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, December 30, 2011

New Year's Eve Live Webcast 2012 from Times Square

I'm one of the Associate Producers of the Worldwide Webcast of the New Year's Eve celebration from Times Square. This is my third year working on the show.

The show runs live from around 6pm until just after midnight. Hope you'l check it out and enjoy. Happy New Year!

Watch live streaming video from 2012 at livestream.com

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Samuel French titles available as eBooks

In an rather exciting development, Samuel French titles are being released as eBooks exclusively (for now) through the iBookstore, for Apple devices. Here's the information and list of currently available plays.

I'll let you know when WHEN IS A CLOCK becomes available, of course!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Scott Walters at Theatre Ideas

It's been quite a while since I've linked to Scott at Theatre Ideas. He's still cooking up a storm over there.

He's recently put for an idea to debate, and I think it's definitely worth some back-and-forth.

"Any theatre that transfers a production to a commercial venue automatically loses its non-profit status."

And so? What say you?

Friday, December 23, 2011


My wife's blog is called Phantasmaphile. Also, if you haven't yet, go take a look at it. It's really gorgeous and inspiring. Like her!

Happy Holidays

I wish the best to you and yours (and theirs, I guess). Also, if you're feeling blue, there's The Hobbit Trailer to fix it.

Merry, Happy and Sincerely.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Confessions of a Serial Intern reaction

Over on howlround, an essay/post by Annah Feinberg...Confessions of a Serial Intern. Not a surprising read (I think her observations are perennial), but it is frank, sharply written, and I'm sure it will ruffle some feathers. Always a good thing to featherruffle. Plus, she makes the point, which can't be made enough, that an upper-middle class upbringing gives you a leg-up as an artist in this country.

I'm sure a lot of the debate will center around the validity of her claim that interns don't get hired by the theaters they volunteer for very often. (Some comments over there are already talking about that.) Two thoughts about that from me.

One is that I've always found that whole process questionable anyway. Is her point, "Look I gave you my free labor in order to move to the front of the hiring line, and I was able to do so because I can afford it. But this unfair advantage I thought I would get was misrepresented?" I know it isn't, of course. It's just a bit too much inside-baseball, first-world problems, writing a memo to Human Resources, to really keep me invested.

Second, it's less interesting to talk about post-internship hiring practices than it is to talk about the way in which financial constraints  force large artistic organizations to use free labor on a mass scale. Don't we have a jobs crisis in this country? Couldn't these unpaid internships, with a little public funding, become jobs? There's a strong economic argument to be made that better funded theaters and dance companies, large and small, could employ more people. And if these were jobs, even part-time or seasonal jobs, wouldn't that reduce the disparity in the class issue? It would mean that people who need to be paid for their work would still have "working at a theater" as an reasonable option.

On a personal note, I must confess, whenever I read about the "industry" I sort of die inside. I keep forgetting I'm in an industry. Or maybe the problem with my career thus far, such as it is, is that I'm expressly not in the industry. I just write plays and try to get them put on. I'm doing this wrong.

Then again, I think I want to be in the industry. Don't I? But then again, it's an industry. Isn't it?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Other theater apps we need

We're living in the App Era. The age of the App. I wonder if there are kids that won't know why it's called an App (lication.) I also wonder if there are children who don't know why it's called a "C" drive. I mean, I guess they never had to sit up for hours with their friend Marshall and remove every damn thing on their home computer from a C prompt just so they could transform their entire computer into an "X-Wing" arcade machine.

But I digress.

Apparently Scene Partner is an app that helps people memorize their lines. Because a yellow highlighter and a patient friend, or heck, just a room by yourself, is no longer good enough. We need the funky iPhone version of learning things.

So, I think I'd like to request a few more theater related apps. Things that will replace age-old problems with newfangled problems.

CUE ME APP - Keep your iPhone in your pocket on stage. It will buzz whenever it hears the three words preceding your next line.

WRAPPER REMOVER - An app that reminds you to remove the fucking peanut M&Ms from their wrapper now, five minutes before the play starts, while you're reading your program, not the second Mark Rylance comes onstage.

RIGHT FOR ME? - An app with several parts. First, you upload your headshot. Then, you put in your resume. Then, your friends anonymously can upload notes about the parts you're best for. Then, when a listing for an open call shows up, and your mind is feverishly looking for rationales why you should audition for Romeo at 47, you can consult the objective app and get your shit together.

NEW PLAY DEVELOPMENT APP - Replace the entire development process with an app that gives all the standard notes that you will receive during a talkback session, but fills them in MadLibs style from the details for your play. For example:

"I didn't believe it when MARTA confessed to DANIEL."

"I just think you should raise the stakes for HAROLD."

"What you need to ask yourself is 'Why is this night more important for GINA than any other night?'"

"I felt like THE ANGEL GABRIEL was from a different play."


"Do you have any questions that you would like this APP to provide feedback on?" [ENTRY SCREEN] "Yes, the APP agrees that part could be tightened up."

"Why isn't this a screenplay?"

INSTANT REVIEW - An app that reads your play, the cast, the director, the company and the venue, and quickly writes the review you know you will receive before you even start rehearsing. It even will emulate the reviews from different sources, such a three star review from Time Out or an exasperated review from Charles Isherwood.

LITERARY DEPARTMENT APP - Send your play to this app for your daily dose of deadening rejection. It fills in the name of your play: "We loved reading THE JUNIPER BUSH" and makes a single comment that seems personalized before rejecting you. "The characters were unique and the structure inventive. We're sorry, it does not match our needs at this time." (Works especially well with the iPhone 4s.)

NEW PLAY APP - Enter a premise and characters, and this app will produce a 70 minute, intermissionless play with an ambiguous ending and a progressive social theme.

HEADSHOTS! - a new iPhone app that uses the camera to create the perfect digital headshot from any standard picture. Closes up on your face, finds your best side, whitens teeth, adds hand-on-your-chin with photoshop, creates either brick-building or stoop background with state-of-the-art digital technology. Then, instantly sends to agents and online depositories of dreams.


You're welcome, entrepreneurs.

Wave of the future, wave of the future

DPS inks e-Book deal. I love the use of the work "ink" here. That's intentionally ironic right?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The War in Iraq is Over

Apparently, even the New York Times says so.

So did we win? The war? That lasted? 9 years? Based on? Lies?

Did the thousands dead make us more free, or safe?

Was the cost of the war in human lives, human suffering, faith in our institutions, world opinion and pure dollars...worth it?

Playscripts Holiday Sale - Today and Tomorrow

Today and tomorrow only, Playscripts.com is offering a 40% Holiday discount on all its titles. Valid only today and tomorrow, December 16th.

That means if you want to make a gift to a loved one of a new play or anthology (or if you'd like to make a special sort-of gift to good old Matt Freeman by buying one of his books) now is a great time. Use the code GIFT at checkout.

Playscript titles by Matthew Freeman
Glee Club
Rabbi Hersh and the Talking Lobster (or Trayf)
The Death of King Arthur

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Top 10 of 2011

That's right it's time for a year-end list of Top 10 things. To explain a bit about the process:

First, I look at the things over the course of the last year that were, and I put them into categories and lay them out over a table. Some get blue stickers, some red, some green, depending. Then, I try to make sure there are at least an equal number of all three stickers, so that it's fairly and widely distributed among the potential things that are "top."

Once all those things are gathered, I do what I call the annual "gut check." Some things just feel right and others don't. I think we often get too analytical, and it makes us forget how much instinct drives us. That's what might explain why one year, on the Top 10, we left off Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Overthought things, you know? I'll always regret that.

