- 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, December 30, 2011
The show runs live from around 6pm until just after midnight. Hope you'l check it out and enjoy. Happy New Year!
Thursday, December 29, 2011
I'll let you know when WHEN IS A CLOCK becomes available, of course!
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
He's recently put for an idea to debate, and I think it's definitely worth some back-and-forth.
"Any theatre that transfers a production to a commercial venue automatically loses its non-profit status."
And so? What say you?
Friday, December 23, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
I'm sure a lot of the debate will center around the validity of her claim that interns don't get hired by the theaters they volunteer for very often. (Some comments over there are already talking about that.) Two thoughts about that from me.
One is that I've always found that whole process questionable anyway. Is her point, "Look I gave you my free labor in order to move to the front of the hiring line, and I was able to do so because I can afford it. But this unfair advantage I thought I would get was misrepresented?" I know it isn't, of course. It's just a bit too much inside-baseball, first-world problems, writing a memo to Human Resources, to really keep me invested.
Second, it's less interesting to talk about post-internship hiring practices than it is to talk about the way in which financial constraints force large artistic organizations to use free labor on a mass scale. Don't we have a jobs crisis in this country? Couldn't these unpaid internships, with a little public funding, become jobs? There's a strong economic argument to be made that better funded theaters and dance companies, large and small, could employ more people. And if these were jobs, even part-time or seasonal jobs, wouldn't that reduce the disparity in the class issue? It would mean that people who need to be paid for their work would still have "working at a theater" as an reasonable option.
On a personal note, I must confess, whenever I read about the "industry" I sort of die inside. I keep forgetting I'm in an industry. Or maybe the problem with my career thus far, such as it is, is that I'm expressly not in the industry. I just write plays and try to get them put on. I'm doing this wrong.
Then again, I think I want to be in the industry. Don't I? But then again, it's an industry. Isn't it?
Friday, December 16, 2011
But I digress.
Apparently Scene Partner is an app that helps people memorize their lines. Because a yellow highlighter and a patient friend, or heck, just a room by yourself, is no longer good enough. We need the funky iPhone version of learning things.
So, I think I'd like to request a few more theater related apps. Things that will replace age-old problems with newfangled problems.
CUE ME APP - Keep your iPhone in your pocket on stage. It will buzz whenever it hears the three words preceding your next line.
WRAPPER REMOVER - An app that reminds you to remove the fucking peanut M&Ms from their wrapper now, five minutes before the play starts, while you're reading your program, not the second Mark Rylance comes onstage.
RIGHT FOR ME? - An app with several parts. First, you upload your headshot. Then, you put in your resume. Then, your friends anonymously can upload notes about the parts you're best for. Then, when a listing for an open call shows up, and your mind is feverishly looking for rationales why you should audition for Romeo at 47, you can consult the objective app and get your shit together.
NEW PLAY DEVELOPMENT APP - Replace the entire development process with an app that gives all the standard notes that you will receive during a talkback session, but fills them in MadLibs style from the details for your play. For example:
"I didn't believe it when MARTA confessed to DANIEL."
"I just think you should raise the stakes for HAROLD."
"What you need to ask yourself is 'Why is this night more important for GINA than any other night?'"
"I felt like THE ANGEL GABRIEL was from a different play."
"Do you have any questions that you would like this APP to provide feedback on?" [ENTRY SCREEN] "Yes, the APP agrees that part could be tightened up."
"Why isn't this a screenplay?"
INSTANT REVIEW - An app that reads your play, the cast, the director, the company and the venue, and quickly writes the review you know you will receive before you even start rehearsing. It even will emulate the reviews from different sources, such a three star review from Time Out or an exasperated review from Charles Isherwood.
LITERARY DEPARTMENT APP - Send your play to this app for your daily dose of deadening rejection. It fills in the name of your play: "We loved reading THE JUNIPER BUSH" and makes a single comment that seems personalized before rejecting you. "The characters were unique and the structure inventive. We're sorry, it does not match our needs at this time." (Works especially well with the iPhone 4s.)
NEW PLAY APP - Enter a premise and characters, and this app will produce a 70 minute, intermissionless play with an ambiguous ending and a progressive social theme.
HEADSHOTS! - a new iPhone app that uses the camera to create the perfect digital headshot from any standard picture. Closes up on your face, finds your best side, whitens teeth, adds hand-on-your-chin with photoshop, creates either brick-building or stoop background with state-of-the-art digital technology. Then, instantly sends to agents and online depositories of dreams.
You're welcome, entrepreneurs.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
So did we win? The war? That lasted? 9 years? Based on? Lies?
Did the thousands dead make us more free, or safe?
Was the cost of the war in human lives, human suffering, faith in our institutions, world opinion and pure dollars...worth it?
Today and tomorrow only, Playscripts.com is offering a 40% Holiday discount on all its titles. Valid only today and tomorrow, December 16th.
