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.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


So I'm a bit tired. Just finished up the opening pages of Acts I and II of Bluebeard, a bit more of The Shadow (not much, but some) and a television pilot script called Trichotillomania.

Sleep, I love thee.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hell Bent

All the talk about killing Iranians and threats to Iran... this is a very bad sign. Just as Bush is being repudiated for his actions, and is being told that the war's escalation is against national interests, he's widening the range for the war, escalating the scale of the conflict and turning his sites to a new enemy.

Let's be clear: Iran hasn't won a lot of friends lately in the global community. But in the midst of the Iraq debacle, the idea that we would pick more fights, and stray further from any semblance of rational foreign policy (if you can call it that) just stinks of messianic stubbornness.

What strikes me as particularly absurd is that the goals of marginalizing terrorist organizations and protecting those in need fall further and further by the wayside. The military could be of good use in Darfur, of course, and it's not present or engaged there. As we widen the on-the-ground military range of the conflict in Iraq, we not only turn further away from complex, cell-based organizations that use guerilla tactics, we also stoke the fires of anti-US sentiment... arguably a key reason for the very existence of said groups.

World War III? A different kind of war...

The Theatre Writer

George (speaking of himself as "her") writes about his impulse to do... what he's doing. A little more mythologizing, maybe...but certainly honest and open about what's in his heart and head. Have to admire that.

Take a look.

MattJ Interviews White Horse

I listened to this podcast on the way to work today: illuminating stuff, great questions and a worthy subject. Listen yourself over on Matt J's blog.

On Adam's blog...

...great thoughts he's reprinted (with permission, of course) regarding submissions and paying fees. For those of you working hard with your Dramatists Sourcebook, it's worth reading for certain.

Whatever Adam feels is good advice in this respect is likely worth listening to: the man is a dilligent submitter of his work, by all accounts, and his ethic often brings him fine results.

Friday, January 26, 2007

At 11 AM Today...Tune in!

Anyone with access to NPR, or streaming audio, should tune into the Brian Leher Show on WNYC today at 11 am.

My mentor and friend (and a fantastic playwright) David Valdes-Greenwood is speaking about his new book Homo Domesticus: Notes from a Same-Sex Marriage.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Monday, January 22, 2007

Theory and Practice

James writes an even-handed response to the discussion that's been going on regarding theory and practice here.

I'll say, after the extended comments section, that I'm certainly feeling a bit more even-handed myself. It's hypocritical of me to criticize someone else's process, to say the least. Let me see if I can sum up my response to all this.

For me, what it comes down to is personal experience. My process is project-based, intuitive and informed by my own taste. My work is happily influenced by a great number of other artists. If I have a theory at all, it's "be what you love." I feel I have a solid understanding of theatrical history, structure, the language of the stage...all of those things are important. For me, they're no longer on the surface, they arrive as needed. To create a work that self-consciously expresses a sum of information, of theory, of some knowledge I feel I've acquired... it just doesn't jive with what I see as my function as a writer.

I often use, for myself, the example of Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan's work in music is the antithesis of a quest for originality. In effect, it's been a career of mimicry. As a young man, he changed his name to "Dylan" as a tribute to Dylan Thomas. He wrote songs and sang, initially, like Woody Guthrie. He transformed, not long after that, into an Alan Ginsberg knock-off, a Johnny Cash hillbilly, Born Again Christian, a gypsy, a rock star, and finally, an aging bluesman, writing songs that you might have heard on the radio in the 1930s. None of his musical styles were invented within him: he's filtered them into practice, and because of his own unique personality, they were flavored and reinvented as Dylan songs. The songs themselves, in the end, are canonical works. They are a part of a history precisely because they are meant to be, and precisely because he was able to combine influence with a lack of self-consciousness. Dylan has always done whatever struck him to do at the time... he simply followed whatever his instincts were, and they guided him to the creation of music that is timeless and uniquely American.

