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…)