- 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, April 28, 2011
1. I'm starting a new day job on Tuesday which means I'm enjoying some rest and relaxation this week. Lots of playing Portal 2 (which is so awesome!) and buying clothes and catching up on Doctor Who. Less blogging, therefore.
2. Blue Coyote Theater Group's next production opens May 27th. It's the third Standards of Decency Project, this one subtitled "300 Vaginas Before Breakfast." The theme is the ubiquity of pornography in the age of the internet. Playwrights include myself, David Johnston, Mac Rogers, Adam Szymkowicz, Cheri Magid, Jacqueline Christy, David Foley and Jordan Seavey. I fine looking bunch indeed. My contribution to this evening is a play called "The Metaphor." More details to come. Totally looking forward to it!
3. The next New Books In Theater podcast will arrive tonight or tomorrow. Have you followed it, liked it on Facebook, subscribed on iTunes, or whatever? Heard the last one with Martin Denton? If not, check it out here. If so, next one's coming soon!
4. Why is it that in an era of 24 hour news and blogs and constant information, Americans seem increasingly unclear on facts? Isn't that...really a bad thing? Just saying.
5. Just in case I wasn't entirely clear on this point, I made these all up. To be funny.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
So... for you, dear readers, and for myself...I went digging through old forgotten books and the dustiest parts of the internet (the ones from the early 90s with those weird protocols) to find you some choice, extremely rare, little known quotes from famous and/or influential dramatists. Just to recapture that spirit of discovery.
“Paper is like Joyce Carol Oates: white.”
“Rise early. Write. Disappoint your sons. Read the newspaper. Go to bed early. Success.”
“Deep knowledge is not knowledge of the thing itself, but knowledge of a thing like the thing. Then, you gain not one knowledge, but two knowledges. Of the thing. And of the original thing with is like the thing. Which is the barbarism of the privileged class.”
-George Bernard Shaw
“If I’d seen a playwright ever write an’ play at the same time, I’d have given ‘em more of a chance at cards. Can I get an ‘amen?’”
“Caryl Churchill is a writer of some note, but in the sack, she makes me explain everything.”
“The Greeks could be a crushing bore. I recommend dressing everyone in combat fatigues or S&M gear.”
“To write a play one must be born a playwright. Otherwise, you’re starting at a huge disadvantage.”
“Palestine. Fuck. Egypt…fuck. ”
“All hail the writer who has not sharpened her pen.”
“Quality is like quantity, but there’s a lot less of it.”
“Only assholes write plays about Nazis.”
“If you show a gun in the first act, some mother fucker is getting totally shot to shit and I’m all out of bubble gum.”
“A play is never finished. You’ll find out how much I mean that when you read my Last Will and Testament.”
“Stop playing the drums in the upstairs lobby, or the third act will come off sexist.”
“To write drama is to leave a can of Coke by the side of the road. Then, sit on that can of Coke. Where’s the can of Coke now?”
-Stephen Adly Guirgis
“Comedy is easy. First, people have to fall down. Next, include someone a little hefty. It’s a hoot.”
“Standing on a ledge again. Everyone laughs at dancing monkey with the typewriter. Not for long, though.”
Friday, April 15, 2011
I mean, heck, the original version of Turn Off The Dark is still in previews. It will cease to exist in previews.
Let's keep in mind that this is just like painting. One would never judge a painting before the painter felt the painting was ready. If the painting that you are intending to review was previously painted by a different painter, you should still give the new painter the same amount of time that you gave the painter of the original painting. Even if you already paid to see the incomplete painting of a different painter with the same title hung in the same gallery, using largely the same imagery, you shouldn't think twice about paying for another ticket to see the new painting based on the old one, painted by a different painter, using largely the same imagery, with the same title.
THE AMERICANS is available on Kindle and Nook. Only $1.99. (It's like, silly not to get one if you have an eReader. It costs you less than a beer, and it supports me personally, and you get a great play out of the deal.)
WHEN IS A CLOCK is available from Samuel French. Get it from them directly, or on Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, or whatever other fine online retailer, you like.
On Playscripts (now with new logo!) you can find GLEE CLUB, RABBI HERSH AND THE TALKING LOBSTER and THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Apparently...if you correctly answer the trivia question featured on the page by midnight tonight, you’ll have a chance at winning two tickets to see the play!
So give it a go!
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Just remembering this little video, from the original production of Glee Club.
Which is, did you know, now available for purchase?
Monday, April 11, 2011
Thursday, April 07, 2011
I'm happy to introduce the New Books In Theater podcast. New Books In Theater is a part of the New Books Network. "Like" the podcast on Facebook and add us to your RSS feed. The podcast will shortly be available on iTunes as well.
My first interview as the host is now live: a terrific conversation with Pamela Cobrin from Barnard, about her book "From Winning The Vote To Directing On Broadway: The Emergence of Women on the New York State from 1880-1927". As the subject of the representation of women on Broadway has been a topic of interest for theatermakers over the past few years, I expect the subject will be of interest to all.
If you're an author or publisher and you would like a book considered for the podcast, feel free to contact me. I'm looking at books soon to be released and maybe a 4-5 year window of publication date prior to 2011.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
I'm stepping into the brave new world of self-publishing by making THE AMERICANS available on Amazon.com as an eBook for $1.99.
THE AMERICANS was first produced in 2004. It's the closest thing I ever wrote to a play about 9/11, and it was produced the same month as the Kerry v. Bush election. It's a play that's always been near and dear to me.