That means if you want to make a gift to a loved one of a new play or anthology (or if you'd like to make a special sort-of gift to good old Matt Freeman by buying one of his books) now is a great time. Use the code GIFT at checkout.
Playscript titles by Matthew Freeman
Rabbi Hersh and the Talking Lobster (or Trayf)
The Death of King Arthur
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
First, I look at the things over the course of the last year that were, and I put them into categories and lay them out over a table. Some get blue stickers, some red, some green, depending. Then, I try to make sure there are at least an equal number of all three stickers, so that it's fairly and widely distributed among the potential things that are "top."
Once all those things are gathered, I do what I call the annual "gut check." Some things just feel right and others don't. I think we often get too analytical, and it makes us forget how much instinct drives us. That's what might explain why one year, on the Top 10, we left off Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Overthought things, you know? I'll always regret that.
Anyway, after the "gut check," we (my wife and I) go through a more complicated process of ordering things in Excel, trying to quantify. We take into account influence, reach, "the long tail," page views, aggregates, points, polls, overall sales, total sales, net versus gross, Nielsen ratings, our Pop-O-Meter, state-by-state polling data, unsubscribes and Twitter followers.
This usually brings the list into something like a near-focus. Finally, we use a dart board. Ten bullseyes later, our Top 10 list is complete.
And so, without further ado
10. The Walking Dead
9. Occupy Wall Street
7. Spearmint Gum / Pepper Spray (Tie)
4. CM Punk
3. Earthquake, Japan
2. The Oprah Network
1. Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Friday, December 09, 2011
Here's a quick snippet from the newest play. Because you heard it here first.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
The Most Wonderful Love (which got a pretty great New York Times review in 2006, here).
When Mother and Father celebrate their long and happy marriage with an unprecedented ceremonial unwedding, their friends and relations gather from all over to feast on the spoils; get ready for this sprawling satire on contemporary marriage and American fundamentalism.
The Great Escape (one of my favorites)
Things have changed since Henry last visited Mom; for starters, the décor is decidedly kitschier, and his sister Catherine decidedly creepier; and Mom has a new husband; and she’s locked herself upstairs.
A young man writes a poem, “The Americans,” so beautiful that the walls of his room rise into the sky and explode, covering New York in wood and plaster rain; for three young men vaguely nervous about what their lives are becoming, it is, at least, something different.
Monday, December 05, 2011
I'd like to ask a question about your own giving strategy.
Do you tend to give whatever you can to a single arts organization, to maximize your impact? Or do you give a little to lots of smaller companies, to spread the wealth around? Or, do you not contribute in this way? Do you simply buy tickets as a way to show support?
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
- BORING AND IMPOSSIBLE: Car chases. Climactic gunfights. Enormous country-style breakfasts.
- INTRIGUING BUT IMPOSSIBLE: Thermonuclear explosions. Singing alien plants. Journeys to the Heaviside Layer.
- TOTALLY BANANAS AND IMPOSSIBLE: Characters vomiting mythological creatures. Giant thumbs that bleed abstraction. Talking Jewish lobsters.
Monday, November 28, 2011
You can support many of your favorite playwrights by just buying their books. (Hint. Also, maybe you'd like to try here or here or here or here. Heck, don't forget about this.)
Most of all, your favorite small theaters need you more than ever right now. Day jobs are scarce. Funding is dry. Audiences are careful with a dollar. A $50 donation to public radio is a terrific idea, and it means a lot to them. But a $50 donation to the company that just did that cool new play in a black box up the street? It's exponentially more important, more useful, and it will be put immediately to use paying for the work you love.
Here's a few examples of companies that I think would benefit from even a small donation. $25, $50, $100. Whatever you can give. Stretch this year, maybe. Give more than you did last year. But give.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Check out the event, and all the kick-ass events at Observatory, here.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 07, 2011
Saturday, November 05, 2011
Friday, November 04, 2011
When I write a play, one of the biggest challenges for me is keeping in balance the desire to speak with instinct and spontaneity; and organizing the entrances, exits, order of speakers, fitting the pieces together. It's sort of like trying to finish a jigsaw puzzle with all the force you can muster.
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
- Playing Uncharted 3
- Playing Batman: Arkham City
- Watching Fringe
That would be the behavior of a child, not a grown up with a job and things to do. I wouldn't behave that way.
Friday, October 28, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Tonight and tomorrow are the performances of Playwrights for Pets: Heavy Petting, from Blue Coyote Theater Group. Billed as a night of unlikely romance, it will feature performances and new works. Should be fun, especially if you love pets, which I know you do.
The play I'll be presenting is a staged reading of The White Swallow, a popular short from a few years back, affectionately known by some as "the egg play." It's directed by Kyle Ancowitz and is performed by the crack team of Laura Desmond, David DelGrosso and Matthew Trumbull. I love it, it makes me laugh, and I think it will make you laugh too.
Tickets can be purchased in advance here.
More information about the show can be found at www.bluecoyote.org
(My cats names, for the record, are Albee and Remedios Varo.)
