- 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.
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?
Friday, July 08, 2011
This trailer appears to have been put together by a teenager with Final Cut Pro. Heck, the font is Courier or some shit. It's not even as well produced as Tim Pawlenty's weird "Independence Day" trailers for himself.
Monday, July 04, 2011
That is not always the case when real life intrudes on outdoor theater. Matthew Freeman, a playwright and actor, has this memory of not quite holding it together during a show: “While wearing a yarmulke and playing Fabian in ‘Twelfth Night,’ I was yipped at by a tiny pet dog. I shouted, audibly, ‘Jesus Christ!’ Sort of shattered the illusion.”