For me, the decision to publish it on my own wasn't exactly automatic. In fact, I went back and forth on whether or not it was a good idea. To break it down, briefly:
Quality. The electronic edition of the book, as self-published, is, in formatting, largely indistinguishable from an eBook from a major publisher. Downloading the play will not feel, on your device, as if you've gotten a lower quality item than one that would be available from a mainstream publisher.
Availability. It makes my book available for purchase immediately for everyone (as long as they have a Kindle) on one of the largest retail outlets in the world. When self-publishing required physical copies that you had to try to sell on your own, this was a much tougher model. Now, the item is available for everyone with Internet access and interest. (Oh, and a Kindle.)
Cost. The price is right for self-publishing on the Kindle: free. It cost me, essentially, nothing but time to publish the book this way.
Exposure. Simply put, my goal is to get my work in people's hands. Right now, this play is living on my laptop and in my memory. It hasn't found a traditional publisher. This way, the play gets more possible readers than it would otherwise. I believe strongly that it's a play people will love. Shouldn't I take advantage of every method available, new and old, to bring it to people?
Royalties. Each copy of this book I sell gets me as much in royalties as a copy of GLEE CLUB. In some cases, more.
Reputation. I honestly have been concerned that by publishing a book in this format without the traditional blessing of a publisher, would damage how other writers and how publishers saw me. I am published, and proudly, by Samuel French and Playscripts. Still, even with those very mainstream blessings, I was concerned that self-publishing was viewed as a bit of a low-rent move. I don't want publishers to see me as competing with them, or to be viewed by other playwrights as just dumping lesser works into the market because I couldn't get the published elsewhere. Perhaps this is a concern that's unfounded, but I'm sure I'm not alone in an aversion to being perceived this way. Traditional routes to publishing and production are viewed as more legitimate than these alternatives right now.
Marketing. To get the word out about a self-published title, I have only my own time and resources and efforts. DPS, Playscripts, Samuel French - they all have catalogues, markets, strategies. They work to get your work produced and sold because it's in their own interests financially. Self-publishing, even in this format, means that you're an army of one.
Legal. My book offers general legal language about production rights and my ownership of them. Still, if someone downloaded this book and decided to perform the play without obtaining the necessary permissions, it would be up to me to chase them down, try to obtain royalties, arrange an agreement. Play publishers are extremely careful on that front. For example: my mother enthusiastically purchased several copies of GLEE CLUB from Playscripts. Apparently, she had to show them that she was not, in fact, a school getting copies with the intention of performing the play without obtaining the rights. In short: they ask, they care, and that's for my benefit as much as their own.
Price Point. The Americans is priced at $1.99 for several good reasons. One is that I believe that people are more likely to click and buy without haggling with themselves at that price. You could, out of curiosity, download the play without feeling like you just gave up a movie ticket. Also, it's an eBook, not a physical edition. My costs are low, you don't get an actual "thing" that cost money to produce. It makes sense to charge less in that regard. Then again, are you less likely to buy one of my other plays at a higher price, considering you can get this one at $1.99? Do I begin to drive the value of my own work (and the work of others?) down by offering this play at such a low price? Am I competing with myself? Are people less likely to buy WHEN IS A CLOCK for $9.95 if they can get THE AMERICANS for $1.99? Or will easy access to this play increase the visibility and interest in my other work?
The Limits of the Format. As of now, the book is available only for the Kindle. That means if you want a physical copy of THE AMERICANS... well, you're basically out of luck. That limits the reach inherently. I may try to expand into other devices, but it's very hard to tell if it's worth the effort. Making things available through Apple is, as far as I can tell, a complex process. Making THE AMERICANS available on the Nook or other eReaders might be worthwhile, and I'm open to suggestions. For now, Amazon's device and store seem the most popular.
No matter what, it'll be an intriguing experiment. It's my hope that as I try this out, I can check in with all of you about how it's going, what I'm learning. Maybe more playwrights out there will try this. Who knows?
I am, regardless, very interested in what you think and in your feedback. What do you think of the pros and cons that I've written above? If you do buy the book, how does it look? How's the formatting? Is it a fun experience to buy it, or a bit of a drag? Are you a book lover who's sort of against eBooks on principle, or an enthusiast for this type of thing? I'm sure there are plenty of ways to view this project, and I'd love to discuss it.
Regardless, if you do have a Kindle and you're a supporter of my work, go ahead and purchase THE AMERICANS today. It couldn't be easier or cheaper, and it's a great play.
Monday, April 04, 2011
Friday, April 01, 2011
I think I have a good solution to the question of how to ensure that we distribute playwriting dollars to those who need them. Basically, there’s an epidemic of good playwrights who use New York success to move them into the LA screenwriting scene. I think this creates a sort of feedback loop, wherein New York success leads to LA dollars that leads back to New York success (the triumphant return of the screenwriter to the grateful city.) We need to move these dollars out of the cycle, and get cash to Montana, to Nebraska, to Wyoming, to Arkansas, to Vermont, to Mississippi. Therefore, maybe all professional royalties in Los Angeles for original or licensed scripts should pay fees into a trust. Not the NEA, but a trust or foundation organized for those purpose. Then, someone, perhaps a Chairperson, at the trust could take in those fees and determine where underserved communities are in the most need. That way, wealthy playwrights would be funneling their own success back into the market.
What do you think?