Wednesday, October 17, 2007

In case anyone’s interested…

This week’s Style has a story on the “365 days/365 plays” production that’ll be at the Barksdale next week. Thanks to Mr. Maupin for chatting with me about the project – sounds very cool.

I’ve been holding off saying anything about Mary B’s post below, mostly because it’s been a busy day at work (more on that later) but also I wanted to see what kinds of comments it would generate. And, oh my, what a load of comments! My first reaction is of course envy: none of MY posts ever generated this much response!

I have many thoughts about the post and about the comments that it generated but mostly I’d like to stay above the fray, to the extent that such a thing is possible (though I will say that the “annoying love fest” characterization of this blog made me laugh out loud). I’d like to try to follow-up on something that her post made me ponder, something that might be best handled via a question to all you fervent comment-ers:

In the past, I have received flack – everything from a fair amount to a truckload – for even making what I considered a low-key, even-handed criticism of a production. One such piece of flack resulted in an email exchange that nearly ended one of the longest and best relationships I’ve had with someone in the theater community. Being married to someone who toiled on stage for years, I am always aware of the hours theater pros put in and their devotion to their craft and for that reason I shy away from the kind of “this SUCKS” criticism that I find in some writers’ work (and long-time readers of this annoying love fest will know to whom I am referring…).

However, my question is: how best is criticism communicated? How can I or Mary voice valid concerns about a production or a performance or a tendency we see in the local scene in a way that doesn’t get people up in arms? Is it just the nature of the beast – reviewers and reviewees just destined to despise each other underneath a veneer of civility? No matter how much a reviewer may love and support local theater (and I think both Mary and I fall into that category), we are not part of the local theater marketing department. How can we communicate honestly with our readers and also subtly (or not) try to get local theater companies to raise their games without stepping on toes? Discuss. (Or join the crowd and just add another comment on Mary’s post…)

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

People, in general, and by nature, seem to have a real problem with honesty. If a production is terrible, it's terrible - no questions asked. I have often seen something, and then questioned my own opinion of it - then I ask someone else "Did you see such and such a play last night", and they respond and echo the fact that they thought it was terrible as well - thus I end up being validated in my notion that it's terrible. Luckily 90% of the productions in Richmond are of excellent quality, and we don't have to worry about it. HOWEVER, as I firmly believe, a review is ONE PERSON'S OPINION. It is not the be-all, and end-all of the world that should make or break a show. But we, as a society, have a hard time making decisions for ourselves. We fear making the wrong choices or saying/doing the wrong thing - so we wait for others to jump first, and then we follow suit. If you don't like a production, you don't like a production. If you love something, you love something. If you have mixed feelings, you have mixed feelings. I may often disagree with a reviewer, but I do not condemn them for their opinion, as it is nothing more than that - an opinion.

We are afraid of hearing/seeing truth because we are afraid of what it brings up within ourselves. So be open to truth, be open to change, and be open to HONESTY.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Dave!

Scott Wichmann said...

"So be open to truth, be open to change, and be open to HONESTY."

I'll keep that in mind, ANONYMOUS.

LOL, I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.

Robinitaface said...

Good point, Scottie. I know you did it in jest, but how many people actually have the cajones to put their names on their opinions anymore these days (theatrically, politically, etc) for fear of repercussions?

I may not like your opinion, but I will defend to the ground your right to express it...and my right to disagree with it.

amyberlin said...

I imagine it's really hard to be totally honest when many of the artists you are talking about are friends of long standing. From my perspective (which might be totally wrong and is mostly just based on your blog), you and Mary seem to not only have friends and acquaintances in the theatre community but also to be involved in theatre productions or organizations yourself (or your family is, at least).

By contrast, the RTD folks don't seem involved in the theatre scene in the same way. Neither do the people at Richmond.com. At least, not to my knowledge.

