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.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Page 123

Well, a Meme is going around and Mr. Isaac Butler tagged me. Here's how it works.

1) Find the nearest book
2) Open to page 123
3) Type lines 6 - 8 of said book
4) Tag three others.

I shall now jump blissfully through these hoops.

The book on my desk is Selected Early Poems of Charles Simic. Page 123 presents a poem called "The Prisoner." Lines 6 - 8 of this poem are:

Her eyelids closed, her moist lips
Against my forehead, and the shadows of the trees
Hovering on the ceiling.

I shall tag:

James, Adam and Tom.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Nytheatre's People of the Year

The four gents (Kyle, Stephen, Gary and Bob) who make up Blue Coyote Theater Group are some of the People of the Year on Nytheatre.com. Good stuff guys.

Also, big props to CollaborationTown, a young company that's making waves.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Nytheatrecast: 2006 Year in Review

Take a listen... The Most Wonderful Love is mentioned by Mario Fratti.

Quite kind. Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Nytheatrecast "Playing with Canons"

David Johnston, Tom Ridgely and I are interviewed by Leonard Jacobs on the latest nytheatrecast, concerning "Playing With Canons."

Listen to the podcast here.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Standards of Decency Extends!

First week of the New Year, we're back for a limited time. Tickets are available now.

Make seeing a bunch of nudity and blasphemy and violence your New Year's Resolution!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The 50 Greatest Cartoons of All Time

Check this out. Awesome.

Rocky Balboa

I am officially ALL SIGNED UP to see that flick. I don't care who knows it.

Homo Domesticus: Notes from a Same-Sex Marriage

My friend and mentor, David Valdes-Greenwood, has huge news today. His book, Homo Domesticus: Notes from a Same-Sex Marriage, was released today in Hardcover.

David's short play Dream of Jeannie-By-The-Door appeared in the Humana Festival in 2005. A link to Baker's Plays edition of his play "Brave Navigator" is in the links section of the sidebar.

By David's book for a loved one, or yourself, today.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Looking Back on 2006

As a trip down memory lane (thanks to Brian Olsen for the idea) what follows are the first sentences of the first posts of each month of this year. A random assortment of snippets of thoughts. Interesting exercise or way to waste time at my desk? YOU decide!

“A gentlemen decided to berate two young people who did not give up their seat for an old woman.”

“Strange that during a season of real political crisis in this country, the supposedly liberal media is covering yet another Republican fiction ("John Kerry insults the troops").”

“Go see TRUTH, Mike Daisey's newest. Sounds cool.”

“Gone for the weekend then being sent to Baltimore most of next week for my day job.”

“Mixed feelings about this. I don't think I'm as disgusted as everyone else is.”

“Tonight is the final performance of The Most Wonderful Love!”

This is an important legal document.

“Wednesday was our first rehearsal and read-through of MWL, and it went swimmingly.”

“Recently reading Boo's blog... it occurred to me that it can be hard to make the distinction between theatre that speaks with raw honesty, and theatre that is artfully created and expressed.”

“I've been a bit remiss in discussing the "Rachel Corrie" issue.”

“Before I get to the union today, I'd like to send any readers over to Isaac Butler's passionate "gut response" to a NY Times piece about creative control issues between writers and directors. Here it is.”

“I tried this a while back, but didn't get much response. Never one to be cowed, I thought I'd try it again.”
...hm. What could that all have been about?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Standards of Decency Closes

Not sure yet if we're going to bring it back for an encore in January, but it seems possible.

Thanks to everyone who came out to see the work. We're all proud of it, and it seemed very well-received and worthy of the conversation it was meant to inspire.

Thanks, especially, to Kyle, Cat*, Matt and Joe, who put together my quickly written play with skill and verve. Made me look like I knew what I was doing. That's all a writer can ask for.

A couple of thoughts from the experience for both of my readers:

There's been a great deal said recently on the blogosphere about "Development Hell." Standards of Decency certainly was the opposite: untested, commissioned works, that were put on their feet, essentially as-written. Lots of imperfect writing, unneccessary beats, oddball moments, messiness. Speeches that could have been cut in half. It had tons of life in it. I wouldn't say anyone walked away feeling like they saw anything polished on the part of the writers...but polish certainly isn't the only virture.

I did talk to one actress who was wrestling with a play that she felt had language that felt intuitive and unclear and she couldn't make sense of each word. I, personally, love both writing that is careful and clean, and writing that seems to come from a place of impulse. Writing that is impulsive can be very difficult for an actor to parse, of course. It's a bit silly to think, though, that the playwrights job is to justify every word for an actor, or the audience, or a director, or a lab.

The goal of perfection often seems to be reductive: take out all that doesn't work, leave what is justified and proven correct and good, the rest is first draft impulse and meant for the red pen. Certainly makes for compact, direct, narrowcast plays and seem far more clear than my life ever has been to me.

Should our art surpass our thoughts or reflect them?

Friday, December 15, 2006

"Development Hell" with Mr Excitement

Great discussion on Mark Armstrong's blog about so-called "Development Hell." Also, The Playgoer chimes in here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Standards of Decency Opens Tonight

I have it under good authority that we're looking at a sold-out run, or close to it. Best to get tickets immediately, if not sooner.

Last night I sat in on the dress and had my first look at the other eight plays in the evening. Just consistently wonderful, impactful, audacious work. Proud to be a part of it.

The plays speak for themselves, so I won't say too much.

Angels, the Isaeli-Palestine conflict, fundamentalism, dancing while crying, bruises, panties, drunks, prep school, Mickey D's, pissing on a bench, breastfeeding and nipple rings...Who could ask for more for under $20?

Monday, December 11, 2006

For the Holiday Season - Give to Theatre

As 2006 draws to a close and we're all in a giving mood, I'd like to suggest that you choose your favorite 501(c)3 theater company, preferably an upstart, independent-minded, ragged band of intrepid artists, and give them a charitable donation.

Think about this: throughout the year many of us give to Church, Universities, Public Television and Public Radio, political activism and causes like disaster relief and medical research. All terribly imporant, all in need of a few dollars of public help.

But, think about all the theater companies in NYC, Seattle, San Franscisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia (need I go on) that would not only appreciate a donation, but put it to very good use. That would take a one hundred dollar gift as truly important for not only their next show, but their continuing existence.

Here are a few suggestions:

Blue Coyote Theater Group - where I've lately lived and served. Fantastic group that lives at the Access Theater downtown. Produced my last few plays, as well as the work of David Johnston and David Foley. Any donations to them would be greatly appreciated. The smallest gift goes a very long way. Here's where to click to donate.

Inverse Theater - Kirk Wood Bromley is a writer extraordinaire who has just barely gotten his due from the mainstream press. His next production will be the breathtaking "The Death of Griffin Hunter." Want to give a gift that shows true support for the downtown spirit, give a gift to Inverse. Here's how.

Nosedive Productions - Not sure how you officially give a donation to this crew (don't see a link on the site) but I'm sure James Comtois would happily fill you in, or you could contact them on the website. Constantly producing great plays. Show James some love.

13p - Certainly making a lot of noise. Check out this sparkling list of some of the biggest talent in NYC. Donate here.

theatre minima - Not only is George the patron saint of the bloggers and a heady proprietor of deep thought, but also a producer of plays and one that is dedicated to paying everyone that works on his shows. Dig that? I thought you might! Here's how to show some support.

La Mama - 'nuff said. Donate through the link on their website.

The Ontological - Hysteric Theater - Never forget the little guys, like Richard Foreman. Wouldn't it be nice to vote with your dollar on this one? Say YES to art. Here!

www.nytheatre.com - This site covers more of the downtown New York Theater Scene in a day than most newspapers cover in a week. Now with podcasts! They publish plays! They do it all. And each year they cover every single Fringe show. Can't beat that? Read the Holiday Message from Martin Denton and learn how to support this worthy cause.

The Brick - One of the very best theaters operating in New York. Can't beat them. Each year a new festival in the summer, all year long, new, edgy work by the best of the downtown theater mainstays. They are, in fact, the real deal. Show Brooklyn the love.

