About Me

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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012



So very excited.

Hurricane Sandy

For those concerned, Pam and I and the cats are all fine. Park Slope was largely spared the worst of the results of the winds and tides and water. We haven't lost power and our apartment, which is on the third floor, has had no damage.

It's alarming and scary, of course, to know how vulnerable our home - by which I mean New York City - is to these types of storms and just what the global warming looks like close up. My day job is in Lower Manhattan, right near South Ferry, so its inaccessible and may well be for a day or two. All the subways are shut down. The Battery Tunnel is flooded completely. Many people have no power. None of us know yet what the public health problems will be associated with flood water and food spoiling and hospitals being overwhelmed.

On the personal front, Pam's artistic home is called Observatory and it is very near the Gowanus Canal, so we're concerned that it's been damaged. We'll see.My good friends over at Blue Coyote Theater Group just opened Coney, and like many other shows, it's shut down for now.

Not much to say otherwise. Hope you're well, and your loved ones are well.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Trailer for The Presence of Joseph Chaikin

Check out the trailer for The Presence of Joseph Chaikin. I interviewed the director, Troy Word, earlier this week.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Oh yes. I forgot - buy stuff!

This blog is for plugging!

(Okay, not only for plugging)

But yes! Plugging!

My books! And eBooks! Buy them! For yourselves!

Full Length Plays Available in Print

Like When Is A Clock, available from Samuel French in print and in the Apple Store.
Glee Club, available from Playscripts.
The Death of King Arthur, available from Playscripts

Full Length Plays Available Exclusively For Digital Readers

The Americans (IndieTheaterNow, Amazon, Barnes and Noble)
Confess Your Bubble (Amazon)
The Most Wonderful Love (IndieTheaterNow)
The Great Escape (IndieTheaterNow)

And appearing in these collections

Great Short Comedies Volume 5 
Playing With Canons (NYTE)
Plays and Playwrights 2002

And Monologue Collections
Actor's Choice: Monologues for Men
Actor's Choice: Monologues for Teens
Exceptional Monologues 2 For Men And Women

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Presence of Joseph Chaikin

 When I was in high school, a teacher of mine named Ray Fulmer gave me a box of theater books that he was clearing out of a closet before his retirement. In that box I found lots of acting editions of old plays, books of monologues for students, a few prizes (Joe Egg!), and The Presence of the Actor by Joseph Chaikin. I'd never head of Chaikin, even though I had just begun the inevitable obsession with Beckett that all isolated theater geeks enjoy during their theatrical awakening. The book, deeply personal, insightful, filled with evocative black and white photographs, was thrilling. Other books about acting and theater that I enjoyed at the time - Uta Hagen, Stanislavsky, David Mamet, Peter Brook, Jerzy Grotowski - all seemed dogmatic, finger-waving or too theoretical compared to Chaikin's book. Chaikin seemed more intrigued than certain, more astonished and political than academic or philosophical. He seemed to come from a place that I recognized.

I was too young at the time to really know why the book struck such a chord. All I knew is that the idea of the Open Theater, the idea of the way Chaikin worked and believed in theater, created a sense of what theater could be that outpaced any actual theatrical experience I'd ever had or had previously been offered to me. I still imagine my work in the way Chaikin inspired me to imagine, and believe in the importance of plays and actors in the way that he inspired me to believe.

Which is why I was so thrilled to discover the existence of the as-yet-unreleased documentary The Presence of Joseph Chaikin by Troy Word. The film, which is still seeking release and to complete financing, is absolutely wonderful. I cannot wait to see how audiences respond to it, and how much good it will do for young and experienced theatermakers alike once it has wide distribution.

In service of that, director Troy Word took a little time to talk to me about his film, his hopes for it, and his relationship with Chaikin's work. Please enjoy and share.


Joseph Chaikin's work with the Open Theater, his collaborations with Sam Shepard, and his book The Presence of the Actor are significant parts of the history of New York and American theater, but I would guess that he's still relegated to cult status to most people. Why do you think Chaikin remained, during his lifetime, largely outside the mainstream?

