- 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.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
From the book...
"If I were not an atheist, I think I would have to be a Catholic because if it wasn't the forces of natural selection that designed fish, it must have been an Italian."
I was very proud of the production, and the work that was done. The direction was, as usual, tight and clear. The acting was all around spectacular. I know a lot of people who saw the show were impressed by Steve Burns performance and rightly so - it was a show stealing performance in a show stealing role. Everyone, though, was fantastic. Carter Jackson's deadpan serviceman underplayed to perfection. David DelGrosso gave a heartfelt performance to a role I felt could easily have been detestable, a truly great performance. Laura Desmond was freaking hilarious as always as she blew up with rage at Joe Yeargain, who in turn gave subtly powerful performance as The Patient. Maya Ferrera's role, written more as a sight gag on the page, wound up giving real life and bringing some exceptional comic timing to the role of Gretchen.
It wasn't my most attended play, truth be told, but it certainly seemed to find favor with the audience that did attend. If you made it out to see the play, thanks so much for supporting our efforts to delight and provoke. I certainly hope we'll see this play again very soon.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
380 Broadway, 4th Floor
(2 blocks south of Canal, @ White Street)
Friday, June 25, 2010
Buy a ticket already.
Don't be a jerk.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Looking forward to seeing it!
I'd like to say that the dust-up, such as it was, with Derek Ahonen is something I feel has been slightly overblown. It was a single response from the playwright, and I can understand why he was sensitive. We expect critics, even critics we know personally, to be entirely honest privately and publicly with their opinions of our work. That's their function. If I were to read another writer quoting a lukewarm review of mine, I'd probably be slightly unhappy as well.
It's easy to hope that all writers and members of a community will remove all social constraints and just let loose on one another. That's simply not how communities work. One of the reasons we build communities, even when it seemingly limits the discourse, is the sense of shared goals and safety. I believe that Derek misread my intentions with the post, but I don't think he was displaying a personal opinion that no one else shares or that was entirely unreasonable. Maybe we both should have thought it through a little more carefully.
What I do think is a useful question to ask, however, is how can we have a constructive public discourse and remain sensitive to the very real human beings we're discussing. For me, it's not an abstract thing. I may never have met Ahohen, but we certainly have friends in common. I personally have met most of the people I could and do blog about. So the social aspect of my work isn't imagined. I have to look everyone I write about in the eye, basically.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Isaac writes about it.
George writes about it.
Helen Shaw writes about it.
My thoughts? This sucks for the actor involved and sucks for the production. I don't know if the e-mail was actually sent to the press or to friends and acquaintances. Either way, its gossip-mongering and that's a shame. But come off it. Is this a "leak?" Is this a national security scoop worthy of getting a piece of the shrinking newshole? The question, for me, isn't whether or not the Voice has a right to publish it, or if it's ethical...but is it worth anyone's time? I mean, look at all the comments. It's insane. The Voice just published a personal grievance by an actor who copied the wrong person or some crap like that. Do we think it's news that people occasionally don't get along in New York City theater? Arguments like these happen every 30 seconds. There are plenty of burned bridges all over the city. So...what?
I'll tell you what. People love this stuff. Theater is boring to talk about. Try to get through the sentence "American theater needs to re-examine it's approach to..." without falling asleep.
People want a little blood in the water. I've had this blog for more than five years. Trust me. I could ask questions about political theater all day. I could write about the nature of theatrical marketing. I could write about decentralization or ticket prices or Peter Brook. I could post my own unfinished work online and ask for feedback.
But if I wrote a post called "[Insert fellow playwright's name] is an untalented, useless jerk and here's why..." I would have about 152 comments in a few hours.
So Karl Allen... take heart. This too shall pass. In fact, it's the day after. You're half way to this being just a funny story you tell at bars.
I declare it the best play in the Too Soon Festival. (Ahem...have I spoken too soon?)
Before our show, you should catch the final performance of Death is a Scream. A nice full evening of theater, two great plays, back to back.
