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.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Today, dear readers...

...I'm sleepy and a bit numbed to the world. My buddy Marshall is coming to hang with me for a few days...he's in town from DC. Should be fun. Otherwise, I've little to say. I am writing things, and mailing things, but basically, I'm in the day job zone and Pam's outta town so I'm not getting enough sleep.

Short version... I am no good to anyone.

Which is why I would like to ask you, if you are reading this, to provide the content that I am unable to provide.

Tell me and one another, if you would be so kind, about your high school theater experiences. Were you in a musical? If so, which one? Who did you play? Did your school have an actual theater program, or just an English Teacher with free time?

Share! I implore you!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

For the record

I'm an Obama supporter and will be very happily voting for him on February 5th.

Big News All Around

Edwards is dropping out of the race according to the AP.

Guiliani, whose fate was sealed last night, looks to be planning on endorsing McCain.

McCain beat Romney in Florida (I was hoping for the other way around, but the writing was on the wall) and is now almost certain to be the Republican nominee for President. I can't imagine a scenario, barring his death (he is pretty old) or a major snafu that doesn't put him into that position.

Hillary Clinton got the most votes in Florida last night, but it was a hollow "victory" and was reported as such. I watched the news coverage last night, and it seemed like the press treated her with a fair amount of skepticism for her "victory" lap.

Her basic case, which is that Florida voters turned out in huge number and should be counted, isn't wrong. The problem is that there wasn't a real campaign in Florida. No one actually ran there. So, with her name recognition and the amount of early voting, the results simply reflect what the national polls have reflected. If you look at polls in Iowa and South Carolina and New Hampshire and Nevada...even the states Obama didn't win were very close. The reason is that when a real campaign is engaged, Obama closes the gap time and time again. We can't know what the results of a real Florida campaign would have been. Clinton, likely, would have won. But we don't know now either.

So... in the end...where does that leave us?

Edwards dropping out is a shame. He ran a great campaign and was fantastic in the debates. It'll be interesting to see if his voters disappear, or if they go to any particular camp (that would be pretty much a 15-20% boost for either candidate) or if they're dispersed between them. I doubt he'll endorse anyone.

But McCain getting into this position says two things. One is that the man, no matter how you feel about him, is tough as nails and connects with voters on a very real level. He's formidable. Now, I'd argue that even though he didn't have a lot of money (the press kept talking about this) it's not like he needed to introduce himself to voters. He's been running for President since, it seems like, the Gilded Age. But, to be fair, he was written off, left for dead, and here is on the verge of a nomination for President. Impressive no doubt.

It does, though, speak to how weak the Republican party is. They've basically got no options. They begrudgingly support each candidate, including McCain. With Guiliani dead in the water, his endorsement won't do much. It'll just confirm McCain as the frontrunner.

That being said...I'm curious how Democratic voters will respond to McCain's standing. Does the prospect of Clinton versus McCain send chills down the spines of Democratic voters? It does mine. I'm feeling like this election is ours to lose, and that's almost absurd considering the national pulse.

Then again, Obama's untested and McCain is as close to a traditional candidate as America can possibly find. An old sawhorse with white hair, a white face, years in the Senate and credentials as a bona fide war hero. In the question of the past versus the future, America doesn't always pick the future.

Still, I like Obama's chances against McCain better than Clintons. He is, at the very least, a stark contrast and something that's incredibly new. In a "change" election, he is positioned to be that candidate.

Never, though, count out the Clintons. Come November, if she's being crowned the first woman to ever be President, I'll be eating these words.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pam in Christopher Mir Painting

This is painting by Christopher Mir called "The Believer." Center is my lovely lady friend. She's in London for a week, and I miss her, so I thought I'd post this.

Florida Primary Today

After last night's absolutely pathetic State of the Union Address, even Mitt Romney looks like an articulate visionary. Now that is the sort of magic trick that only Bush could deliver. He's lowered our standards to "I'd like a President who can speak in complete sentences."

So... the big Republican Primary in Florida is today and Guiliani's once promising candidacy is about to burst into flames. That, my fellow New Yorkers, is how you spell "Karma" with a "G."

I'm predicting a narrow victory for Mitt Romney, against the conventional wisdom. I think Republicans in Florida, especially the Bible Belt at the top of the state, just won't go with McCain. It's incredibly close, but I'm guessing the old guard will go with Romney (who LOOKS like Reagan) as opposed to a McCain, the Maverick-in-Label-Only.

We'll see. Most people are predicting McCain. I'm, of course, hoping for a Romney victory because I think he'll be absolutely pummeled in the General Election. Please God, bring us the Mormon so we may sacrifice him at our political altar. (Does that go too far?)

On the other side, Democrats ARE voting in Florida. The state just has no delegates, because it moved up its primary against the wishes of the party. What's interesting is that Clinton is actually campaigning here, claiming that 1) she thinks Florida's voters should be heard and 2) that Obama broke his pledge not to campaign here so it's fair game.

My take: balderdash and bluster. Obama took out an add on CNN (a National Ad) and since there's no national ad buy that excludes only one state, those ads ran in Florida. In fact, they ran all over the country. But he hasn't campaigned in Florida. Neither has Edwards. Blah, blah...that's all inside baseball and Clinton knows it.

In the end, she's counting on a headline that says "Clinton wins in Florida" to re-establish her momentum after both her loss in SC and the big-media moment where Ted Kennedy decided to endorse Obama. Can't say I blame her for pulling out all the stops, although it might just be a needless gesture as she's still leading in national polls and Obama is still, despite his momentum, playing catch-up.

