Tuesday, December 05, 2006

No Hard Feelings

What's with this mistaken impression that people have about my internet thoughts being "secret" or "hidden"? Dave's got the same thing going on that the blog lurkers have where they think they've "found me out" somehow. It's the interweb people and I am, in fact, not an idiot. I do, in fact, realize that things I write on my blag or other people's blags are out there for people to read. That's why I don't say things that I wouldn't want people to read. If I don't want people to know I said something I post anonymously (Celine Dion comment what?).

But Dave's comment begs a question. Should I phone the Artistic Director of the theatre company producing each and every show I go see to tell them my opinion of their work? Doesn't seem appropriate somehow. Now, had I run into Dave in the lobby after the show and he had asked my opinion, would I have told him? Of course I would have, at length if he was truly interested. As anybody who knows me is aware I'm not exactly shy with the opinions, be they good or bad.

There's another issue here that nags at me in my everyday life. This came up at the fateful meeting last night where people felt some adjudications were too "mean". For example the comment that was something like that actor really shouldn't sing. And some people in the room were all "oh, that's so cruel. they're just having fun, etc, etc,". Meanwhile I'm thinking if she can't sing then she probably shouldn't be in a musical. If you lack the talent for something, let's use singing as an example, I don't think you should do it. Seriously. Some people will never be able to sing. So don't. Not publicly anyways. When you're in the shower or your own home or alone in the office, sure, belt it out honey. But there's no way that someone who can't sing should be cast in a musical and inflicted upon an audience of paying customers. They are paying to hear someone sing.

Do you get my point? And ultimately, don't you think people would be better off finding their talent rather than bashing their head against their particular brick wall whether it be singing, acting, dancing, or whatever.

Anyways...I guess that's a bit off the current topic. A different rant for a different day.

I definitely struggle with community theatre in general. I would say about 75% of it is really not very good (or shitty, if you will). And alot of that not very good could be fixed with some attention to detail, organized rehearsal time, adequate rehearsal time, and understading the priorities of quality show production. If I'm remembering the correct show I believe The Graduate suffered from the fatal flaw of extremely long scene changes. Pacing, pacing, pacing people. You fuck up the pacing you usually ruin the piece. So I guess I'm trying to address that through the adjudication process, which is why I contribute to that (hopefully) more useful function (as opposed to the Catties).

And, in conclusion, (anonymous, I hope you're checking back and approving of my paragraph structure and general punctuation and grammer) I would like to have a bitchy moment. Megs, please don't take offense for the following, you know I love your mad blagging skillz. I'm not the one who went out of my way to post a blag entry about a show I saw and didn't like. I merely commented and agreed with an already stated opinion. So I was...bemused...to find myself the object of a lengthy diatribe whilst Megan escaped apparently unscathed. Perhaps this is another of Megan's mad skillz, escaping unscathed. Crafty girl.

Good Lord I need to go to bed. Two blag posts in one day? I can't handle this level of activity!!

ps. I really "love" it when people say things like "no hard feelings" after saying deliberately scornful, cutting or hurtful comments. yeah, no hard feelings on your part maybe.

pps. No hard feelings!


Anonymous said...

Interesting response. Let me address a couple of things...

Blogs are different than private emails between friends. Unless your friend is a bastard and feels like forwarding your private email to certain people, unlike blogs, your email is a private thing. Your blog gets found on a google search related to a show.

I really want to be clear about my impression of your comments about The Graduate. Like I said in my original post, your comments were valid - they were as valid as comments made about the show that fall into the positive spectrum. Also, like I said, I have often heard disparraging remarks about productions I've been a part of and it's always interesting to hear them. Some comments involve personal taste, some comments reveal a certain professional standard held by the person giving the comment, and others are, as you might say: "quite cattie".

The interesting and unfortunate part is, should your comments be relating to the opening night performance of The Graduate, I would agree in your assessment that the show was hindered by rough set-movement and all those good things that go-along with opening night - rough things that were unavoidable with this production for reasons I won't bother going into here. I like to pride myself in doing what i can in a production to ensure that an opening night show is just as worthwhile as a closing night performance.

Part of me wants to chalk-up your negative experience of the play as a result of those things, but I know that it's deeper than that, and that is fine too. I just need to remind you that when I talk about your opinion, I am doing so as my thoughts filter through my own. Just because some critics said that The Graduate was almost good, does that mean it is universally true? Nope. Because you say it was shitty because of A, B and C, does that mean that's true to everyone - nope? I had one critic (as in a guy who gets paid to write reviews) say that The Graduate was the best thing on stage this year - does that make him correct - absolutely not - or all of these opinions are correct - whatever - the truth always lies somewhere in the middle. Let it be known that I hate my productions falling into the category of - wait until later in the run, than it'll be good. That's not forgivable at most levels - including semi-professional theatre.

