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.

Friday, March 31, 2006

For your weekends... from The Makers of "Lost"

I leave you with this amazing, beautiful little new icon of pop culture, decoded by way of a thousand geeks with TiVo and BitTorrent and Ipods and strange liberal arts degrees.


(Dave, don't click this. It will ruin the Episode for You.)

Also, it seems like there is some discussion about a documentary being made of the process of casting to production of "The Most Wonderful Love." This makes me...nervousexcited.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Will someone explain what our current immigration policy is doing so badly?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Total Faith in Cosmic Love

Just a quick note to say I saw John Devore's "Total Faith in Cosmic Love" at the Brick last weekend, and it features two top-notch performances and a heartfelt, hilarious script. You'd never guess that John Devore would channel a dirty mouthed Cameron Crowe so beautifully. I'm talking Singles-Crowe, not Vanilla Sky Crowe.

I heartily recommend it. 10 bucks at the door, plus a few drinks and free pizza at the Alligator Lounge afterwards? Can't go wrong.

Back on the Bus Y'All

Yes, that was an Indigo Girls reference.

Well, the second draft of "The Most Wonderful Love" is finished, the director and I are discussing if we can actually cast a real eleven year old to be called a "twat" on-stage (I hope so), Jack Abramhoff is going to prison, Iraq's civil war is making fools of us all, and there's a new LOST on tonight.

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world!

So tell me something, readers...here, just a week or so past the Vernal Equinox...what makes you so happy you could just spit?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Silver, Cote and Bradbury

Two of the more powerhouse bloggers, George and Isaac, rewarded readers with some wonderful surprises today.

At Superfluities, Nicky Silver makes an appearance here.

On Parabasis, Isaac posts part one of his interview with Time Out Theater Editor David Cote here.

As for me, I'd like to add something I just posted on Superfluities in my own space. This is from Ray Bradbury, concerning those who would change or edit his work in order to suit their own needs. (I believe the impetus was his works being edited for the classroom.) I've always found it inspiring...a raw statement of individualism and purpose:

"For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangutan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conversationalist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics. The real world is the playing ground for each and every group, to make or unmake laws. But the tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where their rights and my territorial imperatives begin, run and rule. If Mormons do not like my plays, let them write their own. If the Irish hate my Dublin stories, let them rent typewriters. If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmild teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture. If the Chicano intellectuals wish to re-cut my "Wonderful Ice Cream Suit" so it shapes "Zoot," may the belt unravel and the pants fall.

For, let's face it, digression is the soul of wit. Take the philosophic asides away from Dante, Milton or Hamlet's father's ghost and what stays is dry bones. Laurence Sterne said it once: Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine, the life, the soul of reading! Take them out and one cold eternal winter would reign in every page. Restore them to the writer - he steps forth like a bridegroom, bids them all-hail, brings in variety and forbids the appetite to fail.

In sum, do not insult me with the beheadings, finger-choppings or the lung-deflations you plan for my works. I need my head to shake or nod, my hand to wave or make into a fist, my lungs to shout or whisper with. I will not go gently onto a shelf, degutted, to become a non-book.

All you umpires, back to the bleachers. Referees, hit the showers. It's my game. I pitch, I hit, I catch. I run the bases. At sunset I've won or lost. At sunrise, I'm out again, giving it the old try.

And no one can help me. Not even you." - Ray Bradbury

Meet the New Boss...Same As The Old Boss

Hey everyone...I'm interrupting this hiatus to show you a little bit of one of that carpetbagger Bush's latest "Defend this Unjustifiable Undeclared, Illegal War" speech. This is just the very end of the speech he delivered yesterday. You'll note that second term Bush sounds remarkably like Bush on his first day of work.

I will never be worn down by this I swear on my grave. I will mock him until he is only a name on a Library in Texas that only has subscriptions to Hunting Magazines.