In the end, how the press reports it will make a gigantic difference as always. Look for them to either actively underplay the Democratic results in Florida, as there was not a real campaign for votes there; or to take on the Clinton narrative that she's still the frontrunner. A lot of that will be the result of turnout. If there's a massive Democratic turnout in Florida, and Clinton wins, that's going to be noted. Delegates matter, but so does the story being told going into February 5th.

Right now...the story is on Obama's side. He's got endorsements from Democratic figures of stature, he's got the press calling his victory in South Carolina a "rout," he's got the Clinton machine off it's gears, apologizing for and explaining the behavior of Bill Clinton. He's winning the spin war, and this is her chance to change that tone.

Exciting day all around, for politics junkies.

Monday, January 28, 2008


This is hilarious. George Bush, in what likely will be his final and most humiliating State of the Union Address tonight, will address... earmarks. That's right, baby. The Middle East is still on fire, the economy is in meltdown mode, health care is still in crisis, and all that the worst President in our nation's history has to show for it is... a vow to veto earmarks.


(At least it's a step-up from his fear-mongering about Animal-Human Hybrids.)

Forget Ted Kennedy!

Toni Morrison to endorse Obama!

Over the weekend

Obama won in South Carolina by a wide margin which gives him momentum going into February 5th.

Bill Clinton tried to dismiss Obama's win by equating his victory with Jesse Jackson's.

Hillary Clinton asked that Florida and Michigan delegates get reinstated (sort of hardball, electoral dirty pool but catnip for Clinton supporters who like that she does things like this).

I saw a movie, played PS2, went to the first rehearsal of "The White Swallow." The cast made me laugh so hard I had to get up and walk around the room, clutching my chest.

That is what I have to report. How are you?

Friday, January 25, 2008


RAMBO opens tonight!

How's that for the opposite of Happy Days?

I'm so there.

What I've seen recently

Have you ever been in a conversation that went like this?

"I just saw this play. I loved it."

"Really? I didn't like it. I was disappointed in it."


"The last scene from the end...I just thought it didn't work."

I have conversations like that all the time. From both sides. I assume you have as well. I think I'd like to avoid having conversations such as these for as long as I am able.

I've just recently seen two entirely different and much heralded productions: Happy Days with Fiona Shaw at BAM, and Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll on Broadway. I've also seen Cloverfield and There Will Be Blood at the movies. A whole lot of very different work, with very different goals, to take in and respond to.

In thinking about how to share my responses, or even if I should, with those that read this blog, something a little more important to me personally has bubbled up.

I've noticed that I approach almost everything I see as a sort of amateur critic or reviewer, even when I am under no obligation to respond with that narrow a lens. I'm not paid to reduce my emotional responses to something communicable to an audience (even those who read this blog); I'm not arrogant enough to think I am providing critical feedback to other artists who will benefit from my advice; I am not functioning as a consumer advocate.

So why, when I think about plays and films I've seen, do I often sound like I'm writing a list of their pros and cons? Why do I tend to say "I liked it" or "I didn't like it." Why do I say "It was good" or "It was bad?" Why do I even use that scale? I have a four star rating system embedded in my brain, and it I feels like it's crippled (in some ways) my ability to involve myself with what I watch, and worse, explore what I've seen after the fact, when the real exploration takes place.

For example... it would be easy to say Happy Days is marvelous and give it a cursory seal of approval with all the trite expressions that go along with it. The flip side is that it would also be possible to discuss it from a distance, to "weigh in" on its merits, to assess it. (Was this 'as Beckett intended it?' Was it too funny, not funny enough, how did you like the sound design, etc, etc. )

The truth is, while watching Happy Days, I got that feeling that always drew me to Beckett's work to begin with. I felt as if I were sharing a secret joke with someone, and as if in each moment, the joke would transform. In one moment, I'm looking at a woman whose husband is having a sort of half-witted experience with his own genitals, and she's buried from the waist up. Cruel, unfair, typical. I'm seeing a portrait of a certain type of marriage, maybe. Then, I'm seeing general plight in any life... the rituals, the self-restraint, the lack of control, the inner strength that you have no choice but to find.

Then, I'm hearing the increasingly painful and, somehow, inspiring humanness of Winnie. How she finds certain impossibly unfair things...wonderful. How I'm pitying her and falling in love with her and I'm laughing at her and feeling a sense that somehow, I will be her or her husband or someone I know will be, or that I am already.

And I thought about global warming.

And I thought about Iraq.

And I thought about my grandmother, and how she died, in her attic.

I was also sitting in the balcony. I was with one of my oldest friends. It was cold outside. It wasn't the first production of Happy Days that I'd seen, but it was the first time my friend had seen it. All of this factored into my personal experience while watching Shaw play Winnie.

Anything else, the merits of the approach, the set design, only matter insofar as they affect how I was feeling when I watched it. What it gave to me as a piece of art (that is to say, an expression of something true and beautiful, produced to inspire in me feelings that I do not have when I am not watching it) is all that matters in the end. The rest is vanity or "making conversation" or trying to sound expert or imitating the newspapers.

I have seen productions that did not make me feel all the things Happy Days, as a play, is capable of making me feel. This version, at BAM, was evocative of what I've described. That's about all that I need to focus my attention on.

I guess what I'm after is... I am trying to give myself permission to not externalize my responses, and also, when externalizing, to not couch my responses in terms of criticism or review. It's a bad habit, and worthy of breaking.

I hope that makes some sort of sense.

Onwards and upwards.

