My Turn! My Turn! Part 1

I am really excited about the conversations happening at Parabasis and Jamespeak all about the responsibilities and relationships that a reviewer has to and with a piece of theater. Oh the joy of having my own blog! I don’t even *have* to comment on theirs!

Of course I did. I can’t stop myself.

Okay, first of all, I love reviewers and I love reviews. I love reviews that tear something up, I love reviews that celebrate something. The only reviews I don’t like are badly written reviews of shows I haven’t seen… I really love making fun of stupidly written reviews, even when I agree with them. I like talking shit, and reviews of shows, even mine, give me and my friends a chance to make fun of someone – either the reviewer or the show. I’m perfectly happy mocking anyone, just so long as we get to the mocking.

Ultimately, the reviews aren’t gonna do much for me or my brethren. I didn’t get in to the sold out run of MilkMilkLemonade, but that was as much great word of mouth, great collaborators who got the word out and great reputations associated with the artists involved as it was great reviews. Had the reviews been *terrible*, then it might not have sold out, but it still would have sold just fine if these three things had been in place.

It’s nearly impossible to test that theory, though, because there’s no difference now between “reviews” and “word of mouth”. I hold the opinions of my fellow playwrights, producers and bloggers in higher esteem than I do reviewers. I love reading reviews, but honestly, they don’t mean anything to me at all.

Do you know why I admire Gus Schulenberg so much? Because my friends saw Riding The Bull and wrote me privately to say, “Gus is the real fucking deal, man.” Flux has won some awards and they’ve gotten good reviews, but that’s not why I have tickets to The Lesser Seductions of History. I have them because the rest of our community knows that whatever they’re doing, it’s worth seeing.

In fact, I’m saying they’ve been reviewed, but I don’t think I’ve read a single review of their stuff. I wrote a blog entry on their last play, but I’m just this guy, y’know? It wasn’t a review, it was an exploration.

So, I don’t actually care if a review was written by the brother of the lead actress, the reviews occur in a total vacuum anyway, the prose he’s laying down will either be fun to read or it won’t, but it won’t change my mind about whether or not I go. I mean, I’ve mentioned before in this blog that I’m not a big fan of stage nudity or of stage violence, so when I say I didn’t like something for these reasons, a reader of mine may very well buy a ticket *because* of that.

In the end, we’re starting to lose the need for disinterested reviewers. What we really need is a community of bloggers who are willing to discuss the merits of one another’s work openly and honestly. In my last post, I tried to explain my point of view, and, although my explanation almost guarantees that my posts will be taken with a grain of salt… we should *ALL* be taken with a grain of salt.

We should publish our thought about ALL of the shows we see, and let people figure out if they like it or not. And we gotta get over ourselves. Our show Viral and our show The First Annual St. Ignatius Chanukah Pageant are not gonna appeal to the same people necessarily. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO TELL ME WHICH ONE YOU LIKED AND WHICH ONE YOU HATED. It’s fine, we liked them both.

I’m gonna cut this off while still a “rant” and not a “ramble”. But in the next post, I’m gonna compare/contrast two of our shows, and the effect that reviews had on each.