Anyway, after the "gut check," we (my wife and I) go through a more complicated process of ordering things in Excel, trying to quantify. We take into account influence, reach, "the long tail," page views, aggregates, points, polls, overall sales, total sales, net versus gross, Nielsen ratings, our Pop-O-Meter, state-by-state polling data, unsubscribes and Twitter followers.

This usually brings the list into something like a near-focus. Finally, we use a dart board. Ten bullseyes later, our Top 10 list is complete.

And so, without further ado

10. The Walking Dead
9. Occupy Wall Street
8. Jerusalem
7. Spearmint Gum / Pepper Spray (Tie)
5. Flashpoint
4. CM Punk
3. Earthquake, Japan
2. The Oprah Network
1. Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark

New Dramatists has a new website

Fan-cy! Social media! Updates! Twitter!

Friday, December 09, 2011

From the new play

Hey. Who wants to read something I've recently written? As it's a blog about being a playwright?

Here's a quick snippet from the newest play. Because you heard it here first.


It’s not a second career. It’s a fourth career. When I was writing, I was always also working for the recruiter, and when I decided I’d make the transition to writing professionally, that never really counted as being a writer. That was content. I was a content provider. Which was better than being a recruiter, especially if you wanted to be a writer. The illusion was that I was incrementally moving towards writing by providing content, as if because both involved words they are related. The novel I wasn’t writing or even that short story that’s about five hundred words from done; they just stayed not written. So fuck it... I’m like “writing is bullshit and no one needs me to be a writer.” So I’m at school, and I’m going to get this degree and it’s not so bad, it’s CUNY so it’s not destroying me financially, and that’s awesome. But now I have this totally bizarre side job just to pay for school, so that I can go into a career in interior design, someday, instead of any of the things I’ve spent all my life doing. Which is great and fine and whatever. I win, someday, or I just keep losing like I’m winning, or something.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

BFG Collective

Three top Off-Off Broadway theater companies combine to form Voltron. Read all about it here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Sad Playwright

As if to commemorate my birthday, this website appeared before me on Facebook.

Sad Playwright.

What a beautiful place on the web.

36th Birthday

A day that shall live in infamy.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Indie Theater Now offerings

Just a reminder, you can find three of my plays available in digital editions on Indie Theater Now. Each play offers excerpts, a sample review, character breakdown, and notes on the original cast production.

The Most Wonderful Love (which got a pretty great New York Times review in 2006, here).

When Mother and Father celebrate their long and happy marriage with an unprecedented ceremonial unwedding, their friends and relations gather from all over to feast on the spoils; get ready for this sprawling satire on contemporary marriage and American fundamentalism.

The Great Escape (one of my favorites)

Things have changed since Henry last visited Mom; for starters, the décor is decidedly kitschier, and his sister Catherine decidedly creepier; and Mom has a new husband; and she’s locked herself upstairs.

The Americans

A young man writes a poem, “The Americans,” so beautiful that the walls of his room rise into the sky and explode, covering New York in wood and plaster rain; for three young men vaguely nervous about what their lives are becoming, it is, at least, something different.

Times Square from New Year's Eve - Webcast 2011

I'll be, once again, a producer on and the senior writer for the webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve. I'll embed it here, and on my website. It'll be fun. I hope you check it out. From your hovel, where you hide.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Give to your favorite theater company (part two)

Last week I posted this, about end-of-year giving to the theater company you care about.

I'd like to ask a question about your own giving strategy.

Do you tend to give whatever you can to a single arts organization, to maximize your impact? Or do you give a little to lots of smaller companies, to spread the wealth around? Or, do you not contribute in this way? Do you simply buy tickets as a way to show support?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More eBooks about theater

I'm liking the eBook trend. This time, it's a book by Terry Schreiber called Producing on a Short Shoelace, published as an eBook by NYTE. Certainly seems like a no-brainer for any small theater producer to pick up.

Three kinds of impossible...

Over on the Coyote Commission Blog, Kyle Ancowitz (my long-time collaborator and one of the artistic directors of Blue Coyote Theater Group) writes a post about "three kinds of impossible" things in plays.


"As a producer, I'll admit that I often read plays with a wary eye towards impossible ideas.  By impossible, I mean ideas that are either simply unstageable with our budget or that contribute needlessly to downtown theater’s reputation for being pretentious and/or incomprehensible. Come to think of it, let’s say there are three categories of impossible:
  • BORING AND IMPOSSIBLE: Car chases. Climactic gunfights. Enormous country-style breakfasts.
  • INTRIGUING BUT IMPOSSIBLE: Thermonuclear explosions.  Singing alien plants.  Journeys to the Heaviside Layer.
  • TOTALLY BANANAS AND IMPOSSIBLE: Characters vomiting mythological creatures. Giant thumbs that bleed abstraction. Talking Jewish lobsters.

Does my resistance to unconventional ideas such as these represent a failure of imagination?  Or am I just doing my job?  I want to explore this idea with our commission playwrights:  Won’t you please tell us about a time when your "challenging" and "unconventional" experiment never made it to the stage because some director or producer shut you down?  What happened next?  And who was right?"

Monday, November 28, 2011

In a giving mood? Give to your favorite theater company

It's that time of year again. I've made a bit of an annual tradition out of suggesting that you, dear reader, make a charitable donation to the small theater company or even individual artist of your choice. I certainly hope that other bloggers and tweeters will post their own year-end lists of companies to support, as well.

You can support many of your favorite playwrights by just buying their books. (Hint. Also, maybe you'd like to try here or here or  here or here. Heck, don't forget about this.)

Most of all, your favorite small theaters need you more than ever right now. Day jobs are scarce. Funding is dry. Audiences are careful with a dollar. A $50 donation to public radio is a terrific idea, and it means a lot to them. But a $50 donation to the company that just did that cool new play in a black box up the street? It's exponentially more important, more useful, and it will be put immediately to use paying for the work you love.

Here's a few examples of companies that I think would benefit from even a small donation. $25, $50, $100. Whatever you can give. Stretch this year, maybe. Give more than you did last year. But give.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

First draft of new play

Completed the first draft of my new play "Why We Left Brooklyn" this weekend. Always a good feeling.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011


Monday plug!

Purchase The Americans for Kindle or Nook! Only $1.99!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


With the change to the design of the blog, the blogroll has been dropped off. Is that something you'd like put back on the site? Or do you tend to view the site through a portal like Google Reader and not see the blogroll anyhow? I'm not sure if it's something that is still good manners/necessary/expected or not, at this point.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Occult in Modern Art - tonight

My wife, Pam, (whose awesome blog is called Phantasmaphile and should be read religiously) is presenting a lecture tonight (Friday) at Observatory called The Occult In Modern Art 101. You really must be there. It shall be smashing, informative, and inspirational.

Check out the event, and all the kick-ass events at Observatory, here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Game of Thrones! It does this thing where its just so incredibly boring that I wonder why I keep reading, and then it's good for a minute, and then it's incredibly boring again.

Please, book, please. Uncle.

Sorry for the radio silence

I've been traveling for work.

I am sending good thoughts to those in the Occupy Movement.

To me, if you have a problem with people sleeping in public parks, maybe you should be battling poverty, not the impoverished.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Writing a play is like reposting an old post

I was paging through some older posts and found this one from last year, which I liked quite a bit. Here it is again.

Writing a play is like...

