Sunday, July 29, 2007

Martin Denton Gets Dissin'-Ginia-s

Kudos to Martin Denton for his brief, modest but nonetheless appropriate takedown of Ginia Bellafante, who, in her review last week of Tom Crean: Antarctic Explorer, writes:

At two hours the play is certainly long enough to accommodate the inquiry, but Mr. Dooley indulges in narrative where he ought to supply analysis. (No one-man show should exceed 90 minutes unless the one man performing it is Will Ferrell or Jesus.)
But here's the thing...while Martin is good enough to acknowledge that Ginia is just being jocular, and while he is correct to make the point that the joke, such as it is, is insulting to the rather long list of solo performers whose pieces are more than 90 minutes and all the better for it, the real problem here is the Times' reliance on critics that they've pulled off of desks from elsewhere -- like Bellafante from, I hear, the fashion desk. She's unqualified to write theatre criticism -- or if she is, she should know better than to be so reductive and shallow and stupid.

In about an hour, I'm going to be heading into town to visit with the attendees at this month's Community Dish meeting, and this is what I'm talking about when it comes to the community thinking about how to act like a community to demand something better than low and crappy criticism such as this. Bellafante probably thinks she's writing good copy; hell, from the point of view of the average theatergoer reading the New York Times, I suppose it is good copy. But the Times is allowed to get away with employing unqualified and ignorant critics like Ginia because we, collectively, do nothing to raise an objection to it. And that's what I mean when I say that I think we have to take action.

I know, I know...what we can we do? We're powerless, right? We have no recourse, right? The Times is untouchable, right? I just don't believe that's true. What Martin has hit on is something very important. Or at least I think so.

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