So, I don't blame you for feeling conflicted! Much as I love giving my opinion, I could never put an "honest" review in print for fear of hurting people I care about or burning bridges. And if a friend of mine said critical things about me in print, I would be hurt in a way I wouldn't be if it was a stranger.

So, Dave, I wonder, would you be this conflicted if you reviewed productions in some other city, where you didn't personally know so many people? For me, I truly think that would make all the difference.

oneeyeddog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Le Synge Bleu said...

yup, there's always an inherent divide between critic and artist, unfortunately. it would be great if we could have open constructive critical dialogue, but it pretty much never happens. however both fulfill a need, especially if neither has a god complex. so the tenuous balance teeters and at the end of the day we still all do what we do and move on. anyone who can't might need to do some inner work, as its probably not necessarily the criticism that is the issue at that point. we forget that criticism is not always an entirely pejorative thing, and growth, not ego, should be the end game here. and i say that having once been reviewed as "subtle as a freight train" and having attended the "tori spelling school of acting" which i think are hilarious and love to quote whenever possible. fyi- for that performance reviewed, i did totally deserve it.

Anonymous said...

Great evolution of the discussion Dave. The answer to your question about how to broach critical insight in this forum is in the specificity of the criticism. What we artists respect is the example. What specific choice did not serve the play or character, and why?

I think what caused the avalanche of responses to Mary's post was the tone (intetional or not)of "let me teach you something you don't know." Even the title "101" implied that we as a community of artists needed remedial training to live up to the superior acumen of a critic, whose credentials are frankly ambiguous.

The other important factor is the venue. Is this blog the place for critique or support? We already have a forum for a published opinions that result in increasing audience attendance or causing financial difficulties for struggling theatres. That forum is a monologue. This forum is a dialogue, so let's embrace the spirit and decorum that a discussion demands, rather than create another forum for bullying.

James said...

I'm usually allergic to blogs. But someone just emailed me this discussion. And it's a good one!

Saying what you think is true and being respected for what you say are two different things. Theatre artists will tell you that how much attention they pay to a review (or criticism) has a great deal to do with how much they respect the critic—and how much they feel the critic respects them.
I find that criticism will be received in the spirit in which it's offered. (See these attached responses...) Whether or not the critic is right in their observations is a moot point, if those on the receiving end feel like it comes from a place of aggravation or that critic's own personal pet peeve. It comes across as hostile and contemptuous towards the artist.

In all honesty, I'm not surprised at the response. By identifying the "mistakes" of the artistic community as a whole and then sharing your benevolent wisdom is a dangerous business. It doesn't really have anything to do with honesty or addressing the issues. It seems more to do with how you link yourself to that artistic community. I don't think it has to be an "us vs. them" situation. The critic is part of the theatre community afterall.
The critic has the horrible task of being the CHAMPION of the theatre by publishing their observations - hopefully grounded by some knowledge and background in the area. No easy task. Especially with egos as delicate as artists'. So it was interesting to hear Dave talk about that balance. It must be a hell of a thing...
I don't think I could do it.

Le Synge Bleu said...

is this really a dicussion forum or a support network for theatre artists? because i thought it was a personal weblog, and i honestly take its contents in the spririt of such. blogs can spurn discussion, but they're not discussion forums or necessarily support networks. perhaps if we feel there's a need for that, someone can create it - message boards are relatively easy to do. but this is a blog with a limited number of authors who publish it. its not a website, a resource, a support network, or a message board. that's how blogs work...the reader doesn't have to read them if they don't like the contents, but this is the nature of the blogosphere, you know?

pnlkotula said...

Wow, go away for one afternoon and see what happens? My piddly two cents is just this: I chose not to include reviews in the Richmond Marquee format because of exactly what happened here. I want the publication to be a safe place of support for the community. That doesn't at all mean that I think there is no value in it. We all want and need feedback, positive and negative. I don't envy you and Mary your positions. It's a fine balance.

Robinitaface said...