Friday, November 04, 2011


I'm having a fine time writing my newest play, but it's come with a fun problem I'm not quite used to. It has extended scenes where there are many characters on stage, at basically a Brooklyn dinner party. I'm not a big fan, in instances like these, of the "everyone is just talking at once" thing. I feel like I'm trying to write a very traditional play in a lot of ways. Still, though, that requires a little sleight of hand in places, and a lot of juggling. I'll be trucking along with a little scene or progression of beats, when I realize someone hasn't spoken for quite a while. Then, of course, I have to go figure out where the heck Dawn went while Jason and Michelle were going on about moving to Columbus.

When I write a play, one of the biggest challenges for me is keeping in balance the desire to speak with instinct and spontaneity; and organizing the entrances, exits, order of speakers, fitting the pieces together. It's sort of like trying to finish a jigsaw puzzle with all the force you can muster.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Things I am absolutely not doing instead of writing

- Reading the third book of Game of Thrones
- Playing Uncharted 3
- Playing Batman: Arkham City
- Watching Fringe

That would be the behavior of a child, not a grown up with a job and things to do. I wouldn't behave that way.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Introducing...my website!

Yes, it's a website that is not a blog. About me. Matt Freeman. Designed by my good pal Ernest Hemmings, who also lives and breathes over here. It's jagged and punchy and weird. Just like I like.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tonight and Tomorrow: Playwrights For Pets

Tonight and tomorrow are the performances of Playwrights for Pets: Heavy Petting, from Blue Coyote Theater Group. Billed as a night of unlikely romance, it will feature performances and new works. Should be fun, especially if you love pets, which I know you do.

The play I'll be presenting is a staged reading of The White Swallow, a popular short from a few years back, affectionately known by some as "the egg play." It's directed by Kyle Ancowitz and is performed by the crack team of Laura Desmond, David DelGrosso and Matthew Trumbull. I love it, it makes me laugh, and I think it will make you laugh too.

Tickets can be purchased in advance here.

More information about the show can be found at www.bluecoyote.org

(My cats names, for the record, are Albee and Remedios Varo.)

Quilt: A Musical Celebration and Reflection on 30 Years

I recommend you consider attending this upcoming benefit, which takes place on November 28th, and reflects on the past 30 years of raising AIDS awareness. A lot has been accomplished, but there's a long way to go. Looks like a special evening, with a lot of talent involved.

From the website:

Thirty years after the virus devastated New York City, swept the nation, and forever changed the world, a new threat looms, that of complacency. HIV/AIDS is a problem that has yet to be overcome, and as the harrowing days of the early 1980s slip further from the public conscience and strides are made in treatment, there is the widespread and dangerous misconception that the virus no longer serves as cause for concern. Through the use of the performing and visual arts, this event will honor all those who have been lost senselessly due to this vicious disease, celebrate those who have championed the afflicted, and mark a renewed commitment to ending this pandemic that has robbed us of too many bright futures.

Tickets are here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Time Out NY rates the 25 best screen adaptations of Shakespeare

The list is here.

Can't say I entirely agree on all counts. I'm sure you won't either. That's the fun of lists.

For example, they place the Michael Almereyda's dull Hamlet (the one in Manhattan with Ethan Hawke)  above the Kenneth Branagh version, which I really can't see. I guess if you do a lot less, there's less to screw up?

They also put Julie Taymor's Titus above Prospero's Books. Hrm. Not feeling it. To me, Prospero's Books is bolder, less literal, more built for the screen. Taymor's Titus is grand and grim (I definitely loved it), but it's essentially a massive, expensive stage production.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Don't forget

To pick up a copy of When Is A Clock
Or any of these editions published by Playscripts

Monday, October 24, 2011

Favorite Reviewers and Critics

I think it's very easy for artists to find fault with critics - but I'm curious...which theater reviewers, writers and critics do you tend to enjoy and why? Anyone out there you find particularly insightful? Fun to read?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The power of being prolific

A provocative tweet by the amazing Taylor Mac on October 12th:  

"I'm learning that new elite r prolific writers/tweeters/bloggers who dominate the conversation via onslaught of material."

I think there's something to this, and I think I might be implicated. Is there a bias towards (on the web anyway) writers who produce a great deal of material? Twitter and Facebook and Blog Posts? For example, if I were to write one essay here per month, and labored over it for days, would that mean I had fewer visitors, less interest, and therefore a smaller overall platform? If you don't feed the beast, does it move on to eat something that's still bleeding a bit more profusely?

And does that, you know...matter? It doesn't seem like the most successful artists feel the need to have much of a web presence. In fact, there are very few playwrights (from my unscientific perspective) out there that seem to even have their own websites. And it's 2011.

How significantly are the conversations about theater online impacting the art of theater that is being done, anyway? Or is it, really, a form of entertainment and connection, a broad conversation about life in the trenches, more than a critical conversation about the work?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Kristen Palmer writes about killing characters, a revision at a time, in this blog post. 

It's an interesting feeling, removing an entire character from a play. It's tough enough to remove a line, or a scene, but characters have a way of being sticky, of wanting to live. I've very rarely actually entirely removed a character. I think recently in THAT OLD SOFT SHOE, I had originally written a character named Phillipa, who didn't make it to draft two. I'll miss you Phillipa. You could have been funnier, but that's really my fault, isn't it.

Any writers out there in a draft process finding themselves holding the red pen over a fictitious life?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Blue Coyote Theater Group's Coyote Commission Project Blog

Blue Coyote Theater Group - where I've called home since 2004 - are off on a new and exciting endeavor - the Coyote Commission Project.

The first commissioned playwrights are Robert Attenweiler, Kristen Palmer, Christine Whitley, John Yearley, and David Zellnik. Read new blogs from them, get updates on their work, and check out the results on the new Coyote Commissions Project Blog. 

Here is a post from John Yearly

And another from David Zellnik.

Also, Blue Coyote is now on twitter. Follow them here.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

When the political class and the media wish out loud that the Occupy Wall Street protests were more coherent, more single-minded, more "on-message," more recognizable, more organized; they are not wishing for the success of the movement.

I have heard the Occupy Wall Street protests compared to the Tea Party movement. The Tea Party movement was, and is, simply an off-shoot of a Republican message, funded by mainstream conservative activists in shadow, to promote conservatism in the face of a popular, charismatic and non-traditional (in look and name) Democratic President. It's uniform message and political savvy are not the result of  passion, but of calculation.

Occupy Wall Street is steadfastly revolted by calculation, and is driven entirely by a complex set of emotions and thoughts. Let's celebrate complexity and passion. Let's remember that the sentiment of a group of individuals fighting for an ideal, pointing out injustice, should outstrip and outgun the media's desire for soundbites and slogans. It is dangerous to believe that the merits of an ideal are related to how simple the ideal is to communicate.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Final performance of in the great expanse of space there is nothing to see but More, More, More...tonight

 Tonight is our third and final performance of the workshop of in the great expanse of space there is nothing to see but More, More, More. Tickets can be found here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Superfluities Redux Turns 8

Read here. Plus, a thesis about the theater blogosphere. Whoa.

Oh shit

My blog template changed entirely, and entirely by accident. Oh well. I was considering changing the template. And at last, it happened, because I clicked something weird. I feel a bit odd about that. Perhaps there's a life lesson to be found here.

"Why bother?" Why ask?