The Subjective Theatre Company - Dedicated to $0.00 ticket prices. In order to pull that off, they might need a little support, no? Find how to donate on their website. Their motto? "Only You Can Prevent Expensive Theater."

So...that's a few of my thoughts.

I'd love to see other bloggers add to this list or readers make suggestions of their own. These are all New York Companies... where else should people be looking? Have a project that needs some holiday love? Let us know.

Let's put our money where our mouths have been all year. Let's give a little to many companies or a lot to one. Don't let yourself spend more on your iPod than you did on donations this year!

UPDATED! - David J sends these suggestions...

New York Foundation for the Arts does a lot, and also gives unrestricted grants to NY State playwrights:


NYC Performing Arts Spaces offers great website services to performing artists looking for real estate in this town, no mean feat - plus, we're launching a site just for theatre in a few weeks:


This organization is great - I've worked with them on some projects and they are the ones really looking out for small theatre groups in New York City.


Holocaust Deniers on Parade

It's not even worth being furious. Depressed, maybe.

Here's something to cure this sort of sickness.

Not all that familiar with Barak Obama?

You should be.

Take a listen and read over here.

Standards of Decency Opens Tomorrow

Shill, Freeman! SHILL! SHILL!

It'll be good. And fun. And weird. Like all wonderful things.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tom Waits - Orphans

Phantasmaphile gave me Tom Waits new album for the b-day. Can't recommend it more highly. Best album I've gotten in years. Period.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Today, I'm 31. Pearl Harbor Day. A day that shall live in infamy.

Going to see a taping of The Daily Show. Listening to Tom Waits. Took the day off work. Making some raw cookie dough with this kid and going out to a cheap lobster dinner tonight.

What could be finer?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"Rachel Corrie" to close

Well, there you have it. Uproar and hoopla before it happens, and in the end, a modest run of a modest one-woman show.

I'm curious: Do you think this play would have gone further had Rachel Corrie lit herself on fire and protested Israel on-stage? If the attempt to impact or incite passions was more direct, more unapologetic?

What accounts for this unceremonious exit?

Theatre Museum in London set to close

The Theatre Museum in London is set to close its doors on January 7th.

This would be, as they say, no good.

Read more about the campaign to save it here.

Thanks for the heads up from Ian on this...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Naked and Objectified

Over at Middle of the Melon, hpmelon takes issue with my post seeking an actress for my upcoming short in a post called "Barely Reason." I think what she has to say is worth a look, for certain.

I would defend the play in detail, but my guess is that it speaks for itself rather nicely.

We did, for the record, find an actress for the role.

In the spirit of 'The Season'...

...and of Standards of Decency, I offer up this beautiful gallery of terrified children.

(Thanks to Phantasmaphile, who is adept at using the internet for it's true purpose: Finding Weird Stuff.)

Friday, December 01, 2006

This morning on the subway

A gentlemen decided to berate two young people who did not give up their seat for an old woman. Crowded train. He did a lot of Bible quoting at them at and everyone. No one loves that on the 4 train at 8:55 am.

Much to my surprise, it was touching. It's always nice to see someone bravely and eloquently standing up for being a decent person. No matter how uncomfortable it makes everyone.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Go Jim Webb!

Why be polite to a man who suspends habeas corpus and murders thousands for political gain? Give him, at least, the impression you're not thrilled.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

In Need of an Actress...Tomorrow or Sooner

Hey everyone...

I'm in need of an actress for my play in Blue Coyote's "Standards of Decency" which will begin rehearsing pretty much immediately, and run from Dec. 12 - 17th. The play is just over 10 minutes and there's not very much to memorize.

The issue we're having is:

The role requires someone who is willing to be fully nude in an objectifying situation. I've had several actresses look at it and say that they wouldn't be comfortable. I think that's important to stress.

I do need someone immediately, it's a great opportunity to meet nine fantastic playwrights, actors and directors.

Details for the show can be found here.

If interested, contact me here. I will send you a copy of the script, which is called "What To Do To A Girl."

Monday, November 27, 2006

Tom's Big Day Out

A Poor Player has some coffee and a donut and writes about the theatre scene in NYC a bit. Great post.

An open question to New York Theatre Critics

Would you write one of these? Please?

Not because you're often wrong, but because a little mea culpa makes the heart grow fonder.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Standards of Decency: Nytheatrecast

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Martin Denton speaks to me, Kyle Ancowitz and Stan Richardson about the Standards of Decency Project. Find it here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Standards of Decency Project / Audio

Dates have changed to December 12-16th. Jot it down.

Kyle Ancowitz and Stan Richardson and I just recorded an interview with www.nytheatre.com regarding the Project. Should be posted soon.

Note two new links to the side: My "CastPost" blog, which has two old audio files I recorded a ways back. I'm planning on adding more those in the coming weeks.

Also, the original interview MP3 re: The Most Wonderful Love.

Give them a listen!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Overheard in New York

A constant joy.

This one, in particular.

Standards of Decency

Mark your calendars

Blue Coyote Theatre Group, at the Access Theatre, will present Standards of Decency: nine short plays which "offend conventional standards." Playwrights include:

Brian Dykstra, David Foley, Matthew Freeman, Laura E. Henry, David Johnston, Boo Killebrew, Kristen Palmer, Stan Richardson and John Yearley.

Dates of the performances will be

December 7th - 9th
December 13-16th.

I'll post official information and Smarttix link as soon as they're available.

My piece is entitled: "What to Do to a Girl."

Warning: Not for kids or your Momma.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Emergency Sex (and other Desperate Measures)

I've just finished reading Emergency Sex (and other Desperate Measures), which manages to be full of fantastic first person narrative, young, fresh, terrifying and accurate. In stark contrast to the ultimately thin "My Name is Rachel Corrie" (its hubub is still in the air), Emergency Sex allows for the narcissism and hubris that is almost necessary for this type of political activism and then combines it with the realities on the ground.

I hear it's been optioned for a film. Good. I recommend it highly.

Next Generation Consoles

While I haven't written about games in a while, Tom Samiljan (who I once had the pleasure of watching Ultimate Fighting Championship with, live in Atlantic City) has a nice piece that runs down the next gen console offerings. Here's my take:

At first glance, the Wii is your console if you're looking to get onboard with the new gaming market without breaking the bank or ruining your sex life. It's got the lowest price by far, and if you're reading this blog, you might as well accept that you don't have an easy $600 bucks to spend on a gaming console. It also offers some truly new things... like the motion sensor interface and Wi-Fi and a downloadable library of new titles. It also offers a great launch title: Twilight Princess.

Do not, though, count out PS3 or Xbox 360. These systems have had rocky starts, but that's for two basic reasons:

1. Most people aren't gearheads who give a crap about 480p vs 1080p. If you're not someone who worries about component cables or HD TV, etc, etc...then you won't be able to tell much of a difference graphically. Are you jonesing for Blu-Ray, or have you never heard of Blu-Ray? That's what I thought.

2. Games. Consoles do not sell themselves...people buy games. Wii, for its pittance of a price, offers up a great launch title that people will want to play. When will most gamers surrender to Microsoft or Sony? When Grand Theft Auto and Halo come out, respectively, for the next gen. They'll buy the consoles to play those games...and not before.

In the end, it's fantastic to see Ninetendo primed to take up some of the market real estate they lost to the messy release of the Gamecube. PS3 is stalling in its launch, and Xbox 360 is grand, but its launch titles failed to captivate. Neither of these giants are about to go anywhere, though. They're just going to have to settle for hardcore gamers until their most popular titles hit the streets. Wii, though, won't have that problem.

Mario Party anyone?

The Internationalist

Haven't seen the production, but it's a New York blogsphere play day. Check out Isaac's post here for Washburn Grand Central.

I can't talk about the play, which I haven't seen.

As for the responses I'm reading (from out here in "not having met Anne" country) it seems that there is a disconnect between the actual theatergoing audience and those that make theatre. What directors and writers respect and admire in Washburn may be something that just doesn't translate to the regular spectator.

