Well it’s been interesting in blog and social media land in the last day or so with me opening my keyboard and letting my stomach rumble on yesterday’s post. What I said, I stand by and many have put forward ideas on both sides of this discussion. By pointing out that the review written for the Evening Express for Avenue Q lacked any real engagement with our show, I (and others) received messages from friends who have connections with the Journals to explain why it might have been as generic as it was.
Firstly it’s not a personal attack on Ed as I don’t know him and as I said on the blog I didn’t know what his brief was, word limit or how it was dealt with editorially. I can see the point from both sides as those of us in the show felt that it didn’t engage with our interpretation of the show and the signing off by comparing it to “Book of Mormon” and saying it wasn’t as funny was just rude and irrelevant. However the point made by friends from the papers that he may have been given a limited space and that outlining the story is what the readers want and need is understandable too.
I have always written this blog primarily for myself and occasionally I let rip or have a rant and it bursts out into the mainstream – but when it does it should be seen as a starting point for a discussion on an issue. I never claim to be an expert on the subjects I write on and I don’t want people to get in trouble because I’ve opened my mouth and thrown my feet straight into it. In this case I genuinely wonder if there is an issue about the portrayal of the arts through things like reviews. If you consider the vast column inches and publicity shows like ours get in the run up it doesn’t add up to review them in such a general and disconnected way – that’s an issue for the paper, not the individual critic.
My main point was I was annoyed that someone who gets a free ticket to a show (whether they liked it or not) should have the freedom and space in a newspaper to be honest – not cruel or vindictive – but honest enough to say if something or someone was good and obviously if things didn’t work too. There is a skill to reviewing things – and I claim no real expertise in the field – but if you are being paid to do it and your employer wants a section with reviews both should be well presented and engaged with the shows, otherwise why bother?
The fact that there have been so many discussions between fellow cast members, other am-dram performers and those involved with the Evening and P&J means that it’s opened up a dialogue on the issue. If you consider the amount of talent in theatre, dance, comedy, music and other performance in the city there is so much scope for us to highlight the successes – and to give the papers their due, they do support it well – but perhaps rather than just using each other to promote shows or sell copies there is an opportunity to genuinely engage in a celebration of local talent.