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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.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Freeman's kneejerk response to Outrageous Fortune

Just started reading Outrageous Fortune. Tons will be written out this. I'll have a formal response soon. My very first, entirely instinctual response, is "And...?"

There's lots to think about here, and I don't want to belittle the very important work that's been done here...but it's not like when I got into theatre I thought "Now here's a place with lots of ways to make a living!" Is anyone actually surprised that the market affects decision making, or that it's nearly impossible to make a living writing plays or that it's hard to get people to do challenging work?

Also, so far, the book is really about a world I don't live in. Off Off Broadway, for all its lack of funding and eye-rolling, is where I've spent my career. You know where to find theaters that are dedicated to certain playwrights, do oddball work, aren't slaves to corporate thinking and go pretty quickly from the page to the stage? Off-Off Broadway. Off-Loop. The problems that they have at the Guthrie and the Public are pretty much problems I don't contend with. I aspire to the problems described in Outrageous Fortune so far. Sad, maybe? Who can say?

There's a truly American prayer: "Please, Lord, grant me the problems of more successful people."

Okay, take that for what it's worth. Just getting into the book. More to come.


ukejackson said...

It was Arthur Miller who, I believe, said: "A playwright can't make a living but he just might make a killing."

Plus ca la change, plus ca la memes choses.

Scott Walters said...

Don't you think it is kind of appalling that we don't get outraged by the situation? That our resppnse is "And..."? When we accept a crappy situation as the norm, especially in a time of crisis, can total collapse be far behind?

Freeman said...

When you say "we" you mean "me" I think. You are outraged and you're appalled that I'm not? I dunno. I'm not appalled by myself and my own attitude. Like I said, I'm still reading the book. Perhaps it will make me so outraged that I picket. I doubt it, but I'm open to it.

I think we have problems and we need to seek solutions. That doesn't drive me, personally, into a frenzy.

I think in order to have serious aspirations to succeed at something that offers rather bad odds no matter WHAT you do... counting all the obstacles is just not that helpful.

Scott Walters said...

I see -- so you define "appalled" as "frothing at the mouth and throwing firebombs at buildings." Yeah, me neither. I was thinking more in the "this here system sucks a lot and needs some serious change in order to create a healthy ecosystem for our country and our world." But maybe that's too much. Ignorance being, in fact, bliss.

Freeman said...


I forgot how much fun you are to talk to.


Scott Walters said...


Malachy Walsh said...

"You can't make a living as playwright. You can barely scrape by." Sam Shepard

Freeman said...

"Never tell me the odds."

-Han Solo

Ian W. said...

Story told by Len Jenkin. I forget which playwright actually said what, but you get the idea.

Len Jenkin and Mac Wellman are at some Theatre conference or other, around 1984. They are staying in a house belonging to Sam Shepard - currently unoccupied as Shepard is going through a divorce. They are sitting on the porch at the end of the night, drinking.

JENKIN: So . . . THIS is the house that playwriting bought.

They look around them at the very VERY modest house of noted playwright Sam Shepard. There is a long pause. They drink, and consider.

WELLMAN: We're fucked.

Malachy Walsh said...

The house was most likely bought by money made for THE RIGHT STUFF.

I heard that Shepard once said (apocryphal perhaps) that he made more money from doing that film than all of his plays put together. And that was several years AFTER winning the Pulitzer.