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There is a lot of talk these days about our city’s critics. The talk is both negative and positive. Most often the conversation fills me with more questions than anything else. One common scenario is that of the freshly blasted theaterite condemning the critic that just defecated all over his/her show. It is almost humorous to watch as the freshly anointed one goes through the ritual of “dissecting the review” and slowly but surely removing any trace of the critic being an experienced theatergoer, and rationalizing them into broom-carrying trolls who should not be allowed out of their crypts to attend our glorious productions.

I know this is considered normal. Just as it may be considered normal for the critics to accept their brethren who love to whip out the hot poker and thrust it into the behind of any production that offends the eye. One that should not be allowed upon the stage. Whatever it is the biggest problem I have is the questions this whole subject leaves me with. These questions:

Question number 1: Are critics here for the theatergoing public or the education of the productions’ casts and crews?

Question number 2: Why do so many productions use the reviews as the flagship of their marketing strategy?

Question number 3: If you don’t like what the critics have to say or how they say it, or you just don’t like the process altogether, why do you go and invite them into your theater so they can tell everybody what they think?

Question number 4: Has anyone ever tried listening to what the critics have to say and followed the criticism, even just to see what might happen?

Question number 5: Do critics spend much time thinking about the tremendous negative effect a “spanking” in print has upon the cast and crew, even after the show closes?

No answers, sorry. I just thought people might like to think about this. Thank you.

Gordon Penn

N. Kenmore