From the website:
Thirty years after the virus devastated New York City, swept the nation, and forever changed the world, a new threat looms, that of complacency. HIV/AIDS is a problem that has yet to be overcome, and as the harrowing days of the early 1980s slip further from the public conscience and strides are made in treatment, there is the widespread and dangerous misconception that the virus no longer serves as cause for concern. Through the use of the performing and visual arts, this event will honor all those who have been lost senselessly due to this vicious disease, celebrate those who have championed the afflicted, and mark a renewed commitment to ending this pandemic that has robbed us of too many bright futures.
Tickets are here.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Can't say I entirely agree on all counts. I'm sure you won't either. That's the fun of lists.
For example, they place the Michael Almereyda's dull Hamlet (the one in Manhattan with Ethan Hawke) above the Kenneth Branagh version, which I really can't see. I guess if you do a lot less, there's less to screw up?
They also put Julie Taymor's Titus above Prospero's Books. Hrm. Not feeling it. To me, Prospero's Books is bolder, less literal, more built for the screen. Taymor's Titus is grand and grim (I definitely loved it), but it's essentially a massive, expensive stage production.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
A provocative tweet by the amazing Taylor Mac on October 12th:
"I'm learning that new elite r prolific writers/tweeters/bloggers who dominate the conversation via onslaught of material."
I think there's something to this, and I think I might be implicated. Is there a bias towards (on the web anyway) writers who produce a great deal of material? Twitter and Facebook and Blog Posts? For example, if I were to write one essay here per month, and labored over it for days, would that mean I had fewer visitors, less interest, and therefore a smaller overall platform? If you don't feed the beast, does it move on to eat something that's still bleeding a bit more profusely?
And does that, you know...matter? It doesn't seem like the most successful artists feel the need to have much of a web presence. In fact, there are very few playwrights (from my unscientific perspective) out there that seem to even have their own websites. And it's 2011.
How significantly are the conversations about theater online impacting the art of theater that is being done, anyway? Or is it, really, a form of entertainment and connection, a broad conversation about life in the trenches, more than a critical conversation about the work?
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
It's an interesting feeling, removing an entire character from a play. It's tough enough to remove a line, or a scene, but characters have a way of being sticky, of wanting to live. I've very rarely actually entirely removed a character. I think recently in THAT OLD SOFT SHOE, I had originally written a character named Phillipa, who didn't make it to draft two. I'll miss you Phillipa. You could have been funnier, but that's really my fault, isn't it.
Any writers out there in a draft process finding themselves holding the red pen over a fictitious life?
Friday, October 14, 2011
Blue Coyote Theater Group - where I've called home since 2004 - are off on a new and exciting endeavor - the Coyote Commission Project.
The first commissioned playwrights are Robert Attenweiler, Kristen Palmer, Christine Whitley, John Yearley, and David Zellnik. Read new blogs from them, get updates on their work, and check out the results on the new Coyote Commissions Project Blog.
Here is a post from John Yearly
And another from David Zellnik.
Also, Blue Coyote is now on twitter. Follow them here.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Friday, October 07, 2011
I'm not sure how I feel about it.
"I’ve come to the conclusion I’ve rapped Mr. Rapp’s knuckles enough for a lifetime. I’d like to hand the ruler to someone else next time."
Monday, October 03, 2011
I have heard the Occupy Wall Street protests compared to the Tea Party movement. The Tea Party movement was, and is, simply an off-shoot of a Republican message, funded by mainstream conservative activists in shadow, to promote conservatism in the face of a popular, charismatic and non-traditional (in look and name) Democratic President. It's uniform message and political savvy are not the result of passion, but of calculation.
Occupy Wall Street is steadfastly revolted by calculation, and is driven entirely by a complex set of emotions and thoughts. Let's celebrate complexity and passion. Let's remember that the sentiment of a group of individuals fighting for an ideal, pointing out injustice, should outstrip and outgun the media's desire for soundbites and slogans. It is dangerous to believe that the merits of an ideal are related to how simple the ideal is to communicate.
Saturday, October 01, 2011
Final performance of in the great expanse of space there is nothing to see but More, More, More...tonight
Tonight is our third and final performance of the workshop of in the great expanse of space there is nothing to see but More, More, More. Tickets can be found here.
Friday, September 30, 2011
"The question all but asks itself: Why is anybody still writing plays? Theater, after all, is no longer a central part of the American cultural conversation, the way it was when Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams walked the earth. Nowadays most educated people would just as soon stay home and watch "Breaking Bad" as shell out a hundred bucks to see a Broadway play—assuming that there are any plays on Broadway worth seeing, which long ago ceased to be a safe bet.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
On an ENTIRELY different note, I popped by the set of The Professionals, a Youtube series that features my good friend David DelGrosso, to shoot a scene alongside my pal Matt Trumbull. The episode is fun, for sure. My favorite thing is the outtakes. About halfway through this, you can see me and Matt Trumbull and Dave attempt to get through a take rather endlessly and unsuccessfully. It's fun, I think.