Terry Teachout writes a real hamdinger of a sad luck piece one the Wall Street Journal here. After noting that Tony Kushner doesn't make a living as a playwright, he goes on to say:

"The question all but asks itself: Why is anybody still writing plays? Theater, after all, is no longer a central part of the American cultural conversation, the way it was when Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams walked the earth. Nowadays most educated people would just as soon stay home and watch "Breaking Bad" as shell out a hundred bucks to see a Broadway play—assuming that there are any plays on Broadway worth seeing, which long ago ceased to be a safe bet.

So if you can't make any money writing for the stage, why bother? Putting aside the obvious attraction of being able to make up your own characters, I can think of one excellent reason: You meet the nicest people."

Honestly, I do like that I've met nice people, but as a playwright, that is not why I write plays. I also don't write plays because I really like sitting in the room and hearing the reactions (a luxury, apparently, that TV writers don't get?) I don't do it for applause, or to satisfy myself or feel the love of others. Frankly, the theater I like is usually a bit terrifying and difficult: the sort that makes people leave feeling unsettled, and not like they love you.

I write plays because they are the long-standing, traditional form of art that I've chosen for my medium. Does there need to be further explanation than that? Just because photographs exist, does that mean painters need to explain why they still paint? I do not concede that drama is no longer a part of the cultural conversation. Tony Kushner may not make thousands of dollars from Angels in America...but it's still Angels in America. It's value is immeasurable; it's a permanent part of the American canon. That's work of a value that is expressly disproportional to the amount that he is paid for it. He gets paid less than a baseball player. Fine. So do schoolteachers. Does anyone ask why teachers bother? 

Should poets stop writing poetry just because none of them is Robert Frost? Because the culture has changed? Are poets, in fact, just writing poems because poems are fun to write? No. They are important, and valuable, and necessary. Even the ones you've never heard of. Even the ones you've never read.

Theater is like any art. I honestly am amazed when people ask why it's made.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Tonight we open our three night run of in the great expanse of space there is nothing to see but More, More, More. I hope to see you there!

Tickets here.

On an ENTIRELY different note, I popped by the set of The Professionals, a Youtube series that features my good friend David DelGrosso, to shoot a scene alongside my pal Matt Trumbull. The episode is fun, for sure. My favorite thing is the outtakes. About halfway through this, you can see me and Matt Trumbull and Dave attempt to get through a take rather endlessly and unsuccessfully. It's fun, I think.

So...enjoy this (if you're interested to see how I basically look and sound, blog readers - even if I was looking a bit red-faced and sweaty).

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tickets now on sale for in the great expanse of space there is nothing to see but More, More, More

Tickets are now available for the three-night workshop production of in the great expanse of space there is nothing to see but More, More, More. Pick 'em up here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Weekly Updates? Perhaps!

I think I might try to formalize a "What's Up With Me" update on the blog weekly. Not sure if it would help anyone but me, but whatever. It's my blog.

- I've written and directed in the great expanse of space there is nothing to see but More, More, More. It's a three night workshop, at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Details on the Brick website. $10 tickets only. Come out and see it.

- My play The Metaphor will be included in an upcoming Smith & Kraus anthology Best Ten Minute Plays 2012.


Where To Buy My Plays

When Is A Clock
Glee Club
The Americans (Kindle) (Nook) (IndieTheaterNow)
The Death of King Arthur
The Great Escape (IndieTheaterNow)
The Most Wonderful Love (IndieTheaterNow)

Ah the French!

Having dinner and drinks with my buddy Dave last night, he reminded me that this is perhaps the finest of all YouTube videos, and one of the reasons the internet is a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Change the world!

In your own way.

Signature Theater announces it will stage new works by five resident playwrights

The Signature Theater Initiative will develop and stage new works by these writers, to help them establish themselves...

Annie Baker, Kenneth Lonergan, Katori Hall, Regina Taylor, and Will Eno.

Ahem. Let me rephrase. The Signature Theater will pay for and produce plays written by the successful and terrific playwrights known as...

Annie Baker, Kenneth Longergan, Katori Hall, Regina Taylor and Will Eno.

Congratulations to the winners of the NYIT Awards 2011

A lovely evening, highlighted by some really charming and impressive presenters.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Onion on poetry

The Onion in its fullest "blow your brains out this is so sad and funny" mode.

Access Theater

The Time Out NY description of the Access Theater makes me feel all legit and stuff.

NYIT Awards

Tonight is the 2011 NYIT Awards. I have never been nominated for one of these awards, because of, I believe, I have strange and scaly wings. It makes me repulsive and unpopular.

I did, though, write the presenter's text. So if Jay O. Sanders or David Henry Hwang says something stupid, it's really on me.

Friday, September 16, 2011

in the great expanse of space there is nothing to see but More, More, More

Where: The Brick
When: September 29th, 30th and October 1st
What: A staged workshop of this new play

Written and directed by Matthew Freeman
Music by Benjamin Warfield

Featuring Lindsey Carter, Maggie Cino, Stephanie Cox-Williams, Rebecca Davis, Alexis Sottile, Stephanie Willing, and Morgan Anne Zipf

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Pretty cool.

An interesting conversation evolving about theater blogs

Naval gazing? Sure. But isn't that fun? Read George Hunka's post here and also some thoughts about the evolving place of theater blogs in the comments section here.

This blog has been around for about six years. As I'm late to the Twitter world, I entirely missed how the conversation evolved into being centralized about #2amt and other more institutional conversations (heck, I'm not even on the www.2amtheatre.com blogroll!).

So...do you think blogs like this one (single playwrights or artists speaking for themselves) is a mere precursor to the wider conversation that's going on as a part of social networking? Are blogs being supplanted, or supplemented, or simply co-opted? Has the novelty worn off? Or do you just figure it blogs are just a part of the world now, and they're fun, and that's that?

This man is a true hero

How do you read this blog

I'm curious. How do you read this blog? Do you click through a link on Twitter? On Facebook? Do you use Google Reader? Do you actually go to the matthewfreeman.blogspot.com webpage?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Buy this book!

When you're clicking around on Amazon.com today, thinking about buying that book about locally sourced organic mushrooms that you can grow on the moist face of a recently weeping child...buy a copy of When Is A Clock.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 years

It's early evening on Sunday, September 11th, 2011. Ten years later. I've struggled to say something, but it hasn't felt right. I can't believe it's been ten years. I was in the city that day. I don't have much to contribute to the dialogue. That's about it.

I will only say that I have found it strange and perpetually challenging to share what was a profoundly local event with the nation and with national politics.

"9/11" and what happened in New York City on September 11th, 2001 are not, in fact, the same thing.

One is an idea, shorthand, a stand-in for a thousand fears and policies, for conjecture and  projection.

The other is a time, a date, that something terrible happened downtown. I remember the date, and how I felt, and who I talked to, and who I was with. That belongs only to me. I remember when New York City felt like. That belongs to us.

Friday, September 09, 2011

From Brandywine Distillery Fire

As I'm a playwright, and this is my blog, it's sometimes fun to just share some of my writing with you guys. Some text from "Brandywine Distillery Fire."


I realize this blog is called "On Theatre and Politics" and I've barely written substantively about politics in a very long time. Part of that is that it was just easier under Bush, as his presidency was a constant source of outrage. It's tougher under Obama. Partially, to be honest, because I've gotten more disappointed in my compatriots on the left than in Obama himself. I get bored and tired of listening to progressives essentially throw up their arms over and over again. What is so shocking? He ran as a moderate, and he's attempted to govern like one. If he's been less bold on some issues, and even been unable to make changes in places I wish he would, that's just how politics works. But in the end, I think he is an intelligent human being who is attempting to get the best results for the American people considering the political realities of the moment. 

