- 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.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
This is another Playwrights in Conversation nytheatrecast. My fourth. You can find a link to the item here, or directly download the MP3 here.
Scott has some very interesting things to say about how he views theatrical language, adaptations, and Samuel Beckett. His company is producing a new version of The Odyssey.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Now, I have a slight headcold. I think I'll also remain vaguely hungover for a few days.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Blue Coyote Theater Group has something new - in many ways - coming up shortly. It features music by Stephen Speights (who wrote the music for Glee Club and did tremendous work as an actor in it as well), is written by David Johnston, features a terrific cast, and is appropriate for children and their parents.
So get your tickets immediately.
Effie Jean In Tahiti
The Blue Coyote event you
should bring kids to!
For ages 7-77!
Book by David Johnston
Music and Lyrics by
Directed by Gary Shrader
Choreography by Jonathan Hollander
Featuring: Bruce Barton*, Laura Desmond*, Brian Fuqua*, Katy Garceau, Katie Hayes, Lynda Kennedy*, Tom Staggs*, Jane Titus*, Matthew Trumbull*, F. Dash Vata.
Princess Effie Jean has made a bargain with Proteus, the Old Man of the Sea, and now she’s stuck in Tahiti guarding his jewels. Boring! Even worse, she’s supposed to kill any strangers that land on the island, and the first one who shows up is her own brother. Can the wily brother-sister duo find a way to trick Proteus? With the help of vain Cassiopeia (Queen of the Night Sky), a school of flounder, and some good old-fashioned song and dance, YOU BET THEY CAN!
People have a memory of about twenty minutes.
For example, remember this?
Not really? Not until just now? Right.
The fact is Democrats have been trying to complete some form of health care reform for a very long time. Everyone takes a crack at it, and it always fails. Obama, even if the bill is nowhere near as comprehensive as we'd like it to be, will probably actually wind up passing comprehensive reforms of some sort. And if he does that, it will be a major accomplishment. Period.
But besides that, I'm a bit weary of the news about this. Frankly, it reminds of the Democratic primary. If you were to watch this from afar, and describe what actually is going to happen, it pretty much always does. False drama drives ratings and spikes hit counts. But you could draw a map of how this will all play out from now until November, and have an 80% of nailing it.
Health Care Reform was always going to be 1) done early 2) resisted by Republicans 3) complicated to negotiate 4) attacked by various lobbyists 5) a legislative slog 6) tough on Obama's ratings. That's why he did it now. First thing. So he had some room to fall. Also, it's clear that with the majorities the Democrats have, something will pass. And once it passes, that'll be that. Everyone will be taking CREDIT for it. Republicans will say they are proud of the bill because they kept costs under control and still got good reform. Democrats will say they fulfilled their campaign promises. We'll continue to have an imperfect system, but it'll have some practical improvements. That, as they say, is that.
The rest is window dressing.
Remember the Clinton - Obama primary that lasted forever? Obama had won the nomination something like 5 months before Clinton conceded. There were no actual surprises. He won where he was expected to win. She won where she was expected to win. He got the nomination. Everything that happened was evidence that maybe he couldn't win the Presidency. Now, he's President. Christ, when I saw him speak in 2004 at Kerry's convention I said aloud "That guy is going to be President." Everyone did. And so it came to pass.
I'm not saying there isn't such a thing as surprises. But there is a reason that's what they're called: they are rare. They are a surprise. Generally, if it looks like a duck, and it walks like a duck, and it acts like a duck, it's a duck.
Unless you're CNN, Fox or MSNBC. Then, it's a Rasmussen Poll showing 51% of Americans didn't understand the question.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
It's a good play, and its a way to directly support me. Available directly through Samuel French and also Amazon.com.
If you saw it, read it, liked it...you could post a short review on Amazon. That, too, I would appreciate.
If you're thinking "That's nice, I hope someone buys his book or reviews his book on Amazon..." I mean you.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Here are the debates in which the country has debated as of late:
1. Should we commit more deeply to a war that was entered into under false pretenses?
2. Is it okay to torture people?
3. Should the people who have, in power, lied to the American public be held accountable or even prosecuted?
4. Is it reasonable to arrest a man in his own home who is doing nothing wrong, if you are a cop?
5. Is it a constitutional right to bring a gun to a protest of health care reform?
6. Is health care reform a bad thing?
These are, on their faces, absolutely absurd questions. But once you get the debate into "Are you sure it's not okay to torture people?" country, all bets are off. Instead of simply declaring that everyone who tortured, justified torture, promoted torture, and tried to worm torture into law are criminals and subject to international law; we have discussed it as if there is a question. All things have become a matter of relative principle, all things are debatable, everything becomes a question of political persuasion and, in the end, there is no functional meter by which we judge right and wrong. We've lost the ability to distinguish the quality of an argument.
