..the review is the thing..

8

September 13, 2008 by Jo

So around January of this year I discovered an anonymous blog about theatre here in Huntsville. Using Google Blogsearch I was able to read most of each review and get the jist of this site.

The address was http://muchmorerealthanlife.blogspot.com and the tagline was something about loving theatre because it’s “much more real than life”. As I read the reviews, I got tickled. The grammar and spelling in most of it was inadequate, many of the posts were short and very pointed (for instance, anything Jim or Jeff did got slammed), and I guess due to disinterest in updating/keeping up (I swear, there are only about 10 people in this city who actually see every show) the site was removed.

For a while now I’ve been talking about the value of a good, thorough review. It’s one of the main reasons that I share my opinion with those who ask for it, and I’ve also learned that certain people can handle the truth and others can’t.

I know in our city, with 1-3 week runs of shows and the incestous community we thrive in in our theatre world, having reviews printed in the newspaper is pretty impossible because most shows aren’t ready on dress rehearsal for a reviewer to attend, and that would be the only feasible way to get reviews in the paper on the first weekend.

It’s also obvious that the majority of the theatre community here take everything way too seriously and therefore cannot stand for someone, ANYONE, to say that the pace was slow, people were miscast, the tech was incomplete…

So while I, and probably most of my little theatre family, would be able to handle the criticism as long as it was presented in a constructive and positive way (in other words, I could care less about something that happened ten years ago between ____ and ____, JUST LEAVE IT AT HOME…) I can see that the community at large isn’t ready because WE ALL TAKE OURSELVES TOO SERIOUSLY.

And there’s my review.

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8 thoughts on “..the review is the thing..

  1. Jeanette says:

    I totally agree with you, and I am not that involved with theater here except helping in the box at RT and now helping usher at the VBC. But your review can really be applied to every organized performance from theater to sports to concerts to even presentations at work. Some can take the critic remarks, some can’t. We all have to learn how to listen and learn don’t we? 🙂
    Oh, and I love this new layout! See you at the gym!

  2. Sarah says:

    Couldn’t agree more. The reason that site was removed was because people did exactly what you said. Couldn’t take the criticism. As for the spelling and grammar, well.. What can we say? We attended public schools.

    Glad you enjoyed our blog.

  3. Jo says:

    @Jeanette – Yep. Difficult lesson to learn, but being able to take criticism is a definite character strength.

    @Sarah – It is a shame that our theatre community isn’t ready for a critic, but in turn I understand that one of the only rewards we receive as volunteers is the applause…the joy we gain from knowing our hours of rehearsals paid off in the audience enjoying it.

    Having a critic, regardless of how objective and unbiased, anonymous or known, tear apart that hard work could be devastating to our volunteer base. But I still believe we as a theatre community should look into how to provide each other with positive and constructive ways to improve.

  4. Sarah says:

    See, we tried to take a different angle: the reviews, although posted by us, were written by members of our community involved with the show being reviewed. We hoped this would provide a varied base and allow for a spectrum of backgrounds and opinions to be shared.

    I think we’ve all had our fair share of critcism.. Some of it valid, some of it silly. In the end, the play is the thing.

  5. The Mikado, et al. says:

    Well, Allen Moore Sr. reviewed for years…Carl Spurlock called him “The Synopsis King.”

    Michael Rich came in for a year or so and REALLY reviewed, but left to go up north for several years.

    Then Anne Marie Martin reviewed…starting off basically more Moore-ish than Rich-ish, but soon “really” reviewed; then, after a year, they became (again) basically overviews. (I think somebody must have complained. Between late ’89 and mid-to-late ’90, they were true, critical reviews. By 1991, that had changed.)

    When Howard Miller came on in 1995, reviews ceased, except for pro productions or those of TRTC. I was warned before he came on that they’d die with him and the Times actually printed more than one editorial on why they shouldn’t review?!?! (More on further developments on that situation in some other post.)

    Then, around the late 90’s, there was a guy who reviewed on the web. He was thorough, and disappeared after a year or so.

    Then Babs Pans-Y came on the scene, and I knew from Day One who it was.

    Now this go-round, I never saw. Is it still something that can be posted? I’d have fun guessing who posted what. I’m sure the nonexistent Elaine Burke-Light may have even appeared, nicht wahr?

  6. Jo says:

    I agree, Tevye. I would love to see the posts in their entirety again.

  7. lynds says:

    totally unrelated topic- the pics of you and jeff at bridge street are on al.com and they are SO cute. love the spaghetti one!! :o)

  8. Jo says:

    Thanks sister! I finally tracked them down. Did you recognize Niña Banta?

    http://blog.al.com/enjoy/2008/09/classic_takes.html

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