Monday, July 31, 2006

How to Disappear Completely

"All things end badly, or else they wouldn't end."
- Tom Cruise's character from "Cocktail"

Festival closing party. How many times can something end? How many times can you say goodbye? And say it well?

Last night, Malice sailed off toward the Grey Havens...

What to say that hasn't been said? I didn't get to talk to everyone I wanted to talk to. I know I said some stupid things to the people I did talk to. (But saying something stupid isn't the same as being stupid... as mama always tole me...) I tried. I did all I could.

People who donated a grand to SPF this year are getting posters signed by us playwrights (as many of us as they could get), and so I briefly excused myself from the party to add my signature to 13 posters. I was well on my way to being plastered when I signed them, so some of them are HORRIDLY illegible. I drew a smiley face on two of them and a star on one of them. Overall, I was surprised at how clumsy my autograph was. I remember practicing my autograph skillz in high school, so you'd think I'd have a good one. But it's just hard to read. If you manage to see one of these posters, mine is the goofy sig on the bottom right corner.

I need to cool the fuck out this week. Take some more long walks and meditate. On the walk home from Theatre Row tonight, I thought to myself, "If I got hit by a car, how long would it take before anyone would notice that I'm gone?" What a lonely idea to torture myself with. I need to sift out some of this morbidity. Get it out of my head and into my work.

I don't want you to save yourself. I want you to stay with me.

When you want it
It goes away too fast
Times you hate it
Always seems to last

Just remember... when you think you're free
The crack inside your fucking heart is me

Lie to me,
Cry to me,
Give to me
(I would...)
Lie with me,
Die with me,
Give to me
(I would...)

Keep all your secrets wrapped in dead hair...
Always, keep all your secrets wrapped in dead hair... always...

I hope that we die holding hands... always...
Hope that we die holding hands...
Always hope that we die holding hands...

- Marilyn Manson, "The Speed of Pain"

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Wicked Little Town

Forgive me for I did not know
'cause I was just a boy
And you were so much more

Than any god could ever plan
More than a woman or a man
And now I understand
How much I took from you
That when everything starts breaking down
You take the pieces off the ground
And show this wicked town
Something beautiful and new

You think that luck has left you there
But maybe there's nothing
Up in the sky but air

And there's no mystical design
No cosmic lover preassigned
There's nothing you can find
That cannot be found
'cause, with all the changes you've been through
It seems the stranger's always you
Alone again in some new
Wicked little town

And if you've got no other choice
You know you can follow my voice
Through the dark turns and noise
Of this wicked little town

Oh, you're wicked... little town
Goodbye, wicked little town...

"Hedwig & the Angry Inch"

Friday, July 28, 2006

Heaven Help Us

Charlie Purpura. I knew him, Horatio. He was a teacher of mine at NYU. He co-taught my Screenwriting Master-Class. He wrote this movie I saw a million times as a kid. I was at Theatre Row last night and I had a talk with a writer named Rachel who's currently in the Dramatic Writing Program at Tisch, and she informed me that he died over a year ago!

University professors. You develop these temporary relationships with them and then you go off in your own ways. At least, that's been my experience. Even teachers who took special interest in your work. Once you're gone, you're gone.

Charlie was an old-school writer. Flippant and sarcastic. As small as the class was, he didn't really take notice of me till the second semester I had with him. He was a bit dismissive of all of us as snot-nosed kids who thought we could be writers... but he did come to value my perspective eventually. He wasn't the biggest fan of my writing, but he liked to hear what I had to say during the workshop process.

During graduation season, when it was all goodbyes, I remember he shook my hand with a sheepish (almost apologetic) smirk and just said,

"Hey, we had fun...!"

As if to imply, "No hard feelings..."

I liked Charlie. He could be a pain in the ass, but he was a good person once he got to know you. I don't know the circumstances of his death, but he was too young and it's a shame. I hope he had a good time.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

There Is Only One Matt Doyle

They grow up so quickly. Before you know it, they're blogging and setting up their own professional websites...

It seems that Theatre Director Tom Caruso's site is now live, as well. Aren't we all living in a better age of technology?

Nothing inordinately depressing to report today, aside from my usual state of mental and moral ill-being. I'll send out a press release if that gets better or worse as the day ages.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My Name is Malice

Got totally shut out of all the shows at Theatre Row last night. But it's all right. Had some nice chats with the SPF staffers. Some I'd never even met before.

Arielle Tepper Madover and Ian Madover actually came up to me and talked to me for a little bit. I'd sent Ari a heartfelt thank-you email the night before, and she thanked me for it, and they both talked about how much they enjoyed my show. I'd been trying to screw up the courage to thank her in person all month, so I was happy they approached me. Though, ultimately, I probably came across as the stuttering, insecure fool that I can be...