"I hope people interested in theater in Richmond – directors, actors, designers, producers, or simply fans – will post their opinions and insights, as well as scuttlebutt and rumors when they feel like it (though I reserve the right to delete anything that is libelous or just downright nasty). I imagine most input will come in via the Comments section, but also feel free to email me if you’d prefer. If a particular comment seems worthy of highlighting, I’ll pull it from the Comments and put it on the main page.

For my part, when I actually get out to see a show, I’ll post previews of my thoughts (as well as links to my published reviews in Style), any interesting scuttlebutt I come across plus additional theater-related flotsam and jetsam from the recesses of my mind."

That's what Dave had to say in his first post. It seems to be Dave's Webjournal appendage of his work - only allowing the opportunity for the aforementioned dialogue if anyone desires.

Bleu, I'm likin' the way you think.

anonymous, and not bleu said...

Bleu is awesome.

Le Synge Bleu said...

mom, is that you? and please, if you're going to flatter, call me synge.

JoePabst said...

To Dave's question, "How best is criticism communicated?" I would like to tell you about my favorite critic, whose wrath/praise I experienced when starting my career in the Twin Cities. Her opinions were always strong, always bold. She loved/hated/was bored by/was amused by productions with the same conviction. When she took me to task (on numerous occasions, I might add!), I loathed her. And when she praised my work... well, I STILL loathed her for the terrible things she'd said about me previously.

So, why is she my favorite critic? Because she always stated her opinions as OPINIONS, and not facts. She never said, "This play sucked." She would say, "I think this may be the worst production I have ever seen." She never wrote, "Pabst's performance was hideous." But she did write, "I found Pabst's performance to be amateurish & completely oveplayed!" (Not me?!?! Really??)

The distinction is subtle, but the use of phrases such as "I thought...", "I found...", "To me,..." made crticism easier to bear. I can dismiss her as a crazy old hag if I want to. And for the reader, I think this humanizes the critic.

One last note of praise for my favorite (yet hated) critic. Most of her reviews ended with, "Of course, these are my opinions. I encourage you to judge the experience for youself."

So, for me, the answer to the question, "How best is criticism communicated?" is: simply, and as one's own opinion.

anonymous, and not bleu, and not bleu/synge's mom said...

Sorry, Synge (even though I'm not mom), but was merely (in the light of recent comments) trying to not be criticized for my lack of consistency in style with the other posters.

Le Synge Bleu said...

anon not me, no need to apologize, i was totally joking! its my inept way of dealing when someone says something nice. yes mary, that's probably dysfunctional of me ;)

Frank Creasy said...

Thanks to Joe Pabst for giving me a laugh! (Miss you brother, hope you're well of late!)

Anyway...I think Joe does make an excellent point. Say what you think, what you PERCEIVE, because ultimately we're dealing with a person's perceptions. If that person is a published theatre critic, it has more weight and visibility...but it's still one person's perception. It stings when we're criticized, but dear God - let's hope the theatre community doesn't get reduced to the level of elementary-school sports teams who, these days, give everyone a trophy or a ribbon even if they finish last because "You're all winners! YAY!"

Look, fact is: This is the world. There are winners, there are losers. Not everyone is a supermodel, not everyone is Michael Jordan (er...Tom Brady or Larry Bird, Scott, if you prefer - and I know you DO), and not everyone is Olivier. Some of us would be happy to be Jack Black or Will Ferrell, for example. Not ME, mind you...though I wouldn't mind having their bank accounts!

Honest critiques help actors, directors, set designers, etc. to IMPROVE through that honest third-party observation. With a little more honesty, we might have a lot less Britney, Lindsey and so on!

So bring on the honest observations, just keep them couched as "the way I see it". There's no need to be mean, and I haven't seen much of that in Richmond critiques...though I'll share one personal experience here...I was once in a production where I was tasked with conning a few widows out of their money by seducing them (I know, I know..."typecast AGAIN, Creasy?") The critic wrote in his review that "Creasy seldom gives us reason to believe he'd attract EITHER widow". Now dammit, that's just WRONG! They's LOTS of blue haired beauties who want me BADLY!!!

