The following is a comment Colin Thomas posted today on his own This One Goes to Eleven interview. I’m reprinting it here not because I’m pushing people to leave more comments on my site (although we do secretly crave the validation of the comments section, us bloggers), but because I believe it to be vital that the theatre artists in Vancouver develop a more direct and open communication with their audience, towards nothing more than getting their bums in our seats. I’m not talking about our friends here, of course, but those folks whose absence we’re always bitching about on the slow nights of the run. Critics such as Colin are quite often the general population’s routine conduit to our work, and they provide an ideal forum to get the conversation started. My thanks to Colin for declaring his accessibility here.
Okay folks, speak up.
One of the great frustrations I have as a critic, is that I want my voice to be part of a discussion, but people hardly ever talk back.
Within the theatre community, a weird kind of etiquette seems to have developed that limits artists’ choices to two: either you keep mum about reviews (and are either happy with them or develop deep and simmering resentments), or you vent your rage in personalized attacks in letters to the editor.
I’d really like to have a rigorous, respectful exchange—about the work, not about personalities. But I can’t do that on my own.
By the way, the Straight seems to be inviting online responses from readers. Check out the little microphone icon at the bottom of the reviews. It would be great if people took advantage of this opportunity.
And I’m all for thoughtful letters to the editor. I can and do learn from them.
Because I’m a critic, my voice will always be disproportionately loud, but the letters section is the most-read part of the paper.
You can contact me personally, too. My full name is in the phone book, and you can email me through the Straight.
I see this in Toronto, too: local theatre makers living in professional fear of the critics. It’s insane!
The way I see it, if we don’t engage our critics in dialogue, we forfeit the right to complain about their writing when they don’t see our work the same way we do.
Thanks for opening your doors to us Colin. Consider ours open back at you.
I’ve heard the same complaint from several Chicago critics as well, that the conversation is far to one-sided instead of a real dialogue.