Wednesday, April 11, 2007

7 Reasons Why I Don't Write Theat-re(-er) Reviews

1. I write stories and plays.
Contrary to popular opinion in the U.S., you cannot have it all, and you cannot do it all. Not well, anyway. Not unless you are Joyce Carol Oates. (Don't run to the mirror; you're not her.)

2. It's a tricky business.
My community is packed with people who think it matters a lot whether you spell the word "theatre" or "theater." These are the same people who fret about the kind of "statement" they make with their choice of shoes.

3. I don't like to watch.My idol, the brilliant writer/performer Patrick Scott reminded me at the last 14/48 that I have never liked going to the theat-re (-er). As I loudly and probably drunkenly said in graduate school, most art fails and is tiresome. But I also think we ought to be showing our work to the public, not merely to each other, although it's nice when colleagues are supportive.

4. Reviewing requires a shred of modesty I don't have.
Excellent reviewing takes thought, and is not necessarily positive or negative. It is well written and witty and engaging, so that the reviewer is able to educate the reader about what to expect when watching a show. A great reviewer discusses context, motifs, themes, narrative voice versus authorial voice versus character voice. A great reviewer does not spend half a review talking about himself unless he is envious of the artists whose work he reviews, and wants to hog the attention.

5. I make art.
Why should I also have to explain it, when it's done?

6. I'm so sensitive.
Being a reviewer or an editor gives one a terrible insight into human nature. Artists (including people you like and formerly respected) hurl themselves at a publication (and what they hope will be fame) like insects against a windshield. Squish.

7. I want someone smarter than me...
To review the work in my city. Crazy as I am, I think it is possible for us to have a better educated and discerning theat-er(-re)going public. When I read a review, I want to learn something about the medium under examination. Otherwise, why waste time reading a review?

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