Okay. I guess there's nothing more to say, is there?

Dave T said...

I have SO much to say but it's SO late. Mostly, thanks to all who took the time to put thought into your responses (Robin, Amy, Joe, Scott, Frank, "Synge," etc.) I'll try to respond when I'm not cross-eyed with tiredness. Maybe during the FINAL game of the ALCS tomorrow night...

Scott Wichmann said...

The WHAT?? Exsqueeze me?? Don't You mean GAME FIVE??

Awww, I see how it is!!...That one's going up on the 'Boston Sports Motivational Bulletin Board' right next to Wade Phillips' quotes on the Pats!!

(By the way, Dave-- another reason why you should vote Kucinich: He carries a Rocky Colavito Indians Baseball card in his wallet.)

Le Synge Bleu said...

i hear what you're saying joe and frank, but i think its inherently implied that its one person's opinion, just like its inherently implied that each of these comments are the individual authors' opinions. need it always be stated? isn't that something that's already generally understood to be true? does the restaurant reviewer have to explain in every review that this is per his or her palate and not some universal taste bud machine?

Robinitaface said...

Synge, you type the words that are in my brain!

Unfortunately, as Anonymous #1 says here, some others allow the words of another to BE the ones that are in their brains. So while it *should* implied that a review is inherently one person's opinion - and taken as such - we put so much weight on them because we know the readership of said reviews. Bad review, slimmer audience. Slipping audiences, eventually no theatre. No theatre, no job. No job, no money. And we don't like that game.

I don't think it's about anyone's feelings per se. Deep down, if you know you're putting out less than your best, you know you're putting out less than your best. If someone calls you out on it, good for them. Sure it stings, but where you (we) just hoping no one else noticed?

Thespis' Little Helper said...

Hey Robin...hmm...not sure which post I'm commenting on now...it seems that this and the last are merging together. I think it is a lot (A LOT) about people's feelings.

And I really like what you said about hoping no one else would notice.

Robinitaface said...

I was commenting on the post at hand, or at least I was attempting to do so. I'll rephrase. The concept of reviews shouldn't be about hurting people's feelings per se. No matter what job you're doing, you should know when you're putting out crap. Deep down, if you're proud of your work, and the audience is responding well, then what a critic says shouldn't concern you too much. If you know it's not your best work, you get called out on it, and your feathers get ruffled - that's on you to fix your work and your self-esteem.

I feel like circular reasoning is starting to sneak in.

Anonymous said...

And what's the way to avoid getting feathers ruffled too much? Working on your self-ego is a good suggestion...for the actor. For the critic, there is another expectation: to remove yourself as much as possible from the community of actors whom you review. When a critic wants to be your friend, socialize with you after show and the like, he or she is creating a bias almost impossible to overlook when trying to write objectively.

That's why a critic's life is ironic. They need to be removed from the one thing they might long to be closest to: the artists.

Robinitaface said...

A way to avoid getting you feathers ruffled? For the actor - do your best work. For the critic - State your mind. I think as everyone maintains quality/integrity in their work - on both sides of the fence - there shouldn't have to be any apologies made.

I'd much prefer my friends be honest with me, than feed me a bunch of poo about how great I am all the time. Sometimes what people need to hear doesn't jive with what they want to hear. I may not like it at first, but, in the long run, kind words are not always kind.

Le Synge Bleu said...

i disagree, anonymous. i think that we need to be adults and know how to separate work and play. we don't have to ostracize either the critic or the performer, we just need to realize that one person's objective opinion about a specific performance (because that is what is being reviewed) is wholly independent of their opinion of said person over a glass of wine. its two people doing their jobs- that is totally unrelated to whether or not they hang out together when off the clock. by your logic, directors should not be friends with actors either, as wouldn't that create a bias that is difficult to overcome when casting a show? no, it doesn't, because when push comes to shove we know how to do our jobs and separate and compartmentalize. the same applies to the actor/critic relationship. we're all professional adults here, and as such we need to trust eachother to do our jobs and do them to the best of our abilities, whatever that may mean in the moment.

joepabst said...