Last night, as the night before, I stayed at the party long after the crowd had dispersed. I have been feeling a bit self-conscious that I've been haunting that place so much more than any of the other writers. My "cool factor" expired two weeks ago, I fear. But I don't care. I talk to as many people as I can. Whoever wants to talk to me. It's against my introverted nature, but I'm forcing myself to remain in the scene.

I want people to feel my absence.

This year, man. I won't rest. While I was waiting for the shows to let out and for the party to start last night, I sat in the Theatre Row lounge and made notes on the redraft of my new play. It'll be an even tougher sell than BUTCHERHOUSE, but I've made peace with the fact that I've just got to get it properly written, and I'll put it out there, and I'll keep moving. I can write smaller plays. The next one is smaller. And I'll have that next one written out before the year's out. And I'll keep moving.

I am focused. I refuse to become a fucking footnote. I've got nothing going for me save for the fact that I can arrange words on a page. I am utterly alone. My life is a complete wreck that I'm rebuilding, brick by brick, into something new. Nobody can possibly understand what a desperate place I'm in. It makes me more dangerous. Because, in the end, I've got nothing to really care about in this world.

I reckon you can either read that as a suicide note or a death threat. Either way, I won't leave this world without making an impact. Take solace in that, Silent Readers.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Hats off to Peter Morris and his play "Marge". I adored his play.

I managed to see all the SPF plays this week. It was either sulk at home or see some free theater, so I saw a shitload of free theater this weekend.

And I was treated to some terrific, ambitious work. But I have to say, the one that spoke to me most crisply was Peter Morris's gem of a play. Sharp, hilarious, intelligent, economic. Honestly, as far as I'm concerned, a spotless fucking piece. Pitch perfectly staged and acted.

"Training Wisteria", "Spain" and "A Wive's Tale" all contained some remarkable wonders.

But Peter Morris's was the closest to what I aspire to create. If you haven't seen it, you've got to check it out wherever it goes up again.

I successfully crashed this week's opening night and closing night parties. Watch me do it again this week. It ain over till it's over. I'm exploiting this month for every last free drink it's worth...

Friday, July 21, 2006

One Horrible Thing After Another

But it's great tragedies that bring us together. They give us something horrible to share...
- from "Chinadoll Overdrive"

There's something positive in what I'm going through, I just know it. If I comb through the shattered, bloody wreckage, there is something positive in all of this. I can just feel it. Perhaps if I were a better person, I could find it. But I'm not a better person. Not right this minute. I am an open wound caked with glass.

Last night's "cold reading" served to reaffirm my fears of cold readings. It felt like a huge step backward for me. Certainly, it wasn't the worst that it could have been. People did respond. Those audiences are hip and generous enough to respond. But some of my text just doesn't lend itself well to cold readings. It's not all easy.

Behold how quickly infatuation matures into horror and disgust...
"Chinadoll Overdrive"

There were like NO Asian actors there, either. I needed two Asian-American men and one Asian-American woman for the excerpt. No fucking way. I managed to get one Asian-American woman (she looked half), and I recruited a friend who happened to come as one of the men. An older caucasian man played the other part. In hindsight, I should have just played that part last night. Other people read their own pieces, I could have done it. I could have pulled it off better. I understood how the text needed to work.

Okay, positives. I've got to be more realistic about the landscape of the world I'm entering. I'm stripping the ethnicities of the male characters in "Chinadoll Overdrive". It'll alter the meaning of it -- maybe significantly -- but the way it's written, it's not really about Asian-American identity at all. (Honestly, that doesn't interest me in the least.) The play's really about the relationships between men and women. Or more pointedly, the relationship of men to women. This should make it easier to cast in the future, and I'll do anything to give it a life beyond my head.

I knew this wouldn't be easy, but CHRIST. I want to focus on simpler plays. "They" talk about wanting to produce fresh, edgy work, but the reality is much more conservative and mundane. I'm inclined to put "Chinadoll Overdrive" aside for now and focus on my next play more. There's nothing fantastical about my next play. It takes place in a fucking office. I might be able to strip it down to three actors. Maybe four. Four sounds right. I don't want to be writing plays that might be popular after I'm dead.

I'm a good writer. I'm at least as good as the next one. I deserve to be working. I deserve to be a part of this community. I'm not cavalier about any of it. I work very hard. I appreciate the work that other people are doing. When I say that I'm "competitive", I don't mean to imply that I'm dismissive of other people's work. On the contrary, I admire and I'm fascinated by other people's work. I need to see what they're doing because I don't ever want to be covering the same ground. Ignorance slays me. I don't want someone to see something of mine and think, "This is a person who is ignorant of the landscape around him."