NY Times Endorses Hillary Clinton

Big one for Clinton.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Kuncinich drops out

Former Big Clinton Supporter Flips to Obama

Over her attacks on his pro-choice record.

What this shows to me, essentially, is that the Clintons will burn bridges in order to score political points. It's incredibly disappointing.

Your BFA?

Busy today, so I ask for very little from my readers. So very little. Just one simple question.

We've been talking about MFAs a bit around the theatrosphere...so....

How did you like your undergrad? What did you major in? Has your undergrad education served you well?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger Dies

Awful. Absolutely awful. What else is there to say?

Fred Thompson Out

For those who didn't know he was IN the race...he isn't anymore.

how you write, what you do - response

Mark linked to Marisa. Marisa writes this:

For writers and writing, I'm not so interested in learning about the nebulous, intangible stuff of inspiration and creativity. Borrrrrring. I prefer the quantifiable details: Where do you write? When? Pencil or pen? In a spiral notebook or on office legal pads? When you write on the computer, what font do you use? How do you format your stage directions? Where do you go for character names? When you write at Starbucks, what do you drink? Do you snack? How good is your writing after a couple glasses of crummy [yellowtail]? Music? No? If music, what kind, how loud? Do you wear pants? Can you write on a bus? On a train? In bed?

Then she proceeds to explain exactly that. (Hint: Pajamas.)

I think this is an excellent question and I'm happy to throw in my two cents. I'd love to hear responses from other playwrights, and I'll happily link to them in this post.

I tend to write under duress, late at night, battling a self-imposed deadline. Or (and it is ill-advised to write these words) at my day job. I have also used bars to help me break writer's block. I write in Times New Roman on computer, unless I am writing long-hand scribble in a bar.

I write at work for two reasons. One is that I am performing an act of tiny rebellion and that's satisfying and focuses me. The other is that I love my toys. I love my Playstation and my DVDs and websites about movies and reading other people's blogs and listening to NPR. I love to hang out with my girlfriend and talk to the cats and have some food and watch Twin Peaks on DVD. It means, therefore, that my home is a distraction. One that only quiets down when I give myself a deadline or when everyone else on the earth seems to have gone to sleep. Or when I'm the place I spend hours and hours of my time: my Hellmouth-of-a-Cubicle.

I write at bars when I am out of ideas.

Example of the bar writing: When I wrote The Death of King Arthur, I was 25 and for a while I was crashing on a friend's couch in Astoria. Below his apartment was a bar called Sissy McGinty's. I was trying to write a scene between Lancelot and Guinevere, and was having a hell of a time with it. I grabbed a beer (Sam Adams, I think) and there was pro wrestling on a big screen TV.

I wrote this, while getting pissed, watching the wrestling:

"Lancelot. The crying man is never pridelessly
Begging the heavens for his dignity.
All dignity is only pride made proud.
The prettier pride.

Guinevere. So you keep no dignity?
Does not this dirt show stern and unwav’ring
Contempt for all that would convert it else?
Does not a plant reach upwards to its growth?
Are you like flowers?"

So...it's clear that drinking brings out my purple poesy. Maybe dignity was on my mind as The Rock hit someone with a steel chair.

I have trouble finishing things if it isn't about 2 AM. I can start anything during the afternoon. I think I wrote about 40 pages of The Most Wonderful Love after lunch one day when half the staff was at a meeting.

I don't have routine. Whenever I pick up a new project, I find myself instantly setting my sights on an arbitrary deadline. Then, I kick myself as hard as I possibly can to meet that deadline. In that way, a lot of my plays have been completed much like one completes a paper in college... jacked up on coffee, writing anything that seems to fit, trying madly to just get something into the play to complete the thing. All of this, or most of this, is self-imposed. Self-abuse (in the classic, not Catholic, sense) works wonders for me.

I can't really write creatively with a pencil. Pencils are for cross-word puzzles and Sudoku.

I write better with caffeine than booze. I make coffee at home. Lately, I've been putting some cinnamon in the grinds. It's pretty darn tasty. I used to drink Half-and-Half, but I'm trying to lose some weight, so that's 1% now.

I can't possibly imagine doing even one small bit of work at a coffee shop, or the Tea Lounge or whatever. In fact, I'm often exasperated when people have decided that anyplace with a couch is their personal living room. When freelancers and writers and junior advertising copywriters bring piles of paper and their Macs and a hat and a scarf and sweat clothes and make camp with a pot of tea, I think to myself that they are either performing their work publicly on purpose; or they just think that buying their own couch is a hassle. It makes me sweat and feel like dunking their Urban Outfitter socks in ice water.

Then, of course, I realize I'm being a tool, and its likely that these people are about a thousand times more productive than I am. That I resent them for being up at 8 am, checking stock prices on their wireless connections and reading over the fifth draft of their screenplay.

I can be incredibly judgmental, clearly. I am also self-loating, which tempers it a bit.

I enjoy writing on notepads, yellow legal pads, with Pilot Rolling Ball Pens. The results are aesthetically pleasing to me.

My formatting has slowly transformed. I'm pretty much self-taught, so my formatting used to be all over the map. Now, I think it's pretty standard. I don't use a Macro, though. I probably should.

I can't eat chips when I write because it makes my keypad greasy. That's gross. I would, though, eat them if it didn't. I love chips.

I can be inspired by music, but my writing is at its best when I turn off the radio, the CDs, the iTunes, whatever...and it's quiet. That's been hard for me to accept. As someone without a firm routine, I've tried writing to music over and over. It's just never worked as well as sitting in the quiet does.