Comments are in red:

"The last three years have tested our resolve. The fighting has been tough. The enemy we face has proved to be brutal and relentless. We're adapting our approach to reflect the hard realities on the ground. And the sacrifices being made by our young men and women who wear our uniform has been heartening and inspiring. "

We enter the fourth year of the war, and we are now adjusting our approach. Oh shit! He's going to start handing out armor to our troops. No more fighting with both hands tied behind our backs? Bring it on!

"The terrorists who are setting off bombs in mosques and markets in Iraq share the same hateful ideology as the terrorists who attacked us on September the 11, 2001, those who blew up the commuters in London and Madrid, and those who murdered tourists in Bali or workers in Riyadh or guests at a wedding in Amman."

If by "ideology" you mean, blow stuff up to scare people and defeat your enemy, yeah. They do. Of course, we also have that particular ideology. I remember reading about two guys named Fat Man and Little Boy who visited Japan.

I also love that he spells out the entire "September 11th, 2001" as if when he says September we think he might mention September 23rd or September 9th.

"In the war on terror, we face a global enemy. And if we were not fighting this enemy in Iraq, they would not be idle. They would be plotting and trying to kill Americans across the world and within our own borders. "

Right. Because since we started fighting them in Iraq, they've totally been sucked into it and we've got them fooled. Denmark is peaceful, London was not bombed by someone other than the IRA, Madrid is perfectly fine. Pay not attention to that man behind the curtain.

"Against this enemy there can be no compromise. So we will fight them in Iraq, we will fight them across the world, and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won."

Hear that Iran? Across the world, you Muslim Republicans. We still have a few young men who crossed over into fighting age since we started in Iraq. So we're far from all dead at this point.

"In the long run, the best way to defeat this enemy and to assure the security of our own citizens is to spread the hope of freedom across the broader Middle East. We've seen freedom conquer evil and secure the peace before.

In World War II, free nations came together to fight the ideology of fascism, and freedom prevailed. And today Germany and Japan are democracies, and they are allies in securing the peace. "

Ah, World War II, you old softie. Where would justifications for war be without you? I mean, heck the minute we heard about Hitler hurting people, we hopped in airplanes and beat up those Nazi jerks.

Well...ok. Not right away. But we did it, and that's what counts.

Iraq is just like that.

"In the Cold War, freedom defeated the ideology of communism and led to a democratic movement that freed the nations of Central and Eastern Europe from Soviet domination. And today these nations are strong allies in the war on terror. "

Yeah...Serbia is in fantastic fucking shape. Also, I didn't know we were now calling Blue Jeans and Cheeseburgers by the moniker Freedom. It's catchy.

"In the Middle East, freedom is once again contending with an ideology that seeks to sew anger and hatred and despair. And like fascism and communism before, the hateful ideologies that use terror will be defeated."

Bush saying fascism is a defeated ideology is like a fat kid saying chocolate cake tastes like shit.

Think about it.

"Freedom will prevail in Iraq. Freedom will prevail in the Middle East."

Replace Freedom with the Word Guns in the first sentence and illegal torture in the second. These are nouns you can sink your teeth into. Freshman Comp.

"And as the hope of freedom spreads to nations that have not known it, these countries will become allies in the cause of peace. "

You know, hard to argue there. This line of thinking has a fantastic track record.

"The security of our country is directly linked to the liberty of the Iraqi people, and we will settle for nothing less than victory."

Does that mean it's like in the Dark Crystal...where the bad guys would explode and a corresponding good guy would also explode, because they were good and bad halves of a being that was separated from itself?

I know what you're thinking about me. You think I have a ponytail.

Furthermore...right now, we'll settle for less. We'd settle for the UN to pass a measure telling us we can go home and they'll handle the rest. If England said "Everyone in the US gets one big shiny tank of cheap gas to end the war" there would be lines across the Atlantic.

"Victory will come when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy, when the Iraqi security forces can provide for the safety of their citizens on their own, and when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot new attacks against our nation. "

What's amazing is that we can do none of these things with our OWN country. Terrorists threaten us, we can't provide safety for our own citizens, and most of the cells that plotted 9/11 were, as far as we know, inside our borders during planning.