Synge's response about the inherent implication that reviews are one person's opinions intrigues me, particularly in this day and age when a fast-food coffe cup absolutely MUST have a printed warning that the contents are hot. And yes, the implication is there... in my mind, and most others'. But it did make a difference to me when the critic acknowledged (to herself as well as to everyone else) that her writings were her own opinions.

And for some strange reason, this conversation now reminds me of a "Brady Bunch" episode, where Greg gets in trouble with the folks and wants to live by "actual words"! To paraphrase Mike Brady, "He may find that 'actual words' are pretty hard to live by!" (I'm hoping that there are other "Brady" fans out there smiling at this, or I will feel like the biggest VIDIOT in the world!!)

Anonymous said...

Synge, I think you are an idealist, which I admire, but reality is different from ideals. Objectivity means not being partial. And if you are forging friendships over wine with a critic, you can't expect that critic to remained unbiased towards you.

You are right that directors ARE biased. That's what makes it difficult for friends to audition for their friends and feel that they can be seen in an objective light, especially when auditioning for a role against their perceived type.

I am not saying it is right or wrong...it just is. Even the most fairminded adult can get biased, and if you are in the profession of being unbiased, you do what you can to avoid the traps. Why do you think the NYT prevented Ben Bradley and Frank Rich from reviewing shows for which there existed a conflict of interest: bias. The newspaper fears (correctly) that the readers won't trust an impartial judge. It's the same premise behind a literal judge recusing him or herself from a trial

Robinitaface said...

So what does that mean for actors who direct? Should they wear one hat in one town, and go to another town to wear the other? They shouldn't have to. We should all expect a level of professionalism and trust that the director is going to cast for the good of the show - not because the actors are or are not friends. If we all expect that, and hold to that - idealistic or no - there shouldn't be a problem with hurt feelings.

Le Synge Bleu said...

wow, anonymous, i am actually quite honored to be called idealistic, though i would venture to say i'm more pragmatic than idealistic. applicable or not, the moniker makes me pretty damn happy, thanks!

the times may have said ben BRANTley couldn't review certain shows (though i'm unaware of that, and would guess its probably because brantley is pretty darn catty and the times was avoiding major catfights), but i also know of more than one specific occasion wherein there was a HUGE conflict of interest at hand with times reviewers (ie a little nookie)and off b'way shows that got good press. and you know what? nookie or not, they deserved the kudos, when they were received, and the knocks when they were received. a critic isn't going to damage their street cred by giving undeserved praise...don't forget that they have a job to do too, and want to protect that integrity above the need for social acceptance within a certain group.

if its idealistc to believe that we can separate work and play, then i fear for our collective work ethic.

Dave T said...

Just to be clear: Synge's baby is NOT mine! I will not have any conflict of interest reviewing her in any shows (unless she names me godfather or something...)

Anonymous said...

Now I like this kind of conversation Synge. It is specific, and we all can chat about it as a topic, not a personality war. Hooray. You actually cited the one point on which we definitely part ways. I DO think it hurts a critic's street cred when they give undeserved praise. Granted we're talking about a person's opinion, as Joe eloquently outlined, but when you doubt the sincerity of someone's review (for instance "I am giving a rave because I think the theatre deserves a boost, or I like this actor offstage, or whatever), that creates a problem. I don't want to be manipulated by a critic's DECISION to slam or rave about a show. I want trust that his opinion is hearfelt (even if I disagree).

JB said...

Dave -hahaha
That baby better look like Carlos or we will all know the truth. You are quite a breeder already!

Andrew Hamm said...

I don't mind getting an unfavorable review. I just always want to know that the reviewer's opinion is three things:

1) Educated. Please don't come review Doctor Faustus if you don't know anything about Elizabethan theatre.

