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I Write Stuff...


I Write Stuff...


A bit about me, from an interview with Kenneth Jones...

... O’Brien (whose first name is pronounced “Matty”)  grew up in upstate New York, just outside of Albany. “I was fortunate enough to have a bunch of great regional theatre companies around me — The New York State Theatre Institute, Capital Rep, Park Playhouse, The Young Actors Guild,” O’Brien told me. “My parents regularly took my sisters and I to see plays and musicals. The first one I remember seeing was a production of Peter Pan, when I was in first grade; I distinctly remember thinking: ‘I want to do that.’ Even at that early age, to me, the theatre was this magical place where the rules of the outside world did not apply — people sang and danced and, if you believed strongly enough, you could even fly.” 

How does O’Brien approach readings of his plays?

He explained, “As a playwright, you spend so much time in your room, alone, creating these characters and stories — this little collection of words on a page — very two dimensional. You’re never certain whether it’s good or bad — or even if it makes sense. Then comes the moment, like this week at TACT, when you hand them over to a director and a group of actors and pray for the best.”

He continued, “You sit in the back of the room with your draft of the script, a gallon of coffee, and a laptop; and you listen and you wait — overanalyzing every sentence, every word. And you think, ‘Why do I put myself through this?!’

“I was doing just that the other day, while David Alpert and Alice Ripley were exploring one of the monologues I’d written for the character of Colleen. They went back and forth, discussing it for a bit, then Alice began to deliver it. Suddenly, I was that little kid again, back watching Peter Pan fly for the first time. It was magic — there was a little glimpse of magic there. It’s those moments, when all your neuroses and insecurities subside for a moment or two, as you hear your work come back at you through the prism of a great performer, and you think, ‘I had a part in that — I had a part in making that magic.’ There’s nothing like it.  Then you turn the page and realize scene three needs a rewrite.”  


The Stuff I Write...

The Stuff I Write...

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An Excerpt from The Wonderful Mr. & Mrs. O'Leary
Scene 1:

(Patrick, ten years old, sits on the stoop reading a book. Ellie, twelve years old, enters carrying a glass jar with a beetle in it.)
Patrick: What's that?
Ellie: A June-bug.
Patrick: You better punch some holes in the lid.
Ellie: I was trying to catch fireflies but I haven't seen none. Have you?
Patrick: I think they're all dead mostly now.
(The sounds of sex are heard, wafting out of one of the windows of the house. Neither Patrick nor Ellie acknowledge the noise. Ellie watches her beetle while Patrick continues to read. After several moments, the sounds from inside stop.)
Ellie: When did she get home?
Patrick: Half a hour ago or so.
Ellie: He come with her?
Patrick: Yup.
Ellie: Drunk?
Patrick: Shit-faced.
Ellie: Help me?
(Using a set of keys and a nearby stone, Patrick helps Ellie punch a couple small holes in the top of the jar. Patrick goes back to reading his book. Ellie watches her beetle.)
Patrick: They already done it.
Ellie: I heard.
Patrick: Twice. Once before. Before you got here. Sounded like she was faking mainly.
Ellie: You can't tell that.
Patrick: Sure I can. She was like: "Oh, God!" "Oh, Lord!" "Oh, Jesus!"
Ellie: So?
Patrick: Whenever she's faking she talks all religious. If it sounds like Sunday - she's faking.
Ellie: You're stupid.
Patrick: Do you think he's gonna ask her to marry him?
Ellie: No.
Patrick: Why not?
Ellie: Why would he?
Patrick: Don't know. I was just thinking, that's all.
Ellie: Do you want them to get married?
Patrick: Would we have to change our names?
Ellie: What does that have to do with anything?
Patrick: His last name's Fitzpatrick.
Ellie: So?
Patrick: So, I'd be Patrick Fitzpatrick.
Ellie: So?
Patrick: Sounds retarded.
Ellie: Then it'll suit you perfect.
Patrick: I wouldn't want to change my name. That's all.
Ellie: I don't think she should marry him.
Patrick: I'd like to have a dad.
Ellie: You have a dad. Somewhere. We both do.
Patrick: Think he's the same dad?
Ellie: I doubt it.
Patrick: Ethan seems alright. He washes his hands regularly, drinks Dr. Pepper, and I've seen him read the paper at least twice.
Ellie: What's that got to do with anything?
Patrick: Don't know. He just seems sort of regular, you know? I like that. I'd like to have a cop for a dad.
Ellie: He's a security guard.
Patrick: Same thing.
Ellie: Is not. Security guards are only like half cops. They don't even get a gun.
Patrick: Bullshit.
Ellie: It's not bullshit. It's true. They're like pussy-cops. The security guard at school doesn't even get handcuffs or a taser or anything.
Patrick: How's he supposed to protect people then?
Ellie: Karate. I think? I think they have to learn like police karate. Or like self-defense karate or something like that. But that's it.
Patrick: Karate's cool, I guess.
Ellie: Yeah, I guess.
Patrick: It would be better to have a pussy-cop dad than no dad at all.
(Ellie turns her attention back to the beetle in the jar.)
Ellie: What do you think this bug is thinking right now?
Patrick: "Fuck me. I am so fucked."
Ellie: You think he even know he's trapped?
Patrick: Course he does.
Ellie: You think he's thinking he's gonna die in this bottle?
Patrick: Probably.
Ellie: I don't think he has a clue.




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Gilbert's Song (I Wanna Know You)

From Anne of Green Gables

I wanna know why the tide pulls away from the sand,
And why it comes back again.
I wanna know how the planets and stars stay aligned,
And how it all began.

I wanna learn why certain numbers can't be divided.
I wanna know what happens when atoms are collided.

There's so many thoughts and theories I could show you,
But the greatest quest or query is to know you...
I wanna know you.

I wanna know everything that you are,
Everything that you've been,
Everything you'll be.

I wanna learn every lash of your eye,
Every inch of your skin,
Each bended knee.

I wanna learn each cell,
And all the secrets that comprise you.
Oh, I'll study well until I memorize you.

There's so many thoughts and theories I could show you,
But my greatest quest or query is to know you...

I wanna know you
Like a book that I've read while I'm lying in bed
I will hold you,
Unfold you,
And all that you've said.

There is something in you I can't help but pursue -
Something I wish I knew.

I wanna know why the tide pulls away from the sand...
I wanna know how the planets and stars stay aligned...
I wanna know you.