Here are the details:
Death Is a Scream
What if you could choose your own "ending"? With the help of a highly skilled Death Agent, you can! And after you buy the farm, a “Corpsetologist” will make you look like your favorite celebrity, model, or head of state. These and other death-dealing characters await you in Esther Crow’s one-woman variety show, “Death Is a Scream”. The Village Voice has said “….[Crow] writes and performs with charm and compassion.” Chock full of gallows humor and “untimely” music, this show will take you by surprise. Kinda like death itself.
Written by Esther Crow
Directed by Rabeah Ghaffari
Watch the video promo!
Fri 6/11, 9:30pm
Fri 6/18, 7pm
Sat 6/19, 3pm
Sun 6/20, 5pm
Wed 6/23, 7pm
Monday, June 21, 2010
"The focus of the play is on the concierge and his simple deference toward Bush. There are even hints of a religious parable and a suggestion that we revere our leaders instead of holding them accountable. As staged by Paul Meshejian, the play, produced originally in Philadelphia by the InterAct Theater Company, offers up the ex-president as the man we saw in public: no more, no less. That may be true, and even insightful (although I doubt it), but it isn’t very interesting to watch."
Ben Brantley's review of Enron:
"Yet even with a well-drilled cast that includes bright Broadway headliners like Norbert Leo Butz and Marin Mazzie, the realization sets in early that this British-born exploration of smoke-and-mirror financial practices isn’t much more than smoke and mirrors itself. “Enron” is fast-paced, flamboyant and, despite the head-clogging intricacy of its business mathematics, lucid to the point of simple-mindedness. But as was true of the company of this play’s title, the energy generated here often feels factitious, all show (or show and tell) and little substance."Obviously, these are two different reviews of very different writer's takes on very different productions. I am, though, acutely aware of critical responses to political theater these days. What's interesting is that American playwrights are often whipped for not producing work that is suitably politically challenging or relevant (Enron was famously imported from London); but it's rare for me to see a political play praised in the press anyhow. Even Tony Kusher's most recent work seems more focused on interpersonal relationships, the politics of the household, that on National Themes. The notices in Minneapolis were lukewarm...we'll see how it is received when it hits NYC.
So...what are the standards for what is successful political theater and why aren't we hitting those standards? Lee Blessing's play seems like a modest character study and "liberal fantasy" - but wouldn't The Crucible be accused of being "liberal?" How can a political play be dismissed for having a point of view? Isn't that the whole reason to write a political play?
On the other hand, with Enron, in an effort to turn a story about financial fraud into something theatrical, it seems that the production went all out with intriguing staging. The result? All flash, no substance was the review. Almost too easy a critique? Maybe not if it's true.
Either way... there's a long tradition of great political discourse being carried out on stage. Brecht and Ionesco and Arthur Miller and Shaw and Ibsen. Social commentary. Political diatribes. But would Ibsen's An Enemy of the People be called liberal or conservative? Clearly there's a crusading 'Michael Moore' at the center of the play, but then he sets forth a belief that a majority is always wrong. Is that Democratic?
Those plays that strike out against fascism... they resonated far more during the rise of Nazism than, say, they might now that everyone who disagrees with you is a "fascist."
So... what is the astute and successful model for political theater now? Obviously, one of the reasons it interests me is because That Old Soft Shoe is an attempt to write political theater for today. I am the worst judge of how successful it is. I hope it has been. I believe so. But, like all writers, it would be hard for me to explain exactly why.
Have you seen contemporary political theater that made an impact with you? Is there such a thing these days?
That Old Soft Shoe is a good play.Thank you for your kind attention.
I don't want you to see it because you like me or personally support me.
I want you to see it because I think it's well-written and acted and directed.
If you do not think so after you see it, well then that's my mistake.
I try very hard to make things of artistic merit and to share them.
Take advantage of my efforts to entertain you and give you an intriguing experience.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Only one more show, and the one I attended was SRO. So, yeah, tickets in advance or bust. Last show is on Saturday at 7pm.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
One thing I think goes unspoken for playwrights like me, or for many of us, are the uncontracted, unspoken, entirely key partnerships that we form over time. I know I've been particularly blessed in that respect. Over the past several years, I do have a sort of core group of people that I work with, and who work with me (thank God for all of them) that have facilitated my work.
One of the key people, and you probably know this if you've read my blog over these last five years, is Kyle Ancowitz and the rest of Blue Coyote Theater Group. Blue Coyote is my home, for certain. Kyle, though, has directed nine of my plays if you include short plays: The Great Escape, The Most Wonderful Love, When Is A Clock, An Interview With The Author, Glee Club, What To Do To A Girl, The White Swallow and Trayf. He's also the director of my current show That Old Soft Shoe. I like to say that no one works as hard as Kyle does at making my career possible. We work hard for one another, and we try to do our best work and inspire one another, and I'm incredibly grateful for it.
Gary Shrader, another of the four artistic Coyote core, directed both the 2004 production of The Americans (a play and production I still have a great fondness for) and originated the role of Paul in the original Glee Club production. Stephen Speights wrote the music for both The Most Wonderful Love and Glee Club, as well as playing the role of Ben in that production. Bob Buckwalter played the lead The Great Escape and did wonderful work as the divorced Mark in Glee Club.
There are countless other partnerships. Obviously, most people know that I've worked with actors David DelGrosso (who appeared in The Most Wonderful Love, When Is A Clock, An Interview With The Author, Glee Club, The White Swallow, Trayf and is currently in That Old Soft Shoe) and Matthew Trumbull (who appeared in Reasons for Moving, The Death of King Arthur, The Most Wonderful Love, 465 at the Metropolitan Playhouse, When Is A Clock, An Interview With The Author, Glee Club, What To Do To A Girl, The White Swallow and Trayf.) But there are many other people I've worked with rather often. Tom Staggs, for example, played Mordred in The Death of King Arthur, Gordon in When Is A Clock and Hank in Glee Club. Laura Desmond appeared in The Great Escape, The Most Wonderful Love, When Is A Clock, The White Swallow and now appears in That Old Soft Shoe. Sean Kenin played King Arthur, appeared in and produced Reasons for Moving and was recently in the original cast of Exposition. Plus, he's the guy that introduced me to the Coyotes in the first place.
That's just to name a few people who have been mainstays in my work, and have given my work great faith, time and energy. There are tons of actors beyond these that have appeared in multiple readings, two or more productions, or has been a part of my life in New York and my work for a very long time (Kina Bermudez appears in Exposition/Denouement but was the Page Boy in The Death of King Arthur back in 2001, for example.)
I post all these rambling citations not just to offer up a list, but to inspire you to think about who it is that has formed your own core and community. One of the facts about theater is that it is not a solitary life. Who, out there, are your teammates or is your teammate? Who makes your work happen? Whose work inspires you to keep working? When you're shuffling between work and laundry, who, besides yourself, do you run home and write for?
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The Little One
A new play by James Comtois
Directed by Pete Boisvert
Ryan Andes - Becky Byers - Rebecca Comtois
Stephanie Cox-Williams - Jeremy Goren - Stephen Heskett
Melissa Roth - Patrick Shearer - Christopher Yustin
The Kraine Theater
85 East 4th Street
(between Bowery and Second Ave.)
June 17 - July 10
(Thursdays through Saturdays)
All shows at 7:30 p.m.
We've gotten some great reviews so far, especially raves for the language in the piece and for Steve Burns turn as Senator Corpuscle. It's really must-see stuff. Especially for politics junkies, who will sniffle and cry.
The way our schedule works for Too Soon, we aren't back until
Wednesday June 23rd at 8:45 pm
Then, we have shows on Saturday and on the final day of the festival of Sunday.
That doesn't mean we should fall off your radar! With only three more shows, you really should get tickets now, right now, like now already.
There are also tons of great shows going on at the festival, including Hack!, Jeannie's Abortion, and The Wedding of Berit Johnson & Ian W. Hill: A Theatre Study by Ian W. Hill & Berit Johnson. Frankly, the last one strikes me as a really profoundly cool and also probably extremely touching. I mean, let's hope. It's a wedding.
Read all about it here.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
Then, go look at the actual review.