Anyway, what I thought of the play as a product doesn't really matter. What I was calling into question here was the manner in which opinions are expressed. Simply put, I think it's dismissive to say that a play was shitty - but it's also an opinion and once articulated, it can be an opinion with a great deal of personal merit.

In the end, I took offense to one person's opinion - the person being mainly you - not Meg - Meg really only expressed disappointment in the play. I took offense to the way you seemed to describe the people involved, specifically the actors and director, as giving a shitty or weak performance - more than that, you seemed to be saying (through certain analogies) that these people didn't takee the project seriously and they don't have what it takes to be actors or directors etc.

I have seen plenty of what I thought were sub-par shows in my life and when I watch for the actors coming out of the show at the end, all smiles and pride - I have sometimes asked myself, do they even know how shabby that was? And then I go home, and I think about how my opinion, while educated and grown through applicable experience, doesn't really matter much more than anyone elses. It is an opinion that hopefully illuminates and frustrates and causes thought in those who are exposed to it - kind of like your opinion did. The difference is, your opinion seemed a little mean - sorry if that sounds school-yard, but that's how it read.

As I said, I've seen a lot of sub-par plays - tonight, I hope to see a good one, it will be my 12th play of the year, regardless of what I think of it, I'm sure my opinion won't be more valid than the guy sitting next to me, and if it happens to be a negative one, I hope it won't be so strong that it would make me call into question wether or not those people on stage or behind the scenes really should be there or not.

Amanda, I really don't think this is about being able to accept criticism. On opening night of The Graduate, one person in theatre I deepy respect left at the intermission, another came up to me after the show and said - "Oh, Dave... the set-changes just killed the pace - what a shame...", and another said to me days later that the whole thing left him feeling empty. I wasn't hurt, or rubbed the wrong way - neither did I jump to the defensive.

However, nights later, audiences with genuine appreciateion applauded scenes in the middle of scenes with enthusiastic whoops and hollers and the set-changes received applause too because they were timed correctly with a cast and crew that had the long-overdue confidence needed to pull off the changes with style and humour. These weren't standing ovations from friends and family - they were standing ovations from an audience filled with theatre professionals, theatre peers and anonymous audience members too. Does that make you wrong? - hell no. But you see what I'm now beating with a stick, I hope.

You know what, sometimes we take on too much - me in a fake muscle vest and fake chest hair come to mind, but most of us always do it with a sense of purpose, pride and professionalism. It's painful when it doesn't work for some people, but that's only fair. I just don't want to ever question someone's intent or work ethic or respect for their own work or piece. That's subjective too, yes, but no audience member can ever know what went into a role or an artistic contribution like directing, so it's best to not assume that what went into it, if you didn't like the result, was ignorance, laziness or generall weakness and lack of talent.

I really am sorry if my original post felt hurtful to you and I don't want to sound like high and mighty Dave who only blindly supports my peers. I just think we have to be careful what we question because when we question another's integrity, well, you can't really get much more hurtful than that. Is this a discussion we can continue some day over beer?

Meg said...

So here's the thing, Dave. I've been thinking about what your comments, and Amanda's comments, and my comments, and I really feel that something is out of whack. I wholeheartedly agree with the wtf? Amanda expressed regarding you not slagging on the blogger who opened the topic for conversation in the first place. Not that I go seeking blogcontreversy, and pissing people off? Not my MO.

Anywho. Punctuation. Whitespace, easier on the eyes.

I'm confused by your belief that Amanda believes that her opinions hold more weight than anyone else's. That is far from the truth, and I re-read the entire debacle to verify my suspicions.

And yes, blags are different than personal private emails. That's why we frequently rant on them, in the hopes that releasing our rants into the blogosphere will alleviate some of the stress that is caused by being subjected to life's little frustrations- including crap theatre, regardless of the amount of time, effort, duran-duran music, and human angst that goes into it- semi-professional or not.

Anonymous said...


Clearly you do not get the point of my reponse and you're right - perhaps I should have directed the comment at you as well.

Perhaps I'm a little off-base in judging Amanda's comments and my perception of her opinion having more weight than anyone else's. My comment is more on the boldness of the sentence: "perhaps you could tell us who you played and we could tell you how you were."

For you to label something "crap theatre", once again, in my opinion, is dismissive and irresponsible and it unnecessarily makes the people involved in said theatre feel badly. Is it that simple - yes it is.

My question is - why, when your opinion is just that (one person's opinion) would you feel the need to be hurtful in your expression of it, regardless of what fun word for feces you feel like using that day? If you feel that your opinion will help others realize their mis-steps in creating good theatre, then, yes - by definition and explanation you are saying that your opinion in label form holds more weight.