So...enjoy this (if you're interested to see how I basically look and sound, blog readers - even if I was looking a bit red-faced and sweaty).
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Tickets are now available for the three-night workshop production of in the great expanse of space there is nothing to see but More, More, More. Pick 'em up here.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
- I've written and directed in the great expanse of space there is nothing to see but More, More, More. It's a three night workshop, at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Details on the Brick website. $10 tickets only. Come out and see it.
- My play The Metaphor will be included in an upcoming Smith & Kraus anthology Best Ten Minute Plays 2012.
When Is A Clock
The Americans (Kindle) (Nook) (IndieTheaterNow)
The Death of King Arthur
The Great Escape (IndieTheaterNow)
The Most Wonderful Love (IndieTheaterNow)
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Annie Baker, Kenneth Lonergan, Katori Hall, Regina Taylor, and Will Eno.
Ahem. Let me rephrase. The Signature Theater will pay for and produce plays written by the successful and terrific playwrights known as...
Annie Baker, Kenneth Longergan, Katori Hall, Regina Taylor and Will Eno.
Monday, September 19, 2011
I did, though, write the presenter's text. So if Jay O. Sanders or David Henry Hwang says something stupid, it's really on me.
Friday, September 16, 2011
When: September 29th, 30th and October 1st
What: A staged workshop of this new play
Written and directed by Matthew Freeman
Music by Benjamin Warfield
Featuring Lindsey Carter, Maggie Cino, Stephanie Cox-Williams, Rebecca Davis, Alexis Sottile, Stephanie Willing, and Morgan Anne Zipf
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
This blog has been around for about six years. As I'm late to the Twitter world, I entirely missed how the conversation evolved into being centralized about #2amt and other more institutional conversations (heck, I'm not even on the www.2amtheatre.com blogroll!).
So...do you think blogs like this one (single playwrights or artists speaking for themselves) is a mere precursor to the wider conversation that's going on as a part of social networking? Are blogs being supplanted, or supplemented, or simply co-opted? Has the novelty worn off? Or do you just figure it blogs are just a part of the world now, and they're fun, and that's that?
Monday, September 12, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
I will only say that I have found it strange and perpetually challenging to share what was a profoundly local event with the nation and with national politics.
"9/11" and what happened in New York City on September 11th, 2001 are not, in fact, the same thing.
One is an idea, shorthand, a stand-in for a thousand fears and policies, for conjecture and projection.
The other is a time, a date, that something terrible happened downtown. I remember the date, and how I felt, and who I talked to, and who I was with. That belongs only to me. I remember when New York City felt like. That belongs to us.
Friday, September 09, 2011
I like that he resists (sometimes to a fault) the impulse to fight fire with fire. The GOP's tone is not something I'd like to see matched. I'd like to see it be treated as inexcusable.
That being said, I'd like to throw out this one thought. There are a few media mantras that often drive me up the wall. One of those is that an "election is a referendum on the incumbent." The idea here is that the American people do not actually care who the President is running against, they're voting, basically, almost entirely to send a message about whether or not they believe the current officeholder is doing well. They've vote against him, the idea is, if the economy is bad, and for him if it isn't, case closed.
Of course, the truth is Obama is no more or less the "incumbent" than are his Republican counterweights. No matter how the House Republicans cast themselves as in favor of less government, it's clear that by setting the agenda and appearing as a bunch of older white men on the evening news in bulk...that they are the government. The face of exactly what exasperates the American people. If any Republican candidate stands beside them, I can't imagine he or she won't be treated as an "incumbent" in the eyes of the American people, if by incumbent what we really mean is "who we believe is currently managing things."
Thursday, September 08, 2011
Now, this seems like something a lot of actors would be interested in, and also something other playwrights should be considering. How many bookfuls of short plays have been sold to actors as "Those auditions pieces you haven't heard or tried yet!" Why not just go straight to the source?
Anyway, thought it was worth a link. What do you think? Sounds like a great idea? Or no?
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Read about it here. Leave him good thoughts.
Any advice from experienced directors or playwright-directors out there?
Thursday, September 01, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
You can check out the entire collection here. Among the playwrights represented are Julia Lee Barclay, Leslie Bramm, Richard Hinojosa, Kelly McAllister. It also includes my play The Americans.
I'd love to know if you're using Indie Theater Now, and how it's working for you. If not, why not?
Thursday, August 25, 2011
The cast is a terrific group of actors: Lindsey Carter, Maggie Cino, Stephanie Cox-Williams, Rebecca Davis, Alexis Sottile, Stephanie Willing and Morgan Anne Zipf.
Also, I will be directing the project myself! Shudder!
More details to come. The piece is extremely musical and architectural; I certainly look forward to hearing responses.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Me, personally, I'm all for it. There will be meals. It's something new under the sun, and may God bless the new. I also love when performers mess with what our idea of the "right amount of time" is. Plays have gotten shorter and shorter. 90 minutes. 65 minutes. As if to say "don't mind us, we're not here to bother you." This is quite the middle-finger to that impulse.