It's sort of like any shitty mentor. Sure, your big brother can smoke pot and drive the car into a tree, but if you YOU do it, he'll beat the living fuck out of you.

Side note: He is still using the term Saddamists.

"There will be more days of sacrifice and tough fighting before the victory is achieved. Yet by helping the Iraqis defeat the terrorists in their land, we bring greater security to our own.

As we make progress toward victory, Iraqis will continue to take more responsibility for their own security and fewer U.S. forces will be needed to complete the mission. "

Right. So how many troops do the Sunnis need to defeat the Shiites? And are we going to wear Gray or Blue?

"But it's important for the Iraqis to hear this: The United States will not abandon Iraq. We will not leave that country to the terrorists who attacked America and want to attack us again. We will leave Iraq, but when we do, it will be from a position of strength, not weakness."

I'm sure Iraqis are happy to hear this. They're thinking how reassuring it is that we won't let them be hurt by people who fly airplanes into buildings. We will protect Iraq from Saudi Arabia with our last...breath.

"Americans have never retreated in the face of thugs and assassins, and we will not begin now."

People in glass houses...

"Thanks for listening. "

He did, in fact, end with that. It's a step up from God Bless Everyone. But it's sort of sheepish rhetoric.

You're welcome, you son of a bitch.


Here endeth the fun times.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Scanning over Dan Trujillo and George Hunka's posts today, and reading my own bullshit from a few days ago, it occurs to me that the act of actually writing a play is so divorced from what I'm reading and saying myself... that it's probably unhealthy and unuseful for me to be reading and blogging about it.

I'll be back when I feel like I'm done with my work (which includes work for this guy.) I might show up in some comments sections, but in the meantime, I'm off. If only for a little while.

If anyone would like to use this space for a discussion, here's one to grow on:

It's impossible to be rid of influence, and the search for the truly 'original' voice is just an exercise in self-consciousness.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

They Are Just Like Us by Collaboration Town

I like these crazy kids.

Wait for it...wait for it...


The New Play

Slated for a June production with this crew, I'm still finishing up my new play "The Most Wonderful Love." And as this medium is a lot about opinion and process and a look into the world of the theatrical (and, for me, a chance to just say things in a public forum that I couldn't otherwise) I think I'll take another few moments to talk about where I am in my process, what the pitfalls have been, what the solutions have been, who has helped, what's still frustrating me, and what I see for this script. Hopefully, others will find it in some way inspiring or useful for their own creative process.

This play was never intended to be what it is. I'd had a bit of a dry spell and so I decided to write down just a few characters talking, and throw in some arbitrary "bag of tricks" plot devices, just to get myself writing. It was about a 15 page beginning of nothing, just characters in a farce. Mother and Father (that's their names) are having breakfast. They talk. They say weird, funny things. They have a daughter named Lill, who is a homeschooled arch-conservative with an absurd and impossible disease. Hilarious. There was a bit about a mysterious letter and a red dress. That's about it. I threw in the plot devices as placeholder, to give me something to write about.

The glorious thing about tried and true plot devices is that they come from a tradition that is undeniably effective. False ones, arbitrary ones, they still work, at least to get things moving. A mysterious letter sparks instantly questions like "Who received it?" "Who sent it?" "What does it say?" The stuff of narrative, clunky, for certain, but all narrative is construction, anyhow. "The red dress" is another, because if it's significant, you have both the color and form to deal with. "Why red?" "Why a dress?" "Who is wearing it and where are they wearing it to?" "Is it an old dress, or a new dress?" See? Instant drama.

One of the most engaging things about the alchemy of playwrighting is that it's a mixture of overplanning, happenstance and symbols. Since no one knows (unless you make it clear, like I am) what is abirtrary and what is coming from some deep meaning for the writer, readers and onlookers, for the most part, give you the benefit of the doubt. They want to believe that these things have a meaning that will add up to something and you, as the writer, want the same thing. It could be said that nothing is entirely abirtrary, for example. What you choose seemingly without forethought is often informed by something else you've experienced or taken note of. I always loved the use of color as instant meaning in the story of Bluebeard, and that's probably why I threw in the red dress.

