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

Thursday, 09 February 2006



Another Point:

Who the heck doesn't want an educated and passionate critic to view their production? You're preaching to the choir in that regard, my anonymous friend. But, unlike you, I think that from my lofty perch of "theatre artist," even the critics who I would deem as "not educated enough," deserve some value in my book. Let's agree to disagree; besides, I digressed from my original post by addressing yours. I also wish you nothing but peace.

Back to the matter at hand: T.O. should not be let go from her position at the WP because she threw up some insensitive remarks on what's essentially a personal webpage (though I haven't seen it), ESPECIALLY when she attempted to take it back. I feel like I'm witnessing a strange version of Harriet the Spy: the whole class read T.O.'s notebook and then took it a bit too far. They just ostracized Harriet for a little while--they didn't expell her from school. All judgment about what she said and her past work aside, that just ain't right in my sheltered world.


I’ve been debating all day (yeah, got some time on my hands now) whether to respond to these comments when much of my defense has already been quoted by tboy. I decided that this will haunt me to no end if I don’t -- but I’ll try to keep it short to avoid further embarrassing the Post, myself, or anyone who feels that they’ve been deceived or attacked by me.

First, just because I admit to having less experience and background than the other Post critics doesn't mean I’m a bumpkin off the street. I have an English degree and studied plenty of drama -- some modern, mostly classics, which is likely why I’ve had an especial affinity for companies such as Stage Guild and WSC. And from the very start I’d tried to make up for the lack of deep knowledge my colleagues have by researching the hell out of works, playwrights, and even theater companies I was unfamiliar with before I’d write a word. Besides, many critics of all sorts of art forms I’ve talked to over the past several years have said they knew little about their eventual area of expertise when they began reviewing -- including tboy (whom, btw, I harbor no ill will toward for reporting on this). And Trey, please correct me if I’m wrong.

Neither was I automatically put off by low-budget or experimental theater -- some of the most bare-bones or nonlinear productions I've reviewed have been ones I’ve loved. Charter and the three debut shows by Solas Nua come to mind, as well as some Longacre Lea shows and “Gertrude Stein: If You Had Three Husbands,” probably the best thing that the defunct Stanislavsky ever put on. And I’ve always, always been able to separate my personal taste from whether something was well-done or not. I’m not so arrogant to have dismissed a production just because it wasn’t up my alley.

And the bottom line is that my preference for reviewing movies over theater, which I acknowledge could not be discerned from the few offending lines on my website, is largely because of my disposition. I am a very, very introverted person, and I was often nervous as hell in the clearly close-knit theater world. And I’m flabbergasted by the comments that I could be mean or personally attack someone, because I tried to be as diplomatic as I could when criticizing a work or an actor -- and have seen vicious reviews by other critics that have made me cringe. Yeah, I’ll be the first to admit that I often shoot daggers in my movie reviews, but again, that’s because a great chunk of that industry is slimy and just out to make a buck without any regard for a product’s quality. I know that the theater world is different, that it’s fueled by passion for the art form and people who have chosen to pursue what makes them happy instead of trying to get rich. So if a production or a particular performance wasn’t very good, I did not relish the fact that my job was to point it out after people have put their hearts and sweat into it.

Last (sorry, this wasn’t short at all), my use of “theatah” was meant to be lighthearted and wasn’t an indictment of the industry. The word “nerd” is used playfully (and often for self-description) by pretty much everyone I know who’s really into something, including myself -- not an ounce of offense meant there. And my comment in general was equal to what in my other life I would emphatically refer to as “film,” to reflect something with a bloated sense of its artistry/genius. Anyone who thinks that all theater, all movies, or all whatever deserves praise (and an audience’s $$$) just because it exists is deluded.

And for the person who questioned whether anyone would continue to publish me, you’ll keep seeing my byline in our Paper of Record -- despite their decision to remove me from the theater beat, I was encouraged to continue pitching music or anything else I’d like to write about.

Thanks for hearing me out, though I suppose I’ve changed no one’s opinion.


And I think that, with that, we'll close comments on this one.

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