half full of language. It's frustrating, maybe still unsuccessful, and it features loops and repetitions and themes and odd juxtapositions. Still, though, it's called "The Cancer Play" by plenty of my colleagues and peers. I am not trying to say anything about cancer. The play is "meaningless;" but that doesn't mean it's purposeless. I don't listen to jazz music and wonder what it means. I don't look at Jackson Pollock paintings and mine them for their subject (unless you call their subject 'other art').
I say this not to defend the piece (my problems with it are entirely my own fault) but to show that when we look beyond the work itself, in search of hidden and presumably precious meanings, we can easily miss the obvious pleasures the pieces offer. If we think about Endgame as a meditation of death; we miss how funny it is. If we think of Hamlet as an exploration of the human mind; we forget that it's a fantastic story. If we treat Arthur Miller like a man who was discussing the American Dream; we forget that he told stories about fathers and sons. The play itself is not a blanket wrapped around its core truth. The play, itself, is the thing.
A writer may have a meaning. He or she may not. But meaning is not purpose, it's not validity, and it's not value. The wonderful thing about theater is that it is so many things; an argument, a poem, a happening, a tale, a joke. In my view, meaning is least of my worries as a writer. As an audience member, the less I concern myself with meaning, the more I experience of the better, richer pleasures of any novel, or poem, or painting, or play.
That's why I hesitate to discuss it. It's not because I think people should decide for themselves what the work is about. It's because there are much better things to talk about.
Your beautiful presence is most humbly requested at Inverse Theater's new show being presented in association with The Access Theater*!
it has no title
it is at the Access Theater Loft Space (380 Broadway, 4th floor, Manhattan)
it is at 8 pm, Wed - Sat, January 7, 8, 9, and 10, 2008
it is FREE!!!
it has original songs and words and actions
it is about...
having body parts removed unsuccessfully
mooseknuckling your wanderlust
remembering (incorrectly) your first time
growing up under a 3 foot roof
poems that encourage regrettable diddling
severe traumatic brain injuries
road trips thru the oysterbeds of yore
carving a hole in your father's heart and fucking it
...among other things that will challenge your ability to know and trust yourself.
We look greatly forward to entertaining you in the theater on these magical evenings of incredible togetherness and personal transformation!
reservations not required. first come first saved.
the actors are:
Anna Elwood, Anni Bruno, Annie Scott, Lora Chio, Michael O'Brien, Darius Stone, Joe Pindelski, Christopher Yeatts, Robert Laine, Timothy McCown Reynolds, Sarah Malinda Engelke, Vanessa Vivezza, Rachel Tiemann, Josh Hartung, Shawn Lainemusic by John Gideon
costumes by Karen Flood
properties by Jane Stein
lights by Jeff Nash
stage management by Bettina Warshaw
assistant stage management by Shawn Laine
words and direction by Kirk Wood Bromley
Monday, January 05, 2009
Reading a bit more about this, I located this interview with William Pavao.
LBVML: I understand that you are related to the Bordens. What is your relation to them and was this one of the reasons you became so interested in the case?
Actually, I did not know I was a blood relative of the Bordens until this year!! I happened to be researching Lizzie's genealogy when I noticed her 4th great grandparents were Christopher Gifford and Deborah Perry. I immediately recognized these names.
My 8th great grandmother, Peace Perry (married John Mumford) was the daughter of Edward Perry and Mary Freeman. Peace had a sister Deborah who married Christopher Gifford. I immediately began doing extensive research to confirm this and the relationship is documented.What a coincidence!! Some things are just meant to be.
Therefore, both Lizzie and I are direct descendants of Edward Perry and his wife, Mary Freeman. They are Lizzie's 5th great-grandparents and my 9th great-grandparents. This makes Lizzie and I 6th cousins four times removed!!!Edward Perry came from England as a boy. His family settled in Sandwich, MA. He was a leading Quaker at a time when the Quaker faith was not allowed in Massachusetts Bay Colony. He suffered much persecution for his religious convictions. Some other direct descendants of Edward Perry and Mary Freeman include Oliver Hazard Perry (hero of the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812) and his brother, Commodore Matthew Perry (who opened trade between the United States and Japan).Mary Freeman was the daughter of Edmund Freeman. He was the founder of the town of Sandwich, MA.
I have read that Edmund Freeman was the first white settler on Cape Cod. He also was the Deputy Governor of Plymouth Colony under Governor William Bradford. His grave along with that of his second wife, Elizabeth are today sites of great importance in Sandwich. I am glad to be able to discuss these ancestors of the Bordens because they add richness and new depth to the Borden's genealogy. We have heard much about the Borden family background, but nothing about this significant branch of the family.
I'm not some expert on tax policy. The thinking inside the Beltway seems to be that taxes are a more acceptable way to use federal dollars than direct spending on good programs. So far, that hasn't seemed to have worked out. Not all "tax cuts" are the same, though, and reading over the article, it appears as if the Obama plan is designed to overcome Republican opposition (tax cuts are like Republican catnip). It also appears that the plan leans more towards incentives for job creation and tax credits to lower-to-middle income families. Obama did promise a "net tax cut" on the middle class, so we shouldn't be shocked.
I'd prefer, and I think many of us would prefer, to see a plan that boldly lays out how the government is going to use its money to fund important new projects and initiatives, not just give backdoor incentives and tax relief. It's gotten us nowhere. Taxes as an engine of economic growth, from this layman's perspective, seem weak. They seem like a political football, more than a real solution. Which is why I'm relatively sure this is a measure taken to placate conservative opposition.
The Democratic Doctrine of Preemptive Surrender, though, continues to give me pause. If the Republicans won't vote for our ideal plan, let them actively vote against it. If they want to filibuster, let them stand up there and waste everyone's time. When did the threat of argument become a substitute for the argument itself?