 When Joe arrived in New York in the 1950‘s he wanted to become a rich and famous actor. But his role as Galy Gay in the Living Theater’s production of Brecht’s “Man is Man” changed his life forever. Inspired by Brecht, Joe abandoned his pursuit of fame. He had many opportunities to work in mainstream commercial plays and movies, but that wasn’t his quest. He committed his life to experimental theater and exploring new ways of communicating. He felt commercial success corrupted the discovery process. I think that was the major reason he disbanded the Open Theater at the height of their fame.

What inspired you, personally, to create this film?

I met Joe at a party late in his life. The hosts were friends of mine and introduced us. Our conversation was limited due to Joe’s Aphasia. But he had an amazing presence. His eyes were clear and penetrating. He used very few words, but I felt an instant connection with him. Weeks later my friends gave me a copy of the recording “War in Heaven” that Joe did with Sam Shepard. I found it to be incredibly moving. I wanted to learn more and started researching him. I have no background in theater, but as I learned more, I became obsessed with his story. His artistic quest, the constant threat of mortality, and the perseverance to overcome Aphasia is inspirational. 

Chaikin's personal story - his childhood trauma and lifetime of illness - is a large part of the narrative of the film. How do you feel his brushes with death and dying informed him as an artist?

As a child, Joe’s heart was severely damaged by Rheumatic Fever. In an effort to save his life, he was sent from Brooklyn to Florida and the National Children’s Cardiac Center. There, surrounded by children who were dying,  he was separated from everyone and everything he knew. It was in this environment he started creating plays with the other children. Theater happens in the present. I think that had a powerful resonance for young boy faced with mortality. The immediacy of theater was connected to survival for Joe. His life long quest exploring that immediacy sustained him.

Ethan Hawke tells a powerful story of Chaikin, as director, insisting that the cast perform Shepard's The Late Henry Moss only days after September 11th, 2001. What do you think artists working today can learn from Chaikin's zeal?

For me, that is one of the most powerful moments in the film. Until the end of his life, Joe never lost his faith in the power of theater to change the world.

What most surprised you about Chaikin's life and work as you crafted this film?

 I was amazed at the incredible list of people that admired and collaborated with Joe. Some of the most important artists and thinkers of the late 20th century. Beckett, Miller , Sontag, Shepard, Grotowski, Brook, Campbell, Genet, Ginsberg, Paley the list goes on and on. In fact, the last thing written by Beckett before he died was dedicated to Joe.

What are your hopes with the film? 

First of all, that it is finally released. It has been a 10 year journey getting the film finished. We are working to raise the final funds to pay for the Archival footage rights which are the most expensive part of the film. The film has been financed by me with some help from Joe’s family. We are exploring a Kickstarter campaign for the final push to get the film released. I want to try and make it available to the widest possible audience. It has been almost impossible to access material on Joe and his work. I hope the film will serve as a window into his life and work and inspire a new generation of theater artists. 

Tell us a bit about yourself. What's your background? 

I am a commercial still photographer specializing in Fashion, Beauty, and Celebrity photography. Before I started this project I had no real background in Theater  or Documentary film. Now I am obsessed with both.

I'm sure you've watched many works directed by Chaikin or featuring him in order to create this film. Could you highlight works for us that you feel truly captured the best of his art?

 What is interesting to me about the Open Theater work is that it still feels very modern. Maybe it’s the deceptive simplicity of the stagecraft. But I think the major themes of the works still resonate today. “The Serpent” is very powerful. Of the later works , “War In Heaven” was my inspiration for the film.

What do you hope audiences learn or feel when they watch The Presence of Joseph Chaikin?

Above all, I hope they are as inspired by his life as I was. He touched and inspired so many great thinkers. It is impossible to quantify the extent of his influence. He was a true artist, dedicated to the journey of discovery, not fame or fortune. That is something we all can learn from.