I like that he resists (sometimes to a fault) the impulse to fight fire with fire. The GOP's tone is not something I'd like to see matched. I'd like to see it be treated as inexcusable.

That being said, I'd like to throw out this one thought. There are a few media mantras that often drive me up the wall. One of those is that an "election is a referendum on the incumbent." The idea here is that the American people do not actually care who the President is running against, they're voting, basically, almost entirely to send a message about whether or not they believe the current officeholder is doing well. They've vote against him, the idea is, if the economy is bad, and for him if it isn't, case closed.

Of course, the truth is Obama is no more or less the "incumbent" than are his Republican counterweights. No matter how the House Republicans cast themselves as in favor of less government, it's clear that by setting the agenda and appearing as a bunch of older white men on the evening news in bulk...that they are the government. The face of exactly what exasperates the American people. If any Republican candidate stands beside them, I can't imagine he or she won't be treated as an "incumbent" in the eyes of the American people, if by incumbent what we really mean is "who we believe is currently managing things."

Thursday, September 08, 2011


I love this goddamn website, even if it is sooooo last year.

Monologues Tailored For You

I was poking around online, found Bekah Brunstetter's blog (which is primarily fun and personal) and also found this.She'll write you a personalized monologue for a small fee.

Now, this seems like something a lot of actors would be interested in, and also something other playwrights should be considering. How many bookfuls of short plays have been sold to actors as "Those auditions pieces you haven't heard or tried yet!" Why not just go straight to the source?

Anyway, thought it was worth a link. What do you think? Sounds like a great idea? Or no?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Notes added to "The Americans"

For those interested, I've added personal notes about the text of The Americans to its page on the Indie Theater Now site. Enjoy.

New plays available - The Great Escape and The Most Wonderful Love

Two of my plays, The Great Escape and The Most Wonderful Love, are now available as a part of the Indie Theater Now digital library. These plays, first produced in 2004 and 2006 respectively are two that I've always been extremely proud of, and they were well-received during their original runs. The New York Times was especially effusive about The Most Wonderful Love. From the review:

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

James Comtois: "Full Stop"

It's really not my place to tell the story, so I recommend you hear the most recent true-life tale from playwright James Comtois himself. Most of you that follow the theatrical blogsphere have read his posts, read his plays, seen his plays, and gotten to know him and his company Nosedive. I'm glad he's okay, but yeah, everyone take care of yourselves.

Read about it here. Leave him good thoughts.

Directing one's own work

Tonight begins rehearsals for the workshop of in the great expanse of space there is nothing to see but More, More, More. I'm directing myself, which I'm excited about, but it's also a position I usually sidestep. I've consistently with directors and partners for years, mostly because it's incredibly helpful, and also because I'm wary of directing one's own work on principle. The lack of perspective is, by it's nature, a hindrance. Perhaps. Maybe familiarity is a good thing in this case.

Any advice from experienced directors or playwright-directors out there?

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Incubator Arts Project's blog goes live

The Incubator Arts Project (who played host to Brandywine Distillery Fire last year) have launched a blog. Looking forward to reading it diligently! Add to your readers/feeds etc!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

9/11 Collection on Indie Theater Now featuring The Americans

Indie Theater Now is a website which allows theater lovers access to the best plays of the New York City Indie Theater scene over the past decade or so. It launched just last month, and now has expanded with the 9/11 Collection, a collection of plays written on that theme, to commemorate the 10 year anniversary.

You can check out the entire collection here. Among the playwrights represented are Julia Lee Barclay, Leslie Bramm, Richard Hinojosa, Kelly McAllister. It also includes my play The Americans.

I'd love to know if you're using Indie Theater Now, and how it's working for you. If not, why not?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

next up: a workshop at the Brick Theater

Those lovely guys at The Brick have given me some time in their house to workshop a new script. The play (which I've mentioned in this space before) is called in the great expanse of space there is nothing to see but More, More, More. Much like Exposition or Denouement two years ago, this production will have a three night performance schedule, September 29th, 30th and October 1st.

The cast is a terrific group of actors: Lindsey Carter, Maggie Cino, Stephanie Cox-Williams, Rebecca Davis, Alexis Sottile, Stephanie Willing and Morgan Anne Zipf.

Also, I will be directing the project myself! Shudder!

More details to come. The piece is extremely musical and architectural; I certainly look forward to hearing responses.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cookie Monster is Tom Waits

Yeah, I'm the last person to link to this. Whatever. It's the best thing ever ever ever made and it might as well justify the internet by itself.

On Wasserstein's Secrecy

I think you'll enjoy this essay in the Sunday Times about the secrecy of Wendy Wasserstein. Yes, you.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mike Daisey announces 24 hour monologue

So...is this brave? Brilliant? Has he lost it? Is it a wait and must-see? Speak on't, blogosphere.

Me, personally, I'm all for it. There will be meals. It's something new under the sun, and may God bless the new. I also love when performers mess with what our idea of the "right amount of time" is. Plays have gotten shorter and shorter. 90 minutes. 65 minutes. As if to say "don't mind us, we're not here to bother you." This is quite the middle-finger to that impulse.

His announcement below...



Created and Performed by Mike Daisey
Directed by Jean-Michele Gregory

Saturday, September 17th at 6pm until
Sunday, September 18th at 6pm

Tickets and details:

For years Mike Daisey has been working on an insane project: a live, 24-hour monologue on the scale of War and Peace and The Iliad. Unbelievably, this dream will at last be realized as the finale of this year's T:BA Festival. Conceived as an epic story that shatters the framework of the theater, All the Hours in the Day spans the globe, weaving together stories from every time zone into an electric road movie for our time. In this marathon event, Daisey uses his skills in the largest story of his life, melding fact and fiction, and subverting and delighting audiences in an effort to find the still-beating heart of humanity here at the dawn of our corporate age. Combining song, dioramas, pageantry, surprise guests, unexpected developments, devastating reversals, and the keen possibility of failure, Daisey will strive like Scheherazade to create a universe with a daring and fearless audience. Join us in an impossible pursuit.

Called "the master storyteller- one of the finest solo performers of his generation" by The New York Times, Mike Daisey is the preeminent master of the monologue form today. He is also an author, playwright, citizen, raconteur, professional dilettante, and working artist.

Audiences are encouraged to stay for the entire performance. There will be regularly scheduled meal breaks with food and drink available for purchase on site for the duration of the performance. Outside food and beverage are permitted (excluding alcohol). Do not worry. We will take care of you. It will be an adventure.

"What distinguishes him from most solo performers is how elegantly he blends personal stories, historical digressions and philosophical ruminations. He has the curiosity of a highly literate dilettante and a preoccupation with alternative histories, secrets large and small, and the fuzzy line where truth and fiction blur." - The New York Times

* * *


Pam and I took in Jerusalem on Saturday, which is absolutely brilliant (no news there). So many of the recommendations to see the show were based on the performance of Mark Rylance, who is of course phenomenal - brutal, precise, mythic, untrustworthy, tragic, bold.

What I was unprepared for, perhaps because the performances were so highlighted to me, is just how wonderful the play is. Jez Butterworth's play made me joyfully envious at every turn. It's positively abundant with terrific writing, rich symbols, and guts. I mean hell, the play combines Falstaff and Oberon and Lear in the form of a man who has all the cocaine in the forest. I enjoyed, also, how it's jagged, inexplicable edges become a part of what's exhilarating. It's not symmetrical, not careful, and it's built more on momentum and heartiness than being user-friendly.