Isaac talks Showcase Code

...and goes all Kai Ryssdal. One of my favorite subjects. Go check it out.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The SC Democratic Debate

Ended about an hour and a half ago.

My thoughts:

While I always wish that Obama was better in debates (he's never quite as smooth or on point as Edwards and Clinton in a debate setting) I think he showed some backbone. He does look green at times, out there, and Edwards had a good showing.

What bothers me is this... why should he have to defend himself against this sort of mudslinging from the Clintons? Is this their version of tough love? To say: "Hey, if you can't take it, good luck in November?"

What drives me insane about Hillary Clinton (and Bill Clinton in this moment) is that if they wanted to go out and have a 'policy and experience' versus' unity and inspiration' debate, they could probably swing tons of voters. The Clintons are more than capable of winning the election. Instead, they continuously drive the rhetoric south, trying to bloody Obama in order to beat him, as opposed to simply running a campaign on the merits and letting Democrats decide who they'd prefer.

That would be too risky for career politicians, I'm sure. I know it's almost naive to say...but wouldn't it be nice if Clinton didn't imply that Obama is weak on SEX OFFENDERS? Or muddy the idea of a vote of "present" in the Illinois State Legislature? Or practically call him a Reaganite? It's ironic for the Clinton's to be even going after someone who speaks as a centrist, as they're the poster children for governing to the center. (DOMA anyone?)

The fact of the matter is... I actually agree with Edwards and Clinton on the health care mandate issue. I actually think Clinton is gangbusters on that issue. (I think, of course, that without more Democrats in the House and Senate, nothing is going to get passed either way, and an Obama Presidency is the best way to get more Democrats elected to Congress.) Regardless, there's a whole lot of debate that can happen about Nuclear Energy, Global Warming, Health Care, Tax Policy, Economic Stimulus, Partisanship and the War in Iraq.

So when Clinton and Clinton go on the attack, they do the entire process a disservice. They force Obama to defend himself. If he doesn't, he's considered weak and the press will execute him. If he does (which he did) then Edwards gets to look like the hero of the day, rising above the bickering. Make no mistake: it all starts with Hillary and Bill Clinton misrepresenting Obama to the voters.

The question, in the end, will the voters validate these tactics by rewarding them? Or will it backfire and make Clinton get (as she did tonight) boos from the voters for being too brutal?

Time will tell. I hope, in the end, citizens are enabled by the candidates and the media to vote with confidence in a positive vision; as opposed to vote against a candidate that's been effectively smeared.

For the record (quoted from the New York Times:)

Obama on Reagan:

“Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not, and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. He tapped into what people were already feeling, which is, we want clarity, we want optimism, we want, you know, a return to that sense of dynamism and, you know, entrepreneurship that had been missing.”

Hillary Clinton on Reagan:

“When he had those big tax cuts and they went too far, he oversaw the largest tax increase. He could call the Soviet Union the Evil Empire and then negotiate arms-control agreements. He played the balance and the music beautifully.”

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Oh Shit

Worst case scenario. McCain wins South Carolina.

Let's see... Clinton versus McCain.

Update: Isaac's comforting links offer me small solace.

Thank you Isaac. While it's true that Obama got more delegates, and while it's true that McCain has both a resources problem and a problem with religious conservatives... everyone in the race has problems. McCain is winning where it counts right now.

This one's going to be a doozy.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Flash Mob!

Starbucks on Astor!


Time Out New York's financial advice is for suckers

This piece ("401ks are for suckers"), ironically in the "Get Rich" issue of Time Out, gives young workers some of the worst advice I've ever read. It's an embarrassing read.

I hope it does not result in some diligent Time Out New York readers going: "Yeah! I want to snort cocaine in Berlin too! I like expensive cheese! The only way to have that hipster life is NOT to take my employer's matching funds!"

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Vogel leaves Brown for Yale!

Shit! Half my jokes have to be rewritten!

In Praise of Melancholy - Eric G. Wilson

This essay is wonderful.

Thanks Pam for sharing it with me.

Happy Endings

To follow David Johnston's lead, I'd like to alert readers to the upcoming Blue Coyote's Happy Endings, which will run from 2/12/08 to the beginning of March. A series of short plays that feature go-go dancers, rent boys, strippers, topless dancers and those that work in the "service" industry.

My play in this festival is called...The White Swallow.

Watch this space for more details!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Uncommitted Beats Clinton in parts of Michigan

Now, if I were a Clinton supporter, this would make me nervous. She won Michigan, an essentially uncontested and meaningless primary due, with 55%. 40% of those who voted, did so for...Uncommitted. That's 328,151 votes for Clinton and 236,723 votes for uncommitted. (For the record, and in more good news for a Democratic turnout in November, Uncommitted received more votes than Mike Huckabee and only 20,000 fewer votes than McCain.)

Now, there was a concerted effort to get out the Uncommitted Vote. But it DID come out. A pure protest vote. The New York Times Caucus Blog actually notes that Uncommitted beat Senator Clinton in certain areas.

Certainly, this could mean very little in the long run. It could simply be the product of disenfranchised Michigan voters protesting their Party. Or it could be, as is noted in the Times Blog, a protest vote against Clinton herself.

I watched the MSNBC debate last night and I felt that all the candidates performed strongly. I completely disagree with the punditry saying that Clinton won the debate last night. I don't know what debate they were watching, but Obama had his strongest debate, responded to her criticism and was detailed in his positions (especially about schools and taxes and education.) He also got more than his share of laughs from an otherwise silent crowd.