2) Honest. Don't always like shows featuring actors you like, and don't always hate shows featuring actors you dislike. If you liked it, back it up. If you didn't like it, back it up. And please, please, don't hate everything to try to look smart. We theatre artists have that angle covered very well, thank you.

3) One reviewer's opinion. Please don't try to pass off your aesthetic or your audience experience as the Gospel of Art. One man's trash is another man's treasure; one man's sh## is another man's Shakespeare.

I don't think those are unreasonable expectations.

To be honest, I find it more troubling when a reviewer loves a bad show ignorantly than when he'she criticizes a good show intelligently. And nothing is worse than when I do bad work that gets praise. I feel guilty forever.

Dave T said...

Andrew,
I will make it my mission to criticize any bad work you do! Don't want you feeling guilty. :->
I'll be over to check out the paint job in your new house as soon as I can...

I have more to say on this general topic but just wanted to agree with Andrew on a specific point, using my favorite reviewer, Daniel Neman. In his review of "Gone Baby Gone" that I skimmed this morning he says that "audiences turned against" Ben Affleck. Huh? I am a member of "audiences" and I never turned against him. And I would venture to ask that, if polled, most movie goers would say that they didn't "turn against" the actor. He just made movies that people didn't waste time seeing. I think DN regularly and annoyingly violates the "one reviewer's opinion" tenet of Andrew's which is one of the reasons I find him almost unreadable.

Frank Creasy said...

I stepped away for a day or so and I come back to find this post just WILL NOT DIE - it's like the Freddy Krueger of blog postings! (Man, I love Halloween!)

Okay, I'd like to touch on the point of directors who act and then have friends who must audition for them: Well, I've been in this position on the auditioning side. And of course, like every actor who's ever lived, I often get a rejection, including from folks who I consider friends. Did they pass me over to appear UN-biased? I guess I'd have to be pretty egotistical, pretty selfish to assume that. If I have any respect for that director...friend or not...I have to assume they are matching actors to roles as best they can as part of an entire CAST. While you may have multiple actors with the ability to perform a particular role, there may be just ONE who "fits" with the others you are casting.

I hate being rejected, but it's part of this business. And I trust that the director is trying to put together the best possible production. Whether or not I am capable is just one factor. My audition skills, and the skills I bring to the production if cast, are within my control - the rest is not. I don't take it personally. If you do, you're in for a lot of negative feelings that do you no good as an actor. Just focus on being a terrific actor, and be persistent, and let the rest take care of itself.

I'm kind of wondering who will have the last word on this post before it finally dies!

Le Synge Bleu said...

anonymous, i do agree that it hurts a critic's street cred to give undeserved praise, i believe i was misread or unclear if you thought i was stating otherwise. my point is that generally a critic isn't going to jeopardize their street cred for a friendship or nookie or whatever. they value their own work just as much as we do.


and no, dave t is definitely not my baby daddy, although he is the cause of me shooting water through my nose with hysterical laughter when i read that comment!

Anonymous said...

Please give me a break. Not one actor who has kissed up to the critics here has ever gotten a bad review - even when they were universally agreed upon as bad. As for credibility, read some of the previous comments here. Dave makes it fairly clear in his remarks that if make nice here, you are set. As for his own son being in an upcoming production, how can he or Mary even consider reviewing said production?

Jacquie O. said...

Anon, I can see why Dave shouldn't review the show his son is in, but I don't understand why you would think Mary would have a conflict of interest. Just because she posts here and is Dave's friend? Can you please clarify your reasoning?

Jacquie O. said...

Oh and Anon...who are you talking about? What actor(s) in Richmond have never gotten a bad review because they sucked up to a citric? I can't think of a single actor in Richmond that had not received a bad review (or at least a negative criticism) in their career. And you make it seem like there are some actors that are REALLY bad that continue to get work over and over again somehow. Really? You make the Richmond theatre community sound like a bunch of idiots…from the bad actors that live here, to the dumb directors who cast them, to the critics who can be swayed with kind words. Good God!