In short: I loved it. Go see it while you still can. And thank an English tax payer, next time you meet one.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Jason Zinoman does quite right by the Amoralists in this review. Not only announcing Sarah Lemp to the world, but also calling out those that disapprove about the company's signature style.

"Mr. Ahonen, the Amoralists’ leader, who also directs, has a showman’s sensibility. Some critics take issue with his knock-about melodramatic flourishes, but grumbling about the shouting in his shows is like going to a musical and complaining that the actors broke into song. Like it or not, that’s his style. Even at their most over the top, Mr. Ahonen’s plays are notably earnest, especially in this work, which ponders a subject that resists ironic distance: sex. "Link

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity on IWantWrestling.com

Boy is this totally awesome. Go Lagana and go Kristoffer Diaz. See? Theater and wrestling come together and form AwesomeVoltron.

Is it okay to boo, too?

Since we've decided that the indefensible is now debatable ("Do we torture?" "Do we not pay our bills if we're the US government?" "Is it okay to audibly show live human actors we don't like them in public?" "Is Roe v. Wade settled law?") I think we should open up all sorts of other questions to debate. Why should anything be settled in a world of free speech? Let's not take anything for granted. I offer up these questions for your future blog posts or filler pieces...

Is it okay to punch someone if they are not killed by the punch?

Is it okay to go see a movie you didn't like, for a second time?

Is it okay to raise children to be assholes, even if it wasn't on purpose?

Is it okay to stand up and start giving lines to a play you have memorized, from the audience, just to help out?

Is it okay to buy DVDs even if you have On Demand?

When you watch a play, is it okay to walk out in a huff, and then come back and say "I'm walking out!" and then walk out again, just to make sure no one thought you were just going to take a call or something?

Is it okay to stand up and clap as if a play is over when it's really obviously not over?

Will it offend an actor if he or she is slapped while eating?

If a playwright is present at a rehearsal, may he or she be used in status games, to illustration "low status?"

Should a person announce how they intend to use the toilet exactly, loudly, at dinner?

Should a person be allowed to have only one wife? Is that enough wives?

Is it totally okay to really hate yourself if you also hate your pet?

When a person breaks his arm, shouldn't his other arm be broken, in the interest of fairness?

Is it okay to buy a ticket, sit down, watch a play, go home, go to bed, and the next day, forget all about it?


Have fun!

Is it okay to boo?

Isaac talks about this, as it's been discussed all over the place for some reason.

Is it just a slow summer?

No, it's not okay to boo. It's just bad manners. Does that need more explanation? Perhaps an online survey?

Monday, August 08, 2011

Introducing Indie Theater Now

Martin and Rochelle Denton have taken yet another fantastic step forward in sharing the work of New York City's Off-Off Broadway (or "Indie") scene with the broadest possible audience. It's a truly exciting and innovative offering.

Indie Theater Now is a website that offers readers to sample and enjoy the full range of the drama being produced in New York City at the vibrant smaller stages all over the city. A range of playwrights are offered. Many of them have multiple works available, some for the first time. The collection includes production photos, playwright bios, a review from nytheatre.com, an excerpt of the script, and a synopsis.

In order to take advantage of the service, you must create an account. Then, you can add a play to your digital "library" for $1.29. If you'd like to add multiple plays to your online library, you can purchase at a bulk rate of 5, 10, or 25 plays (which is now discounted as an introductory offer).

In order to roll out the large number of works, they will be bundled into collections. The first of which is the timely FringeNYC Collection.

Plays can be sorted by genre, in this handy keyword list.

All in all, a remarkable offering and a great price.

Several things to love about this.

First of all, the playwrights will receive a percentage of all sales, much like other publishing houses might offer. Instead of this being simply a nice way to promote their works, they're being treated like the professionals that they are.

Second of all, it protects the playwrights digitally. These works are digitally locked and formatted, so illegal copying will be difficult at the very least.

Third, there are many plays here that cannot be found elsewhere. (My plays The Great Escape and The Most Wonderful Love, for example, were both critical successes and audience favorites, but have never been elsewhere. I'm excited that they'll soon be available in this way.)

Finally, it's a wonderful new model/smart hybrid. It's curated to be a more user friendly-experience than a database, it's digital, it offers royalties, it highlights exciting but perhaps relatively unknown works, and it moves the capture and celebration of the Off-Off scene into (yes) the 21st Century. I'm extremely proud to be a part of it, and I hope you'll use it, discuss it, and support it.

The miserable Fringe coverage

So what is there to make of the onslaught of coverage of the NY International Fringe Festival, that makes it sound like the worst way possible to spend your time? Try as we might to make light of it, the truth is, it's a rather brutal and consistent blow to the ethos of "Indie Theater." Like it or not, to many people, the Fringe Festival characterizes Indie Theater and Off-Off Broadway theater, summarizes it, and apparently, they don't love what they see.

There are definitely some great shows every year at the Fringe (I'm going to put up a post of recommendations soon). Then again, small theater loves to complain that it's unfairly characterized, even as individuals experiences seem to add up to "unsatisfactory" again and again. The brand of Off-Off Broadway has become one that's increasingly synonymous with an "aw shucks" "shoe-string budget" attitude that's about disposable gimmicks (Lisa Loeb: The Musical Tragedy!), wannabees for other mediums; or just plain mediocre writing and production values.

So...what can be done? Clearly, the quality control level of the Fringe, unfairly or no, is being called into question. There simply seems to be no desire to pull back on the number of shows, or rethink the model, even as the press treats it like the bastard step-child of NYC and other festivals (notably what's going on at the Brick) seem to have usurped their sense of being unique and thrilling.

What do you think of the NY International Fringe Festival? Are you excited about it every year? Or do you think something needs to change? I realize, honestly, that part of the Fringe model is its sheer size and that's what keeps it happening year in and year out. So I'm not suggesting they have to burn the thing down and start over. The coverage just seems to prevalent to ignore this time. What to do?

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Double Edge Promotional Video

Love this promo video for Double Edge Theatre. It does a terrific job of establishing the look and feel of the company, branding the theatre, differentiating it, and celebrating it. Take notes.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

2011 IT Awards Nominations Announced

2011 New York Innovative Theatre Award nominees were announced last night. Read the full list here.

Glee Club on sale through Playscripts

An excerpt from GLEE CLUB, available from Playscripts.


BEN. We’re the worst people on Earth.

MARK. You are. And the rest of you. I’m a bad father, but I don’t try to kill people.

STAN. I didn’t do anything.

MARK. You don’t factor in, Stan. But everyone else just proved they deserve hell.


PAUL. Let me just say…this reminds me of when I was a kid. My father had just put a trap together for mice. The trap was a glue trap, but he had these other attachments he made himself. When the mouse got stuck in the glue, it would immediately cut the paper into four equal slices. Usually the mouse too. Then he’d drown the pieces of the mouse, just to be sure.

MARK. How does this remind you of that?

PAUL. Sometimes, you can’t be sure unless you drown the mouse.


BEN. That means nothing.

Monday, August 01, 2011

An interview with Taylor Mac

Love this interview.

