First off, I appreciate that the anonymous poster who was hatin on Rick was enough of a mensch to cop to liking “Laramie.” Thanks for setting a good example of how to be opinionated but also willing to make a concession (not a trait overly common in the blogosphere).
Second, I’d like to address some of what the other anonymous poster who talked about “stars” and “status” was saying. He/she said so much it’s hard to know where to start. While I don’t necessarily agree or don’t fully understand everything he/she said, I believe there are definitely some salient points in his/her post.
Since there’s no way I can address it all, I’ll try a couple of general statements that I hope at least show that I appreciate the comments. One is that any scene I’ve been involved in personally or professionally has certain elements of ‘high school’ in it. There are people who for some reason are perceived as popular and others who aren’t. But perception and reality are often (usually) different. Here’s one example from the theater world: I knew nothing about Chamberlayne Actors Theatre until they turned pro and I went to a couple of their shows. What I was surprised to find is that this sleepy little company had a large and fervent following. And from what I could tell, the people in the audiences of the shows I went to could care less what the critics said, they loved the work that CAT did. CAT was getting more and better support than the Barksdale was, for instance, which was in the process of going through financial and organizational turmoil at the time. The point I’m trying to make – and really trying (probably unsuccessfully) not to step on any toes – is that particularly in a town like Richmond, ‘star’ and ‘status’ are totally relative terms and, as Frank said, the most important critic is the theater-goer. I personally think Scott Wichmann is a star – thousands of people in Richmond have no idea who he is. But there are people who think Amy Berlin is a star (and rightly so!) and have never heard of Randy Strawderman.
Now some folks might complain that I’m being disingenuous because, if being a ‘star’ or having ‘status’ is relative and subjective, how come Barksdale / Firehouse / etc. always get the press coverage. I have two possibly contradictory things to say about that:
1) size does matter – some companies will always be looked to first for stories because of their budgets, the size of their audiences, the caliber of the people they hire (based on Equity membership for instance), their longevity in the community, etc. That’s life.
2) if you want to be treated like a professional, act like one. Just because a show or a program exists, does not mean that I (or Mary or Style) know about it. Anon said that some great work is going on at inconspicuous companies. That’s great but if those companies want to stop being inconspicuous, they are going to have to market themselves. Even if you are the biggest company in town, marketing is key. If you want more coverage, pitch a story – and not just “this production is going to be really great” – but something new or different or interesting – something that you’d want to read about even if you WEREN’T involved in the production. And if a pitch is not picked up the first or second or even third time, keep trying! It’s a lot like auditioning – there are a lot more actors than roles, and a lot more stories than there is space to print them.
OK, I’m sure I’m rambling now. I know I still haven’t addressed my audacity at saying I hang out with some people in the theater scene. More on that later. Must sleep now…