Fuck, I am sooo not having a good time. But it's work and it's a business. The business of putting up entertainment so that OTHER PEOPLE can have a good time. (Enjoying yourselves, are you???) There'll be time for fun. In the future. I hope.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Columbine Kind of Love

A teenager in "love" is the most dangerous type. My point, exactly!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Wind Proof

"Wind-proof" umbrellas are the biggest scam. Mine damn near twisted into a pretzel on the walk home from the theater last night.

Caught the talented Jim Knable's "SPAIN" last night. Really well done.

Weaseled my way into their opening night after-party. Had a really good conversation with Sam, who acts as the SPF industry liaison (though I don't know what his official title is called). It's a lot of work trying to launch a career. SPF is a good "square one". I'm just looking for the best way forward.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Still Life

In him -- now -- there was a stillness. Not the quiet one would expect to see in a vacuous person... but... a stillness. The sort of calm, cold solemnity you would expect to find in a place where a great tragedy... or series of tragedies... has occurred... or may be occurring just beneath the surface...

Monday, July 17, 2006

There Is Nothing Left to Do

"Earth to Malice: come in, Malice. Over."


"I repeat -- Earth to Malice: come in, Malice. Your run at SPF is over, it's time for you to return to the world you left behind. Do you copy?"



I've never had insomnia this bad. Do people die from insomnia? It's hard to sleep with all this self-contempt. I suppose I could get some honest writing done, but I'd much rather write this stupid blog entry.

I'm trying to find a peace with myself. People will like me or they won't like me. People will like my work or they won't like my work. There are a lot of factors involved that I've no control over. I can't win over everyone.

(Or, can I.....?)

Anna Chlumsky's mom found this blog. Hello to Anna Chlumsky's mom. It was good talking with you. I'm not sure what I said but I hope it wasn't stupid. I do know how to blather when given the opportunity.

I am so thankful my own mom doesn't surf the Internet.

So, who else is reading this blog?

I want to feel good about what I've accomplished, but I'm cruel to myself. I'm not being humble for the sake of seeming humble. I know I'm good. I know I can be so much better. The world does not suffer from a shortage of writers. Even good writers. So, why should anyone pay attention to my work?

I'd like to go away. Somewhere far, far away. Maybe a beach. Sink my toes into some fine, clean sand. Close my eyes and forget about the world for a while. All my self-doubt is killing me. I just need to turn off my head for while and exist. I care too much about things I can't control. I can get obsessed with the things I can't control.

My director asked me why I *blog*. The conversation shifted and I didn't get to answer him. I don't keep a private journal. I'm writer. I've been a writer forever, long before I started writing "scripts". I've never been good at keeping private journals because what's the point of writing something if there's no audience? When it suits me, I can imagine that no one is reading this blog, or I can imagine that a lot of people (well, a handful) are reading it. Regardless, it keeps me writing. It keeps me thinking about the flow of words on the page. There's an argument to be made that it's a waste of time and it detracts from "real writing", but it's good for me. I need to get these things out of my head.

And there you have it: another over-long entry that people will skim over. Aren't blogs grand? Use once and destroy! They're like toilet paper!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Why Not Smile?

You've been so sad...
It makes me worry...
Why not smile...?
You've been sad for a while...

- R.E.M.

Last night, it all came together. Opening night performance, even rough around the edges, it came together. The play came through. People responded. Like they didn't know what hit them. You could feel the surprise rippling through the audience. They had expectations coming in and they were not prepared...

I've been in the thick of the process of this production -- I've been involved with a lot of (smaller) shows before this -- but I still can't believe how this show arrived where it did last night.

I know it sounds like a cliché to say that this is a play I'd given up on before it got into this festival, but it's true. I'm still bitter about the reception of the reading I mounted of it ~2.5 years ago. I directed that reading myself because, at the time, I didn't know anyone else that I trusted enough to direct it. People dismissed the play based on that reading. I started to lose faith in the play based on that reading. But this production feels like more of a vindication because of how poorly that reading went.

It pays to have a brilliant creative team behind you. I've been DIY for too long.

I'm...... happy. I write that hesitatingly because if absolutely nothing changes for me after the run of this show, I will be very disappointed. Before SPF, I suffered the worst two years of my life. And I'll probably carry the scars of those two years with me for the rest of my days. But after everything I've been through, and after everything I've worked for, I think I deserve something good to happen in my life... it can't all be one horrible thing after another -- why would you keep reading...?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Right Where It Belongs

See the animal in his cage that you built,
Are you sure what side you're on?
Better not look him too closely in the eye,
Are you sure what side of the glass you are on?
See the safety of the life you have built,
Everything where it belongs
Feel the hollowness inside of your heart,
And it's all... right where it belongs

What if everything around you
Isn't quite as it seems?
What if all the world you think you know
Is an elaborate dream?
And if you look at your reflection,
Is it all you want to be?
What if you could look right through the cracks,
Would you find yourself...find yourself afraid to see?