That may be overstating.

Ms. Washburn's plays are, obviously, obscure and challenging. I was reading Apparition at St. Mark's Books the other day, out of curiosity, and while I didn't ingest it carefully standing in the bookstore, I didn't find much to hold onto in it. That isn't necessarily a flaw, it just means that work like that is inviting strong opinions for and against. I can't imagine Washburn doesn't know she'll lose half her audience's attention with this work... and it's a credit to her that she persists with her own aesthetic without compromise. That being said, it doesn't guarantee that she'll be embraced by a large audience.

It's a deal with the devil. If you push the audience, some will push back.

Maybe, in the long term, we need to seek to cultivate a new audience for the Vineyard. But that's a post for the future.

Monday, November 13, 2006

BURST INTO FLAMES! (I feel 'off' today)

Ah ha!

That's what I wish my laptop would have done.

Instead, it just sort of threw up an error message and politely gave up the ghost. Thank God I backed up MOST of my work. Just a few things are currently having to be recreated, the very latest pages on myriad writing projects.

I will, of course, be taking this out on my all my friends and family, as I drink and complain and make awful noises about karma.

That is my nature.


I feel vaguely erratic. Vaguely.

I have a ten-minute play due in two days. I have no ideas. It has to be about decency. About obscenity. I want ideas. Give them to me, oh blog-readers. Provide me with my living.

(There must be something more important to think about. Like the nature of a burrito.)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Harry Potter Blinds Horses With a Rail Spike

No, seriously. He does.

Daniel Radcliffe as Alan Strang in Equus.

Frankly, I'm curious to see how he is. You've got to give him credit for taking it on, knowing the kind of attention he'll bring the play.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Donald Rumsfeld's Letter of Resignation

Got this from an inside source:

"Dear George:

God, it's been a long strange trip. Who knew that after all this 'blood under the bridge,' I'd be secretly sneaking into your office at this hour, drunk on the good stuff, writing this letter of resignation on the back of a White House napkin? I mean, some people might have expected it, and I'm sure you'll make it all sound great at the press conference tomorrow, but for now, just between you and I...shit, brother. This is wack.

Last night, as the election results came in, and Turd Blossom held is crackberry close to his heart and started reciting districts in that random, speaking-in-tongues creepy way he does, I started to get the impression that people were blaming me for all this. Maybe it was the grass making me paranoid... but hell, it is my fault isn't it? Well, mine and yours. And the CIA. And, fuck, we all really screwed the pooch on this one didn't we? But it's mine too, and that's cool. I can take the heat. I'm a macho man, and I can cross my arms in that way that makes your biceps look bigger (you know, with your fists under your arms?), and if I cause the deaths of lots of innocent people, like a lot of them, I'll admit it. I was wrong. I mean, I knew I was wrong from the start... but now that I'm really drunk and high, I' m starting to fucking understand it.

When we looked at Iraq at the start, I was just seeing the buildings, you know? There were some great targets there, for some good explosions and firefights, and that looks GOOD when you're running for office. Also, Saddam had the moustache thing going, which is totally a Hitler thing, but he also wasn't working the beard like Osama, so I figured...hell, not ALL Muslims will hate us. I also figured, you know, we could win in Afghanistan all day, but it's just like goats and fields and stuff. No headlines. It was a total waste of time.

Now I see that Iraq is this gigantic, mult-layered, culturally diverse COUNTRY. Even if it was invented, sort of, by limeys. Think about it: It's got like tons of shit in it. I heard that a lot of what happens in the Bible happened in Iraq. No joke. Look it up.

Well we bombed it. Tons of it. Like most of it. Well half. More than half? Who gives a shit?

Now, because we didn't bomb it completely gone, there's a bunch of communist women who are about to tell us how to think about black people. That's what going to happen. They're going to come into the Congress, and they're going to tell us to pay servants a decent wage, and insist on healthcare for people (shitheads, healthcare costs money), and they're going to abort everything and marry men to other men, and they're going to try to fix the mess we made in the Middle East. As if that's their mess. It's MY damn mess. Fuckers.

Anyway, I know this isn't the best way to tell you all this. I've gone through like...wait...15 napkins. Something like that. My pants are off because I puked on them. I mean everywhere. I can't hold my liquor like Cheney's old lady can. Not since I got so old.

Christ I feel old. It's time for Rummy to say "Gin!" Or something. Is that a way to say "I quit?" I quit. I'm sorry. Next time we do this, I'll pick a smaller country and I'll do it with more guys. We'll outnumber their population 2-to-1 next time. No joke. It'll be amazing.

This time, though, I'm going to head home to wherever it is I come from, let the wave of guilt and regret wash over me, hit myself repeatedly with a golf club, and pray for the best. I know everything thinks the Liberals control Congress because of me, I know they do, and I can't face that shit. I won't take that one lying down. I'll take it alone, in my home, while you negotiate with a chick from San Francisco. Good luck to you on that... she's got the whitest teeth on earth. White like a shark.

What am I talking about?

I don't give a shit anymore. I quit.

Your Secretary of Defense,


Donald Rumsfeld to Resign

Just hit the AP. No details.

I still couldn't help but just say so. On this blog. Right now. Out of sheer joy.

Recounts, and Tigers and Bears: Oh My!

The fact that Democrats have won the House is certainly a glorious thing: it shows that it only took six years for voters to become angry enough at Bush to take it out on his slaves.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Resume of George Bush

Thanks to Ms. Buller for this.


1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC20520



I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol. I pled guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days.

My Texas driving record has been lost and is not available.


I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use. By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam


I graduated from Yale University with a low C average. I was a cheerleader.


I ran for U.S. Congress and lost. I began my career in the oil business in Midland, Texas, in 1975. I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas. The company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.

I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money.

With the help of my father and our friends in the oil industry, including Enron CEO Ken Lay, I was elected governor of Texas.


I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union. During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America.

I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money.

I set the record for the most executions by any governor in American history.

With the help of my brother, the governor of Florida, and my father's appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President after losing by over 500,000 votes.


I am the first President in U.S.history to enter office with a criminal record.

I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week.

I spent the U.S.surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury.

I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history.

I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.

I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.

I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market.

In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month.

I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S.history. My "poorest millionaire," Condoleeza Rice, had a Chevron oil tanker named after her.

I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S.

I am the all-time U.S.and world record-holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations.

My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. History, Enron.

My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision.

I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution.

More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate rip-offs in history.

I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S.history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed.

I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history.

I changed the U.S.policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.

I appointed more convicted criminals to administration than any President in U.S.history.

I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United Statesgovernment.

I've broken more international treaties than any President in U.S.history.

I am the first President in U.S.history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission.

I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law.

I refused to allow inspectors access to U.S . "prisoners of war" detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention.

I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S.election).

I set the record for fewest numbers of press conferences of any President since the advent of television.

I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period.

After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S.history.

I garnered the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S.the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.

I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to Simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people), shattering the record for protests against any person in the history of mankind.

I am the first President in U.S.history to order an unprovoked, pre-emptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation.

I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S. citizens, and the world community.

I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families-in-wartime.

In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for Attacking Iraq and then blamed the lies on our British friends.

I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security.

I am supporting development of a nuclear "Tactical Bunker Buster," a WMD.

I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice.


All records of my tenure as governor of Texasare now in my father's library, sealed and unavailable for public view. All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President, attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.

I am a member of the Republican Party.


Stolen Chair!


These guys have a blog. READ it.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Working out the new stuff

I'm sitting here trying to write a bit of a little outside project, and also mulling "The Shadow" and "The Man Who Caught Death in a Bag." Perhaps I'll do a little public discussion of where I am with the creative work, and how I'm feeling.

First of all, my self-imposed deadlines came and went for both "The Shadow" and "The Man Who Caught Death in a Bag." Neither play is finished. Certainly not good practice or discipline, and it underscores to me (and should to anyone reading this) how vital even INVENTED deadlines are. Life is full of priorities, wizzers, buzzers, flashing lights and travel issues. It is incredibly easy to let the creative process fall on the list of immediate needs, and then get derailed.