I admire this. My own work, therefore, has run the gamut of broad comedy, verse, historical and contemporary. By not focusing on what I thought "Theatre" should be, I've created plays that are their own, each one, and whatever resemblance they bear to one another is an afterthought. There are similarities, certainly, between Arthur and Genesis, between The Great Escape and The Most Wonderful Love and What To Do To A Girl. But Reasons for Moving, 465 and The Americans are entirely different kinds of work in tone and structure. So are my earlier experiments (I had a play called The Message produced back in 2000 in New Hampshire and it's a Pinteresque lark.) I've made little audio recordings that some people have kindly ignored, some likely thought were a waste of time, and some might have enjoyed. Who knows? Some of my work is less than an hour long, some of it runs somewhere around 3 hours. It's all mine, it succeeds and fails on its own merits, and it's often quite flawed. It's also work I'm proud of, would stand by, and know speak something essential from me to whoever graces me with their eyes and ears.

As of now, I'm still banging away at The Shadow, and now directing my focus on the old folk tale of Bluebeard, and working on an original television pilot. None of them bear much of a resemblance to one another. I've set aside two different projects for now (The Man Who Caught Death in a Bag and The Lower River), possibly because they felt too much like extensions of The Americans and my attention deficit can't focus on writing the same play twice.

I often find (and again, I share this to respond to the discussion at hand and also to express my own attitude towards the work we are all doing) that by allowing my impulses to remain undefined, and shifting, and open... that I find myself trying things I wouldn't if I had some particular litmus test for what makes theatre worth doing or specifically successful.

There are clearly many ideas about what makes a successful play and the successful path to writing them and producing them. There is, in fact, no correct answer to how this is done. No tried and true method. George, as far as I can discern, is simply trying to reconcile his own standards with what he's read and the sort of writer he would like to be: he's looking for a path to excellence and expression. It's unique to his own perspective, which is why I sometimes find myself irked when it appears expressed as a set of universal rules. I don't believe in universal rules, in universal truth, or, frankly, concepts in Capital Letters. I think we're standing on the earth, together, at this one moment in time, and each one of us only has two eyes with which to see. What is Tragic to one is erudite to another; what is Comedy to one is a mere trifle to another. That's what makes theatre as beautiful and broad as it is... it's an art form that is expansive, as opposed to reductive.

So, as George works through is process publicly, I will be interested to see how his theories become practice. In the end, that's what will truly bear them out. My personal inclination (to any who are wrestling with this type of work and looking for a variety of perspectives) is to avoid limiting my voice before I have spoken.

That's about all I can add. The rest will, hopefully, be on the stage.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Friday, January 19, 2007

Speaking of the practical

I am in Sarasota, FL, writing from a Holiday Inn. I just gave a talk, for about four hours, to a group of lay people and clergy about how to improve giving to their parishes. Sometimes, I think to myself, "How did I get here?" Other times I don't think about it too hard. It's exhausting and I don't want to ruin the silence of my hotel room with self-doubt.

I was flipping though my bloglines and blogs and all that jazz, to get a rest. Saw yet another Organum, this one a sort of compare and contrast between "Playground Theatre" (as yet undefined) and "Theatre Minima" (which I'm sure I should write out in lowercase like e. e. cummings). I had previously vowed to stop reading Organums. Now I'm seeing that they're increasingly asking for responses. They've becoming emboldened and increasingly vitriolic, maybe, due to a lack of response.

Anyone read this care to say what they think of it? I'm curious.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Well. Within. Your. Means.

Great post by James Comtois today about the practical side of Off Off Broadway producing. He links, within, to Don Hall, to whom the post was responding.

I think we need far more posts such as these on the theatrical blogosphere. For example, George Hunka decided to stage In Public and pay everyone involved. On principle. I'd like to hear him talk about that decision. I think it's a noble one, and one that should be debated and discussed.

The fact of writing and producing and directing is that they are activities that require decisions and know-how and resources. If there is any real challenge facing Theatre with a capital "T" in 2007, it's not whether or not we can define terms like erotic and tragic (with all due respect). It's whether or not we have a good method of reaching our audience, expanding it, and staying alive as media and entertainment and storytelling becomes more compartmentalized, private, digitized and segmented.

How can we, with so little government support, so little money for advertising and so little space in which to perform, maximize our resources so that our high-minded ideas are seen, by an audience, on a stage, often?

Ecubishop - Intriguing Blog

The new blog of a Bishop in the Episcopal Church, writing about "unity." As many of you know, the Episcopal Church has been a part of my life, culturally, since I was born. I currently work for the Episcopal Church and my father is an Episcopal priest.