His announcement below...
ALL THE HOURS
IN THE DAY
Created and Performed by Mike Daisey
Directed by Jean-Michele Gregory
Saturday, September 17th at 6pm until
Sunday, September 18th at 6pm
Tickets and details:
For years Mike Daisey has been working on an insane project: a live, 24-hour monologue on the scale of War and Peace and The Iliad. Unbelievably, this dream will at last be realized as the finale of this year's T:BA Festival. Conceived as an epic story that shatters the framework of the theater, All the Hours in the Day spans the globe, weaving together stories from every time zone into an electric road movie for our time. In this marathon event, Daisey uses his skills in the largest story of his life, melding fact and fiction, and subverting and delighting audiences in an effort to find the still-beating heart of humanity here at the dawn of our corporate age. Combining song, dioramas, pageantry, surprise guests, unexpected developments, devastating reversals, and the keen possibility of failure, Daisey will strive like Scheherazade to create a universe with a daring and fearless audience. Join us in an impossible pursuit.
Called "the master storyteller- one of the finest solo performers of his generation" by The New York Times, Mike Daisey is the preeminent master of the monologue form today. He is also an author, playwright, citizen, raconteur, professional dilettante, and working artist.
Audiences are encouraged to stay for the entire performance. There will be regularly scheduled meal breaks with food and drink available for purchase on site for the duration of the performance. Outside food and beverage are permitted (excluding alcohol). Do not worry. We will take care of you. It will be an adventure.
"What distinguishes him from most solo performers is how elegantly he blends personal stories, historical digressions and philosophical ruminations. He has the curiosity of a highly literate dilettante and a preoccupation with alternative histories, secrets large and small, and the fuzzy line where truth and fiction blur." - The New York Times
* * *
What I was unprepared for, perhaps because the performances were so highlighted to me, is just how wonderful the play is. Jez Butterworth's play made me joyfully envious at every turn. It's positively abundant with terrific writing, rich symbols, and guts. I mean hell, the play combines Falstaff and Oberon and Lear in the form of a man who has all the cocaine in the forest. I enjoyed, also, how it's jagged, inexplicable edges become a part of what's exhilarating. It's not symmetrical, not careful, and it's built more on momentum and heartiness than being user-friendly.
In short: I loved it. Go see it while you still can. And thank an English tax payer, next time you meet one.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
"Mr. Ahonen, the Amoralists’ leader, who also directs, has a showman’s sensibility. Some critics take issue with his knock-about melodramatic flourishes, but grumbling about the shouting in his shows is like going to a musical and complaining that the actors broke into song. Like it or not, that’s his style. Even at their most over the top, Mr. Ahonen’s plays are notably earnest, especially in this work, which ponders a subject that resists ironic distance: sex. "
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Is it okay to punch someone if they are not killed by the punch?
Is it okay to go see a movie you didn't like, for a second time?
Is it okay to raise children to be assholes, even if it wasn't on purpose?
Is it okay to stand up and start giving lines to a play you have memorized, from the audience, just to help out?
Is it okay to buy DVDs even if you have On Demand?
When you watch a play, is it okay to walk out in a huff, and then come back and say "I'm walking out!" and then walk out again, just to make sure no one thought you were just going to take a call or something?
Is it okay to stand up and clap as if a play is over when it's really obviously not over?
Will it offend an actor if he or she is slapped while eating?
If a playwright is present at a rehearsal, may he or she be used in status games, to illustration "low status?"
Should a person announce how they intend to use the toilet exactly, loudly, at dinner?
Should a person be allowed to have only one wife? Is that enough wives?
Is it totally okay to really hate yourself if you also hate your pet?
When a person breaks his arm, shouldn't his other arm be broken, in the interest of fairness?
Is it okay to buy a ticket, sit down, watch a play, go home, go to bed, and the next day, forget all about it?
Monday, August 08, 2011
Indie Theater Now is a website that offers readers to sample and enjoy the full range of the drama being produced in New York City at the vibrant smaller stages all over the city. A range of playwrights are offered. Many of them have multiple works available, some for the first time. The collection includes production photos, playwright bios, a review from nytheatre.com, an excerpt of the script, and a synopsis.
In order to take advantage of the service, you must create an account. Then, you can add a play to your digital "library" for $1.29. If you'd like to add multiple plays to your online library, you can purchase at a bulk rate of 5, 10, or 25 plays (which is now discounted as an introductory offer).
In order to roll out the large number of works, they will be bundled into collections. The first of which is the timely FringeNYC Collection.
Plays can be sorted by genre, in this handy keyword list.
All in all, a remarkable offering and a great price.
Several things to love about this.
First of all, the playwrights will receive a percentage of all sales, much like other publishing houses might offer. Instead of this being simply a nice way to promote their works, they're being treated like the professionals that they are.
Second of all, it protects the playwrights digitally. These works are digitally locked and formatted, so illegal copying will be difficult at the very least.