I'm feeling, more than ever, that this has happened to "The Man Who Caught Death in a Bag." Every time I sit down to write it, it seems a bit more alien and distant to me... a bit less like a play I should be writing now, and a bit less like I know how to write it. I love the ideas and the language of it thus far, I think, at its core, it is a play that would allow me to get involved in some of my own intellectual fetishes and emotional trouble spots. Nonetheless, it might be that I don't have the will or wherewithal to write something of that sort at the moment.

One of the interesting things about writing plays is that you are, as you write it, anticipating the end result. Certain elements can be in place that can protect a play from total failure. For example, a well-constructed narrative can often give a director and actors enough to cover up oddly or poorly written moments. Sometimes, the writing can be strong enough to make construction less important... a single conceit can be carried simply by powerful wordplay and little else.

"The Man Who Caught Death in a Bag" intimidates me because it requires four neatly constructed narratives, that are presented by three characters onstage, at once. Each character plays the same person, Matthew Connon. Each Matthew Connon tells of finding a story that his missing father wrote. Then, we hear the story, and the story of each different Connon's engagement with this story. Each version of Connon is unique (one is married, one is not, one is aware that he is a construction of the playwright, the other two are not, etc.) but shares common elements. Each of them is reading the same story, and each of them goes about responding to that story in a different way.

That's the ambition.

The truth is, telling someone that and actually constructing this thing are entirely different. There is no correlation, unfortunately, between explaining the idea of a play and actually writing the thing. None, as far as I can tell, at all. Because, as we speak, this idea has failed to be born properly. Something intangible is lost between the concept and the execution. It could be confidence, or self-doubt, or just that I need to write something funny right now and this feels to serious.

I'm honestly not sure. That's the beauty and horror of the whole enterprise. No one actually knows how to do any of this.

"The Shadow" on the other hand, isn't done simply because I haven't finished it. It would probably take about two hours to complete a first draft. No excuses...that's just laziness. And the guy who's waiting for it (this guy) is a bit busy anyhow.

To add to these things is a 10 minute play I've bee commissioned to write for Blue Coyote. Hm. Due November 15th. Hm. Better write that one.

Is it just me, or could I have written that play in the time it took me to write this entry?

Onwards and upwards. Thanks for your indulgence.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Weekend Question

How do you define obscene?



Have you checked out her blog lately? Because it's still brilliant.

Report on Bloggers

Interesting Pew PDF on the identity of bloggers. Take a read.

Isn't there something in the Bible...

About reaping what you sow?

To me, it doesn't matter if it's true or false. I just love to see bigots humiliated. It floods my brain with happy chemicals.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

They Got Al Capone for Tax Evasion

So Ann Coulter will receive, perhaps, similar recompense?

The Times They Are A-Changin'

The first concert I ever attended was a Bob Dylan concert in Virginia with my Uncle Bruce.

I've read Dylan's books (even Tarantula) and I've memorized half his song book. I even checked out Masked and Anonymous. All of this takes dedication.

But I will not subject myself to this.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

John Kerry and the "Liberal" Media

Strange that during a season of real political crisis in this country, the supposedly liberal media is covering yet another Republican fiction ("John Kerry insults the troops"). John Kerry's misstatement is the opposite of news, and in order to CREATE it as news, one must decide to:

- cover an invention of the Republican attack machine
- ignore Kerry's entire history of statements that show his deep understanding of and support of the US military' s proper role and use
- treat someone who is NOT up for election as more important than those that are
- treat all sides as if they have merit, and eschew all analysis of that merit
- stop putting the disaster in Iraq or the curtailing of civil rights on the front page

Seems simple isn't it? John Kerry's verbal error, made in front of a bunch of students, is more important that the wanton lies that Bush makes to the country.

We did it! We're a failed Democracy! Hoooray!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The New York Times - In Public / Review

Butler wrote this letter. It's well-articulated.

Short version: Kendt and Hunka are both bloggers that are aware of each other, and freelance writers for the New York Times. The Times sent Kendt to review the run, and then decided not to publish the review because the two were considered "colleagues." Butler, the director of In Public, takes issue with this decision as inconsistent with past practice and bad policy.

More thoughts about it can be found here.

There are comments all around for your reading enjoyment.

My question would be: If, in the estimation of the blogging community, this was overstepping and unfair on the part of the Times...when would it be considered a conflict of interest for one person to review another's. Charles Isherwood reviewing a play by Ben Brantley?

I'm dicey on where the line is.

EDIT: I will add that I feel it presents a difficult choice for someone trying to make their way as a voice both critically and creatively. This does force someone who writes for the Times to choose, on some level, between one ambition or another.

Halloween just got more terrifying

Bush signs a bill that gives him the right to declare martial law.

I thought that "checks and balances" meant that too much power should not reside in the Executive Office. Apparently, with this Congress, it means that they should give as much power as possible to the King.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


While In Public is going into its final performances (get your tickets!), I'm struck by one of the compliments I've heard a few times about it. It's certainly not backhanded, in fact, this compliment struck me as sincere...

"It's not too long."

In the midst of talking informally about any given play running in New York City, lack of length is often considered high praise. (Not to overstate, I'm sure this often means "We can all drink earlier.") In my self-conscious way, though, I think about The Death of King Arthur and The Most Wonderful Love, both of which run at around 2 and a half hours, and wonder how often that was viewed as a failing of the work.

We're in an era when we can receive more, faster, and with less effort. For everyone Coast of Utopia (three parts and hours long) , there are many more Wrecks (75 minute monologues for one actor.) Somewhere in between is the typical, songless play, which is now, I fear, expected to fall more within the length of the latter than the former.

This trend towards shorter works strikes me as a concession to the ease by which we consume other media. (It may be that people don't mind something longer if they see uniform excellence.) It may simply also be that the shorter works are those that have the least fat on them, and therefore, are direct and elegant in a way that flabbier works are not.

Sometimes, though, there is power in some weight and length, and stories need to develop in a way that is firmly edited. Imagine trying to turn Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? into a more compact, sixty-five minute evening. How much of the play could be lost in order to get across the major ideas? Plenty? How much of the exhaustion and bullishness would be lost in a trimmer version... all of it.

I'm also concerned that we're teaching new playwrights to push an elephant through the eye of a needle: that their thoughts should be bite-sized to be tolerated, and that if they write a play that is five-hours long, it is hubris, as opposed to ambition.

This is not to say, of course, that a compact play is not capable of large and complex thoughts (far from it.) In fact, some of the best works of the modern theatre have been shorter works by Beckett or Pinter or Albee. (In Public certainly doesn't trade in light-fare.) It's simply an observation...or more accurately a reservation.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Responses to the subject of responses

The overall feeling I'm receiving is that critical response to the work of "blogger-peers" is best left in the magical world of "real life" and for private consumption.

My guess is that as the blogosphere expands, and includes more peope like Garrett, the measured self-discipline of journalism will become more necessary.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Can't Stop the Signal

Isaac brings up an important question about the identity of the blogosphere and the difficulty of open criticism here.

The fact is, blogging creates community, it creates awareness and, hopefully, stimulates conversation. It is, though, still teetering between (at least in the theatrical blogosphere) a message board on steriods and "new media."

We can't go backwards... this new and immediate media is here, along with it's off-line chatter and personalities. We're often quite open in criticizing culture and politics and other theatre artists. We are, though, challenged to find ways of discussing one another's work without fear of breaking some sort of code.

I know, for example, that The Most Wonderful Love got nothing but friendly responses on the blogosphere, but that, in truth, many of my colleagues had mixed feelings about it (length, structure, pace, what-have-you). Maybe in the thrill of a production, it would have been hard to hear tough talk about it. But there is a difference between criticism and comment or discussion.

One wonderful opportunity here is that there are many smart artists on this medium, and audiences, who have a new opportunity to engage with one another about the work in an active and immediate way. To talk about it (not judge it) and really enjoy the sort of spirited defenses and statements that come BEST from actual plays, not esoterica. Of course, when real productions happen, we almost all, on the blogosphere, immediately move into polite back-slapping.