Clinton is, of course, brilliant and she showed it in the debate. Obama and Edwards, even when they're looking good, never appear to have her mastery of the facts about policy. But she never roused the crowd, and even came off, as she is wont to, a bit cold.

There's no law that the President must not be cold. The truth is, though, that many, many people in the country simply will not vote for her. I think, as a Democratic voter, it's idiotic to think that if she's the Democratic Nominee, she won't inspire months of vitriol and spark new resistance to her candidacy within conservative circles. If she can only win an uncontested primary 55% to 40% in her own party... it means she is actually vulnerable in the general election. That she could (gasp!) lose to a Republican.

Not likely of course. Even with her as the Nominee, Democratic voters are simply far more engaged than their Republican counterparts, and she's an incredibly capable and smart candidate. She's more likely to win than not and it's foolish, at this point, to think otherwise. I just think Michigan is one more sign that she's far riskier than the other two.

Think Clinton versus McCain. I don't like the sound of it.

Kerry on Nevada Voting

John Kerry writes about the chicanery going on in Nevada that would make it more difficult for Obama's Union Endorsement to help him. The sort of icky, legalistic politics that no one pays attention to, but swings close elections.

Worthwhile thoughts, for those following the race closely.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


For going to this much effort to try to keep Kucinich from even debating on their network tonight. Kudos to Kucinich for fighting it. This sort of thing makes me furious. There's nothing to say except, who the fuck does Chuck Todd think he is?

One of the excuses they're using is that NBC Universal is a "privately-held corporation." The airwaves belong to the people and are regulated by the FCC. Period. Let the candidates debate. Give them more time. Less time to Brittany Spears (Associated Press, this means you) and more time to truly progressive voices.

There's really no excuse for limiting debate except that the television geniuses on MSNBC think they should decide whose views are heard by the voters. Maybe Kucinich would be getting a bigger portion of the progressive vote if the news media wouldn't work so hard to silence him.

Kakutani on "30 Ways of Looking at Hillary"

Sometimes, Michiko Kakutani makes me guffaw and clap. This has been one of those times.

Free Good Karma

I invite you to name someone in your local theater scene that you admire and support. Someone who doesn't actively work with you directly.

For example, I think Kirk Wood Bromley should be playing at bigger stages than he currently has been. He's pretty damn successful in his own right, but I have no idea why he's not at The Public or Playwright's Horizons. Met him a few times, don't know him all that personally well, but I think he's a fantastic writer.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Underestimating my power

This is what it's like when James Comtois and I get drunk near each other.

The United Nations, Encapsulated

Dude #1: They have been underestimating my power.
Dude #2: What?
Dude #1: They have been underestimating my power for quite some time now.
Dude #2: What are you, a supervillain? Who's been underestimating your power? The justice league?
Dude #1: No, the electric company. They say I owe them eight hundred dollars.
Dude #2: Dude, you and I were having two totally different conversations.

--Penn Station

Overheard by: 13Atlantic

via Overheard in New York, Jan 14, 2008

I cannot lie to my readers

Sure there's important political upheaval and discussions about the importance of theater education... but all I can actually think about is Fire Pro Wrestling Returns on my PS2.

Judge me if you will. I am obsessed with this game.


Quite a discussion going on at Theatre Ideas about MFA programs. I recommend it.

EDIT: My opinion? I've debated the merits of applying to an MFA program. Obviously, there are some intangible career benefits to an MFA. Take a look, for example, at this recent post. I made light of it, but the fact is...an MFA seems to make agents and theater's take a person's work more seriously or even crack it open.

On the other hand, an MFA is a costly several years of one's life. I don't personally, no matter the career benefits, like the idea of spending a tremendous amount of money and time for connections and to prove that I'm dedicated to, I don't know, a literary manager. I've seen work coming out of MFA programs and work by people who've never had formal playwriting "training." It's rarely apparent to me that the MFA has made someone a better writer.

Would that we lived in a meritocracy!

That is not to say playwrights with MFAs are not talented or haven't made the right decision. I see a strong argument for an MFA. I reserve the right to suddenly change my mind. But, as of right now, it seems like the main argument for an MFA is about commerce, not art.

Does Inspiration Matter?

Two quotes from the January 5th NH debate between Democratic Candidates.

Clinton: "...words are not actions. And as beautifully presented and passionately felt as they are, they are not action. You know, what we've got to do is translate talk into action and feeling into reality. "

Obama: "...the truth is actually words do inspire. Words do help people get involved. Words do help members of Congress get into power so that they can be part of a coalition to deliver health care reform, to deliver a bold energy policy. Don't discount that power, because when the American people are determined that something is going to happen, then it happens. And if they are disaffected and cynical and fearful and told that it can't be done, then it doesn't. I'm running for president because I want to tell them, yes, we can. And that's why I think they're responding in such large numbers."

I think this strikes at the heart of what a lot of liberal voters are wrestling with. Clinton argues that she has the experience and track record to win big fights and get things accomplished as President. Obama offers something more ethereal and risky, but utterly inspiring, at least rhetorically.

The media narratives here are obviously far too simplistic. Clinton is certainly inspiring in her own right, as she may well be the first female president of the United States. She's also far more warm than the punditry tends to admit, by all accounts. Obama, for that matter, isn't some fluffy talker in a nice suit: he's a brilliant writer and thinker who can hold his own with anyone in terms of a deep understanding of the issues. He's also been consistently prescient about foreign affairs in his past statements, which gives the lie to the idea that he's a lightweight.