J: How did it used to work?
T: Well, with the Open Theater, they wouldn’t open until they were ready to open. They would keep rehearsing, keeping doing it, but it was a different time then, a different world. The realities were different, the finances were different. You didn’t have to carry the rental of a theater, everything was cheaper, everything was less lawyerized, legalized, so I think it was just a little easier. I mean, I don’t know I wasn’t living then, but for some reason they are not working in that way anymore. And I think that is just because of financial reasons.

MTV 30 Years Old

Oh No. Oh No.

Martha Quinn! Still really cute!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Of course the worst part of the debt ceiling agreement

...is that ideologues who are largely immune for the financial pain of their constituents held the national economy hostage so they could cut spending at precisely the time that we need to infuse the economy with cash and new jobs.

Basically, the argument goes: "If you want to avoid a monumental economic disaster, you must agree to compound our problems and more firmly commit to failed policies."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Party in the C.I.A. - Weird Al

"Weird Al" Yankovic's latest parody is, um, grim. And great. A Miley Cyrus parody with a waterboarding joke.


Okay maybe I spoke too soon...

Maybe there is a reason for playwrights to pack it in and quit and stop bothering. Thanks, Josh Conkel, for pointing out something terrible to me.

Why Zach Braff's All New People Is the Defining Play of a Generation

(Freeman dies.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Even Box Office Mojo has to battle the Palin Spin

Check out these two hilarious blog posts. One is Big Hollywood declaring Sarah Palin's 'Undefeated' a box-office success, by quoting Box Office Mojo (a site I frequent). The other is Box Office Mojo itself debunking that declaration, noting that the movie was, basically, a massive failure.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Arena Stage Stage Blog discusses its submissions policy...or lack thereof

You should read this frank, and frankly brave, blog post/essay by David Dower about Arena Stage's decision not to accept submissions.

(For those interested, I've written about this a bit previously in a slightly infamous blog post called "Let's All Just Pretend.")

Some key paragraphs:

"But, if you don't accept submissions anymore, how do we get our plays to you."

I left PlayPenn thinking about this unanswered question and wishing I'd had time to answer it. Here's the thing, Hal. Nothing's really changed about that, if you think about it. When the submission policy was open, writers and agents had the impression they were getting their plays to me by putting them in the mail (or, increasingly, e-mail) addressed to me. Or to our Artistic Director. But they weren't. They were getting plays to a corps of non-staff readers with no real avenue to impact planning decisions. Only a handful of organizations with open submission policies can say the artistic staff reads everything that comes in. And most of those that can are either play development centers or small producing theaters.

So, the plays I read come to me from a variety of sources and each time via an invitation from me or Molly with a commitment to read them. Arena Stage puts a huge amount of effort into attending new play festivals and labs. And we maintain close relationships with the artistic staff of most of them-- these people will often lobby us to take a look at a play they've worked on that they feel is a match for our interests. There's one play in the season this year that came that way- via a "heads up" from a development lab. Arena also puts resources into commissions and more often than not we wind up producing the play that results. There's a play on the season this year that came through a commission. We attend productions of new plays at theaters around the country. There's an Arena production moving to Broadway this season of a play that came that way, and another on stage here this coming season. Last year we hosted more than 100 writers in conversations at Arena, and through those relationships dozens of plays were read by staff here.

Embedded in Hal's question is the real question underneath so many interactions I have with emerging playwrights. "How do we get a production at Arena if we're not known to you already and you won't read our plays when we send them?"

The answer to that one is by being in motion in the world as a playwright. If you're participating in development labs and conferences, if your plays are somewhere in production, if you're engaged in the #newplay dialogue that is taking place online-- where all of Arena's Artistic Development staff is "hiding in plain sight" and actively participating as well-- you have a much better chance of coming to our attention than if you are mailing a script to a theater that assigns it to a non-staff reader."

So, this is honest and undoubtedly true. It's also, perhaps, the only way it can work given that only human beings can figure this stuff out, and there just aren't that many of them to go around. It also, of course, does answer the question of "Okay why say you have an open submission policy when you don't?" The answer: "Fine, we don't." Not exactly encouraging, but honest.

I'm sure that the institutions we're talking about share in the artists' frustrations that the system described above does not embed merit (whatever that means to you) in its bones. Visibility, free-time, enthusiasm, access, audience-interest, freshness, the topical nature of one's work... those things are heavily weighted in one's favor. Maybe that's the only thing that can work. Maybe that's just what does work. I don't envy the sheepish, shy, technologically challenged introvert that is trying to get his or her play seen.

Frankly, as a playwright, I've started to take these sorts of things in stride as best I can. We all know that the intention of these theaters is to get the best work they can on their stages, and that they do, in fact, want to find your hidden gem. It's hard to do. It's hard for writers to have their gems uncovered. So it goes.

Everyone just keep trying, try harder, try until you get it right.

Friday, July 22, 2011

It's as simple as that

"What can you say 'yes' to?"

Silent New York on July 28th, 29th and 30th

My next "play" runs this coming weekend, only three nights. Don't miss it.

SILENT NEW YORK will occur on July 28th, 29th and 30th at the Access Theater (380 Broadway, at Broadway and White Streets below Canal). It's produced by Blue Coyote Theater Group in association with the Access Theater. I'm certainly hope you'll chose to join us. It's a unique experience and will certainly spark some conversation. The evening is only one hour in length. Suggested donation $10.


Silent New York is an event that presents real people, without words, in a theatrical space. Five individuals, after a brief introduction by a formal presenter, sit on the stage and are observed by an audience.

Beyond just the experiment of form, Silent New York offers the audience (and the individual) a moment that gives them permission to think only of the one individual they are observing and the wealth of unnoticed information that even ten minutes can provide.

Created by Matthew Freeman

Access Theater
380 Broadway @ White St., 4th Fl.
July 28-30, 8pm
Suggested Donation $10

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How To Quit Being A Playwright

It occurs to me that you, as a theater-person-type, the type of person that reads blogs like mine, read all sorts of heartfelt words of encouragement about how to ignore your wallet, ignore the oncoming Singularity which will merge our brains with the brains of Apple Computers so we all become a big synthetic mass experience hub-bubble, ignore your parents, ignore, ignore, ignore. You are told to think about your art, and your muse, and the pleasure of staring blankly at a screen that is definitely not staring back at you. You are told to find the solace in solitude, to pronounce your desire to write for the stage a higher calling, to think of yourself as both a community servant and rare individual voice. You are told to think beyond and above the market, to love the smell of ink and typewriters, to buy books at places that are squalid and dusty, to believe in the power of what's LIVE about the stage.

But what if you think that is all hogwash? What if you suspect that you could do a lot of things and all this moralizing just is starting to make you sick? What if you want to quit already, and do something else, or just do nothing and fuck anyone else who thinks that's a bad way to live? Here's how.

1. Just don't tell anyone. Honestly, people like me are complete pricks about people deciding to quit the theater. It casts a poor reflection on us. So leave us out of it. Don't say "That's it, I've had it!" and write a manifesto about it. It will cause impoverished bohemians and trust fund babies alike to all judge you the same way: as someone who doesn't really care like they do. Who cares? If they want to carry on being lunatics, that's their problem.

2. Get a really nice TV. Seriously, these days, TVs are like totally goddamned amazing. Get rid of that one you've had since college and go nuts. You'll see the folly of a life in the theater at last.

3. Be really good at your job. Could you be really good at your job? I mean, the one that pays you? Is it really that hard to be good at it? Honestly. Try it.

4. Go see a play and silently imagine you don't have to bother doing that sort of thing. What a terrific pain in the ass it is to do that sort of thing. Just move on. You could be playing golf. Have you considered that? Lots of people play golf. People your age.

