Wednesday, September 03, 2008

An Interview with -- Me! -- on Extra Criticum (Part 3 of 7)

I was very flattered when Rolando Teco, whose new blog Extra Criticum is pretty damn cool and has a lot of potential, asked me to participate in an experiment in which his various writers and contributors would ask a bunch of questions of me as a critic. Well, the third installment is up; there will be seven parts (and a bonus). And who knows who I'll alienate this time!

Here's a tease:

Q: ....So my question is: Do you ever feel tempted to pull your punches in hopes of getting people to see a flawed but worthy show?....

A: ....The third part of your question is extremely interesting, so I hope you’ll allow me to address that first. In a world without commercial pressures, and with government subsidy of the arts, full houses, and grants for everyone, I think it would be great to have productions reviewed at the start of their runs and again at the end. But none of the above conditions are going to come into existence soon, and, in any event, this goes directly to the question of what function theatre criticism serves in our culture. For us—for better or for worse, and usually both—the function of theatre criticism is to tell potential audience members about the production and to offer some kind of pronouncement or opinion with regard to the production’s value—it’s value as art, it’s value as a transactional proposition. At the end of a show’s run, there aren’t any more tickets to sell, ads to take out, or quotes to pull, so the idea of a review at the end of a run just isn’t pragmatic: Why would a nonprofit or commercial producer provide a comp?

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