The insurance industry is simply trying to stop the government from becoming competition. They want to remain profitable, and in the business of sickness. We (paralyzed by a bemused, wealthy media without a point of view) are now debating on its terms.
We are actually hearing public officials...elected representatives of the law and the people...defending the bringing of assault rifles to protest rallies.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Protecting President George W. Bush in 2004 was a matter of national security, and protecting President Barack Obama in 2009 is, it seems, a matter of debate.
Or maybe the Second Amendment has finally become more important to law enforcement than the First Amendment.
Or, better still, they want to send a clear message: if you want the cops to respect your rights, bring a gun.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
To find information about him, you could look here, here, here or here.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
"Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care—to equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals. While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?"
So assisting the homeless find shelter, or food stamps... bad ideas? I'm sure that the poor often choose to shop at Whole Foods.
His solution to the health care crisis? Um...
"Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat. We should be able to live largely disease-free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age."
He thinks that if we all shopped at Whole Foods, we wouldn't need this "socialist" public option for health care reform. I'm sure he'll give up some of his own salary, or pay more in taxes, to subsidize the prices at Whole Foods so shopping there is affordable for those who are on the margins.
Wait... that's socialism.
In short, if you can afford to be healthy, you can be healthy. That's his philosophy.
Boycott Whole Foods.
Let Whole Foods what you think of Mackey here.
When people are educated about their options, they tend to find ways to supplement their retirement income, avoid capital gains and gift taxes, and also financially take care of their family and themselves as they move into a phase of their lives where their medical costs will skyrocket.
When the insurance lobbyists and conservatives refer to "end of life care consultations" in dire terms, they make me laugh out loud. All day, every day, I work in the world of "end of life." I see more death certificates cross my desk every week than most people see in their entire lives.
Powerful people are trying to terrify the poor and the elderly into protesting against their own interests. And the media is helping them do it by not treating any scare tactics relating to end of life care with the chuckle they deserve.
This "issue" is less than legitimate: it doesn't exist.
Articles like this one are a fine example of how the media is failing to do its job. Lies, not fears, are driving the political protesters. If the media doesn't exist to expose lies, what use is it, except to serve as a mouthpiece for the loudest?
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Rove, Bush, Cheney...they cannot be shamed or publicly humiliated. It doesn't affect them. They're emotionless and shameless. They need to be fined, locked up, barred for public office. Something has to happen. What can happen? What will happen?
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Anti-health-care loon says Stephen Hawking wouldn't stand a chance under British health care system.
This is why it's not worth a respectful debate, crew.
1. People to have access to a doctor without going broke
2. Better competition with health insurance companies and more choice for consumers
3. To make it illegal health "insurers" to deny coverage to people that pay for it.
What about that makes people carry guns to rallies, exactly? What exactly are they protesting for or against?
I also continue, despite myself, to be sickened by how the Republican politicians seem completely fine with it. Leading a pack of lonely, misinformed, violent, racists away from getting better health care and towards the behavior of a threatening mob... is what they want to do.
Monday, August 10, 2009
You might recall this isn't a new subject for her.
Upstaged chimed in here.
To throw in my two cents:
I think we need to toss out the word "experimental" when we mean "not structured like Ibsen." How many "experimental" plays have we all seen at this point that seem to draw for the same playbook? Why do we continue to pretend that most of the "experimental work" we see isn't the same sort of work that's been around for decades? Close your eyes and imagine an "experimental" play. Do you see four actors in white, standing in front of a rear projected image, moving in unison, speaking in odd patterns? You do? Me too.
I also find it just plain bizarre that someone should bother to stand up for conventional structure. For example, let's look at the last 10 years of winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
2009 - Ruined
2008 - August: Osage County
2007 - Rabbit Hole
2006 - No Award! (Not given to Durang, Rapp or Rolin Jones)
2005 - Doubt
2004 - I am my own Wife
2003 - Anna in the Tropics
2002 - TopDog/Underdog
2001 - Proof
2000 - Dinner with Friends
1999 - Wit
I don't see how convention is being shown the door. What exactly, in the list above, is so incredibly experimental? Maybe Topdog/Underdog. But Proof? August: Osage County? Doubt? Wit? Rabbit Hole? We're not exactly turning up our noses to conventionally structured plays in favor of these kooky kids with their nutso ideas. I mean, sure, Sarah Ruhl asked everyone to speak in the language of stones or something, but other than that... what shows on major stages are spitting in the eye of long held traditions? Jack Goes Boating? Back Back Back? Something by Richard Greenburg? 100 Saints You Should Know? Mauritius? The Scene?