So... since we can't stop the flow of information...I am interested in what bloggers and readers think is the best direction to consider. For example, should we:

1. Accept the inevitable awkwardness of discussing the work of peers, and simply avoid the issue as best we can?
2. Support one another online, and leave doubts or quibbles for private conversation.
3. Air all critiques with aplomb, damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead?
4. Come up with some ground rules that work for us... only respond when a response is asked for...

I'll say that I think criticizing others is generally NOT what we need to be doing. I think there can be a difference between responding honestly to someone's play, and not approaching like a reviewer and thinking of it in terms of approval.

What do you think?

Monday, October 23, 2006

In Public

Got a chance to see George Hunka's IN PUBLIC on Saturday night, with a few friends.

First of all, I'll say that I thought the play was tight, well-crafted, beautifully acted and directed with a sure hand. It's funny and it shows off George's deftness with a turn of phrase. Dramatically, it works entirely... you feel invested in the play's climax, and interested in the emotional life of these characters.

A friend of mine joked that the play is written around a dirty joke. Which, I must say, is absolutely true.

Onwards and upwards!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Utterly Random 10

I've been remiss in updating this blog with any substantive material of late. So I thought I'd take a moment to put up 10 blurbs, thoughts I've had, interests, what-have-you, for your weekend enjoyment. Thoughts, as always, are appreciated.

1. I'll be attending In Public on Saturday. I'm excited to see George and Isaac's work. I have to say, of course, that it highlights the muddy lines between new media, mainstream media, and artists that blogging creates. George and Isaac are prominent bloggers, George has a relationship with the New York Times, and has his own identity as a playwright. I'm curious how the response to the play is going to be handled (if you'll excuse me) privately and publicly.

2. Still watching LOST. Oh the glorious cartoon. Bring on the ridiculous. I eat it up with a spoon.

3. Dear Representative Foley,

It hurts me to hear that you not only abuse alcohol, and that you were sexually abused as altar boy, but that you are living in a world that is permissive to homosexuality. It must have made it hard for you to succeed in life, much less become a Congressman.

I can only conclude, therefore, that the charges against you are false. Thank you for clearing that all up.


4. Phantasmaphile's day job gave us a scare, but she's come through it all right. Phew. I can now resume worrying about things that are far less important.


6. Richard Foreman is blogging here. As always, Foreman baffles and uses CAPITAL LETTERS. I kid. Obviously, he's a formidable theatrical artist and it's worthy reading. I agree, though, with Jason Grote that his journals are more engaging to me than his actual productions.

It strikes me that the goal of distancing should be to aid in objective observation of something that is too easily made subjective. If both the manner of presentation and the content are distancing, then you've got very little to invest in.

7. The Republicans are shaking in their boots about November 7th. Therefore, there is a call to claim that a Democratic victory (which I refuse to think of as remotely assured) would mean nothing about the Democrats. The spin is that it would simply be a referendum AGAINST the GOP, and that the Democrats aren't offering true reform or other options.

Frankly, a strategy that wins is a good one. Watching the GOP implode is far better than putting plans on the table so that the GOP can attack them and control the debate. At least, when the Democrats attack...they don't have to make things up.

8. Political Theater around town. Good stuff.

9. Last week I, as a part of my day job, gave a seminar on increasing pledges to local parish ministries. I am not kidding.

10. Buy Playing with Canons and The Death of King Arthur! It's good karma, crew. Good karma.

Onwards! Upwards! Mush! Mush!

Today's Lies

Check out my friend Will's new political blog Today's Lies. Good stuff Will!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Habeas Corpus: No Longer Needed

The One-Party System in action.

If it first you break the law, change it.

For more detail on this issue... Human Rights Watch.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ah ha!

I found the CD that will get "The Man Who Caught Death in a Bag" written.

Yes, I said CD. I am 1) the last man on earth without an iPod and 2) thrilled.

As for "The Shadow," that doesn't need a CD. That needs a bottle of six-dollar, gut rotting red and an evening to myself. I'll supply the noise.

(My friend Matt Trumbull often says: "Sometimes, when I'm at work, I hear someone crying. And I just want him to shut up. I want him to stop crying. To just shut up. He's so loud. And then I realize...it's me.")

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Broadway.com takes the term "Populist" too literally

Via Rob Kendt and MattJ...

Broadway.com is now employing this happy troupe of intrepid people to be a focus group of "real" people.

Somewhere, Peter Brook is laughing in a very nice glass of wine.

Edward Albee, on the other hand, just crushed a walnut between his head and hand.

Whose idea was this? What, exactly, does it say on his or her MBA?

Bush Speech Generator - Enjoy!


From Phantasmaphile...

Let's see who can create the very best one. Eh?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Isaac's Musings / My Responses

Issac posts a series of maxims.

We'll be working together soon, so I wanted to respond and talk about those points. See what bubbles up. Here goes...

(1) The solution to directors trying to copyright their interpretations of texts is for everyone to have less control over how work is interpreted, not for directors to have a copyright interest.

The issue of directorial copyright isn't one I'm that close to. I will say, though, that as an author, it's important to have as much control as I choose over my work. If I see merit in surrendering certain powers to a director (which is OFTEN the case) I'm happy to. There are some authors that are uncomfortable with directors approaching their work as a sort of blueprint. I understand that as well. I don't feel remotely comfortable with directors copyrighting productions, if it EVER comes in conflict with an author's copyright. Which it inevitably would.

(2) The highest goal of art is not the realization and fulfillment of authorial intent.

No, it isn't. But the highest goal of a single production may be best served by the author's intent. Often, the original intent of the original creative force behind a project is a very good thing to pay attention to. That doesn't mean there is a "correct" answer.

I'm often nervous about directoral competition with the importance of the author.

(3) Collaboration is a skill that must be developed over time. As is creativity.

I would say that collaboration is more of a skill than creativity. I'd completely agree that practice hones both of these.

(4) The director is not omnipotent in the rehearsal process. There is a difference between leadership and dictatorship.

True. I think we all know, though, that it's not a democratic process and doesn't work particularly well as one. I'm always happy with a director who is a strong leader.

(5) Genre is a useful tool, not a series of rules. So is style.

Style seems more personal, either way. A writer's style is often not very conscious. Self-conscious style is often simply affectation. The challenge for a director and actor often is to find a style that works for them WITHIN a writer's style.

Genre, though, is like wearing a suit. You put it on, it fits a certain way.

(6) Intellectual property and copyright law is out of control and hindering creativity

I'm not sure if that's true. In fact, I would make the case that while the internet is fostering a sense of freedom and sharing, there is a point at which it tramples copyright law rather wantonly. In the age of open source, how does an artist have ownership of his or her work?

(7) The director's primary job is to create an environment in which the group can be collectively creative.

I'd be curious if there are examples where this is not true. The question I have is the word "primary." Are there times where that is secondary?

(8) Being talented is not an excuse for behaving badly. Someone's talent is not an excuse to indulge their poor behavior.

God bless it. Dead on.

(9) There is nothing wrong with the audience enjoying themselves. There is nothing wrong with art being fun.

I'd go so far as to say that if you are creating an environment that is unpleasant for the audience on purpose... there is something wrong.

(10) The insistance that individual works of theater be "important" directly coincides with the decline of theater's importance as an art form.

Interesting. Not sure if it's true, again. I would completely agree that insisting on one's own importance is the surest clue that you're sold on the idea.

(11) Originality is an overrated virtue. Creativity is an underrated one.

Originality is a non-existent virtue. Nothing comes from nothing.

(12) Whether or not a piece of art "works" is purely subjective.

Entirely. Although there are some people who have a subjective opinion I find terrifying. Still, it's theirs. They can watch all the "Survivor" they want.

(13) Theater's temporality is its greatest tragedy, but can also be its greatest asset.

