. . . . . . . . . . . .

Tboy hangs with

Search Tboy

    tboy web

dc theaterfolk

Crass Commerce


Crass Commerce II

Crass Commerce III


Crass Commerce IV

watch this



« Tboy's pet peeve | Main | WashPo on T.O. »

Thursday, 09 February 2006


Still Alert

T-boy applauds T.O. for having, in his words, two of the "essential qualities of a good critic." But one wonders, what are the essential QUALIFICATIONS of a good critic? Does merely being on-staff at a paper qualify someone to file critical analyses of an art form for which, in T.O's own admission, she is the least qualified among her peers? It may be this lack of "qualification" that seems to have irked local theatre folk.

That having been said, it may be the local theatres, particularly the smaller groups which are often reviewed by T.O., who have shot themselves in the foot, to quote T-Boy. The Post may be slow in replacing T.O. in its theatre pages, meaning, once again, fewer reviews of smaller shows, a topic which is often discussed in this space...

Those artists who run the smaller groups around town probably wonder: is a review by an unqualified critic better than none at all?


I'm still trying to figure out why this person felt like what Miss Olszewski wrote on her site warranted trying to get her fired from her job. Reading some her reviews on her website do give the impression she can be a little cynical, and that carried over into the comments on the bio page, but that's all someone needed to make a screen capture, write all their theater friends, and campaign to essentially get her fired? I'm sorry, I may be wrong here, but I can't help but think that "Morgan Kent" is a humorless, bitter person who probably felt "victimized" by a less than glowing review of something he was involved with and decided to take out his frustrations. Sad. Even if that's not the case, it seems like Miss Olszewski should have been judged on the quality of her writing instead of a couple of tongue-in-cheek sentences on her own website decrying the lack of high quality theater productions in the Washington DC area. Especially when she didn't point out any particular companies or people, but was rather general. Some people really need to learn to mind they're own business instead of getting joy from trying to bring down others.


Not needing to be terribly diplomatic about this, I won't: I'm quite happy she's been removed. Her obvious and self-aware lack of qualification for reviewing live theater, not to mention that she still, even after editing her page at least once because of this flap, refers to it as "theatah," speaks volumes about her opinion of what many of us spend great amounts of energy, time and money creating and offering to the community at-large.

The next time I have a show budget that equals that of even a small, independent film, let's say $250K, I will be more than happy to allow MovieBabe to publicly comment all she likes. Until such time, she can be "fair and diplomatic" printing observations on the safe and removed art form known as film.

If anyone will print them.


I agree with "mystified" there is far too much beating people up for no reason. It's about peoples lives, the rent, being happy. If everyone who was sometimes less than happy with their jobs got outed and fired...... yeah.. get it?


P.S. And regarding her "sound[ing] genuinely sad about it," why doesn't she rent a space, hire a design team, capture her emotion on paper, find a director, rehearse it for four weeks, publicize it with no money, tech it in with lighting, costumes, props, and music, and finally perform it to mostly empty houses for at least sixteen performances, all the while paying a stage manager, lighting and sound techs, front of house staff, and herself.

Once she's done that, I'll be happy to come and watch it, all the while knowing she didn't intend it to be "crap." Then I'll let her know exactly how it struck me. My only regret is that my "review" won't be seen in nearly 800,000 households.



FIRST of all, anyone who knows how to use a simple search engine could have seen that bio page ions ago (and I did). Whatever Miss O. writes on her own PERSONAL blog in her own PERSONAL spare time should never become fodder for professional analysis.

SECOND of all, SINCE WHEN do theatre companies EVER care who the pull-quote comes from, as long as they get their sacred and beloved press quotes? Give me a BREAK. OF COURSE they didn't notice Miss O.'s comments. These snoopy "theatrefolk" never research ANY "critics" around town. Hell, there's more than one illiterate charlatan with his own theatre website lurking out in cyber space - yet Miss O. is burned at the stake for a comment that was snide (albeit funny)???