Boo hoo, right? Tough skins and all that... but when you can make a choice to be deliberatly cruel and destructive in your comments or just say that it didn't work for you and why, at least have the decency to accept that it worked for other people. Flavouring your opinion with the addition of the words "In my opinion" invites the reader or listener to acknowledge that this is indeed one person's thoughts, not a universal claim.

I like being reminded with praise or criticism that opinions are just that, and opinions too can be judged based on their method of expression and the track record of those expressing them. Did this critic appreciate a certain aspect of this play, perhaps I can see why she liked or didn't like that aspect of my play as well. etc...

Dismissive attitudes make the people who have their "crap theatre" bitch sessions sound like a group of self-congratulatory, self-appointed and obviously delusional "auteurs" who actually think they have the clout to throw-around a label like that. Ummm... no you don't, I certainly don't - nobody does, but if you think you do, I don't know... feel good about it?

But, in a moment of clarity, please feel ridiculous, because saying a peer's theatre is crap is about as ridiculous as is gets. I much prefered when you had the self-awareness to say that you were disappointed.

That was the point of my long letter, and perhaps another point missed. But this wasn't supposed to be a critique on your choice of argument style, it was to try to make clear a point that should have been clear after lots of writing on my part.

Perhaps I need to use more white space.

I truly hope you continue to enjoy the theatre you are involved in and learn from the theatre that you appreciate or find fault in. I do all the time and I welcome honest, label-free, thoughtful criticism, some of which I found in your original comments on the pay and I thank you for those.

Dave - in the mind of Megan Bailey, a guy who produces "crap theatre" - considering the source, a label I am entirely comfortable with.

Lady Rose said...

whew. does anyone else feel warm? is it just me? I think it just got a little hot in here.

I just wanted to say, to be clear, I don't think I ever implied in anything I wrote that my opinion weighs in heavier than anyone elses. If you misinterpreted that from something I wrote...well, hey the written word is not a perfect art form in the hands of an occasional blogger.

Sidebar: I find it odd that people have this whole level playing field thing going on. Some people's opinions do matter more than others. I mean, don't you think that education, life experience, knowledge base, etc have an effect on how much your opinion weighs? Is a Civil Engineer's opinion of the safety of a structure more valid than mine? I sure hope so.

But aside from that...I think the thing is that it was obvious that the stripper was looking for personal validation on Megan's blog (I think the "yay, personal validation" comment was what gave that away).

Seriously, that whole "why don't you just comment on all the actors" bit was so very tired. If you want to know what we thought of you just fucking ask. That's what she wanted to know all along, that's what she finally broke down and did.

Ultimately I think I'm going to go back to my quiet world of blogging about things like how I hate it when my socks puddle around my ankles. I've had a rant on that working up all week long.

Anonymous said...

Meg, Amanda...

My apologies for being combative and interrupting your blogging world. I do admit that in my accusations of you labeling people I turn around and do the same in my response - for that I apoogize to the both of you.
I'm sure we each stand by a lot of what we each said and that's fair. In all of what I wrote, I do hope I was clear in stating that it's not your opinion I take issue with, it is rather the way it comes off - again a subjective take on something that is subjcetive enough.
You are absolutely right that Kristi, our stripper asked for validation - it's too bad she felt like she needed to seek it out from any source, but she was returning to theatre, was on a high from the run and rehearsal process, and was likely hurt. People respond when they are hurt or when they are disappointed.
Anyway, theatre is interesting, this discussion has been interesting and I hope that in the end it has only opened doors instead of the opposite.
One last thing though - Amanda, I'm intrigued by your comment about some people's opinions weighing more than others. I agree with you, for the most part. But life-long scholars in the arts won't necessarily be able to convince me that a certain play was irreversably good or bad, regardless of what definitions they pull out of their years of schooling.
After leaving academia behind years ago, I have kind of come full-circle in the belief that an audience member is an audience member. We shouldn't just be trying to please ourselves - the layman has a valuable response too. We're not building bridges here, we're just trying to learn, entertain, provoke and grow in the process.

-Breanne said...

Hello Amanda... I believe we met once at a Ronnie play, it was wonderful! - I have been reading these crazy rants... and I felt the need to comment. Anonymous... Dave I believe your name is - every rant I read from you repeats that you're trying to make a clear point, however, after reading all these rants I have absolutely no idea what that clear point was. Perhaps Amanda or Megan knows... but I don't really think so.

I'm going to guess that your point is that you believe that Amanda stated her opinion in a way that it was too general and sounded like it was encompassing more than just her own opinion? Is that right?