It's an odd thing that we thing of transience and temporality as this tragedy. We're uncomfortable with death, and the loss of moments and of things. Therefore, if something can be held, repeated, archived... it is more "valuable." Of course, a moment in time that is singular unto itself, impossible to repeat... that is the one moment we talk about for the rest of our lives.

Good stuff, Isaac. Love to hear other thoughts.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Apocalypse SOON!

It would be funny if it were not so terribly unfunny.

Herein lies our new favorite pasttime...hoping for the Money Shot of religous fire.

Now appearing on the blogroll

Theaterboy! Hello!

Two plays, two weeks

I've got deadlines for "The Man Who Caught Death in a Bag" and "The Shadow" over the next two weeks.

I am not a writer who writes constantly. Sort of a fits and starts, when-the-spirit-moves-me style. The Spirit now moves me. It has no choice.

Attend, muses. Attend.

So...all ye other writers... to what do you turn to for inspiration, when inspiration must be "conjured?"

And with that...

The O'Neil issue resolves.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Moyers/McKibbon on Religion and Climate Change

At the New York Public Library on Tuesday evening, Bill Moyers (promoting Welcome to Doomsday) and Bill McKibben (author of The End of Nature) spoke on the bizarre criss-cross between the need for immediate environmental action regarding climate change; and the centralization of apocalyptic Darbyists who believe that the Earth won't be around after the conflagration anyhow.

Obviously, it's a fringe religion, embraced by a fringe government, supported wholeheartedly, in its rejection of good science, by big business. On one had, you have those that believe that the Left Behind books are Harry Potter prophecy. On the other hand, people so greedy that they will deny the leading climatologists in the World in order to make more money before they die. Together, they are guiding the earth as quickly towards it's own early demise as they possibly can.

McKibbon noted that he felt that in order to enact the sort of gigantic change necessary to reverse climate change in time, one may need to appeal to the religious, as opposed to try to circumvent them. That, say what you will about evangelicals, once mobilized, they get things done.

Moyers noted that those who believe in the Rapture were too far gone to be spoken to, but that there were many perfectly sane religious people to whom one could appeal.

I agree, first and foremost, that it is a mistake to treat the religous fringe as the religious center. As I've said before, it's been a mistake of the progressive movement to cede all talk of religion to those who are unreasonable and hypocritical. Religion is a fundamental part of human nature, like it or not, and many powerful and good things have come from staunch religious faith. To engage with and respect the religious may well be the best hope of broad mobilization TOWARDS progressive behavior.

Beyond this, as well, is the value of art. One gentleman asked Moyers if the reason that Climate Change didn't seem to worry most people, or that most people seemed uninterested in real action, was that it failed to affect their day-to-day lives in a way that seemed immediate. By that logic, of course, by the time we notice the problems of rising carbon and warming, it will be too late to do anything about it.

Moyers response was that it was the value of journalists, writers, artists and storytellers to engage with the imaginations of those who could not see outside their own experience. To place those of us in a small context, shall we say, into a larger one.

I hadn't heard a better and more compelling example of the need for political and activist art and theatre in a very long time. Furthermore, art that embraces it's essential desire to see past didactic truths and simple political realities and into discourses that are more substantial. (i.e. Why should we protect the earth? Just because we're Democrats? Because of legislation? Or because of something sacred?)

It's noteworthy, to me, that both religion and art find themselves at cross-purposes here. Both of them are, essentially, an effort to reach beyond that which is within our experience, into something we see by way of feeling. The best of religion and of art strikes something in us that we can neither substantially explain nor disprove. We know that we have been struck by something truthful, and that experience is profound and of the spirit.

One might find great relationship between writings that are theatrically theoretical and theological study.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Doug Rand on the Playwright's Minimum Wage

Adam Szymkowicz made note of this last week...I certainly think it's worth attention and discussion.

Here is a piece written by one of the co-founders of Playscripts.com, which addresses the issue of royalties for playwrights.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Show of hands

So, I was talking with Adam Szymkowicz last night before he went to a fundraiser at the Brick. (Which you can read about all over the blogosphere today, I'm sure.) We noted how even though there's quite a bit of potential in the theatrical blogosphere, that our impression that we didn't know who was reading the blogs besides, essentially, other bloggers.

So, if you're game, I'd love anyone who is not a blogger but is a regular reader of theatre blogs to comment below. Say whatever you want, of course... that's the beauty of these magical glowing boxes.

Monday, October 02, 2006

TRUTH is on the way

Go see TRUTH, Mike Daisey's newest. Sounds cool.

Why? Because Mike Daisey sent me an e-mail about it and he's as cool as a cucumber. Also, he's pretty much universally renowned as terribly good at this sort of thing.

Blogging Panel - Prelude 06

Quite a bit of chatter around the 'sphere from those gents who were involved with a panel on theatre blogging. Much ado about what blogs are, their relationship to the New York Times, their relationship to editorials, and their potential. Worthy reading. Apparently there's an MP3 of it on the way, so I'll keep a look out for that and post it when it appears. In the meantime, check it out...

Garrett Eisler
David Cote
George Hunka
Isaac Butler
Tweed and Sharkskin Girl (previously unbeknownst to moi)

I didn't attend, but I'm looking forward to hearing more. I'm ambivalent about this, honestly. There are some of us that would like blogging to become another acknowledged place for journalism and opinion. Fair enough. Those things have value. I, personally, would love to provide those interested with insight into what it's like to do the sorts of things I do, and get a ground level look at the Indie scene in New York, and obviously whoever wants my opinion will likely hear it in this space. Those with higher ambitions for blogging are out there... and more power to them.

I get a little nervous about the accountability factor, though. Then again, Wikipedia works because it's a healthy, trusting, self-monitoring community. Perhaps oversight is built in to a system with enough different personalities.

We shall see.

One a side note: Interesting to think of Alexis Soloski of the Village Voice as representing the traditional media in any way, but there you have it... paper and an editor is apparently all you need to be considered traditional media these days.

CultureBot Sign-Off

I'm usually the last one to link to stuff like this. Yet again, this is true. Nonetheless, worth a read.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Playing with Canons: Podcast

Click here to listen to Martin Denton discuss the upcoming anthology "Playing with Canons," which features a play by yours truly.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Be obscure clearly

From ELEMENTS OF STYLE (Strunk & White)

"Be clear.

Clarity is not the prize in writing, nor is it always the principal mark of a good style. There are occasions when obscurity serves a literary yearning, if not a literary purpose, and there are writers whose mien is more overcast than clear. But since writing is communication, clarity can only be a virtue. And although there is no substitute for merit in writing, clarity comes closest to being one. Even to a writer who is being intentionally obscure or wild of tongue we can say, "Be obscure clearly! Be wild of tongue in a way we can understand!" Even to writers of market letters, telling us (but not telling us) which securities are promising, we can say, "Be cagey plainly! Be elliptical in a straightforward fashion!"

Clarity, clarity, clarity. When you become hopelessly mired in a sentence, it is best to start fresh; do not try to fight your way through against the terrible odds of syntax. Usually what is wrong is that the construction has become too involved at some point; the sentence needs to be broken apart and replaced by two or more shorter sentences.

Muddiness is not merely a disturber of prose, it is also a destroyer of life, of hope: death on the highway caused by a badly worded road sign, heartbreak among lovers caused by a misplaced phrase in a well-intentioned letter, anguish of a traveler expecting to be met at a railroad station and not being met because of a slipshod telegram. Think of the tragedies that are rooted in ambiguity, and be clear! When you say something, make sure you have said it. The chances of your having said it are only fair."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sample of the text of Genesis

In preparation for the release of Playing with Canons, I thought I'd share a bit of Genesis on this blog. Below is some of "The First Murder (Cain and Abel.)" As you'll note, it's a hodgepodge of one of the existing cyle plays and my own text. One thing I adore about the original plays is how simple and straightforward they are... there isn't too much meandering in poetry.

This takes place just after their tithe, and just prior to the murder itself.


Abel. Cain, this not worth one leek!
Thy tithe should burn well without smoke.
Cain, brother, that is ill done.

Cain. No, but go we hence soon;
And if I may, I shall be
Where God himself shall not see.
There will be none who may spy
With eye or other means, not even Him
Inside that room.