Where is the justice?

THIRD of all, this town is SATURATED with unprofessional book-report-writing reviewers (NOT "CRITICS") who crucify the English language. Here we have a (seemingly) articulate, literate, and even WITTY writer who gives her HONEST opinion about what she sees, and SHE gets the boot from The WP, a paper that has ONLY RECENTLY began increasing coverage of the smaller companies??????

MEANWHILE who the HELL is this "Morgan Kent" person anyway? What a chickenshit. I only write in anonymously because I HAVE TO. I too have been burned by the bloggers and have learned to keep my comments to myself. Here I am breaking the silence even AGAINST my better judgment. To quote Gwen Stefani: "THIS SHIT IS BANANAS!"

Yeah, I'm mad. I don't know Miss O. nor do I care about her really, but this whole God forsaken back-stabbing theatre b.s. has to stop...



In an attempt to pour oil on these troubled waters and not throw a match at the same time, I think that while I have always found T.O. reviews to be hyper-critical and in some cases I will say mean, but no meaner than some of the comments being thrown by the lead critic of the Post at a certain theater named after a large woolly creature, this is person who took these actions is petty and should be ashamed.
That being said, I find that this situation calls us back to a important point about who is reviewing shows for the paper of record. In many cases small theater means experimental and if you don't have the background to get what is being done should you be reviewing it? It's one thing for an audience to not understand an absurdist piece and therefore dismiss it, but for the critic to dismiss it out of hand because it doesn't make sense is near criminal. I don't think anyone expects a great review everytime but I think they do expect that someone who is reviewing their show for a major news paper, should have at least a grasp of what it was they were trying to do, whether it works or not.
I will go on record here as saying I think there is a lot of crap out there. Not just in DC theater but nearly every aspect of the artistic world and people should be called on it. That being said I am still a little amazed at the lengths people in this town are willing to go to when they feel they have been wronged. Shame.


I could not be happier to see T.O. get the embarrassment she deserves. For 3 years, T.O. reviewed my work as an actor for C.P. and W.P. In almost every one, she made reference to my weight when it had nothing to do with the review. She is a bully, who often used her reviews to summarize plots, not comment on performances. If she doesn't want to review theater, so long. As an actor, producer, and company member at several theaters, I will not miss her snide remarks that often hurt actors who did not need their size or beauty judged instead of their skill.


She didn't 'get' us, we didn't 'get' her. Better that the relationship has ended. It'll be greener pastures for all of us.


This whole issue is troubling to me. I've had horrible reviews written about me (and I probably deserved most of them); however, I don't wish anyone out of their job. I think the comments T.O. made were probably only funny to her, but they don't garner a dismissal. The quality of her reviews and her calling us "drama nerds" is not the issue--the idea that a person can get fired because s/he expressed an opinion (an opinion that she attempted to rescind) on her own personal section of cyberspace is scary.

Another point

I'd like for peeps to weigh in on STILL ALERT's question above: "is a review by an unqualified critic better than none at all?"

I don't think so.

Opinions are like assholes.
EVERYBODY has one.

I'd rather get an educated perspective on my work than some Tom Dick or Harry's ideas off the street. I mean, last time I checked, that's what the critics are for, to opine based on their education, experience, and bias(es). Otherwise you're considering the opinions of every Joe Schmoe... and what is the value in that?


I can't say that I know all the politics or facts about her dimissal at the WP, but I'm guessing that there's more to it than the posting on her blog---but if the posted opinion is the only reason, she has quite a legal argument on her side, does she not? I think we can assume that it was simply the public "tip of the iceberg".

It just seems like she wasn't taking her job or our field very seriously. We should expect more from one of the nation's leading newspapers--not just as the artists being reviewed, but for our audiences and patrons who depend on the reviews as a service. I can imagine that the social aspects of being a reviewer must be quite difficult--especially when it comes to facing someone after giving them a negative review--but it was the needless, personal opinions expressed in some of her reviews that have soured her image in the community. I think most of us theatre-types can handle a negative, even scathing review if the writing is thoughtful and about "the work"--- but a plot synopsis and "I didn't get it", or a personal, irrelevant-to-the-production comments just won't cut it. It's the POST for crying out loud. We should expect a reviewer who has a passion for their craft (not to mention its subject) and who has a THOROUGH understanding of all genres of the field.

I'm not sure if I'm talking about T.O anymore...just ranting, I suppose.


T-boy called me a giant monster lizard. I don't hate him and would be perfectly willing to hang out with him. If I could fit only into the bar and didn't set it on fire with my radioactive breath.


How many times on this earth will you be called a Giant Monster Lizard?! That's a once in a lifetime thing, man. Congrats, indeed. You should BUY him a drink at said bar for that one!

Another point

I agree with VLADIMIR's comment above:

"We should expect a reviewer who has a passion for their craft (not to mention its subject) and who has a THOROUGH understanding of all genres of the field."

Key words: PASSION and THOROUGH.


A review from an unqualified critic IS better than no review at all.

That is unless you can afford a quarter-page ad in the newpapers where your underqualified reviewer's story was supposed to go.

So while everyone has an asshole, not everyone's asshole generates free promotional material.


So you'll be happy with any a-hole who will provide free promotional material, even if it's ho-hum or even bad?

And you assume that there will be no replacement for said a-hole? Did you want to chain the next a-hole to her desk and forbid her to change jobs since you might have some lack of free promotional material during the changeover?


It may be true that a bad review or amatuerish review is better than none at all, but you might think about getting off your butt and looking for other free promotional opportunities every once in a while when your free ride is on hiatus. You sound hapless, like you think there's no reason for anybody to come to your production unless it's name is dropped in a newspaper.


hm. she didn't get fired so i don't see a legal argument--she still gets to review other stuff for the paper. i'm sure she's feeling crummy so maybe we can cool it on the publicly beating her up and just celebrate in private. ultimately she got what she wanted--she doesn't have to come see all the crap we were forcing on her.

personally, i tend to laugh and shrug at bad reviews (i mean, if you take the bad ones that seriously, it means you're also taking the good ones waaay too seriously), but i know many people who felt personally attacked by her over the years.

as a person who has strong opinions herself, i have only rarely written things i later regretted because i try to make sure i'm okay with whatever degree of snark i'm putting out there for public consumption. rule #1 of blogging--always assume the person you're bitching about WILL read it.

obviously reviewing theatre was something she greatly disliked doing. she's young and probably trying to figure out a career path. like many of us, that figuring out only is accomplished through trying and rejecting different jobs. this one didn't work for her, so it just means she's that much closer to finding her true calling. the fact that she put her open contempt for local theatre on her blog makes me wonder if subconsciously she wanted to be caught and released from her obligation to review it.


"I mean, last time I checked, that's what the critics are for, to opine based on their education, experience, and bias(es). Otherwise you're considering the opinions of every Joe Schmoe... and what is the value in that?"

Joe Schmoe is the one that's paying to attend your production, not the critic, gets a comp ticket.

I don't disagree with Another Point's definition of the ideal critic, and I'm sure that's what most aspire to be. But don't knock John Q. Public. We might not care if T.O. writes a review ever again, but I'd sure want to know the opinion of someone who has a checkbook in her hand....at least I would if I ran a theatre company...oh, shoot, reality is setting in...I need a drink...


it seems like a lot of people here want to pretend like all TO ever wrote was negative, and that the negativity stemmed from inexperience or being unqualified. there seems to be a lot of generalizing going on and it's becoming more and more obvious, reading some of the negative comments here, that there are, indeed, some very snippy and overly-sensitive "drama nerds". first, I would like to say that I read TO pretty much every week in both the Post and CP and, though I do think her "style" is, as I said before, witty in a pointed sort of way, I can think of many reviews of theater productions that were positive. I can also think of times when she's praised individual components of a production, but not the production as a whole. and, oh yeah, there was some calling it as she saw it, if you get my drift. but I can't say I noticed her work balanced greatly in one direction or the other. which is good.