Scott Wichmann said...

"Even when they were universally agreed upon as bad."

Okay, I'll take the bait.

Just who the hell do you think you are, exactly?? I guess you speak for everyone in town, don't you, Mayor McCheese?? Care to give an example of one of these "Universally Bad" Performances about which everyone must be anonymously unanimous?? I thought not. Way to constructively add to the discussion, meathead. (I'm a vegetarian, and-- Oooh, I just let you HAVE IT!!) Care to divulge your identity there, Frank Rich??

Wait...Is this my Mom??

You know, Mary gave a specific example of something that bothered her and she got hammered for it. Repeatedly. I'd personally like to see her address these comments herself, because if she stands by her words, she should be able to handle the repercussions of her statements made in the original post. COME ON IN, MARY!!! The water is GREAT!!

('Acting 101' as a post title may have been a bit off-putting at first glance, but so what??)

Again, Mary may have been a bit presumptuous to tread on 'Precious, Holy and Consecrated Actor Territory' where only we actors dare speak aloud about our genius, nuance, grace... and VOLUME!!! But, again, I reiterate that at least she had the guts to attached her NAME to her comments. We've had a lot of fun in the aftermath. (I'm gonna get me one of those T-Shirts, m'self, btw!!) Yet Fools on this comment thread are tripping. They can make blanket statements about 'bad' performances ad nauseum while safely all up in in they hidey-hole dressed up as a Klingon in aunt Hoo-Ha's basement. It's whack.

Oh, dear me, I forget myself. I, too, must once again be "Kissing up to the critics', because of course I'm too insecure to actually let my work do the talking-- I need an edge. Right. That MUST be it. And Curt Schilling needs the press to REEEEALLY like him, otherwise he can't pitch effectively. LAME.

Dave, Mary, and every other writer reading this-- Understand, We don't perform the play for reviews, we perform them for the audience. A perfomance of a particular play doesn't exist in a jar somewhere, it's a living, breathing in-the-moment thing, happening NOW. If a reviewer likes that evening's performance, fine. If not, fine. There's a reason that we keep reviews out of the dressing room... It's to stay focused on that night's audience. At least that's what the pros do, I hear. And, you know, any reviewer who would let his or her personal feelings about an actor who wrote a reply to blog post enter into his or her review of a that actor's particular performance isn't worth reading in the first place. Anonymous, Just do what you do, and do it well, regardless what the critics say. If you have talent, determination and if you're not a petulant jerk in real life, you won't be anonymous for long. Maybe you can keep that in mind next time you write out your resume in blue crayola, you child.

Dave, do you file this crap in as yet another example of folks being "Professionally Cautious??"

Dave T said...

So maybe it's because the anonymous posters have been so entertaining or maybe it's because you look so darn pretty up there on your high horse, Mr. Scott, but I've got to pipe up one more time in support of "anon" and friends. What I'll point out is that while Mary B certainly had the cajones to affix her name to her remarks, she also made a few fairly broad and general statements that could be construed to encompass, well, just about anybody who reads this blog. While you challenge posters to include their names, you haven't (and I don't think anyone so far has) challenged Mary to name specific people or productions that she might be referring to. The behavior in her remarks was a specific one, the target of her remarks was not. Everyone (including me) has kind of just let that slide. Thoughts?

Scott Wichmann said...

'High horse'?? Nice. You're right, Dave, I DO look pretty. Don't hate.

I think Mary saying that she "Didn't want to embarrass anyone" by citing specific examples of 'Excessive Loudness' is a little different from somebody saying that a show or a performance is "Universally regarded as bad." Hell, for all I know, Mary is talking about me volume-wise!! So what?? I got more constructive reminders form Mary's comments than I received stuff to be perturbed about. "Don't start at Ten, Volume-wise, leave yourself a place to go" What-- THAT isn't useful in rehearsal?? The gist of what Mary was saying is that YELLING for the sake of YELLING is not what acting is about. Doesn't matter who she saw-- she just recently said that it is something she's noticed all around the country!! Good lord, take the suggestion or leave it!!