None know of places out of His sight.
But I will find them, and respite.

Abel. Dear brother, I will fare
On the road where our betters are
To look out for all, empty or full.

Cain. Shouldst thou go? Nay abide a while.
We have yet a fearless bone to pick.
Hard! Speak with me before thou go.
What, dost thou think to ‘scape so?
No, stay! I owe thee a foul play
And now is the time that you’ll repay.

Abel. Brother, why are you so in ire?

Cain. Why burns thy purse in full a fire?
While mine, while offered, barely smoked
Right as it would us both have choked?

Abel. God’s will, I believe, it were
That mine did burn so clear.
If thine chokes, am I to blame?
Know you nothing, brother
Or the world as’t works?
Of kindness repaid in kind
And likewise selfishness?
Faith resides inside the air
And not inside the curious
Of question and of matter.
You seem to hate too much
Both kin and King alike.
You excuse failures crutch
To make your fire not light.

Cain. Yea! And thou shalt repay my shame:
Never before has one man’s burden
Felt so assured to kill for certain.
None in Paradise need make divide
And while outside, less must reside.
With cheek-bone straightway
Shall I thee and thy life divide....

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Berlin Opera cancels "Idomeneo"

My good friend Ian G. sent me this via e-mail. I thought he wouldn't mind me posting his thoughts, as it's worth some discussion...

"From the Times today: The Berlin Opera has cancelled a production of Mozart's "Idomeneo" because one scene features a character holding the severed heads of Jesus, Buddha, Poseidon, and -- here's the problem -- the Prophet Muhammad, and the opera's directors would rather not have a performance bombed:


This is a level of potentially blog-worthy scariness that I'd not seen before: a theatre company preemptively pulling work before anyone has a chance to object to it, for fear of violent retribution. Is this paranoia? Cowardice? Good sense? Letting the terrorists win? I haven't sorted that out…

What I am starting to worry about is that cultural institutions globally might reach the same conclusions as the Berlin Opera, and succumb to a kind of preemptive terrorism, silencing themselves out of fear. I may be overreacting, but if we allow our fears of terrorism to dictate what we can do in our work, where does it end? Art that is not free to offend without the artists risking genuine harm seems to me the first step down a path to no art at all. Or am I being unreasonable?"

Words to Live By

"The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends."

Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, Foreword



Queer Feminist Theater in L.A.

Or somesuch.

Thanks to Boo for linking to "The Violet Vixen."

The Vixen describes herself as offering "a queer feminist perspective on theater and performance art, mostly in and around Los Angeles with occasional forays into wider theater news and sporadic book reviews." Sounds fantastic to me.

Her post on NewYorkCentrism is sharp.

Go say hello!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Playing With Canons

A new anthology on the way from the New York Theatre Experience, which contains an adaptation of my own. Take a look at the offerings here. There's an interview with me as well.

Take a read. Let me know what you think.

Friday, September 22, 2006

A little about what I'm writing

I'm currently working on three different plays, all of which at odd times and in fits and starts.

The first of which is "The Shadow," which I have been blogging about a bit and will continue to do so. Isaac has asked that I get a first draft finished at the end of the run of "In Public." I love deadlines so, of course, it will be done.

The other play is currently titled "The Man Who Caught Death in a Bag." It's shaped a bit like "The Americans" in this early stage. ("The Americans" featured three characters, named by the letters D, T, and F, who spoke to the audience in dovetailing monologues.) The new play has three actors on stage, but they all portray the same character, who is currently named "Matthew Harbaugh." It struck me that a few observers viewed "The Americans" as being three different versions of the same person. I'm making that quite literal in this new play.

Here's an excerpt from the evolving first draft:

So here’s the deal. Since we’re all going to talk. My name is Matthew Harbaugh. Which, might strike you as instantly odd, because it seems like half of my name was changed to protect the innocent. Fair enough. I make the rules.


Another rule is that there are these other two Matthew Harbaugh’s, right there. In my bedroom. Or what looks like my bedroom. And they can’t see me.


Just for the purposes of our play. Which is called “The Man Who Caught Death In A Bag.”

Did you ever get the feeling that forces beyond your control are conspiring to make you quit your job and drink too much? Just because someone, somewhere is entertained by it? God or whoever? God, probably.

This is called “The Boy Who Caught Death in a Bag.” Not very creative, if you think about it.

That’s how I felt when this book fell into my lap. My mother had passed away and my brother and I were going through old boxes and there it was. I put it in my bag before my brother could see it. I don’t know why, but that’s exactly what I did.

For the record, my real name isn’t Matthew Harbaugh, and as of this writing, my father isn’t dead. And the one who writes things about death is me, not him. But here we are, watching a play about exactly that. And here I am, talking about Fathers and Death. So it goes. But yes, my name is Matthew Harbaugh. And so are theirs.


That will do for all normal purposes.

The third project is in outlining stages... a fake "history play" in verse. After seeing Richard II at the Classic, it occurred to me that I would love to use the history play format and style, but invent something entirely false... a myth of a King, told in verse, as if it were a "history." Why not? Why shouldn't I?
Onwards and upwards.

Friday Utterly Random 10

Just whatever's up... 10 things that I'm all about right now.

1. A Poor Player, Gasp Journal and Intermission - Always nice when some new voices make a little noise.
2. Buy this! Because you like me so much!
3. The United Nations.
4. Rosh Hashanah.
5. Fools and Lovers at Moonwork. Great company. I heartily recommend this. Features my pal David DelGrosso.
6. Finally watching "Deadwood."
7. Albee and Remy (our cats) are in full blown crazy-ass mode. Hilarious, but makes each morning just a little more exhausting. Oh Kittenhood.
8. The ridiculous "compromise" between Bush and members of his own party, to essentially allow for torture while condeming it. This has about as much teeth as a General Assembly resolution.
9. The nytheatrecast. Great stuff for anyone interested in a wide range of voices from the Indie Theatre scene in NYC.
10. Arbitrary 10th thing.

Three Shows to Recommend

Per Isaac's post, there was an idea floated amoung the NYC bloggers that we should all talk about this today.

So hey, check out the original post and tell me what you think about the Fall Season, if you haven't already.


Fall Previews can be found...

James Comtois
George Hunka

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bloggers Chime in on NYC Centric Blogosphere

Well, this is fun, no? Lots of thoughts about NYC and its detractors/defenders. This is something that comes up periodically it seems.

Tom (A Poor Player) writes about his take here.

Isaac and Tom have it out a bit here.

Laura give everyone a piece of her mind here.

Some of the many out-of-NYC theatre blogs?

Laura, in my comments section a few posts back, notes...

Her own

Bill Clinton interviewed about Torture

Take a listen.


New York - Theatre Blog Central

I'd love to draw some attention to this post, which takes issue with the New York Central theatre blogs.

I'd note Don Hall, out of Chicago, as a bit of solace...

What is interesting is that the internet need not be localized. So are there theatre bloggers outside of New York City we should be paying more attention to? If not...why not?


Civiliation deaths in Iraq, as of July.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

On a side note...

I'd like to apologize for the lack of much substantive posting of my own of late. I've got myself waist deep in day job work, as well as writing three plays (if you count the one I just started) and a few non-theatrical writing projects as well. I'll be posting at a bit more length when it's possible for me to do so. In the meantime, this is all I've got for you.

What you're looking forward to seeing...

So George Hunka put this together for the NY Times a little while ago.

So tell me...what three of these shows are you most looking forward to? A brief explanation is also nice.

For me:

1. Heartbreak House - To see what Kyle thinks so highly of in Shaw. I get that the essays are great...but the plays leave me cold. I'm going with an open mind.
2. King Lear - at the Classical Theatre of Harlem. Oh yes. Oh yes.
3. The Coast of Utopia - I will count these as One. Because, well, I can. My list.

Going to have to check out My Name is Rachel Corrie as well. After reading the text, I'll be honest, I'm not as enthusiastic. Certainly stagecraft and acting are missing components for me right now...but the text itself is rather slight. At least, that's my first impression.