For that matter, if you want structure, it's not like you have to go far to find it. Turn on the TV. You will find structure, perfect beautiful structure, for miles and miles. Characters. Conflicts. Structures. Forms. Perfect act breaks. We are all born and raised on structure, we bathe in it from when we're little kids. I'm sure it's annoying to be conventional and be treated as conventional...but sometimes the majority has to push back against a rowdy minority I guess. Just to remind everywhere who's in charge.
And no, I'm not against structure as a concept, or smart plotting, or characters. I just don't see what, frankly, all the complaining is about. Structure, order, neatness: they're doing just fine. They really, really are.
The only thing that I really don't honestly buy is this part of Rebeck's statement:
"Recently, John Eisner asked me how, as a playwright, I reconciled my passion for structure and historically more traditional elements of craft with fidelity to the inchoate and poetic essence of the creative impulse.
I was honestly startled by the question. John is smart and reasonable and he spends a lot of time thinking about theater and theater artists and questions of how theater can remain a lively and important element of the American culture. So when he wondered how I reconciled craft and creativity I had to take it seriously even though the question kind of made my head want to explode. It has always seemed to me that the instigating impulse is something messy and internal and that a playwright’s job is to take that messy internal moment and build it into a stronger and more complex and dynamic version of itself so that it can sustain itself, on a stage, with actors, in the light of day. It’s like being a gardener: You have a seed; you add water and dirt and light, and you have a plant. You have an idea, you add structure, and you have a play. That’s not reconciling a conflict, that’s art."
What a shock! Someone asked her, in 2009, if it's hard to shoehorn those poetic impulses into a structure as old as the hills. Doesn't everyone know what "art" is? To take something messy and human and build a little cage around it, so everyone can get a better look at it! Startled, she was, by such a question. Startled!
Saturday, August 08, 2009
When right wing insurance company operatives send people to scream at town meetings to try to kill health care reform, they are covered as a groundswell of populist anger against the President's agenda. The President is asked if he made a mistake in allowing for town halls at all. As if the fault lies with the individual who encourages open discussion.
On a different, but related, note...I was actually listening to a podcast from the New York Times political team, and there was a bit of back and forth that started with "Did Obama wait too long to go after health care reform?" (He just passed his 200th day in office, of course.) Then, after that was decided not to be case, they posed a different question: "Did he try to do it too quickly?"
Thursday, August 06, 2009
What makes you so certain that drugs help people?
Was he a chemist?
No, he was a miserable bastard.
Pardon my French.
He…well…I prayed at night for the fucker to die, excuse my French. He was the sort of OCD old crazy person that would scream his head off if he came home and everyone else wasn’t upstairs.
I don’t usually talk about it. I’m sorry to curse. This isn’t going well.
My father died when I was six years old. He killed himself.
Do you know how I feel about that?
I wouldn’t presume to…
He was a coward. A god damned coward. I mean, he didn’t even kill himself like a man with a gun. Turned on the car. Went to sleep. A fucking pussy, if you ask me.
So… your father was depressed?
In a way. I think so, yes. He had a weird way of repeating himself that made him seem dangerous. Like every time he said something, the subtext would change from insinuation, to sarcasm, to threat. We were all afraid of him.
Brothers and sisters?
Me, my foster brother, and the dogs.
You were adopted?
No, they took in an orphan in order to get a check from the government.
The dirty, swindling government.
Exactly. But me, and my foster brother and the dogs…we were sure he was going to kill Mom. I think a few times he did try to actually poison her. She would get sick and take to her bed and not move for what felt like weeks. She wouldn’t cry, she just had red crusty eyes. I was sure he was mixing chemicals into her food. But I never called the police. I was terrified. I was sure I was next. My foster brother did, for his part, actually die. So did the oldest dog, Helga. But that was a bus accident, so I was never able to tie her death directly to Dad’s personality disorders.
Correlation and causation and that nonsense.
Still…our house, my entire life until I left home, and then for years after; everything was surrounded by his miserable nature, his cruelty, his small mindedness.