Now, months (almost a year?) after that first 15 or so page ditty came out of my scrappy Dell laptop with the old ashes from when I smoked still caked under the keys, I've got an 150 page, three act comedy, with about 12 or so characters, that I'm trying to cut down to size, make sense of, give meaning to, and believe in.

I love the play, for its humor and it's characters and it's central images, but I'm still baffled by it. I am, to this day, struggling to decide what it is about. I think I've come to some conclusion about it; that it's about what marriage is, and what it used to be, and how that meaning has changed, but all that is not in the draft expressly yet. That's intention. And intention is only as useful as what it produces.

Often, you'll hear about artists' statements (I've talked about this with Foreman, and its prevalent in contemporary art) and I'm not a believer in it personally. The play's meaning and success lies only between the production and the observers. So in a sense, all the writing I do is an attempt to navigate that space. The space between what the audience will experience and what I want them to see. That navigation is frought with issues that are unique to art...because making overt messages is viewed as a sort of incompetence. You don't want to be didactic or to make the "messages" so clear that they are written on a chalk board. On the other hand, you do not what to be lost in a maze of your own meaning entirely, leaving the audience to its own devices. It is an attempt to communicate, like all art, but one that places barriers between making direct contact. They say "show, don't tell." What many people often overlook is that this is a much more tricky tightrope walk than three little words can encapsulate.

In the midst of this issue (how to say it without saying it, how to have meaning while leaving the audience their own percpetions) is the idea that I do, in fact, like the humor of the play. A great deal. And the play can't be divorced from that humor. So as I'm sitting here, reworking scenes and trying to negotiate plot points and ambiguities, I'm attempting to make sure that how things are said match the style of the play, the truth of each characters voice, while making sure that the play contains things like coherence and a line from the start to the finish.

Of course, I also need to know when to throw things that are traditional away entirely. And that is it's own little trick.

One thing I'll say, is that I'm enjoying the sort of broad style of the play, how the characters let loose, say some dreadfully funny things and are all remarkably fucked up and sad and hilarious. At least to me. If I didn't think so, I probably wouldn't bother to write it. Wonderful not to be an elected official or journalist: I'm absolutely allowed my bias.

The more technical things can be easily constructed as a list of notes you might find after a staged reading with a talkback:

  • Act II needs to be shorter
  • Too much time spent with characters that aren't intrinsic to the plot
  • How does [character x] know about [plot point y] if [character z] didn't tell her?
  • When does this realization happen?
  • This beat seems clunky and needs to be reworded.
  • Should this character enter before or after another character?
  • Do we need two songs in Act III?
  • Who gets to write the music for the songs?
  • Should I write that they "get a glass of water?" Running tap water onstage is a bitch.
  • Define the motivations of Jessica, or Lill, or Father Comeuppance
  • This monologue is funny, and it's my favorite thing in the play...but do we really need it?
Well, I think that's maybe 1/20th of the list.

Never did take a playwrighting class. I think every day is one.

Here endeth my little internal monologue, at least for the evening. I'll be writing about this process, in more detail and specificity, through the coming weeks.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Artist Interview - Christopher Mir

Check out Phantasmaphile for her interview with artist Christopher Mir. Great stuff.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

In Private/In Public

This calling out of Tony Kushner is irresponsible. Kushner is a private citizen, not an elected official. He has no obligation to go "on the record."

This is a vague threat, I feel:

"At some point we'll just have to assume he supports NYTW's action. Or, perhaps worse, is suddenly indifferent to free speech in the theatre. And to open discussion of the Middle East(!)."

None of these assumptions need to be made, for any reason.