How about you? What are you looking forward to this Fall?

Compare and Contrast

Bush's speech to the UN yesterday.

Bush's speech to the UN before the Invasion of Iraq.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Objective Truth

Remember that White House aide, quoted by Rich in his introduction, who said that a “judicious study of discernible reality” is “not the way the world really works anymore”? For him, the “reality-based community” of newspapers and broadcasters is old hat, out of touch, even contemptible in “an empire” where “we create our own reality.” This kind of official arrogance is not new, of course, although it is perhaps more common in dictatorships than in democracies. What is disturbing is the way it matches so much else going on in the world: postmodern debunking of objective truth, bloggers and talk radio blowhards driving the media, news organizations being taken over by entertainment corporations and the profusion of ever more sophisticated means to doctor reality.

- IAN BURUMA - in his review of "The Greatest Story Ever Sold" by Frank Rich


Bush's speech on the fifth anniversary of 9/11 was rife with contradiction, factual failures, and impossible connections. For example, the speech stated that Saddam Hussein was not connected to 9/11...and then claimed that the "War on Terror" would be somehow lost if Iraq was deemed a failure.

What was the analysis of the speech? Commentators commented on the quality of the speech. ("Was it a political speech or not?" "Did the President change his polls numbers?" "Did people believe the message?") Very few, it seemed to me, in the mainstream press, spoke simply about how it based on a false conclusion and made false connections. Certainly, there were commentators that did... but it should not only the stuff of the Op-Ed page. If the facts are in question, why is questioning those facts treated as opinion?

Is it possible to have an effective media, cultural dialogue, or democracy when facts are marginalized? Or is the desire for "objective truth" a fool's hope? Is there such a thing as reality, or only versions of reality?

And, of course, are blogs hurting or helping?

One side might argue that blogs create a counterpoint to the mainstream media, provide a team of layman fact-checkers, not beholden to salesmen or advertisers.

One might also argue that the sheer number of voices means that fewer and fewer are heard, and that since messages are narrowcast to niche readers ("Conservatives" vs. "Liberals"); we are all preaching to the converted and disseminating an ever evolving party line.

Personally, I don't believe in the concept of "balance." It creates the illusion that all points should be given equal weight. Truthfully, if an arguement has little or no factual merit, it should be disregarded as in error. Simple. Just because there are two sides of an arguement doesn't mean both sides are equally correct. To pretend that is so is to forgo the toughest part of true analysis... seeking what is true.

In the end...what role do facts truly play? Shouldn't they bethe goal of all media and media consumers?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Show him he's not welcome

He uses NYC for political gain all the time, and the cameras don't seem to notice how much we despite it. No matter how large the protest, he tends to just smile and shrug. Maybe now that his poll numbers are down someone will notice how unwelcome he is in the city that was actually struck by September 11th.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday Utterly Random Ten

I know this is supposed to be fun placeholder for Friday and about Music... but I don't have an iPod or a "playlist." So I'll be using this to follow the crowd in a different way... 10 things that are randomly on my mind, for fun and linking.

1. Mercenaries - I am playing this video game on Xbox.
2. Bob Dylan: Loving Theft.
3. My Cat, Albee, drools when he's happy. It's a cute little mess.
4. Wii is going to be brilliant. It retails at $250. One will live in my house.
5. Worstward Ho.
6. The Lost Experience Video that reveals the meaning of 4 8 15 16 23 42. I care about this for some reason. I really do.
7. Pam has good taste.
8. Landover Baptist Church.
9. Brian DePalma must stop hurting the public.
10. How much did Starbucks pay for this?

Richard II at CSC

Thanks to an invitation from a reviewer friend of mine, I spent a few hours with Brian Kulick's Richard II at the Classic Stage Company last night. I could prattle on about the performances and the design and the direction... but there are reviewers out there who will do that for me, in full blooms of contradiction and quotables. I won't bother to contribute to that...frankly... what I thought about the production was mixed and there's an end.

I will say that watching a play about a king (who is universally accepted as annointed by God) be deposed because of his own financial mismanagement, wrong-headed warmaking, self-indulgence and arbitrariness, felt, shall we say, relevant.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dada Post?

Pink post.

Rest in Peace Ann Richards

Twice the human being that our fake President ever will be. Three times.

I know people roll their eyes at looking at a 5 second ad over at Salon, but their blog has a nice sentiment about Richards today.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Thanks to Russ

For alerting me to this.

Oh and Russ...we all love and miss you too!

Fundraising Questions

Maybe I'm just lazy, but I'm enjoying sitting back and reading so many wonderful comments from readers. I'm no expert, just one more curious person, going about his business.

Fundraising is on my mind of late. Tell me (and each other)...

1. A way you've found that's successful to raise money for your company/production
2. A fundraising method that you've found unsuccessful or frustrating (your own experience or something you've observed)
3. Do you tend to put your personal funds into your productions?
4. How much do ticket sales factor into your production decisions?

Share...and you shall karmically receive.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tuesday Wish List

Actors: What role is out there you want to perform, but haven't yet?

Directors: Name the play that you aspire to direct.

Playwrights: Is there a play on your desk, or in your head, that you someday hope to see produced?

Designers: Is there a play or musical to which you wish to lend your talents?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Lorca still ignites passions in Spain

Somewhere in Spain, people believe political theatre matters. Even if it's, you know, the right-wing lunatics... it's something.

Today is Today

5 years. I was rehearsing "The Death of King Arthur", working at a place called Principal Asset on 44th and 6th, and living on 49th and 8th with Sean and Bobby.

How about you?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Moonwork Returns

Might I plug this upcoming production? These guys produce sporadically, but always with gusto. Don't miss it.

Welcome, oh ye of the impressive title

Histriomastix. Say that three times fast.

Welcome, David Cote, to the blogosphere officially. Pop over there and say Hi.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The War in Iraq has nothing to do with Al Qaeda

Apparently this is News to some people.

Not to anyone paying attention. Or anyone who's read a newspaper.

Christ, even this guy tried to tell us. He's not exactly credible. But he's proven about as credible as these monsters.

For the record, all these links took about 5 minutes and a Google search. It's not like this info is hiding.

Friday, September 08, 2006

"The Path to 9/11"

Is paved, apparently, with letters to ABC. This one is particularly damning.

Thinking about Fundraising

As is obvious, I've been off for a while doing all sorts of day job related things. While my daily work has little in common with my artistic life generally, it has made me think a great deal about development and models for giving. I work for a Church Foundation, which definitely speaks to a grassroots model of giving. There are no tickets to Church...but there is an ongoing need therein for operational funds and annual gifts, as well as major donations and bequests. Unlike standard small developmental organizations, that function on a mix of mission statements, ticket sales, creative fundraising and grantwriting (usually with a small staff and steep competition) parishes work entirely on the assumption that their mission should be supported by those in the pews.

Now... I'm not actually advocating a change to this model for all small and large theatre companies. But I am an artist that sees the daily difficulties of theatre companies to raise the necessary money to not only mount their work, but pay those involved and properly promote their work. And often, the shared information about how this is best done comes as a patchwork of organizations (Fractured Atlas, Network for Good, The Field).

Nothing is more valuable, in my experience, than first hand knowledge and getting best practicies from other organizations.

I'm curious if there would be interest in putting together a meeting of 10-15 established Indie Theatre companies, to talk about not only their successes, but their challenges in finance. I would envision, instead of a litany of stories about the need for federal funding, a roundtable environment, where companies can learn from each other and become engaged in a larger conversation about how to encourage giving. It's a way from the small company that is largely funded on credit cards to learn from perhaps a more established company that is funded by an excellent grantwriter. I know some theatre's throw creative fundraising events, and others have spent far more money on a fundraiser than they had any hope of raising in returns. My own experiences in the church model focuses on the importance of kinds of asking and donor relationships. I'd love to bring that to a table that is formalized and prepared to aid in those discussions.

So, what do you guys think? If such a seminar was made available to you as a resource (or several small seminars) would you take advantage of it?