5. Write a list of your favorite books, albums, movies and plays. Compare those lists. Depressing? Not if you quit. If you quit, you can just stop trying to come up with a list of favorite plays.

6. David Mamet is totally a weird conservative now. He calls NPR "National Palestinian Radio." How did that happen? Do you want to wind up crazy like that? Get out while you can. If someone asks you why you don't want to do it anymore, show them that thing he wrote in the Village Voice.

7. Read Outrageous Fortune. Which basically could be renamed "Honestly, Don't Bother." The system is rigged. They don't want you. They think there are too many plays. They think your career is just adding to their problems.

8. Think about the Coffee Shop Job. At that job at a coffee shop you had, did you actually make more people happy and make more money than you have in your entire life as a playwright? Think about that. Why did you quit that job?

9. Turn in your Badge. You know that badge you got when you graduated from college that you have to show at all the secret artist meetings? The one that you keep in your wallet? You have to mail that in.

10. Get over it. You're not a playwright because you 'love theatre.' You're a playwright because you either were looking for a place to get a date in high school or you have been expressing a childhood trauma publicly for too long. Listen: you're a grown up now. You're dating material. You might even be married. You no longer live with your parents. Whatever awful thing that made you this way is in the past. Writing plays never fixed it anyway. Try ice cream and a couple of cats.


I hope that helped. Be free.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fringe Festival Plugs

There are about 1,692 shows at the New York International Fringe Festival! We want to know what to go to see! So...in my comments section...plug your Fringe Festival show! I'll post your plugs in a live posting tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Americans available for Nook and Kindle

Don't forget to get your copy of The Americans on the Nook and/or the Kindle. Only $1.99.

Deleted Scenes from Great Works - ENDGAME

I'm a huge fan of DVDs and I'm sad to see that downloading and streaming will likely render them obsolete. The reason I love them is primarily that they come with a movie nerd's cornucopia of endless trivia, like Director's Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Outtakes and documentaries like "The stunts of Jurassic Park 3" or "Pre-Visualization of Avatar's Sex Sequences."

Of course, the best of these are the Deleted Scenes, which often offer insight into the editing process and show additional, often-fully produced footage from your favorite films.

Where, then, are the deleted scenes from today's great dramatists? We all know that these things were primarily banged out on typewriters and sent to a publishing house in a package wrapped in string! Don't we all want to know about that missing piece of American Buffalo? That part of Harold Pinter's Betrayal with that full scene of exposition that got cut out?

Well, never fear, dear friends. I, Matt Freeman, has taken it upon myself, with the help of Google and a library card, to find some of the Deleted Scenes from the Great Works of Drama. I will share them with you here.

My first discovery was a scene from Samuel Beckett's Endgame. It features a character named Conseil (French for Board), who enters just after Clov's final monologue and before Hamm's final speech.

You can see pretty quickly why the character was removed, but I have to say, I'll read anything Beckett, and I'm extremely proud to have found this.

(CONSIEL entre. Visage très blanc. Tient un football.)

CONSIEL. Arrêtez-le. Il y a un match de football dessus ailleurs, à travers la mer, oui il y a une mer, et nous pouvons obtenir à travers. Pour observer le match de football et l'éviter de penser à la lumière de effacement et à nos ancêtres. Le silence, écart, finissent vers le haut avec. Foul et une carte jaune. Vous devez voir le match de football cet après-midi au lieu du tout ceci. Au lieu du tout ceci que vous n'appréciez pas. Qui sont ces hommes, qui sont ces hommes, qui marchent et reposent et ne jouent jamais au football, ne savent pas les plaisirs d'un but, pour ne jamais avoir un coup-de-pied libre parce que leur tibia a été meurtri ? , Oui, non meurtri meurtri, il continue, fonctionnement, attaquant. L'arbitre ne mérite aucun meilleur destin que pour être dans une poésie. Vous avez pleuré pour le but, il vient, joue maintenant au football dans l'obscurité.


Amazing. Scholars, I take personal checks.

Monday, July 18, 2011

How to Stay a NY Playwright / Day Jobs

Thought I'd link to this lovely essay by Barbara Hammond.

"Re-claim the open road of an empty page and a sharp pencil. Know that if you have a dollar you can get a pencil and a notebook and begin to create. Strive for, but don't require, a beautiful view, quiet hours, a room of one's own. It has been done without any of those things in place. Prisons, deserts, hidden attics. It has been done on the surface of many an imagination."

The essay talks a fair amount about frugality, about cutting costs and embracing a spartan life. I was talking to a friend about being 35 and meeting, regularly, lately a crop of people in their mid-twenties who talk about how nearing 30 makes them feel. These people always seem extremely defensive about taking paid work, or concerned about what it means that they have to. Not that I'm very old, far from it, but I'm in that odd space where many of your friends have either moved out, re-assessed, or achieved some sort of grand success. Being impoverished, though, loses its luster and romance for everyone.

For me, what can I say? I work in an office. I've worked in offices since 1999. Temp work, permanent work. Currently, I actually have an office that overlooks the Governor's Island. I have a tie. I have business cards. I have a company Blackberry. I'm fine with it. In fact, I like where I work - they do good things here. I strive for success as a playwright, whatever that may mean. I'm undaunted by setbacks, I have publications and reviews, I feel like I have the respect of my peers. I aim for bigger stages, think big, believe in my talent and the importance of perseverance. I don't see myself wearing a tie forever, and I won't lie, there are mornings I wake up and look in the mirror and go "Again? Really?"

Then again, I've lived on next-to-nothing and let me tell you: it's fairly uninspiring. I didn't find it freeing and fun. I found it to be a constant weight on my mind and chest. I borrowed money. I stared into space, thinking about how I was going to eat and pay rent. I slept on couches. I got by. I don't think to myself "That was fun. Can't wait to do that again."

No one who currently writes for the stage created the system in which they reside. None of us have the power to create a national arts culture that pays theater artists what we're worth on our own; none of us believe that private subsidies, expensive tickets, TV stars on stage, and Disney are doing us all any good. The cash is elsewhere. When Annie Baker got her Isherwood review that announced her as a major talent, we all knew she'd be writing for television shortly, and I'm sure she is. Where are where we are. Tony Kushner makes his living writing screenplays.

I don't really want to write screenplays. I might give it a go here and there. I want to write plays, in New York, where my family and friends are, where my wife and I live, where my friend's children play underfoot, where we have great restaurants, where they show all the movies, where I've made my life. And so, I go to work. I don't really feel like a bad artist because I go to work. I feel like an artist that lives in the United States, and this country thinks art grows in trees, and should be delivered to them via Whispernet. It is what it is. I do what I have to do.

Maybe what I'm writing seems a little self-justifying and defensive. It's not intended to be. I'm sure there are plenty of other playwrights and actors and directors who feel this way, and often feel a mild sting when it's implied that day jobs are a sort of poisonous compromise. It's more poisonous to create rules for ourselves that make it harder to live an already hard life, I think.

I guess, in short, I think being an artist and making a living are just different things.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Summer & Eve: Bong Song

Recommended by man-I-have-a-man-crush-on Darin DePaul. Gotta love and admire the Bong Song.

Friday, July 15, 2011

New Playscripts Blog

Play publisher Playscripts, Inc. has started a new blog, which I'm excited to follow. Definitely add it to your feeds of various sizes and shapes. Check it out here.

Playscripts currently publishes three of my plays: