Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Racism, God and Giants

It always surprises me what gets people’s dander up. But even more surprising is when the response to an angry tirade is well-mannered, articulate and effective. The esteemed Mr. Miller provides a model for such a response in his latest blog post where he takes on an expatriate Richmond actor and his accusations of racism. There’s just a wee undercurrent of something like sarcasm in Mr. Miller’s post but, for the most part (and IMHO), it provides more than sufficient rebuttal to any charges leveled against his company.

I know there are people in town who look at Theatre IV as something like the evil empire simply because they are the biggest company in town. But in terms of diversity of programming and hiring, I think they do pretty darn well. Maybe they could do better but I think there are probably a half-dozen other organizations I’d target for their lack of diversity before I’d take aim at Theatre IV.

But perhaps most mystifying to me is why the specific production (“BFG”) prompted this kind of charge. Is it just because it opened in February? That seems pretty arbitrary to me.

Style's issue this week has a double-shot from Mr. Griset, with his reviews of "Once on this Island" and "Romeo & Juliet" both available online. Style also slipped another review in last week, posting this “Godspell” review online on Friday. Check it out if you haven’t – both the review and the show! “BFG” continues to garner some coverage, with this review at Richmondmom.com and this little featurette in Style.

If you need your appetite whetted for “Judas Iscariot” opening this weekend, check out this preview in the T-D. Though you can’t find the cast list online very easily, rest assured that some of the finest talent in town is going to be part of this production. It may get crowded on the RTP stage but, in this case (as it was with “Take Me Out” last season), this kind of crowd is a good thing.


Anonymous said...

Regarding the Style Weekly review of R&J:
1.) If Mr. Griset is going to pillage Wikipedia for information, he should cite his source.
2.) How should Mrs. White act, if not like a teenager? If Mr. Griset paid any attention to the script, he would know that Juliet is, in fact, 13 years old. I have a feeling that, were she to act like anything other than a teenager, she would be criticized for being too old.
3.) In act 4, what action besides weeping and wailing is going on? The adults are lamenting Juliet’s demise, and then she’s wheeled off. What “action” are we missing by the balleyhoo?
4.) Famous and infamous do not mean the same thing. A dictionary (or thesaurus) is a wonderful tool to be made aware of.

Anonymous said...

Richmond Shakespeare is dead weight in this town's Theatre scene. I keep giving them another chance and they never fail to fail. Both of Henley Street's "Bootleg" Shakespeare experiments, with no rehearsal, foam noodles for swords, and actors calling for lines have been significantly better time spent than Richmond Shakespeare's most heavily rehearsed projects. Much ado, Othello, Arcadia, R & J, all crap. I'm just not willing to pay the money anymore. I honestly don't know how they stay in business. Everyone has a bad show from time to time. But if Firehouse, Swift Creek, Barksdale , etc were to put on as much sub par theatre, season after season, as these people do they would be long gone.

Andrew Hamm said...

Hey, Anonymous 2: The Cowardly Lion just called, and he says you're a pussy.

It takes a special kind of asshole to post something denigrating an entire theatre company's existence just because you don't like their shows--and a special kind of coward to do it anonymously. Lord knows I've had my problems with shows in Richmond Shakespeare's recent history. You know what I've done? I've told my friends who work for the company about them. Face to face. Like a grown-up.

"Dead weight"??!! Do you have any idea how many students in this state have received their first exposure to live theatre as a result of the people at Richmond Shakespeare? How many young theatre artists have gotten their start as interns, Festival Young Company members, and summer/holiday camp participants? How many working actors in New York, Chicago and Washington DC had their professional debuts on the boards of Agecroft Hall and the chapel at Second Presbyterian? How many local actors have taken unique classes and workshops with Richmond Shakes's Training Department, and how many young teachers have gotten valuable experience as instructors?

I'm sorry, but you seem to have confused your personal preferences with value to society.

No one at Richmond Shakes is likely to be goaded into responding to your cowardly, useless vitriol. But I haven't worked for them for years, so I can say this: You want to see dead weight? Look at your contribution to this discussion.

If you don't like their work, feel free to skip their shows. And if you're bound and determined to talk shit about the company, have the brains to write something substantive and the decency to sign your name to it.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hamm, I wouldn't get too uppity about someone not wanting to post their name to a negative opinion. Especially in a town this small and incestuous. You seriously want to sound off on the integrity of blog etiquette? That's simply absurd. Opinions are like assholes. And people who apply the codes of chivalry to every person with a laptop who posts online are utterly ridiculous. Get over yourself. Not only is your logic flawed, but your tone of self-righteousness against things that have nothing to do with anything remotely consequential is comical. What do you care what this person thinks/does? Seriously.

P.S. Why didn't you get angry at the first Anon post who railed on the reviewer from Style? Why not defend the rights of that reviewer who did their job and stated their opinion? Oh wait, I know....it doesn't fall in line with your own delusional sense of self-awesomeness. I don't know either of you people, but at least anon 1 and 2 felt free to express their opinions without the fear of the "BLOG POLICE" to come along and punish them for it.

get over yourself...


Andrew Hamm said...

I oppose anonymous posting as a rule. But at least anon 1 made specific substantive points.

Deriding an entire theatre compan's existence behind the unassailable wall of anonymity, and doing so in a small market in desperate need of every scrap of culture it can get, is cheap, mean, and small. It wasn't a "negative comment," nor was it a breach of "etiquette." It wasn't even criticism; it was just an insult.

If you can't tell the difference, I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be able to explain it to you.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Anonymous #3!!!

Anonymous #4.

Anonymous said...

My intention was not to insult, although I've clearly insulted Mr. Hamm and his Richmond Shakespeare friends. However, I don't apologize because I was just speaking MY honest opinion. And yes, I will freely accept the title of "Anonymous posting pussy" and I will also accept the support of those who I agree that everyone should be free to post as they please. My reason for posting at all is because Anon #1 was clearly unhappy with a negative review of R&J, were as I get upset on the Richmond Critics going easy on too many bad productions in town. Richmond may be "in desperate need of every scrap of culture it can get" but what use is that culture if its crap? I have lots of friends in the Theatre Community and therefore I attempt to see many shows at many different companies. As I said, every company has a show or two in each season that are just ok, or even bad, but they always come back with something really good or maybe just some crowd pleasing material. My frustration comes from Richmond Shakespeare just flat out NOT doing a good job, consistently. That's why the "Dead Weight" term was applied. Sooner or later they will force their audience away by having one of the highest ticket prices in town and seeing NONE of that money going towards what you see on stage. Then we may see Henley Street, Swift Creek, Barksdale, etc adding a Shakespeare show to their seasons and doing it far more justice that Richmond Shakespeare ever could. Really, the Style review was correct, middle schoolers could have built a better set than they did for R&J. I don't give Chamberlayne Actor's Theatre any grief for lack luster productions, because their ticket price is $10! And when Barksdale wants to charge me $42 to see Sound of Music, they at least give me my moneys worth. I just saw God Sees Dog at the Firehouse Theatre, it wasn't my cup of tea, but for $25 bucks it was a good night out. Going to see a show at Richmond Shakespeare always leaves me with that feeling like I just got screwed by my mechanic! I'm not rich or a donor, but I don't like to take advantage of coupons or my friends comps because I like supporting the area Theatres through ticket sales. But like I said, Richmond Shakespeare won't be getting anymore of my entertainment budget.


Andrew Hamm said...


I appreciate your thoughtful comments, and the level of specificity contained therein. I maintain that those kind of criticisms are of far more value and substance than terms like "dead weight" and "crap" without much in the way of substantive argument. I don't object to honest criticism, which you have offered. My objection was that it just mainly read as mean.

My knee-jerk reaction was extreme in defense of people I love, and I hope you can see that. I invite you to drop me an email if you wish to continue this discussion.