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.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Could be a clue!

I love this clip from Psychoville so very much. Great series. If you haven't watched the League of Gentlemen or Psychoville, you really should.

WARNING: Really not okay for kids or, really, for work.

Sigils & Signs: Opening Reception

You should totally attend this art opening. Curated by the lovely and amazing Pam.

Ways to celebrate World Theatre Day

Today is World Theatre Day. Here are some traditional ways to celebrate, for those of you who have yet to participate.

1. The traditional "World Theatre Day" letter of apology to your parents
2. Perform that monologue you use for auditions during a staff meeting at your day job
3. Write a dystopian futuristic play for young people called World Theatre Day, where teenagers have to perform numbers from ancient musicals to avoid public execution.
4. Jazz hands all damn day.
5. Reverse "er" with "re" in evreything you write for the day.
6. Pick up smoking again. I mean, c'mon. You loved smoking.
7. Get drunk and start to talk in a British accent.
8. See a play that you've never heard of by someone you've never met in a little theater you've never been to before.
9. Buy a play by me. For World Theatre Day. It's a tradition.
10. Light your World Theatre Day candles that do not actually light and do not produce real smoke.

Democracy: A Theater Festival Process: A response

My good buddies at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg have, since 2004, put on a summer theater festival with a catchy theme and hook. Festival titles have included the inaugural Hell Festival, The Moral Values Festival. The Antidepressant Festival, The Pretentious Festival, Film Festival: A Theater Festival, and The Comic Book Festival. At their best, they have a ready-to-print press hook, and they have just enough edge to inspire some interesting work. I participated in three of these festivals (Pretentious, Antidepressant and the Too Soon Festival) and each time I was able to use the theme to create something new and fun.

This year, the Brick's theme is called Democracy, which they're subtitling "an experiment in civic curation." As opposed to a catchy thematic title, they've gone with something topical. Of course, the Brick doesn't like to be obvious. The original process for festival submissions looked something like this:

Submit your play
Submit a youtube video (Campaign Film)
50 signatures
Send a representative to a live debate
Your play will be offered up for an online vote. Winners of the vote will be included in the festival
When involved in the festival, you will be running for "president of the Brick" which is essentially an award of free open theater space in January.

You can read a bit about the process in their FAQ here.

Clearly, this was intended to be a parody of the traditional political process of running for office. The process has been largely simplified since then, I think the accommodate the realities of life in the Off-Off Broadway theater scene. Let's face it: it's hard to put this much time and effort into a process that then puts your show at the mercy of an online vote.

The question posed, of course, is whether or not we want work curated this way. I think my answer would categorically be "No." I don't think of pure Democracy has very good artistic taste. And before I'm called a snob, I'd like to refuse to compare festival curation to a vote for a political representative. Artists don't represent us, they speak to us.

I think the best comparison I can think of is ... going to a restaurant, maybe. When I go out to eat at a restaurant, I don't want to sit down and have the waiter tell me what ingredients they have, and ask me what I'd like, and how I'd like it cooked, and do I think they should add sauce? I want to see a menu with options, and the chef to have figured out what tastes good, and sure, I'd like a few choices, but largely, I'm trusting in the expertise and taste and talent of an artist. Someone I am paying to provide me with things I cannot make for myself, cannot think of on my own, and whose role is to think of my aesthetic experience and provide for it.

I'd love to hear about what others think about this. Maybe the idea of a festival curated by online vote appeals to some. Or they think that having tastemakers and curators in a top-down way is old-fashioned or snobbish.

I don't say this to criticize the Brick (just to be clear) because they're an intrepid band and amazing folks. I just felt very strongly opposed to an online vote, I think, and thought I'd say why. Love to hear thoughts.


Also, yes, I did send a script to the festival. Vote for it?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mike Daisey's statement and aftermath

I think this is about as careful and honest a mea culpa as one could hope for.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Words that do not all mean the same thing

Bias and opinion
Viewpoint and agenda
Journalism and storytelling
Lying and dramatization

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mike Daisey's new prologue

Posted on his website, the new prologue of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, in light of this episode of This American Life.

I think it's pretty stunning, considering the abuses of the truth that are rampant in our culture, that Mike Daisey gets this public a drubbing.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mike Daisey's statement about This American Life

Can be found here.

This is an extremely complicated issue, clearly. Painful even. I don't have good, strong, coherent thoughts about it. But I'll say a little something.

I hope we all remember that this monologue positively changed the American debate about our use of overseas labor by implicating ... well...people like me. It implicates the well-heeled people who are extremely outspoken about human rights in most instances...but love, love, love Apple and our iPhones and iPads. He posed us a question about what we are prepared to accept from companies we really love. And most of us weren't comfortable with the answer. He also did so right when Steve Jobs became the lionized symbol of entrepreneurship and the future. He did so with the dramatic tension that only a storyteller with his mastery of the form can create. He made us feel. That's a rare gift.