Off Broadway is always on the make for saviors, and troupes can earn cults before their miracles pan out. The Amoralists inhabit that tricky space, somewhere between treading and walking on water, in Amerissiah. As in previous Amoralist joints, Derek Ahonen’s play features plenty of extreme emotion, wild-eyed acting, loud screaming and theatrical shock tactics. (Poop-stained rags are thrown out the kitchen window on two separate occasions.) Yet behind all the zaniness is an ultimately serious look at belief and forgiveness, and Ahonen can’t quite keep it all in the same plane.
The troupe’s core regulars—including Matthew Pilieci as a dying man who believes he’s a god, Sarah Lemp as his materialistic sister and James Kautz as her adenoidal ex-husband—give enjoyably broad, glazed-hammy performances; other actors, such as Williams Apps as a reformed junkie and Selene Beretta as his nerve-jangled girlfriend (both excellent), give scarily realistic ones. But the actor playing Margie, Pilieci’s older hippie wife, is simply inadequate; it’s almost as though Ahonen, having written the part with startling malice, wanted to sabotage the character even further. But a play like Amerissiah lives and dies by momentum: The emotions are too high, and writing too pocked with little holes, to let you stop and think about it midway. Both Ahonen’s script and his direction of it are undeniably jagged; to believers (and I am one), that is part of its charm, but also, at times, a test of faith.
Yeah, me neither.
Ah, star ratings!
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Patrick Lee, a frequent contributor to TheaterMania, passed away earlier this month in Larchmont, New York. He was 51 years old.
He was also a juror for the GLAAD Media Awards, Awards Director of the Independent Theater Bloggers Association, and a member of the Outer Critics Circle.
Lee's work for TheaterMania included reviewing Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway shows and writing celebrity features. His recent subjects included actors Sam Underwood, Michael Esper, and Gregory Itzin.He is survived by his mother, sister, and other family members. Funeral arrangements are still pending.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Kyle Ancowitz’s production of Matthew Freeman’s play That Old Soft Shoe at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg is a hilariously irreverent, frenetic, and absurd send up of 24 and its genre of fear mongering drama that will keep you laughing all the way to a highly classified black site in Jordan – or more probably, Florida.
Deal with it! See the show and I'll shut up!
You think I do this for my health?
Monday, June 07, 2010
Sunday, June 06, 2010
I saw, though, this really fun promotional video for another show in the Too Soon Festival: RIP JD. Thought I'd share it.
Plus, look at their adorable young cast!
Saturday, June 05, 2010
I just don't really understand this narrative. It seems like its being pushed by journalists as opposed to actually reflecting the public attitude. I know I live in New York City (where real Americans only lived on one day in 2001), but I just am not hearing this sentiment. The spill is clearly the result of massive failings by a whole lot of people not named Barack Obama, and he seems deeply engaged with trying to solve this seemingly insurmountable problem. A failure to solve the problem so far just seems to magnify how bad the issue is: it doesn't seem to show how incompetent the players are. His approval numbers aren't taking some massive hit anywhere, not as far as I've seen.
Friday, June 04, 2010
I will be receiving an award, of course.
Here's the description from the Brick:
In this special preview performance, several Too Soon shows will be exposed with their pants down, unready to open, scrambling to impress audiences. Intercut with the performances, awards celebrating the potential achievement of each Too Soon Festival show will be prematurely handed out by The Brick, with artists giving tearful acceptance speeches thanking everyone who contributed to each show’s presumed success. Attendees and participants alike will be confused but big-hearted about the whole affair.
Fri 6/4, 8pmThe Cabaret WILL SELL OUT!
Thursday, June 03, 2010
Sunday afternoon at 2:30pm at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg. It's a part of the Too Soon Festival. Get tickets here.
Come see this one early and come see this one often. Having seen the first full run last night, I have to tell you: the cast is really f*cking funny. Just out of this world. I think the play is funny too, but you'll have to be the judge of that.
Come. Judge me. Confess your bubble.
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
There are tons of upcoming lectures but I heartily recommend "The Beautiful Experience" with world-renowned stained-glass artist Judith Schaechter. It's on Saturday June 5th and Admission is only $5. Seriously. You get a lecture with this amazing artist for $5.
I'll be there helping out.
See you there!