then there is the matter of experience: I think, after going to theater on a weekly basis for a few years now, and becoming more-than-familiar with certain companies works, she's probably "qualified enough." I don't even think the question of whether she *should* be doing it is even a question- at least not now, after she was doing it for years.

as for some of the other comments about feeling like her criticisms were somehow more personal than professional (giant monster lizard, being overweight, etc.), get a life. it's more than apparent that some folks are coming from a "we got our widdle feewings hurt" place in their hearts and all in all, the venomous attitude put forth by some here doesn't really jibe with the greater output of her work, how professional or qualified her reviews are, or the big picture period.

lastly, I'd like to agree with some others here that there just plain IS a certain amount of crap that gets on stage in this area. I've seen my fair share of bad acting, contrived acting, companies charging an arm and a leg for a ticket and then having no lighting, no set, no wardrobe. puh-lease. some of you should get off your high horses and realize that whoever takes TO's place may call it like they see it too... so I suggest you keep a stiff upper lip. or then again, maybe you'll get lucky and the post will hire a sugar-coating ass-kisser. good luck to all.


Actually it was Trey who called me a giant Lizard and I wasn't whining about it I kind of revel in it.
I think the time Tricia reviwed me she said I was "cultivated but creepy."
I memorize everything anyone ever says about me, do I take it seriously, somewhat, but I'll be damned if I will let someone call me a whiner. Them is words I don't stomach. How dare you?

Another point

Toni Rae Brotons:

I never said ANYTHING about "John Q. Public." I was referring to uneducated "critics" (T.O. included) who lack the education and experience to offer an insightful - but more importantly, EDUCATED - analyses on local theatre. My point is that ANYONE can type up a three-cents review and throw it online. ANYONE can go to a theatre and have an opinion. Whether s/he's a movie critic, surf enthusiast, beer-guzzler, or potato picker in his/her other life (theatre critics are a strange and enigmatic bunch of people), they should possess two things: PASSION for the job and the "THOROUGH" EDUCATION and/or EXPERIENCE to provide said analysis of work.

Peace out!


Lies! Distortions!

Firstly: Tboy sez nothin' about dcepticon hisself. Tboy sez his character, who's supposedly a kind of stock figure in the Japanese theater of the day, is "a baddie ... who may or may not be the inspiration for Godzilla."

Secondly: Tboy totally got that from Cam Magee, with whom he was talking about conventions of the Japanese theater of the day, and who said straight out that Morotaka is the inspiration for Godzilla.

Not wishing to look like an idiot if she was bullshittin' him (not that she would), Tboy checked it out with a scholar at Columbia, who believe it or not specializes in the expression of classical Japanese theater tropes in Japanese pop culture of the 20th and 21st centuries. No, really.

Scholar said he hadn't heard about the Morotaka-Godzilla, but wouldn't rule it out, either. Hence the "may or may not..."

That said: That was a chewy performance there toward the end of the night.

Karl Miller

I know we're all attached to this story because it highlights some earlier points about the role of the critic and the wacky strata of theatres in the DC circuit, but I found some refreshing perspective on similar issues over at theatreideas.blogspot.com. Seems some bloggers in Chicago are having similar issues with the Chicago Sun-Times critic Hedy Weiss. Different incident, but similar discussion.

I can't add anything new to the debate at this time, but ... what the hell is going on, kids? Is this the blog-vs-print war I've been hearing about lately?


What I wanna know is this: why does the political world get hot, sex-laden, g-string sporting blog scandals like Washingtonian and the recent (but ultimately unsatisfying) Stormiegate, while all we get is a rather bitter-sounding critic who calls us drama nerds?


The rest of the world thinks that theater people's lives are so much cooler than they actually are.

The comments to this entry are closed.