If a show is crap, walk out or leave at intermission

One of the most sacred of all bovines close to the hearts of the purple beret-wearing theatuh crowd is the belief that if a theatre critic leaves a show before the end, they should not write a review of it.

Nonsense!

First, on the logic of continuing to consume something when what’s on offer isn’t any good.

The idea that you should continue to watch a crap show because it might get better is like asking a restaurant patron to keep eating because, yes, the soup sucks, but really we’re just about to knock your socks off with the primi! Or maybe you should keep buying AMC Gremlins because, really, the engineers are just about to nail this thing!

Let’s get real here, folks. Apply this nonsensical principle to any – ANY – other facet of your life, and see how it holds up. Do you continue to shop at a store with horrible service because it might get better? Do you continue to read through a botched resume because it might get better? Do you continue to use Comcast because it might bet better?

No. You don’t. Why?

Because life is short.

Continue reading “If a show is crap, walk out or leave at intermission”

The secret lives of play commissions | 5 Useless Degrees interviews Seattle playwright Bryan Willis, co-author with Dwayne Clark of controversial SEVEN WAYS TO GET THERE

As they are wont to do, the guys over at 5 Useless Degrees have been exploring the seamy, dank, always interesting underside of the theatre world. And this time their probing and prodding has led to one of the more interesting stories in the Northwest theatre this year.

You may recall back in March a story by Brendan Kiley in The Stranger about the new play SEVEN WAYS TO GET THERE by Bryan Willis and Dwayne Clark at Seattle’s ACT Theatre. Read that article for the backstory.

In a nutshell, businessman Dwayne Clark approached Willis about writing a play partially based on Clark’s life and experience in group therapy. They did it, Clark bankrolled the entire operation, and the play went up at ACT and sounds to have been pretty darn successful, both financially and critically.

And then, of course, the theatuh peanut gallery, which so often sounds like a mob of emaciated crows fighting over a roadkilled mouse, went into overdrive weeping and wailing how unfair it was that only rich playwrights get produced, and how wrong it was for Clark to use financial influence to get his play done.

There are many, many threads you could draw out in this saga, but probably the most relevant one is Clark’s observation on how broken the regional theatre is financially:

“Why do you do this? How do you stay in business? This seems like a broken economic model.”

Continue reading “The secret lives of play commissions | 5 Useless Degrees interviews Seattle playwright Bryan Willis, co-author with Dwayne Clark of controversial SEVEN WAYS TO GET THERE”

“click-bait for white, middle-class geezers” | The Stranger’s Brendan Kiley slams Durang’s VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE

If you see theatre around the Pacific Northwest, one critic you have to read is Brendan Kiley at The Stranger. Kiley has been around for a long time and writes direct, provocative reviews. If you’ve never read the theatre pages at The Stranger, you’ll be surprised by the level of community engagement there. Stories get lots of comments. It’s clear the entire community is reading and debating these reviews, which gives them an extra level of heft. By comparison in Portland, not only do theatre reviews not get comments, they’re often barely read at all (online) according to some media folks.

Here’s Kiley in fine form on the most produced play of the 2014-15 American theatre season, Christopher Durang’s VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE.

Every year in the American theatre, a concentrated list of anointed plays (often from New York) gets taken up and hustled through the mill of regional theatre. It’s hard to make the case that you’re somehow an innovative or locally attuned arts group when you’re doing the exact same thing as everyone else in the country. And this year when it comes to Durang’s play, literally everyone else in America is doing it – the Chekhov riff is getting 27 productions around the US.

Continue reading ““click-bait for white, middle-class geezers” | The Stranger’s Brendan Kiley slams Durang’s VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE”