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To the editors:
As one of three jurors for the performance series “Opening the Circle of Identities,” I appreciate your coverage in the November 24th Reader. But unfortunately, Justin Hayford skirted several important issues. For starters, Dominique Dibbell’s Dean Rivers was a parody of a male performance persona. Instead of arguing this point, however, Hayford writes that Dibbell should adopt an “actorly concern” and commit herself more fully to her character. If Dibbell had wanted to achieve this goal, I doubt that she would have used a hairbrush as a microphone when she lip-synched. By ignoring the comedic aspects of Dibbell’s performance, Hayford circumvents a feminist critique.
This is further evidenced in his reading of Suzie Silver’s Desire Denied, Deferred or Squared. Here, Hayford describes Silver’s live performance sequences and the alternating video segments taken from Hollywood films, but never examines the relationship between them. Had Hayford questioned this juxtaposition, he might have launched into a discussion on the cultural construction of lesbian sexuality. Simply stated, Hayford could not rise to the occasion.
When it comes to Hayford’s take on Joanna Frueh and Christine Tamblyn’s Duel/Duet, I must add insult to injury and say that Hayford needs to educate himself. By suggesting that these women are too academic and therefore unintelligible, Hayford advances the notion that women should not be smart. The fact that these women can twist patriarchal discourse back on itself should be celebrated and not shrouded in confusion by writers such as Hayford.
Justin Hayford replies:
While I ordinarily appreciate hearing opinions contrary to my own, your critique is markedly unsound. First, a more careful reading of my original review would answer each of your criticisms, especially that concerning my alleged uneducated misogyny. Second, as you were a juror for “Opening the Circle of Identities,” your insight comes from the vantage point of an insider. You are familiar with and privy to the material, allowing you access to ideas that were not necessarily communicated with any success through the performances themselves.