I think by virtue of this statement being on a BLOG (not a billboard) and in the "Leave your comment" section of the blog it's pretty apparent that this is just a comment. And while you may have wanted to know the specific reasons for why she thought your play (I can only assume it was your play and that's why you care so much) was "crap" - I don't think most people care. Especially on a blog that is likely shared by her friends - they probably know Amanda pretty well and have an idea of her likes and dislikes. Perhaps she's really picky or maybe she loves every play. I don't know, and maybe neither do you - but the point is that this was on a blog with her friends - and THEY DO.

I realize that blogs are on the internet for all to read - but the true audience of blogs are those people who already know the blog and likely read it regularly. If you want further details on her opinion email her personally - or call her. But really... stop ranting on her site. It just makes you seem whiney.

Anonymous said...


Love, Dave

L-diggs said...

I thought I should get in on this.

All I can say is that Megan and Amanda both get paid for their work which helps decide what shows do and do not make it to the stage, before the critics even get a crack at it. For someone with such a passion for theatre, such as the elusive Dave, I'm surprised he could find the time to go on an e-rant of such depth and yet does not even have the guts to attack it's original author on her own blog. I would also highly suggest that one orient oneself with some remote knowledge of the professions of the authors in question before continuing one's diatribe as you may never know who might be turning down your next project.

PS. I've turned into one of those annoying ghost blog readers.

Lady Rose said...

ooooh...another lurker found out!!

well, lurk away people...I'll find you all someday and when I do...I'll....hmmmmmm....

huh...what will I do?

Anonymous said...

Hey there, I-diggs. Thanks for your valued comments and thanks for being such a wet blanket on my five year plan to work-up enough courage to someday propose a co-production with people who already have my worth so accurately pigeon-holed. I guess I'll have to switch gears now. You've got me, pegged and know me so well.
I love elitist theatre people - they help us all grow. I've already apologized to Amanda and Meg for the -as received -hurtful nature of my comments. Thanks to you Breanne and I-diggs for helping me look deeper inside myself.


Meg said...

I think that when you finally find the anonymous lurkers, you should force them to start their own blog.

Alternatively, dancing down Stephen Avenue in only underpants could be an
appropriate punishment.

Lady Rose said...

I was trying to craft a reply in my best ebonics street slang but that shit just don't translate to the written word right.

I like the idea of Dave quietly crafting a detailed 5-year Stalin-esque plan to say something like "hey, Amanda...wanna do a show". You know, practicing the "hey, Amanda" for a couple of years. I'm so sorry your dreams have been crushed Dave. :)

On a more serious note. Dave, I'm sorry as I've apparently hurt your feelings somewhere along the line. I don't think I was ever trying to evaluate your "worth". For what it's worth I think that the reason The Graduate failed for me was the direction and I don't believe that you directed that show. And I wasn't even making broad sweeping statements about your theatre company, just one show you guys did.

I think the real question is, what will you do with your time now that you're not crafting your elaborate 5 year plan? Is there a new 5 year plan in the making? Could that plan possibly involve a fibreoptic Christmas poinsetta?

L-diggs said...


Be careful what you wish for. It's never good when you know that underwear-runner making a scene outside of your office.

Wet blanket. Nice one.

Still getting my lurk on.

Meg said...

Dave, if you find yourself purchasing a mass of gigantic fibreoptic poinsettias ( am I the only person that thinks that should be spelled pointesetta?), I think I know where you can store them in the off-season...

plotting how fab a garden of gigantic fibreoptic florals would look beside the red velvet chair I scored from Amanda's garage sale...

RostockRose said...

It's funny. The first time I read Meg's comment just above I thought this was some kind of threat - like she was suggesting he store his fiberoptic poinsettas rectally. (By the way, the fibreoptic poinsetta is truly hideous. Looking at it is like recieving the christmas spirit rectally.)

But on closer read I see that she actually *wants* the poinsettas for some mad home decorating scheme. The hell? Nausea inducing colour rotations? All year round?

I declare that Meg is on smack on this issue.

Anonymous said...


Meg said...

What would be so horrible about year-round colour changing lights on artificial flowers?! I personally think that it's a lovely idea. They would also go well with zebra print rugs and feather-trimmed lampshades.

It suddenly occurs to me that Jon hasn't been to my house yet.

RostockRose said...

Well I've certainly been *to* your house a number of times. Just never *into* your house.

Of course, now I assume its all matresses on the floor in every room and posters of Blond Bond on every wall and disco lighting and mood music.

Admit it. You have a creepy orgy house thing going on, don't you.

Good luck explaining that to your family this Christmas. We all know what "massage oil" is really for, Megan.

Meg said...

you leave blond bond out of this!

mmm...blond bond....salivate...

Meg said...

this is what occupies my time because you're not writing on your blog anymore. Sniffle.