I remember listening to the episode of This American Life for the first time and thinking it would be a great case study for college classes: the difference between dramatic narrative and journalism. The first half of the episode is incredibly compelling, powerful, it makes you feel like something needs to happen. The second half, which is all journalism and questions in a purer form, seems less urgent somehow. It seems to put an interest in the details above emotions. As if, from the start, the producers were unsure how they felt about providing a compelling anti-Apple case. As if we are, in short, a little scared to accuse corporations of wrongdoing without an airtight, perfect case.

Narrative storytelling is not journalism. Still, it will be a hard case to make that what is presented as fact does not have any obligation to be honest. It's not an intuitive case for most people, that some things ARE journalism and some things that SOUND like journalism, are not.

Also, of course, there's the question of details. The devil is in them, I hear. Still, even if Mike Daisey's personal experience was not a perfect and direct match with the story he wrote - is anyone denying that the conditions for labor in China are up to snuff? Are equal to the rights we expect to have as Americans? Aren't we still receiving the cost benefit of the more lax rules found elsewhere that we would never accept for our own working class?

I hope Mike Daisey's reputation survives this and I hope This American Life take a good hard look at its policies.

And I hope we don't get more interested in a small scandal and lose sight of the big one.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Plug-o-matic - the also!

You should totally visit my website sometimes. Not this one. The other one.


Hey there!

Don't forget to buy a copy of When Is A Clock.

If you've read it or seen it, and feel like reviewing it on Amazon.com, that would be real peachy of you, internet-friend.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Friday, March 09, 2012

Donating in distant lands

My wife and I donated to Elizabeth Warren's campaign for Senate in Massachusetts. We're big fans of hers.

My day job is being a sort of fundraiser for a large non-profit that's often extremely politically active, so I get the opportunity to talk with people all over the country that actively think about their donations to politicians, why they make them, to whom they give, and what impact they hope to make.

It's only recently, therefore, that I've thought about the ethics of giving to candidates that are running in districts and states that are not my own. Certainly, if politics teaches us anything, it's that the makeup of the Senate (for example, who is the Senator from Nebraska) does impact me, here in New York City. With the filibuster rule making any legislation contingent on a Super Majority, if people like me want to see progressive legislation passed, we should be interested in what's happening all over the country.

Then again, isn't the whole point of our system that each elected official represents the constituency from his or her region? If I object to the principle that money = speech, should I use my own money to influence in other states? Who do not directly represent me? Not that I think my $50 has that much power over anyone's election, but...it's something that I've been thinking over lately.

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Changed the game?

In a recent New York Times article, Jay Roach, director of the movie adaptation of "Game Change" defended that the movie covers only the Republican half of the '08 ticket this way:

"To Mr. Roach, at least, it makes perfect sense. 'No one,' he said, 'changed the game more than Sarah Palin'." 

No one?

Not even the first African-American President?


Romney barely pulls off winning Ohio, and loses several states to Rick Santorum, thus losing the news cycle and extending the "narrative" that he is unable to sell himself to conservative voters.

I think the most interesting thing going on isn't which of these guys Republican voters are going to choose...it's that these are the choices they've come to. Two entirely uninspiring, career politicians who "look" the part rather than act the part. Santorum is a hardcore evangelical way out of the mainstream, and Romney is just not good at politics...he's a Biden-level gaffe machine. For voters who seem hell bent on getting a basically moderate president out of office, they're not exactly sending their best troops to the front lines.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


Working on a new solo piece, likely for the Brick's "DEMOCRACY" Festival this summer. Details to be unleashed on you, the public, when they're more settled and clear.

Trying to do an audio version of in the great expanse of space there is nothing to see but More, More, More. It lends itself to that, I think.

Have some feelers out to find a good home for a full production of That Old Soft Shoe which I think really should be staged before the November election. It's a good old fashioned Ionesco-y political play.

Also, my newest play, Why We Left Brooklyn (or The Dinner Party Play) has some intriguing prospects for production. Stay tuned, folks.

Monday, March 05, 2012

"Animal House"? What else?

 The 80s comedy Animal House is being developed for Broadway. 

To predict what Broadway will look like for the next ten years, all you need is a copy of TV Guide from 1987 and to peruse Box Office Mojo.


Have I really had this blog for almost eight years?

Blog quietly

You may think I haven't posted often lately, but in fact, I'm posting quietly and in really small type. It's easy to overlook.