What if all the world's inside of your head?
Just creations of your own
Your devils and your gods all the living and the dead
And you're really all alone

You can live in this illusion...
You can choose to believe...

You keep looking but you can't find the woods,
While you're hiding in the trees...

What if everything around you
Isn't quite as it seems?
What if all the world you used to know
Is an elaborate dream?
And if you look at your reflection,
Is it all you want to be?
What if you could look right through the cracks...
Would you find yourself... find yourself afraid to see...?

- Nine Inch Nails

This Is Really Happening

Rehearsals are over. Yesterday, we had a final run in the rehearsal room that I thought went really well. The show seems to move well. At a certain point in the run-through, it hit me: THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING. This play I wrote, nearly 3 years ago, is being put up. A full production. With this amazing cast. With this remarkable creative team. Led by my miracle-worker director.

I still can't believe it. That SPF would take a chance on such a bizarro play. I wrote it in a vaccum and now it's about to be thrust out into the world. And I won't be able to take it back.

This week. I can't even imagine this week. I know what we've been doing creatively, but I have no sense about how the public is going to receive it.

We've got two dress rehearsals with all the bells and whistles, and then we throw open the doors. And then there's nothing I can do except sit there and take it.

These are the times we pray to a god that doesn't exist...

Friday, July 07, 2006

Funny Cat Videos

In honor of SPF-sponsor Meow Mix, I'd like to share some cat videos I made.

Last year, a friend left me his cat to look after while he went away on a trip.

I thought it'd be funny to make a series of movies featuring his cat ("Bob").

Don't bother watching if you can't listen to the audio...

"The Devil in Mr. Bob"

"What About Bob?"

(Yes, that's my voice, sped up slightly.)

(Yes, I need a life.)

Thursday, July 06, 2006


The New Jersey Star-Ledger printed a little article about the Summer Play Festival this year. They interviewed Arielle Tepper for it, so it's not just a reprinting of a press release. They were originally going to shoot a photograph of all us playwrights, but they decided to "change the focus"...

The Mourning After

Oh, baby, I got so stupid last night. Opening night of the festival, free booze, free food. Put me in a situation where I'm nervous and haven't eaten, introduce booze, and watch the fucking fireworks. Hi, how are you? This is me.

I'm trying to remember what I said to everyone. I remember having individual conversations with people from my team. I remember having an exchange with Arielle Tepper. I remember bonding with my cast a bit -- which I've been dying to do because I've made a great effort not to say much during the rehearsal process. I like to have a good time, but this show means so much to me and I'm just trying not to get in anyone's way. Two weeks, man. If we had four weeks, I might let my hair down a bit in rehearsals, but with two weeks I just want to make sure it gets done.

Outside of rehearsals, though: wind me up and watch me go...

My jaw hurts this morning. Why the fuck is my jaw hurting?

Last night was the first night of the festival. My show didn't even open last night -- it opens next week. How in the hell am I gonna survive this month?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Thursdays@9: Chinadoll Overdrive

Hello, Silent Lurkers. Malice can't sleep so he's posting a fucking blog entry.

THE BUTCHERHOUSE CHRONICLES runs next week, but the fun-train doesn't stop there...

An excerpt from my new play CHINADOLL OVERDRIVE will be read at SPF's Thursdays@9 series.

SPF linked up with Naked Angels. It's a spontaneous, cold-reading series. Pieces are selected in advance and are cast on the spot.

The CHINADOLL OVERDRIVE excerpt will be read on Thursday, July 20th. It's free. It's cold.

As mentioned, I've actually finished my first draft of the play and am in the redrafting process. This excerpt has been read before -- in another venue, in another life -- but this should be more interesting. And I've done some tinkering with the contents of the excerpt.

Sometimes, I wish I could sleep like a regular person...

Saturday, July 01, 2006

"All Goodbyes Should Be Sudden"

I've just begun the process of redrafting my second play, CHINADOLL OVERDRIVE, yet the writing process of my third play -- ALL GOODBYES SHOULD BE SUDDEN -- officially begins today.

I need to write these plays out.

In the back of my head, I toy with ideas for other plays. Completing a BUTCHERHOUSE TRILOGY...


The first one takes place in the Spring, focusing on high school kids. The second would take place in the Summer, with college kids. The third, in the autumn, with post-grads. Different characters. Different ideas.

I wouldn't consider writing them unless the first one takes me somewhere. And even then, I would probably wait a while.

For now, it's CHINADOLL OVERDRIVE and ALL GOODBYES SHOULD BE SUDDEN. These are the plays I'll have ready this year. Because I've been dreaming too much. Nessun dorma. This year, no one sleeps.