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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.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

An interview with Richard Lovejoy for A BRIEF HISTORY OF MURDER

Richard Lovejoy, author of A Brief History of Murder, answers for his crimes below. The show runs January 14th - 31st at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg. He's been on a tear lately. Definitely looking forward to this one.

Freeman: You describe A Brief History of Murder as two independent yet interlocking plays. Not just a two-act play? What gives?

Lovejoy: Victims and Detectives are each several act plays in their own right. Putting them together we create some sort of ten act monstrosity (as opposed to two five act monstrosities!) They are also designed to work on their own, and there are subtle differences to the mechanics of how each one functions. Basically, if they were one massive play, the structural variations between the two would likely not work. Chronologically they both take place over roughly the same time period, and if the scenes were all jammed together it just wouldn't be as strong (or compelling) as presenting the two sides separately. Victims is sprawling. It has over twenty characters, all of them with complicated stuff going on in their lives both on the surface and underneath. Audiences will sort of just be dropped in the middle. In Detectives we mainly follow the private investigator and her allies on the police force as they try and figure out what the hell is going on. It ends being the more tightly focused play, and audiences have more of an opportunity to follow a protagonist (if they're into that sort of thing.)

Freeman: How would you say this new play compares/contrasts with your last hit show Adventure Quest?

Lovejoy: I'd say they are both similar in the sense that they play with and warp traditional structure, but they do so in wildly divergent ways. Adventure Quest was fun because it was based on a game. When the Hero gets stuck, the narrative screeches to a halt. If he doesn't know how to solve the puzzle he can't advance the plot. In Brief History Of Murder, when the detectives get stuck the narrative is still moving forward. So the way the structure gets warped and played with comes from a totally different direction (several, actually!) Basically, where Adventure Quest was more about reduction, limitation of actions, and enforcement of rules; Brief History is more about possibilities expanding, options increasing in both number and complexity, and rules blatantly getting broken (or contradicted by other rules.)

Freeman: There is gore. What is it about gore and fighting on stage that you think appeals to audiences?

Lovejoy: I think that varies on the person. Theater, film, TV, books, and really most art form can be a "safe" way to explore dark things. Some people love gore because it lets them exercise violent impulses they might have (see also Grand Theft Auto), some people are attracted to the thrilling nature of it, and some people are repulsed and confused as to why anyone would want to put themselves through seeing something like that (incidentally, those are probably the people truly repressing their demons.) I imagine - and hope - that we'll make a couple audience members nauseous. There is some wonderfully sick stuff happening. Though it isn't just about the gore. The gore is just one of many, many elements.

Freeman: Tell the readers why they should see A BRIEF HISTORY OF MURDER. Sell it!

Lovejoy: These two plays are a collaboration of approximately forty or fifty artists. There is a STAGGERING amount of talent from all sorts of places that has gone into creating A Brief History Of Murder. We have original music composition, scoring through most of both plays, choreography, multiple fights, gore, artsy photographic design, extra written content (the program - like all Sneaky Snake programs - is way more detailed and elaborate than it needs to be), twenty actors (in addition to several surprise voice over performances), uniquely created costume and set pieces, special FX make-up, multiple languages spoken onstage, and a complicated and involved story. In short - this thing is a BEAST. Also, there is a special ticket package (https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/store/122/pk/35215) that lets you see both shows for $25 (that's a full $11 off the second play. Or $5.50 off of both, pending on how your brain works.)

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