Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Are You a Playwright or a Critic?

I was lucky enough to hear Terry Teachout speak at the American Theatre Critics Conference last week.  I know many of you had some or all of the critics at your theatres last week.   I wanted to go to this meeting in particular because I wanted to meet Terry (who is the critic for the Wall Street Journal) has been so incredibly supportive of Chicago theatre.  He was very nice and charming.  His talk was about the power of enthusiasm and he talked about the critics role in supporting the work as well as being critical.  He said that a rant is super fun to write but in the end not especially helpful for anyone.

I see a lot of shows and people always ask me if I get sick of it and I don’t, because it is very rare that I see a show that doesn’t move me in some way.  He travels all over the country to see shows – he probably sees more shows than I do and he has to fly to the cities they are in.  And, it’s not just about the big theatres in every town, it’s about all theatre everywhere (although I do get the sense that he’s partial to musicals).  And he loves it – this guy loves theatre.  It was so refreshing to hear someone talk about how much he loves his job and what makes it worthwhile and to say to the critics if you love a show you should say it loud and even stand up if you are so moved.  He was planning to go to BoHo that night – wonderful company, well-respected, good work – but I don’t imagine they get too many national critics in the house. 

He has written a play and it’s getting produced this summer.  When I heard that I thought harrumph…are you a playwright or a critic?  Turns out he’s also been a professional musician and has written lots of stuff, books and librettos…  So, I guess he doesn’t feel like he has to choose and when his play opens I hope it’s met with the same love and enthusiasm he brings every night to the theatre.


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