That's my last word on the "Rachel Corrie" issue, folks. Let's just remember we're here to help and talk about something we love, not hunt people down or drag people into a fight.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Rachel Corrie question

I guess for me, it all comes down to one question:

What is the best case scenario for the upcoming discussions regarding My Name Is Rachel Corrie? Accepting that no one can go back in time and change what's happened so far... if you woke up tomorrow and read something about this in the Newspaper, what do you want? NYTW to produce it? Someone else to produce it? An apology from Nicola? The Jewish Defamation League demanding the play be seen? Every blogger gets a free copy of her diaries?

What is it that we're after?

The saga of Rachel Corrie

The main places to find the continuing and ever widening blog-orgy about Rachel Corrie are Playgoer (leading the charge); Superfluities and Parabasis. I bowed out rather early.

It's my view, though, on a very basic level, that the issue here has been overstated by very interested parties. Producers are calling each other liars. Israels military actions are being discussed. People are throwing around that deadly word censorship. Over beer with a few bloggers (lovely gents, both) I heard one of them say that the New York Theater Workshop has "given up the moral high ground." And even today, I'm wondering if the story hasn't become the story. And if anyone really knows what they feel the desired result is. Is it an end unto itself to take the "moral high ground?" Or do we want the New York Theater Workshop to scream mea culpa in the streets?

What are we angry about? Is it that NYTW bowed to political pressures? If so, then they claim to have gone out and looked for those pressures. Are we upset that they didn't hold up their end of the deal with Alan Rickman (who we all like to watch in movies)? Is it because the Royal Court seems to be calling the NYTW dishonest? If we're shocked that a theater producer pulled out of an obligation and doesn't entirely explain itself for it, we're living in a fantasyland.

I'm curious how many people have read the play. I certainly haven't. I also don't have personal connections that the New York Theater Workshop like Jason Grote does, so I have no inside information about this, nothing to add but my own anger, which just isn't there. This play will certainly be seen in NYC eventually, it will make more money than it would have otherwise (due to the contraversy) and someone will write a letter to the editor about it. If NYTW was smart, they'd change their minds right now and let the contraversy sell tickets.

The fact is, not producing a play that has a particular political subject matter is weak. But it is incredibly common. That is because our "not-for-profit" theaters are beholden to Board Members, audience interest, ticket and subscription sales...money. They are not funded like theaters in London, and therefore can get cold feet due to market and world forces.

The problem is not that the NYTW wants to shut down discussion about Israel and Palestine. The problem is, why is it worried about this? More than likely, the decision was financial.

That's the boring part. We can cry censorship all we like, but I think that Rachel Corrie's literary martyrdom is doing her message more good than if they play had just gone up next year, or or if it was being performed, right now, to your standard battery of reviews. Perhaps (here's a thought) the decision makers at the NYTW want the play to undergo some changes, or they don't feel strongly about it for quality reasons/content reasons but they didn't want to burn a bridge by saying so publicly. It could be as simple as that. Yet again, we don't know.

Maybe I'm lukewarm about this issue because I find the politics of the play a bit unsettling and I'm not sobbing that a play that puts a upper class white teenage girl from Washington State in front of an Israeli bulldozer isn't being used as propoganda in NY.

Or maybe I'm lukewarm because I feel like this is simply a function of an art that needs funding in order to make more independent artistic decisions.

Or maybe I feel a bit like an internal struggle at the New York Theater Workshop about a play I've never read has been latched onto and exploited on the blogosphere, to attack and cajole and shame producers I've never met, who made a decision I don't know the details about.

I don't feel this is censorship, it's much more complex than that. As I said on Superfluities, I feel like using the word censorship here is like using a sword to perform major surgery.

The rambling conclusion to this rambling essay is: Let's think for a minute. It's easy to become the mob. I think it's better to look for a solution. What do we want from this outcry, beyond just a chance to cry foul?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Total Faith in Cosmic Love

Come watch John Devore put his money where his big, lying mouth is.


The description makes this litany of promises:

Sleeping with the boss. Karaoke ambushes. Breakfast on the toilet. Pissing on toasters. Revenge sex. Angry coke dealers. Split lips. Beer sponges. Blowing strangers. Reading your boyfriend's email.

Sounds like a joyful beating.

