I was just writing in response to an ongoing problem I and many others have with one of your critics, Justin Hayford. I have never been one to question another man’s opinion. In fact, I have never really cared about what someone has to say, especially Justin Hayford. But as an ongoing supporter of the Trap Door Theatre, I think this problem should be addressed.
I witnessed two productions this year, Orpheus Descending, which was panned in your paper by Justin [November 20, 1998], and most recently Lebensraum [September 10]. In both reviews, as I recall, he does not feel the two playwrights, Tennessee Williams and Israel Horovitz, are credible. What? The only things he finds entertaining seem to be cabaret and campy sketch comedy shows. These men are legends, award-winning playwrights and courageous speakers for social justice. Is Justin a racist, is he a Nazi, or just a washed-up playwright himself, jaded to the extent that anything creative and beautiful is completely foreign to him? I think we can answer that question with about as much thought as he puts in his reviews.
I attended the show he saw. I was blown away by the actors–Danny Belrose, Eric Johnson, and Sharon Gopfert–to the point of tears. The direction of Michael Pieper kept me at the edge of my seat. The Trap Door has never let me down. These heartfelt artists take you on a journey far more superior to anything I have seen in Chicago theater. With all of these elements combined, you know you are watching something important. When I read the review I was overcome by anger. I feel Justin should be fired. I feel he should be beaten. I feel we as artists in Chicago are being cheated by this man. I feel like going to one of his cabaret shows and letting him know how I feel about his credibility as an artist by vomiting on his stage, just as he continues to puke his opinion on the pages of your otherwise honest paper. I hate this man’s writing. I hate the shows he does praise. In general, I have grown to hate this man immeasurably. So if you continue to print his reviews, I will be forced to take action myself. I am now at silent war with this man, and I have an army of artists, actors, and playwrights who will back me. You will hear from me again. Anyone who shares similar opinions should E-mail similar letters.