Third, there are many plays here that cannot be found elsewhere. (My plays The Great Escape and The Most Wonderful Love, for example, were both critical successes and audience favorites, but have never been elsewhere. I'm excited that they'll soon be available in this way.)
Finally, it's a wonderful new model/smart hybrid. It's curated to be a more user friendly-experience than a database, it's digital, it offers royalties, it highlights exciting but perhaps relatively unknown works, and it moves the capture and celebration of the Off-Off scene into (yes) the 21st Century. I'm extremely proud to be a part of it, and I hope you'll use it, discuss it, and support it.
There are definitely some great shows every year at the Fringe (I'm going to put up a post of recommendations soon). Then again, small theater loves to complain that it's unfairly characterized, even as individuals experiences seem to add up to "unsatisfactory" again and again. The brand of Off-Off Broadway has become one that's increasingly synonymous with an "aw shucks" "shoe-string budget" attitude that's about disposable gimmicks (Lisa Loeb: The Musical Tragedy!), wannabees for other mediums; or just plain mediocre writing and production values.
So...what can be done? Clearly, the quality control level of the Fringe, unfairly or no, is being called into question. There simply seems to be no desire to pull back on the number of shows, or rethink the model, even as the press treats it like the bastard step-child of NYC and other festivals (notably what's going on at the Brick) seem to have usurped their sense of being unique and thrilling.
What do you think of the NY International Fringe Festival? Are you excited about it every year? Or do you think something needs to change? I realize, honestly, that part of the Fringe model is its sheer size and that's what keeps it happening year in and year out. So I'm not suggesting they have to burn the thing down and start over. The coverage just seems to prevalent to ignore this time. What to do?
Sunday, August 07, 2011
Tuesday, August 02, 2011
BEN. We’re the worst people on Earth.
MARK. You are. And the rest of you. I’m a bad father, but I don’t try to kill people.
STAN. I didn’t do anything.
MARK. You don’t factor in, Stan. But everyone else just proved they deserve hell.
PAUL. Let me just say…this reminds me of when I was a kid. My father had just put a trap together for mice. The trap was a glue trap, but he had these other attachments he made himself. When the mouse got stuck in the glue, it would immediately cut the paper into four equal slices. Usually the mouse too. Then he’d drown the pieces of the mouse, just to be sure.
MARK. How does this remind you of that?PAUL. Sometimes, you can’t be sure unless you drown the mouse.
BEN. That means nothing.
Monday, August 01, 2011
J: How did it used to work?
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Basically, the argument goes: "If you want to avoid a monumental economic disaster, you must agree to compound our problems and more firmly commit to failed policies."
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
(For those interested, I've written about this a bit previously in a slightly infamous blog post called "Let's All Just Pretend.")
Some key paragraphs:
"But, if you don't accept submissions anymore, how do we get our plays to you."
I left PlayPenn thinking about this unanswered question and wishing I'd had time to answer it. Here's the thing, Hal. Nothing's really changed about that, if you think about it. When the submission policy was open, writers and agents had the impression they were getting their plays to me by putting them in the mail (or, increasingly, e-mail) addressed to me. Or to our Artistic Director. But they weren't. They were getting plays to a corps of non-staff readers with no real avenue to impact planning decisions. Only a handful of organizations with open submission policies can say the artistic staff reads everything that comes in. And most of those that can are either play development centers or small producing theaters.
So, the plays I read come to me from a variety of sources and each time via an invitation from me or Molly with a commitment to read them. Arena Stage puts a huge amount of effort into attending new play festivals and labs. And we maintain close relationships with the artistic staff of most of them-- these people will often lobby us to take a look at a play they've worked on that they feel is a match for our interests. There's one play in the season this year that came that way- via a "heads up" from a development lab. Arena also puts resources into commissions and more often than not we wind up producing the play that results. There's a play on the season this year that came through a commission. We attend productions of new plays at theaters around the country. There's an Arena production moving to Broadway this season of a play that came that way, and another on stage here this coming season. Last year we hosted more than 100 writers in conversations at Arena, and through those relationships dozens of plays were read by staff here.
Embedded in Hal's question is the real question underneath so many interactions I have with emerging playwrights. "How do we get a production at Arena if we're not known to you already and you won't read our plays when we send them?"
The answer to that one is by being in motion in the world as a playwright. If you're participating in development labs and conferences, if your plays are somewhere in production, if you're engaged in the #newplay dialogue that is taking place online-- where all of Arena's Artistic Development staff is "hiding in plain sight" and actively participating as well-- you have a much better chance of coming to our attention than if you are mailing a script to a theater that assigns it to a non-staff reader."
So, this is honest and undoubtedly true. It's also, perhaps, the only way it can work given that only human beings can figure this stuff out, and there just aren't that many of them to go around. It also, of course, does answer the question of "Okay why say you have an open submission policy when you don't?" The answer: "Fine, we don't." Not exactly encouraging, but honest.