(On side note...my new play is called "The Most Wonderful Love." John's is called "Total Faith in Cosmic Love." You taunt me, Devore.)

While the cat's away

The mice will play, as they say.

I'm still relatively busy, but I'd like to play a little game. Put these playwrights in order of your preference:

1. Edward "The Killer" Albee
2. Samuel "Frenchie" Beckett
3. The endless Eugene O'Neill
4. David...Mamet...fucking...Mamet...you know what I'm saying...David Mamet
5. The late Arthur Miller
6. Harold "Furious" Pinter
7. GB Shaw
8. Brecht. Just Brecht.
9. Topher Durang
10. For all you ladies out there...(winks)...Suzan Lori-Parks

Of course, explain why. That's part I like to read.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Pro Wrestling

Does anyone else think that Professional Wrestling falls under the common definition of Theatre that most of us use?

1. Pro Wrestling has lines, characters and stories.
2. Pro Wrestling constructs dramatic narratives.
3. Pro Wrestling has actors (such as they are.)
4. (here's the kicker) Pro Wrestling is inherently live. It cannot function without interaction between an audience and the live performer. Imagine it without a live audience.
5. Pro Wrestling is as "real" as any play or musical.

What else, exactly, defines theatre?

I think it's important to remember that theatre is not an inherently upper class behavior, and requires exactly (apparently) no knowledge of literature or scholarly background to engage in it.

And if what I'm saying is correct...I demand Ben Brantley, Charles Isherwood or Jason Zioman review the next WWE show that comes to Madison Square Garden.

Come on. It would be brilliant.

Friday, March 03, 2006

On an entirely different note: Music I Like

I think more people should listen to Michael Penn. If you've never heard of him, he had exactly one hit, in the 1990s called "No Myth." Great frigging song. Has five albums: March, Free-For-All, Resigned, MP4(Days Since a Lost Time Accident), and Mr. Hollywood Jr. 1947.

He also did the music for two movies by Paul Thomas Anderson (Hard Eight and Boogie Nights).

Have iTunes? Buy "Look What the Cat Dragged in (Long Way Down)" or "Walter Reed" or "No Myth" or "Bucket Brigade." It's catchy, Beatles-esque but also adult pop: literate, complex rhymes, hooks that you actually want to sing to yourself as you're walking down the street.

How could this guy be so looked over? Maybe because his brother is Sean Penn and wife is Aimee Mann? Yeah, that could do it.

My Name Isn't Rachel Corrie

I've been a bit remiss in discussing the "Rachel Corrie" issue. After, giving it some thought, I'm certain that enough is expressed elsewhere. (Here, here and here for example.)

Suffice to say I think I'm not really all that qualified to talk about the Israel-Palestine conflict with much authority, unless it's feigned, and I'm certainly no fan of censorship. I'm also not a fan of attacking people without all the facts, and since I've never read the play and don't actually know what happened behind closed doors at the New York Theatre Workshop (and because I'm certain that the play is getting published in April, and that Rachel Corrie has foundations with her name attached, etc, etc, and that it was seen already in London) I think this isn't exactly the Night of the Long Knives and I'll just leave it at that.


This was posted via Superfluities. On www.rachelcorrie.org you can find out a great deal of information. But you can also find pamphlets like this one, which uses words like Genocide and has articles like "The Cost of Israel to US Taxpapers" and "Serving Two Flags: Neo-Cons, Israel and the Bush Administration" and "The Jewish Defamation League Unleashes A Campaign of Violence in the US."

There is a case someone will make for this sort of journalism... a sort of truth that's left out of our "Israel-friendly" media. But it sounds frighteningly like it accuses American Jewish people of dual loyalty, talks about Jewish violence in the US (ironic considering how little violence we actually face on a day-to-day basis) and actually showing how we should stop supporting Israel for our own wallets. It's, well, one-sided, too familiar, and a very, very slippery slope.

I'm not saying we should let Israel off the hook...I'm just saying let's be vigiliant. There's too much history not to be.