Certainly, Obama has voted in certain ways I haven't loved; so has Clinton. For all the talk about Obama being more right-wing than Hillary, I find that an essentially laughable idea. The Clinton's made an art of the holding the "center" and Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law. Hillary Clinton has voted repeatedly to give Bush authority to wage his wars. Obama IS inexperienced compared to her though.

In the end, there's no perfect candidate. But both of them, flaws intact, are brilliant, inspiring, and generally have policies and ideas I fully support.

So the less-than-superficial question I have is... do "inspiring" words matter? Do they have a real impact on people's lives? If Obama became President, would his speeches become a positive force in America in a real way, or would it be just so much frosting on stale cake?

I'd love to know what you think.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Floyd makes a Fool of the Freeman

This makes me fill up with pinkbubblegumshame.

I also have no idea what it's saying. Except that Charles Isherwood is going to steal my lady, and that I think I should wear a tiara.

Ok. I guess I do have an idea of what it's saying.

If this was the plot of your next play...

No one would believe a word of it.

Friday Random 10 and my Podcasts

Never done this before. Probably won't do it again. But here's some of what's on my iPod, for those who gave a flaming leap.

1. Reckoner - Radiohead
2. Fiddle Riddle - Frank Black
3. Impossible Germany - Wilco
4. I Don't Believe you - Magnetic Fields
5. Sea of Love - Tom Waits
6. Workingman's Blues # 2 - Bob Dylan
7. The Mesopotamians - They Might Be Giants
8. Goldsoundz - Pavement
9. Miss America - David Byrne
10. Oh Yoko! - John Lennon

I mostly listen to Podcasts when wandering around. Here's what's on my Nano right now along those lines.

92 Street Y Podcasts
APM: Marketplace
KCRW'S The Business
KCRW's The Treatment
KCRW's To the Point
Newshour with Jim Leher
BBC Newspod
Fresh Air
Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me
On Point with Tom Ashbrook
Savage Love Podcast
Slate Daily Podcasts
The Economist
The Onion Radio News
This American Life
Brian Leher
Leonard Lopate

Any suggestions?

Kucinich calls for NH recount

And is being asked to pay for it. Which he is.

I think this has the potential to be a dark horse story. It's not like Kucinich has any reason to do this for himself (he got less than 2% of the vote), other than to expose inaccuracies in the balloting. If, somehow, it does turn out that there were significant issues how that plays out could have a real impact. It's not like Clinton had a smashing victory over Obama - she beat him by 3%.

Or, as with all things Kucinich, it could be treated as if he's talking about E.S.P. by the mainstream media.

We'll see.

Isaac talks Regional Acting Styles

Good observation from Isaac on the differences in "regional" acting styles and how that makes casting out-of-town seem increasingly less logical. Check in on that discussion here.

I've never really put my finger on the differences. Any thoughts as to what they may be? I know there are people who read this blog that, privately, are Seattle evangelists. What's the "acting style" in Seattle? Or Chicago? Or Philly?

I might also ask... does this apply to playwrights? I'd expect so.

100 Saints You Should Know, which came to Playwrights Horizon's last year from Chicago, reminded me in no small way of Waving Goodbye, a play I saw coming out of Chicago way back in 2002. The mother-daughter interplay, the white person ennui, the way gay-themes were shoehorned into the proceedings, the way the teen girl meets and odd teen boy and they bond. It seemed like they could have been written by, if not the same person, cousins.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

CNN picks up the Ron Paul story

You know, it's a damn shame. Ron Paul does say that American Imperialism is bad. But he also wants to dismantle the Federal Government and statements like these, especially ones under his own banner, are indefensible. It's not like this happened THAT long ago. This isn't Robert Byrd and the KKK just after World War II. These statements appeared in the 1980s and 1990s.

So, all you Ron Paul loonies that troll the interweb just to throw his name into a comments thread... spare us all. If you really want a candidate that speaks out against the war...try Barack Obama.

Adam on Language

Adam comments on what he sees as a trend towards "language" plays and gives some examples. He uses a bit of a new play I'm working as one.

I do find myself wary of writing with the words in mind, as opposed to the audience. It's very easy for plays that are filled with expressionist language to seem self-conscious and to strike false notes. I do think, though, there's a movement against restraining oneself out of modesty or a sense of correctness. I also think within the examples Adam gives there are vast differences in effectiveness and content.

Give it a read.

Along those lines, I'll share another little piece of a piece. This is a bit of text from The Lower River.

"On my hands and knees I was lapping up the water from this river like an eager puppy. Then the sounds were gone, and I thought, 'E-M-M-A'. The end is the end and the start is the finish and the water was there all along. It was always down there. Under the ground, there is so much water and most of the world is made of water. Most of our bodies are made of water. Water can choke you and keep you alive; water can drown the cities and fill them like a bowl of filth and bodies; water can bring a great wave like an angry fist; water can baptize; holy water; blessed; water from a shallow pool; an oasis; filling your canteen in the desert; water saves your life, water is full of air, fish can breathe in it; water can crush you and give you the bends. It’s obvious, isn’t it? How it cleared me up? Helped me spell my name?"

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Lou Dobbs: Renegade or Jackass Symbol of Mainstream, Institutionalized Foolishness?

Lou Dobbs is an idiotic, paranoid propagandist for his obsession with illegal immigration. When he takes stabs and political savants and pundits, it's the height of irony. This man represents everything that's wrong with the MSM, and he's front and center on CNN, arguably the MSM flagship.

Bond. Edward Bond.

Over at the Guardian, Alison Croggon treats Edward Bond (!) as if he's a student in one of her classes. Ah, critics!

