21 November 2007

"For fans of straight drama, replacements are a little harder to find"? I'm sorry, but how about ANOTHER FUCKING DRAMA.

I got to my computer to find a flurry of replied-all emails of indignation and frustration alerting me to the existence of this article in today's Times. It seems that it wasn't enough for Caryn James to take space yesterday basically telling us why the few Broadway shows still running all suck, but now Charles Isherwood has the gall to write a what-to-do-during-the-strike piece that basically says, "Don't see theatre." Three safe off-Broadway shows get (barely) passing mention, and then it's on to the Met, "Friday Night Lights," and, um, watching drama unfold in the Union Square Trader Joe's?

Now, I'm all for museums (I spent almost a year working in that very one), TV, and food shopping - they happen to be three of my favorite things - but Charles Isherwood is, y'know, a theatre critic, and as such, when he says, "The options during the strike are the following non-theatrical activities," he's basically saying, "Since there's no Broadway, would-be theatregoers have no theatre to see." Which is not only wrong, not only written in his trying-to-be cute tone that's really starting to seem obnoxious when paired with his content, and not only willfully perpetrates the unhealthy idea that Broadway = All NYC Theatre, but is also insulting to everyone who works their asses off in these lesser circles of theatre to, I dunno, make exciting and vibrant art or whatever. (What crazy people would do that, getting paid next-to-nothing to make art that next-to-no-one sees? Totes crazies.)

What is a theatre critic's job? I don't think it's to advocate for plays. (I also don't think it's to viciously tear them down, ahem.) It's mostly, I think, about being insightful and open and eloquently sharing both your experience of and personal response to a play. (Recognition of the difference between waste-of-money and trying-but-not-working is also helpful, ahem.) But I think having some care for, or love of , or interest in the city's theatrical landscape is vital. And anyone who had any of that care, interest, or love would not have written this piece. The math is pretty obvious from there.

[Update: Read Isaac's eloquent take on things here.]

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