Take a look.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dada Comes to Spam

Lately, I can't wait to open my Gmail's spam bucket and find a wealth of bizarre phrases as impossible subject headings. Anything that isn't direct advertising for sexual performance enhancement is often entirely in the spirit of Dada.

Anyone else notice this? Any phrases that sing to you?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ted Kennedy's Speech to the National Press Club

Ted Kennedy, in full blown "I can kick your ass any day of the week, kid" mode.

One thing people might not know about me: That Tennyson quote is next to my baby picture in the back of my high school year book.

A cure for tragedy

Captain Krech gives us... Soul Food.

I would much rather read about this, honestly. It sounds good. And it exists physically in the world.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cote and Hunka

Having a fine old time talking about Tragedy.

Dear Readers...what do you think of this?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Last Chance to See

Tonight is the absolutely final performance of The Standards of Decency Project. If you don't see it tonight, you will have been that person that missed it/skipped it/lost your chance to see it.

Don't do that. That's no fun. See it instead!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Five Things You Don't Know About Me

James Comtois tagged me with this sort of Meme thing. I feel as if it's reflective among the bloggers that we're all back from the Holidays and writing a bunch of whatever, whatever, whatever.

Anyway, I shall not be rude. Five things you probably don't know about Matthew Freeman, playwright:

1. I've been engaged twice. I am not currently engaged.

2. I've seen every single one of the Star Wars prequels more times than most people have seen any given Episode of Friends. I'm obsessed with them. I am unstoppable at Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. I recently won a game of it by answering correctly the name of the Protocol Droid at the very beginning of The Phantom Menace. (It's TC-14.)

I stood on line for more than 5 hours to see a midnight showing of Revenge of the Sith. There, I said it. We'll all be ok about it, won't we?

3. I also have a shameful love for professional wrestling. I attended ECW shows under I-95 in Philadelphia. I attended Wrestlemania 10 and 19 and 20 all live. My favorite professional wrestler since retired is Bret Hart, who is, I would say, as close to a tragic figure as I could think of in the oddball world of fake sports.

4. I have this obnoxious habit of quoting my own plays and laughing to myself. Everyone I know thinks it's an awful thing to do. They're right. But I do it anyhow.

5. When I sleep, I like the sheets as flat as possible. I don't like them all twisted and wrapped around me and knotted. Flat. Flat sheets. That's what I like.

I tag you, Web 2.0. Yes...you.

Should I write a novel?

I'm thinking about it. Not that I have time.

Barak Obama on Conan O'Brien

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Mighty Little Man!

Just for my own gratification, I'm not sure so many people have ever seen Steve Burns first music video, which is rocking good.

It's also about two years old. Because I'm TIMELY like that.

Steve and I went to high school together, and despite a curious incident with Nickelodeon, he's actually known to be wandering about doing music-type things most of the time.


Thanks to Josh James for this...


Go. Fight. Win.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Standards of Decency Discount Code

For readers of this blog...

For January 3rd - January 5th, use the discount code "VJAJAY" here to get $15 discounted tickets for the extension of Standards of Decency!

James Top Ten List for 2006

James Comtois graces us with his Top Ten of 2006. Good stuff. The Most Wonderful Love didn't make the cut (boo!), but I still feel the New Hampshire love deep in my heart of hearts.

Boy Howdy... Tragedy

I hope he doesn't mean, you know, me. Or anyone else I know that's funny and young. Or uses Microsoft Word.

Either way, I'm not sure what to make of it. I think, for the time being, I'll probably not be reading George Hunka's Organum. They're getting increasingly disapproving of things like Standards of Decency, and that, well, doesn't illuminate much for me. It's just rather depressing.

This is not to decry all value therein. George cares a great deal about Theatre with a capital "T", and that's obvious. It's worthy reading for those who love argument and theory, I'm sure. His disapproval and anger towards the American theatre at large is, though, not helpful to me as I'm struggling through some sore authorial inaction.

I think Death of a Salesman is a darn good play, for the record.

(Or maybe I'm just having a tough day at my day job and grumpy. Could be. I'll likely get over it.)

Happy New Year, to all.

Standards of Decency - One More Week

Starting tomorrow evening and running through Monday (Jan. 3rd - 8th), Standards of Decency is back. If you weren't able to make the last performances because of holiday cheer, and would like to wipe away all that good spirited yuletide slobbery, check it out.

Tickets are here.