I'm sure that the institutions we're talking about share in the artists' frustrations that the system described above does not embed merit (whatever that means to you) in its bones. Visibility, free-time, enthusiasm, access, audience-interest, freshness, the topical nature of one's work... those things are heavily weighted in one's favor. Maybe that's the only thing that can work. Maybe that's just what does work. I don't envy the sheepish, shy, technologically challenged introvert that is trying to get his or her play seen.
Everyone just keep trying, try harder, try until you get it right.
Friday, July 22, 2011
SILENT NEW YORK will occur on July 28th, 29th and 30th at the Access Theater (380 Broadway, at Broadway and White Streets below Canal). It's produced by Blue Coyote Theater Group in association with the Access Theater. I'm certainly hope you'll chose to join us. It's a unique experience and will certainly spark some conversation. The evening is only one hour in length. Suggested donation $10.
Beyond just the experiment of form, Silent New York offers the audience (and the individual) a moment that gives them permission to think only of the one individual they are observing and the wealth of unnoticed information that even ten minutes can provide.
SILENT NEW YORK
Created by Matthew Freeman
380 Broadway @ White St., 4th Fl.
July 28-30, 8pm
Suggested Donation $10
Thursday, July 21, 2011
But what if you think that is all hogwash? What if you suspect that you could do a lot of things and all this moralizing just is starting to make you sick? What if you want to quit already, and do something else, or just do nothing and fuck anyone else who thinks that's a bad way to live? Here's how.
1. Just don't tell anyone. Honestly, people like me are complete pricks about people deciding to quit the theater. It casts a poor reflection on us. So leave us out of it. Don't say "That's it, I've had it!" and write a manifesto about it. It will cause impoverished bohemians and trust fund babies alike to all judge you the same way: as someone who doesn't really care like they do. Who cares? If they want to carry on being lunatics, that's their problem.
2. Get a really nice TV. Seriously, these days, TVs are like totally goddamned amazing. Get rid of that one you've had since college and go nuts. You'll see the folly of a life in the theater at last.
3. Be really good at your job. Could you be really good at your job? I mean, the one that pays you? Is it really that hard to be good at it? Honestly. Try it.
4. Go see a play and silently imagine you don't have to bother doing that sort of thing. What a terrific pain in the ass it is to do that sort of thing. Just move on. You could be playing golf. Have you considered that? Lots of people play golf. People your age.
5. Write a list of your favorite books, albums, movies and plays. Compare those lists. Depressing? Not if you quit. If you quit, you can just stop trying to come up with a list of favorite plays.
6. David Mamet is totally a weird conservative now. He calls NPR "National Palestinian Radio." How did that happen? Do you want to wind up crazy like that? Get out while you can. If someone asks you why you don't want to do it anymore, show them that thing he wrote in the Village Voice.
7. Read Outrageous Fortune. Which basically could be renamed "Honestly, Don't Bother." The system is rigged. They don't want you. They think there are too many plays. They think your career is just adding to their problems.
8. Think about the Coffee Shop Job. At that job at a coffee shop you had, did you actually make more people happy and make more money than you have in your entire life as a playwright? Think about that. Why did you quit that job?
9. Turn in your Badge. You know that badge you got when you graduated from college that you have to show at all the secret artist meetings? The one that you keep in your wallet? You have to mail that in.
10. Get over it. You're not a playwright because you 'love theatre.' You're a playwright because you either were looking for a place to get a date in high school or you have been expressing a childhood trauma publicly for too long. Listen: you're a grown up now. You're dating material. You might even be married. You no longer live with your parents. Whatever awful thing that made you this way is in the past. Writing plays never fixed it anyway. Try ice cream and a couple of cats.
I hope that helped. Be free.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Of course, the best of these are the Deleted Scenes, which often offer insight into the editing process and show additional, often-fully produced footage from your favorite films.
Where, then, are the deleted scenes from today's great dramatists? We all know that these things were primarily banged out on typewriters and sent to a publishing house in a package wrapped in string! Don't we all want to know about that missing piece of American Buffalo? That part of Harold Pinter's Betrayal with that full scene of exposition that got cut out?
Well, never fear, dear friends. I, Matt Freeman, has taken it upon myself, with the help of Google and a library card, to find some of the Deleted Scenes from the Great Works of Drama. I will share them with you here.
My first discovery was a scene from Samuel Beckett's Endgame. It features a character named Conseil (French for Board), who enters just after Clov's final monologue and before Hamm's final speech.
You can see pretty quickly why the character was removed, but I have to say, I'll read anything Beckett, and I'm extremely proud to have found this.
(CONSIEL entre. Visage très blanc. Tient un football.)