Tone aside, the opening paragraph poses an interesting Bond thought (and Croggon response):

"The playwright Edward Bond raised a few eyebrows recently by, among other things, dubbing Brecht "the playwright of Auschwitz". His argument was so patently absurd that I barely hiccuped. Instead, another statement caught my eye. Bond was speaking of a production of his play The Woman, which he directed at the National: "I went back to see it after it had been playing for a week and the actors were doing it as if it were Tom Stoppard. They were doing 'theatre'. But drama is not 'theatre'."You could almost hear his disgust."

Definitely check it out. Punchy stuff.

On a side note: I find it amusing that Alison finds more distaste in Bond's trash-talking a term-of-art than how he characterizes Brecht. I guess we all have our priorities, no?

Clinton wins in New Hampshire

Well my predictions, which were pretty standard, were just as wrong as all the others. I figured Clinton would do better in NH than an Iowa. This much better? Didn't expect it.

My initial reaction, honestly, was dismay. I think Hillary Clinton is a perfectly acceptable candidate for the Presidency. She's smart, she would be the first woman elected President (not a small matter by any means), she's experienced and I agree with her on most issues.

Her drawbacks would undoubtedly be that she's far more Hawkish than I am remotely comfortable with, and that she's the general election candidate that makes me the most nervous. Despite the fact that Democratic turnout has far outpaced Republican turnout, Hillary Clinton is irrationally hated by conservatives and isn't even all that beloved by liberals. She has a real chance of losing in the general election, and that scares the hell out of me.

But beyond all that pundit-lite mumbo jumbo...what really bothers me tonight is that Barack Obama represents, to me, a sort of amazing opportunity to have a President the represents something beautiful and idealistic about American politics and American culture. A cure for eight years of American at its very worst. I know that much of the liberal blogosphere have decided they're too smart to be pulled in by rhetorical flourish, and seem to view his charisma and oratory with a sort of suspicion. I simply don't feel that way. I love the idea of an inspirational President, whose biography defies and therefore redefines the American political narrative permanently.

It's a feeling I just don't get about Clinton's candidacy and the prospects of a Clinton presidency. Not tonight anyway.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The New Republic on Ron Paul

You wonder where the donations are coming from after you read this.


I got this in my inbox. I think it sounds pretty darn interesting and I encourage readers to give it a shot.


Dear Friends:

In order to indulge our near-obsessive love of public radio and desire to fill the universe with the best stories out there, we are announcing the formation of a new online venture: Storyboard.

Having educated ourselves in the ways of digital audio recording and digital sound editing, we are looking for a few good stories to edit into listener-friendly podcasts or streaming audio, and then to post them for public consumption on a new website.

What does this require? Why, your participation, of course.

What does my participation require? Your willingness to tell a story, of course.

How does it work? For starters, decide if you have a story about something that happened to you that changed your outlook on... something. Yourself, your life, your career, your political views, whatever. The story should be about a person, place, or event that had an impact on you. It should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It can be funny, heartbreaking, or just fascinating. The more personal, the better. Preferably it should take somewhere between 5-15 minutes to tell. And it goes without saying that you need to be willing to share this story with the world. Because once we commit it to "tape," it will be out there for all to hear. Though we would prefer to identify all storytellers by their actual names, you may choose to have your piece credited to an assumed name.

Sound interesting? Here are the next steps.

1. E-mail us at info -at- storyboardaudio.com. Send us a summary of your story in 1-3 paragraphs. It doesn't have to be well-written -- just give us a sense of the story's content and structure. What is its beginning, middle, and end?

2. One of us will respond to you. We will say one of the following: (a) Yes, let's set up a time to record that. (b) It might be a great story, we just need a little more information before we can make a decision (it may be too long or short, or missing certain elements) (c) In our subjective opinion, we don't think it's right for this project (i.e. it's just not the right piece for this venue).

3. If your story is selected and recorded, it will be featured on the main page of StoryBoard, then eventually moved to the archives. We'll also give you a CD and a link to the story's home in our archives.

Want to hear a sample of what we're planning? Check out http://storyboardaudio.com/ to hear our inaugural story, a piece Eric recorded a couple years ago, a hilarious and terrifying story of poor college students crashing a high-end party, with disastrous results. (P.S. Not all stories have to feature celebrities)

So that's it. StoryBoard in a nutshell. We are excited about this project and hope you'll share your stories with us. Or ask us questions. Have a friend or friends you think might groove on the idea? Feel free to forward this e-mail to her/him/them.

Yours in auditory solidarity,

Robin Reed and Eric Winick

Theatre Ideas is back

Scott Walters is back with some great posts. Check them out.

NH Predictions

I'm going to say Obama wins NH but that it's far closer than it was in Iowa. Clinton's stronger in the Northeast, and I think there's going to be a smaller youth vote for him in NH. Also, Independents may vote for McCain, as opposed to Obama, in NH.

So... Obama wins, McCain wins in NH.

Everyone will declare Florida their "firewall."

Except Edwards, who will drop out if he can't win South Carolina. Which, um, he can't.

That's my horserace chatter.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Six Sneezes for Sister Sarah

Written to satisfy your suggestions.


JEANETTE and her sister, SARAH, sit over a plate of food. JEANETTE is reading the newspaper. There is a gun between then.

Pollen Count is off the hizzle.

Spare me.

I was at the Laundromat and this woman started to shake uncontrollably. Something about her detergent. She swallowed her tongue.

(picking at the food) What’s in this?

It’s gluten-free, no peanuts, no fish products, and there’s no dye in it.

Is it soy?

No. It’s green.

But no dye?