The website and trailer for the documentary can be found at the link below

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Coney: An interview with playwright David Johnston

My very good friend David Johnston (Busted Jesus Comix, Candy & Dorothy) has a new play on the horizon. It's produced by Blue Coyote Theater Group, my own artistic home for many years now. Directed by Gary Shrader, it sports a cast of compelling performers including Frank Anderson, Jilliane Gill, Boo Killebrew, Dave Lapkin and Stephen Speights.

It runs Oct. 27 - November 17th at the New Ohio. Here's the website with all pertinent information.

I had to chance to send a few questions about the show David's way. He makes great answers out of my serviceable questions. The interview follows from here.


What inspired you to write a play about Coney Island? I mean, obviously, Coney Island is inspirational and unique. But what aspect most appealed to you initially? The carnival atmosphere? The old-Brooklyn feel? The community? 

I love Coney Island the way I love eighties horror movies. I mean, there's nothing like watching a guy juggle chainsaws to get you out of your own head, you know? Who can be depressed watching little kids in cardboard lobster costumes running around at the Mermaid Parade? They once showed "Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill" at their film series in the summer, then I went and got clams and beer and I thought, this evening cannot be improved ever.  I think because I'm not a native New Yorker, it's even more appealing.  It never feels old hat to me. 

I didn't set out to write a play about Coney Island - but one day I realized I would have to deal with my anger over Robert Altman dying and not making the Coney Island film I think he should have made. I was taking it personally.  So I decided to write it myself.

 From what I'm reading, the play seems to be a statement about gentrification, or at least, has something to say about it. Is that accurate? 

 I don't think it's really a statement of anything.  Gentrification is a part of what's happening there, but I didn't want to write a play about gentrification.  You know me, Freeman.  I'm not good with "big idea" plays.  I prefer male nudity and foul-mouthed showgirls. 

What is the "story" of Coney? Or is it more of a collage?

It's a number of colliding and overlapping stories - the play started out as a bunch of discrete scenes with different characters, and it wasn't interconnected at all.  But there were definitely things that were on my mind with these people - there's a lot about parents and children, people who want to be parents, people who aren't very good parents, and kids who suddenly have to take care of their parents.  But it's still comedy - my stuff always ends up a comedy, even when I think it's a drama.  So yeah, there's people dealing with love and kids and family and mortality, but there's also a chupacabra and  a two-headed cow and a botched mind-reading act.

 Coney sports a large and diverse cast, with wide range of ages. Why was this level of diversity important to the play? 

Because that's what Coney's like when you go out there.

What do you hope the audience will consider or think about as they watch the play?

Oh God give me an easy question, Freeman! I hope they have a good time, or they think it's funny or they're moved. I hate plays where someone's telling me what to think. I always want to corner the writer and say, you know, I can make up my own damn mind as to where genocide falls on the moral spectrum, I don't need you to show me!  I like a script that asks a question I haven't thought of.  Do I sound crabby?  I'm not really. 

I know you're a lover of cinema and there are a lot of cinematic influences on the script. Could you map those out a bit for us?

If I map them out, then you won't be surprised and delighted by them when you see the show! OK, I'll map out a few.  The play references "The Warriors," Hitchcock, Tod Browning, "Nightmare Alley" starring Tyrone Power and Joan Blondell, "The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3" NOT THE REMAKE and "Blade Runner." But don't worry - there's nothing elegant or economical about the referencing. I'm proud of the fact that I do it in an extremely ham-fisted and obvious way. 

Finally, what's the most fun thing about Coney? 

I have a hunch, it's going to be this one character's entrance. But I don't want to say which one because that will jinx it. By the way, Freeman, when are you going to leave your wife for me? Haven't we kept up this charade long enough? 

Tickets are here!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Clean Kill - a totally fun webseries

Just for fun, check out Clean Kill, a webseries directed by Daryl Lathon and starring Brian Silliman and featuring a cadre of downtown talents. (Oh and Matt Trumbull from The Zebra Shirt of Lonely Children, getting beat up and looking desperate.)