CONSIEL. Arrêtez-le. Il y a un match de football dessus ailleurs, à travers la mer, oui il y a une mer, et nous pouvons obtenir à travers. Pour observer le match de football et l'éviter de penser à la lumière de effacement et à nos ancêtres. Le silence, écart, finissent vers le haut avec. Foul et une carte jaune. Vous devez voir le match de football cet après-midi au lieu du tout ceci. Au lieu du tout ceci que vous n'appréciez pas. Qui sont ces hommes, qui sont ces hommes, qui marchent et reposent et ne jouent jamais au football, ne savent pas les plaisirs d'un but, pour ne jamais avoir un coup-de-pied libre parce que leur tibia a été meurtri ? , Oui, non meurtri meurtri, il continue, fonctionnement, attaquant. L'arbitre ne mérite aucun meilleur destin que pour être dans une poésie. Vous avez pleuré pour le but, il vient, joue maintenant au football dans l'obscurité.
Amazing. Scholars, I take personal checks.
Monday, July 18, 2011
"Re-claim the open road of an empty page and a sharp pencil. Know that if you have a dollar you can get a pencil and a notebook and begin to create. Strive for, but don't require, a beautiful view, quiet hours, a room of one's own. It has been done without any of those things in place. Prisons, deserts, hidden attics. It has been done on the surface of many an imagination."
The essay talks a fair amount about frugality, about cutting costs and embracing a spartan life. I was talking to a friend about being 35 and meeting, regularly, lately a crop of people in their mid-twenties who talk about how nearing 30 makes them feel. These people always seem extremely defensive about taking paid work, or concerned about what it means that they have to. Not that I'm very old, far from it, but I'm in that odd space where many of your friends have either moved out, re-assessed, or achieved some sort of grand success. Being impoverished, though, loses its luster and romance for everyone.
For me, what can I say? I work in an office. I've worked in offices since 1999. Temp work, permanent work. Currently, I actually have an office that overlooks the Governor's Island. I have a tie. I have business cards. I have a company Blackberry. I'm fine with it. In fact, I like where I work - they do good things here. I strive for success as a playwright, whatever that may mean. I'm undaunted by setbacks, I have publications and reviews, I feel like I have the respect of my peers. I aim for bigger stages, think big, believe in my talent and the importance of perseverance. I don't see myself wearing a tie forever, and I won't lie, there are mornings I wake up and look in the mirror and go "Again? Really?"
Then again, I've lived on next-to-nothing and let me tell you: it's fairly uninspiring. I didn't find it freeing and fun. I found it to be a constant weight on my mind and chest. I borrowed money. I stared into space, thinking about how I was going to eat and pay rent. I slept on couches. I got by. I don't think to myself "That was fun. Can't wait to do that again."
No one who currently writes for the stage created the system in which they reside. None of us have the power to create a national arts culture that pays theater artists what we're worth on our own; none of us believe that private subsidies, expensive tickets, TV stars on stage, and Disney are doing us all any good. The cash is elsewhere. When Annie Baker got her Isherwood review that announced her as a major talent, we all knew she'd be writing for television shortly, and I'm sure she is. Where are where we are. Tony Kushner makes his living writing screenplays.
I don't really want to write screenplays. I might give it a go here and there. I want to write plays, in New York, where my family and friends are, where my wife and I live, where my friend's children play underfoot, where we have great restaurants, where they show all the movies, where I've made my life. And so, I go to work. I don't really feel like a bad artist because I go to work. I feel like an artist that lives in the United States, and this country thinks art grows in trees, and should be delivered to them via Whispernet. It is what it is. I do what I have to do.
Maybe what I'm writing seems a little self-justifying and defensive. It's not intended to be. I'm sure there are plenty of other playwrights and actors and directors who feel this way, and often feel a mild sting when it's implied that day jobs are a sort of poisonous compromise. It's more poisonous to create rules for ourselves that make it harder to live an already hard life, I think.
I guess, in short, I think being an artist and making a living are just different things.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
Playscripts currently publishes three of my plays:
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Also, I added a Twitter Feed to the sidebar, below my rampaging and weird links. How's it look? Did I mention you can follow me on Twitter?
Monday, July 11, 2011
Theater is decidedly analog in a digital age. Even film and television don't highlight that fact so much as personal computers with HD screens and Apple TV. (I mean, heck, it's now so common practice for plays to integrate film and video on-stage as to become a non-issue. Remember when that seemed counter-intuitive?) But theater is live and you can't deliver it wirelessly. You can show a picture, even a video, but that transforms the experience into something else, of course. So what to do? Fancy ticketing services? Live blogging plays? Yelp! for performance art?
I've seen a few attempts to utilize new media, but usually it's in the form of an additional prop or a stand in for what was once just not digital ("Read from your iPad" instead of "Read off this piece of paper.")
So... I'm curious what you feel theaters should be doing that they are to embrace new technology, or if there are things going on that you feel are happening that others should be aware of, or if you feel that it's simply a fool's errand to chase new tech. Perhaps the further theater goes from trying to be modern, the more punk rock and counter-cultural it appears...?
I submit, as well, certain attempts to capture what's going on on-line, such as On The Boards. The BBC produces, also, a terrific Play of the Week podcast. But is that, you know, working for you? Or do we need iPad apps that show you subtitles for Endgame performed in French?