|Artist INC OKC facilitator Robert Matson with Kansas City facilitator Larry Thomas|
Robert Matson is a local playwright, actor and director who will serve as a Peer Facilitator for the Artist INC program in Oklahoma City in fall 2013. His writing credits include Drama Queens, Playground and the touring program, Oklahoma! Interactive. Robert earned his Bachelor’s degree in Theatre from Northern Michigan University and his Master’s in Acting from Oklahoma City University.
Erin Shaw: What is an important piece of your artistic philosophy, something that you feel is necessary to you and your particular art practice?
Robert Matson: Originality and diversity
ES: Describe a pivotal experience, conversation or happening within your career.
RM: Establishing my production company, Robert JM Productions, as a part of the Oklahoma theatre community.
ES: What do you feel is your unique contribution to the OKC arts community?
RM: My plays feature a LGBT storyline or character or is LGBT-themed.
ES: When did you first realize you were an artist or were going to be an artist?
Were there any circumstances that were vital to this?
RM: It wasn’t until I was in college that I realized I wanted to be in theatre. I took an acting class to help me with public speaking and I just fell in love with it. Once I did my first show I was hooked and I knew that this is where I wanted to be artistically and professionally. I always wrote as a child so the more I learned about theatre the more I wanted to write my own plays with my own vision and words.
ES: What is one piece of advice you would give a young artist as they begin their career?
RM: Learn everything in the theatre business and treat everyone with respect.
ES: How have you resolved the tension or relationship between making art and making money?
RM: I am still trying to balance art and money but it's always about the little sacrifices one must make to keep life going. The one thing that I make sure is balanced is paying my bills, on time. It may scrap me down to pennies and dimes but it helps to strengthen my relationship with those businesses and organizations which could lead to major support or sponsorship of my work down the line.
ES: Talk a little about how you have used your work for social change.
RM: One thing I do with my plays is to donate a portion of my ticket sales to a charitable organization or educational institution. I feel it's very important to give back to your community.
ES: Describe unique aspects of your artistic practice and how you have been able to make a life making art.
RM: I'm a playwright who writes for the LGBT community. I consider myself an advocate for my community, not through politics or protests but through my words. Give me a subject and I will write it up in a twisted gay way. My plays are economical for theatre-goers and since they are my own, I don't have to worry about royalty payments or giving a profit of my ticket sales to a publishing company.
I have always learned if there is a space then there's a place for theatre.
Guest writer Erin Shaw profiles some of the Artist INC facilitators to explore their artistic practices. Oklahoma artists of all disciplines may apply until June 14, 2013 for the Artist INC program held in Oklahoma City this fall. See www.ArtistSurvivalKit.org for more information and the application.