Then, a few years before his death, I got the money together to put him into a nursing home. And the nurse gave him a pill. And even though he could never, ever undo years of being a fucking asshole, he seemed, in a day or two, like this different man entirely. He smiled at kids. He became patient. He actually wrote me a letter apologizing for about a third of what he’d done. Which, for him, was like everything.
That drug made it possible for me to watch him die without completely hating him forever. It is, and was, a miracle. And I want, more than anything, to help other people. However I can. That’s why I believe in drugs. I believe they’re good, and that the people who toil in their creation and marketing are doing good.
The Hurt Locker - This movie was thrilling, harrowing, and by avoiding the overt discussion of politics, actually says something interesting about the war in Iraq, and why human beings put themselves repeated in harms way. Plus, it's just a very well directed action picture. Why this isn't playing on 3000 screens, and being treated like a huge hit, is mystifying. I can't imagine anyone that enjoys, at the very basic level, suspenseful action films not really enjoying this movie. It's being marketed like a little indie feature. It's just not one.
Bruno - Just like everyone else said: I laughed really hard, but not because it was about anything. Bruno, unlike Borat, doesn't really have anything to contribute to the dialogue about homophobia. Bruno is a repugnant stereotype, and doesn't really show how people respond to real gay men and gay women. It just shows how people respond under duress to a strange (sometimes staged) situation.
It honestly is more akin to watching Extreme Sports than social commentary. You laugh because you're watching an shock junkie go for broke.
If there is something from Borat that remains embedded in Bruno, it's just how long most people try, very hard, to be polite and tolerant.
The major flaw, really, is that he often aims his "gotcha" cannon on people who aren't particularly powerful. People who attend TV show tapings. Hunters from Alabama. Hotel attendants. People who are trying to get their kids work. It's not that funny, at the end of the day, to use power to make powerless people seem like fools.
Public Enemies - I don't get the love this picture got in some circles. It's a perfectly acceptable movie in every way, which is why it was disappointing. There's little flourish in it. The love story (where the movie spends most of its time) is unaffecting. Bale and Depp never have that moment of real confrontation that movies like this one need (think the best movies of John Woo for the dynamic I wish I'd seen). There are a few moments I enjoyed, and some well composed action scenes. Beyond that, a minor effort.
Heat, which a lot of people (myself included) love...has an element of almost camp to it. Pacino is so quotable in it because he's just *this* close to being too big. It's what makes the movie...fun. Memorable. Watchable. There's an element of audaciousness in Heat that Public Enemies lacks. The latter tries to be understated, and just feels tuned down.
Moon - Wow. What a great movie. I don't know if it's still out in the theaters, but if you can find it, you really should see it. It takes scenarios that seem so played out, and just keeps making surprising choices with them. Smart, so well acted by Sam Rockwell (Oscar?) and really, really moving
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Many of the people who would like me to use this space in a way that suits them, for their entertainment or enlightenment or because they want me to be a more vocal advocate on some issue or another, don't have any personal stake in my growth or success as an artist. I do different math about my decisions, because they directly affect me. I earn nothing here. I just do this because I enjoy it, and I hope you enjoy reading it. If you don't, and my hit count drops to zero, that won't get me fired or anything.
I do look for ways to substantively contribute. I do my best. If you'd like a blog that rakes non-profit theaters over hot coals for their sins or takes artists to task for their inadequacies, there's something wonderful you can do: write it yourself.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
But I think there must be a bunch of playwrights, actors, designers and directors out there with blogs that I simply don't know about.
So...if you're reading this, have something theatre-related to say, and you want to be linked to, read, and put on my blogroll, let me know. From anywhere in the country of course.
E-mail me at mattfr - at - gmail.com
Monday, August 03, 2009
I'm hoping to do these for a while, and talk to as many writers as I'm able. I've seen that since we did the first one, there have been quite a few other Playwrights in Conversation chats and they're all a lot of fun, and extremely varied in tone.
I'm curious how these are striking people. Love to get some feedback.
Have you listened to them?
What prompted you to hear them (do you subscribe on iTunes? Was it this blog? Did I interview a friend?)
What works and what doesn't?
Any subjects that we brought up that struck a chord with you?
Do you generally listen to the nytheatrecast? Why or why not?
This begs the question: if the news, a source of "information," is now on 24 hours a day and seven days a week in a variety of easy to reach platforms such as the internet, mobile devices, oh and newspapers and television...why are people believing things that are patently false? Shouldn't, with the stunning growth of (what once could be unironically called) "information technology," idiotic rumors be more quickly squelched? Not confirmed, debated, stoked and even spread?