They said it’s green like that naturally.

Nothing is green like that naturally.


What’s the gun for?

If my throat starts to close up, I want you to shoot me. Because this is the last food that I could possibly put into my person without bursting into flames.

I won’t shoot you. And I don’t want to be shot.

I was reading this interview yesterday. The author said that we have to get everyone outta here, or the allergy crisis will get them. That we need to move somewhere without cell phones and high fructose corn syrup and genetically altered soy beans. That we should only eat things that can perform photosynthesis.

Well fuck him, Jeanette. I am not becoming a Native American and eating leaves. You can’t erase the industrial revolution no matter what it says in Ishmael. Now, I’m going to eat this gunk and you are not going to shoot me.

(She spoons a bit of the food into her mouth. It’s disgusting. We can tell. From all outward signs. She swallows.)

There. I’ll live another day.

(She sneezes.)

Pollen count.

Yeah, yeah. You going to eat?

I have no choice.

(She spoons a little green nutritional non-food into her craw. SARAH sneezes.)

Down the throat it slithers.

Do I need the gun?

My eyes are burning a little, but that’s just from the spoon I think. I also feel a new bump on my tongue. But that might be from the fact that you’re sneezing.

(SARAH sneezes.)

Christ. My nose is filling up like an Art History class. Jesus Fucking Shit.

(SARAH sneezes. Twice.)

You’re sure there was no wheat gluten in that?

(She sneezes and clutches her throat.)

If there was wheat gluten, I’d be on the toilet.

(SARAH grasps at her throat desperately.)

I think it’s mostly egg or something. Either way, I’m fine. It’s just the pollen.

(SARAH falls over, turning blue.)

It’s the flower’s that’ll get us in the end.


Stanley Fish at the NY Times: "The humanities are their own good."

Interesting post by Stanley Fish over at the New York Times.

From the piece:

"To the question “of what use are the humanities?”, the only honest answer is none whatsoever. And it is an answer that brings honor to its subject. Justification, after all, confers value on an activity from a perspective outside its performance. An activity that cannot be justified is an activity that refuses to regard itself as instrumental to some larger good. The humanities are their own good. There is nothing more to say, and anything that is said – even when it takes the form of Kronman’s inspiring cadences – diminishes the object of its supposed praise."

What do you think?

A short play today

Look out, my friends, over the bleak winter months before us. Oh the chill in the air.

Wait! It's 50 degrees? Thank God for the Climate Crisis.

I seek inspiration. I shall write a posting length play today (about 1-2 pages total). What I need are suggestions from you, my peers, readers and friends.

Give me a title or a line or a subject or a character name. Something. I'll try to integrate as much as a I can.

What posting length play shall I write by... 5pm today?

Friday, January 04, 2008

What's Coming Up

2007 was a fine year overall, with some ups and downs. I didn't have a full-length play produced this past year, but I had two new ten-minute plays produced (What To Do To A Girl as a part of the Standards of Decency Project and Trayf in the Baby Jesus One-Act Jubliee) and a longer one-act as a part of the Pretentious Festival (Interview with the Author). All three of them were very well-received and that's something to put in my pocket and take home. I can't say that I felt as strongly about 2007's output as some years past...but it wasn't anything to complain about either.

2008 seems like a promising one overall. I'll be making yet another Blue Coyote festival appearance, in an evening of short works currently called Happy Endings in February. I've also got most of The Lower River written in its new form (sort of a musical piece with twelve actors) and a completed draft of my latest full-length When is a Clock. I hope to see one or both of them up and seen in New York City sometime this year.

I've also got some other little projects floating about, like all writers do. I keep thinking I should write a novel. Then I think "Oh yes...that's not a cliche."

Jimmy Likes It When I Talk About My Mother!

Thanks to Comtois for listing Interview with the Author as one of his 10 best of 2007!

Obama Wins in Iowa

Loved his speech too. And Huckabee won.

Totally called it. I'm in the man.

I'm not entirely convinced Obama can beat Clinton in New Hampshire, though. We'll see. Huckabee will definitely have a tough time there.

Personally, there isn't any of the top Democratic candidates that I particularly dislike. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. I certainly don't find Obama's arguments "fucking despicable." One might say the same thing about Clinton and Edwards voting "Yes" on the war in Iraq. Politics is a tough fight and full of difficult decisions and weird triangulations. In the end, Obama is a principled guy with a powerfully positive message who has the sort of background that just screams good things about this country.

The fact that Obama (and for that matter Clinton) is more than a viable candidate, but is, in fact, a frontrunner candidate for the Presidency says something that is just as inspirational about the country as Bush's presidency has been disheartening. The fact that Obama attracts so many Independent voters and young voters says a great deal about what he represents and how he can move the Democrats past our traditional base and even expand our relevancy.

If he doesn't win in the long run, so be it. But tonight, sick as I am, I'm smiling.

On the flip side... Clinton coming in third is a tough and will undoubtedly affect how she's perceived by voters in upcoming primaries. Watch for her margins to narrow.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Iowa Predictions?

Hey crew -

I'm just back from New Orleans, visiting friends. Pam and I came down with this stomach virus that's going around. I hear it's a 48 hour bug, so I'm laying low. Certainly not the way I love to spend time off.

In the meantime, Happy New Year. I'd love to know your predictions for the Iowa Caucuses.

I'm going to say Obama because the Des Moines Register poll went his way. Although Edwards seems pretty likely too. It really could go any direction. Second choice is going to be a big factor and so is how many independents come out to vote.

But for me: Obama. On the Republican side? Huckabee.