Matthew Ethan Davis
“Astonishingly talented.” Austin Pendleton
My story as a playwright began when I was in fourth grade and my parents gave me a gift of a light blue typewriter. I couldn’t figure out why they gave it to me but I went up to my bedroom and wrote a eight page play about a couple, Jack and Judy getting married and then getting divorced. My parents, Jack and Judy, who were fighting over getting a divorce thought it was amazing and it somehow landed in the hands of my elementary school teacher. For some reason I could never fathom, the school had me and a girl go to all these classes and perform it, with all the maturity that only children of that age group have.
One day a friend asked me if I had any play that he and an actress could do for his theatre company to show them their talent. I told him he could use this silly play I wrote called Super Romantic!, actually a rewrite of my first play. The next day the phone rang, and it was the theatre company asking me to become a member of their Playwrights Unit. Me? A playwright? The thought had never even crossed my mind. Then they did a full production of that play as a curtain raiser for an Author Miller play. It was a little intimidating. Kind of like being the opening act for Elvis. Then something happened. Opening night, I was hiding backstage when I heard the audience all burst into an enormous laugh. And then another and another and another and it struck me that had caused all these people to laugh and in an instant, I was addicted to playwriting
Over the years I had many plays produced and received much love for them. I’ve had the good fortune to have one my play Vagabond optioned by The Farm ( we grow theatre) and was paid a decent amount of money. My play Falling Awake was nominated for Most Outstanding New Play by The Midtown International Theatre Festival, where several of my plays were produced along with my play Ticket to Eternity at the New York International Fringe Festival.
I went to NYU Tisch School of the Arts where I earned my BFA & MFA in Dramatic Writing, where I got to study with the brilliant Gordon Farrell, playwright of The Lifespan of a Fact and author of The Playwrights Vision, which I have read about forty times. I used notes for his class for the fifteen years I taught playwriting at Marymount Manhattan College. I was accepted into the The Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit stayed for 5 years. The very best part of that experience was starting my long term collaboration with director William Roudebush who is beyond devoted to my writing and to whom I will always have an infinite gratitude.
I admit I’m a little addicted to rewriting and cutting and will rewrite up until whatever director I’m working with demands that it’s too close to opening night to give the actors new scenes. They say the only way to get a playwright to stop rewriting is to take his computer away from him and I confess that seems to true with me, also. Writing is such a transcendent experience for me and seems to come from a Power much greater than myself.
However, once you get into production, for me, then it’s time to step back and let the vision of the director and the actors take over, often discovering that there is much more to my plays than I realized. I usually only attend rehearsals as long as I am still rewriting. After that, I prefer to let their communal vision take over and find out how what I wrote comes to life in the hands of other Artists.
And then it’s time to give it to the audiences and hopefully touch their hearts and souls.