Mary is speaking only for herself.'Anonymous' is attempting to speak for me.Don't you think I should be able to know what specific 'universally bad' performances 'anonymous' means since he or she is echoing my 'supposed' opinion??

If you read what I wrote above, you'll notice that I did call on Mary to address what she said. I'm actually really tired of responding to those thin-skinned wannabes in the internet shadows. I've got better things to do, like watch the Sox, for one.

Defend this obnoxious garbage all you want, Dave. It's still childish and silly, no matter how many ways you may try to spin it. I think you sticking up for 'Joe Blow McSilhouette' is ridiculous too.

"Ooh, I can't say who said what, because so-and-so is exercising professional caution and fake outrage at the same time over some woman's comments on my blog."

This whole episode is like a catty junior high school drama where people lob shots behind one-way protective glass and run to you for cover, Dave. Need I remind you, it's your blog, man. You're their chief enabler.

I'm out.

Robinitaface said...

In my first comment, I asked if there was a specific production that prompted the post. I wasn't asking her to call out a specific actor (and I'm glad I didn't that early in the game), but I was looking for context to help keep the post from being such a generalization.

As far as whether people should post anonymously or no - please keep in mind:

Dave, you are able to defend some of them because they've emailed you; you know who they are. While I can understand their position, I still pose the question - Why do we take part in telling such wonderful stories about idealism, overcoming adversity, questioning authority, etc...yet we fear attaching our own names to our own opinions?

Scottie, also remember that if it's easy for A. Nonymous to post nasty comments from behind a veil, it's pretty easy for those of us posting our names to pass judgments from the other side of the curtain. We don't know who's on the other side, so we can say whatever we want, right? Wrong. The same rules apply. Those of us who add our names to our opinions need to play nice too, even if our points aren't getting across. We have to take the responsibility and lead by example.

I don't mean to sound preachy, because goodness knows, I've not been a prime example all the time. But this is getting ugly.

Dave T said...

I hope you are not gone from the conversation altogether, Mr. Wichmann, because I always enjoy the intelligence and wit with which you express your opinion. I can understand being done with this particular train of thought though as it has certainly worn out any limited charm it had.

Ironically, I think your comments bring us to a point of somewhat paradoxical convergence. You call me an enabler and I think you are exactly right. The whole point of this blog, for me at least, was to enable people to express an opinion about theater, or anything else if they wanted to, really. I'd been around the blogging block a few times before I started this and knew I was potentially opening myself up to haters of all stripes. I wouldn't have been surprised if any one of my not-so-positive reviews had spawned a rampage of scathing backtalk, and I would completely expect most of it to be anonymous. Are anonymous haters cowards? To some extent, certainly. But it's kind of the nature of the online game, so I think it's a little futile to disparage it. And I think many of the anonymous comments were well-written and thoughtful, even if I didn't agree with what they said or the way they said it (as I hope my latest post supports). Compared to the blind, ignorant hate that spewed forth on various blogs with the Jo Rowling/"Dumbledore is gay" comment, I'd say the "anons" on this blog have been comparatively respectful.

And whether respectful or not, I would rather have those voices as part of the conversation than not. These people are clearly voicing the opinions of some element of the community and so while I may not respect the way they've expressed themselves, I'm still glad they did. If that makes me an enabler, so be it. As with other things, Scott, we'll just have to agree to disagree on this point.

Robin, a few people emailed me early on after posting some of the first "anons" but I think they all dropped out of the conversation at that point. The rest could be the result of a dozen people or just one. I'm not sure and can't really find out. That doesn't change my opinions as stated above.

And feel free to preach away -- goodness knows I've just had my little soapbox moment!

And with that, I'm done too.