I was invited to an event on facebook today that has me deeply bothered. It's actually, I guess, in the end, NOT that big of a deal, and I have other things to worry about like planning my wedding and National PlayREWRITING Month and such, but, this has stuck with me all day, and it's actually been something that has bothered me for a while, so I guess I will just get it off my chest.
What do you do when you are dealing with a theatre reviewer who doesn't seem to just NOT get it, but is actually a terrible writer and should be canned by the paper she works for? Furthermore, what do you do when your theatre friends openly make fun of her on the internets and then invite you to a holiday party specifically to make MORE fun of the reviewer?
I won't mention names, but some of you may know who I am talking about. She writes these reviews that basically read like 3rd grade book reports. I am not being mean--it's the truth of the matter. And as long as I was involved in theatre and local writing in my hometown, she was there. And she has gotten worse over the years and now it's just laughable how terrible her writing is, but because she's been with the local writing scene for SO LONG, no one is going to can her. Honestly, if I could post a sample here, you would understand. But really, suffice to say, 3rd grade book report might actually be a generous description.
Now, I will openly admit to rolling my eyes when I read one of her reviews and I get a good giggle out of them, and I sometimes will find myself enraged because when I was still around, I couldn't get the local writing community to EVER let me write a theatre review, even though I know what I'm talking about and would write one that people wouldn't snicker at at least. So I have definitely participated in the being annoyed at this particular writer thing, but what I was invited to today kind of took it to a whole new level.
Actually, there's been a steady increase to this whole new level. As my friends would post reviews of the shows they were involved with, and inevitably this woman's writing would come into play, more and more of my friends would become more and more loose about what they would say about her openly on the internet. Some of it has been downright embarrassingly mean.
But creating a holiday party dedicated SOLELY to making fun of this writer, and actually digging up her works to have read at the party (and this goes into her own theatre writing too not just her journalistic endeavors), with the sole purpose of making fun of her, well, I am a bit nauseated by the whole thing.
Part of me is like, I don't want to burn bridges. Whether or not I like someone in the business, and whether or not I think that person is talented or full of crap, I don't think that sort of thing really needs to be on the internet. It's like with naked pictures--they will be there forever. SOMEONE will be able to find them. And I kind of feel like it's infantile and petty to advertise it. I mean, I know theatre, in general, is a gossipy bunch; they like to say mean things and back stab. I've been there, hell, I'll admit to doing it myself. We are all only human. But I guess what I'm saying is, for God's sake, keep it in the Green Room and off the internet, where it could come back to haunt you one of these days.
When I was at Iowa, my first contacts with theatre and writing for the stage was through No Shame Theatre. I loved it. I was obsessed with it. I knew the politics of this particular group and how to stay in the 'in' group at the time. I was still young and just starting out, and it's hard to not get sucked into a peer pressure situation.
There was a guy who would do pieces there sometimes. I won't mention his name, but he had a name that was a famous person's name--and really, he wasn't as cool as his name would indicate. He was young and troubled--he once told one of the members of the No Shame board after asking this person to read one of his scripts to not say anything bad about it, or he would hold it inside for three days and explode.
This, to me, did not denote stability.
But some of the people I was involved in No Shame with would encourage him to be there and write, and perform, not because they were being encouraging and inclusive, but because they wanted to have a good laugh on the part of this troubled young man. I would have no part of it, mostly because I kept envisioning what would happen when he realized that everyone there was just making fun of him all along, and it had to do with him showing up with a gun and killing us all.
I feel like it's a very similar situation, and I refuse to participate. Funny part? Yeah, I'm posting this on the internet. I don't know why I wanted to post it here, but it feels good to get it out of my system.
I think the part that bothers me the most is that no one is keeping this on the downlow. To me, it seems like if you are going to make fun of someone who can review your shows, regardless of how badly they are reviewed, you shouldn't burn that bridge. Because if I were an editor of a paper or involved with putting together shows or something, I might think twice if I saw something like this. Maybe it doesn't matter as much when you're in a small town and everyone knows everyone, but I feel like your rep in theatre will follow you everywhere.
Am I wrong? Maybe I should just go back to wedding planning.