Cole Kazdin Has Amnesia

May 28, 2007

Rather, she had amnesia. Or maybe she still has it. Never mind: I’ll just let her explain everything.

But first, let me introduce who I’m referring to: none other than actress and writer, Cole Kazdin, whose new solo show, The Cole Kazdin Amnesia Project (I Don’t Remember the Name of This Show), debuts at The Brick Theater’s Pretentious Festival next month. In it, she chronicles…well, I’ll let her tell you. She may not remember the name of her show, but she sure remembers a lot of other stuff.

Having been a fan of Cole’s previous solo show, My Year of Porn, I was happy she agreed to talk with me about her latest one. Here’s what she had to say:

Q: Is The Cole Kazdin Amnesia Project (I Don’t Remember the Name of This Show) based on actual events?

A: Yes! Several years ago on the set of a low-rent, non-union television pilot – I was made to do a stunt where I was thrown into the air and then not caught. Nightmare. I had varying degrees of both short and long-term amnesia – most of which I do not recall …

Q: What made you decide to make a show out of this?

A: I’ve told the story at various storytelling venues – including The Moth and Brick-a-Brac … But it wasn’t until the folks at the Brick asked me to put up a 30 minute theatrical version for a works-in-progress series last fall that I started seriously considering it as anything more than just a story I tell. It’s great fun because the very nature of the story gives so much license to play with reality and time.

Q: Did you create the show in generally the same way you created your previous show, My Year of Porn, or did you take a different approach this time around?

A: Totally different. My Year of Porn was a circus of all these crazy characters so I really let them drive the story. I spent a lot of time just improvising in character and then writing it down and organizing it later.

With the Amnesia Project there’s a more personal story – and I don’t mean that in the autobiographical, cheesy one-person show sense, but more along the lines of – how do you know who you are if you can’t remember anything? The whole process was much less defined – trying to get back to that “amnesia” place and swimming around in it and then seeing what snaps me out – a photo, a distant memory, a Neil Diamond song.

Q: Since you’re debuting the show at the Pretentious Festival, I have to ask: what’s pretentious about amnesia?

A: Well, have YOU ever had amnesia? I thought not …

Q: What’s been your greatest challenge in putting the show together?

A: I’m seriously not making a joke here – but the most challenging thing has been remembering what actually happened to me. Which is still so much a blur. Obviously for the purposes of the play, I’ve fictionalized and dramatized quite a bit. But it has been a struggle to put myself back in that head where I had amnesia and didn’t really know anything just to be able to write about it in a real way.

Q: Will The Cole Kazdin Amnesia Project (I Don’t Remember the Name of This Show) have a life beyond the festival?

A: I hope so! I’m curious to get it up in front of an audience and then see what happens next …

As you can see, Cole is charming. She positively exudes this quality on stage, and I’m very glad that I’ll have the opportunity to see her in action again. I’m looking forward to what she has in store for us.

My review of Cole’s show will be part of our Pretentious Festival coverage here at, so make sure to keep an eye out for it in the next couple of weeks.


A Day In The Life: Robin Reed

May 22, 2007

It’s time for another installment of A Day in the Life, and this time around I thought I’d focus on one of‘s very own, the lively and delightful Robin Reed. In addition to being one of our longtime reviewers (you can read some of her recent work here, here, and here), Robin is also a talented and gifted actress who is very, very busy these days. She’s got three different shows in the works, has started her own theatre company, works several different day jobs, and has an active voiceover career. I’ll let her give you all the details, especially since she makes it all sound so fun.

With all this activity going on, Robin was kind enough to take some time out to share with me (and thus, all of you) how she does it. Here’s what she said:

Q: How many jobs are you working right now?

A: I love this question– I actually had to think and count it out on my fingers. Currently, I am doing three things somewhat regularly that pay me. It’s the first time in the better part of a decade that I’ve been in the city that I’m actually freelancing, and it’s working out so long as I don’t think about the fact that the paying jobs might actually end. I was a waiter and bartender for a long time, but gave it all up when I realized that I was beginning to hate people for things like the way that they held their fork. This realization conveniently coincided with me getting fired from my last restaurant job.

So currently, I work as a Simulated Patient for a company that hires actors to role-play with medical students. I’m also working for a small HR firm in Brooklyn doing similar simulations, but for the financial sector. And I’ve been helping out another actor friend who started up a floral design company with doing arrangements for events.

Oh, and I do voiceovers! How could I forget that?! I just recorded spots for HGTV and a hilarious radio spot for Bridezillas on Oxygen. I am still amazed that people pay me to talk! (Because I can think of a handful of folks that might pay me to shut up!) And occasionally, I do a kids show about evolution at the Museum of Natural History.

Q: You’re also working on three shows at the same time. What are they, and what are you doing with each of them?

The first is the debut performance of Cardium Mechanicum, the company I run with playwright Ed Valentine. We will present Mother is Looking So Well Today: a Grand Opera in 1 Page at The Brick’s Pretentious Festival (it’s one night only, June 3 at 7pm). It’s literally a Grand Opera, with a string trio and a chorus of thousands (or as many as we can fit on stage), in about ten minutes. I’m directing that one, and currently casting Mother’s 77 children.

I’m also rehearsing Macbeth Without Words, the latest in the Bizarre Science Fantasy series from Piper McKenzie Productions and the mind of Jeff Lewonczyk. We’ve been working on the BSF series since about 2004 now, and this is possibly the greatest undertaking yet: Shakespeare. Language-free! I play Malcolm, a witch and one of the murderers. That’s also part of the Pretentious Festival and goes up at the end of June.

Then, we just found out that we’ve been accepted to the New York International Fringe Festival! Cardium Mechanicum will present Scout’s Honor! Snipe Hunt and Becky’s Beaver, two plays by Ed Valentine, at FringeNYC in August. They’re two plays about scouting (boy scouts and girl scouts; you know, cookies, merit badges– the whole shebang) and are really funny. In addition to producing, I will be in the cast of Becky, which I’m excited about– I look great in green. Currently, Ed and I are meeting with directors, designers and kicking around casting ideas.

Q: Okay, so how do you balance all of this activity? What’s a typical day like for you right now?

My days are often pretty full, which is great. The balancing act can be tricky, but that’s part of the fun! There really has been no “typical” day lately– sometimes I’m literally all over the place, other times I spend the bulk of the day working from home.

For example, one day this week, I recorded the Bridezilla spot in midtown at 10am, had to be in New Jersey for the med school gig at 12:30, then I hit the Alain Mikli sample sale for some new eyeglass frames (it can’t be all business!) before a meet-and-greet at my agent’s office in midtown at 6 and then dinner with an out-of-town friend at 8:30 downtown.

But then today is a little more mellow– Macbeth rehearsal from 10-2, then this groovy little interview. I might even have time to catch up on some Netflix!

Luckily, weekdays lately have been peppered with voiceover auditions. I have a very basic studio set up at home, so I can record a lot of them myself and email them to my agent. That’s what “working from home” means in my world. And then every so often, I see a show to review for

Q: With everything you have going on, are you getting any sleep? And, do you and your boyfriend ever see each other?

Oh, I sleep. Man, oh man, do I sleep! I actually go to bed somewhat on the early side– I’m often knocked out by 11-12 at night. I wake up early. I get a lot done in the early hours. I don’t know when that started, and I still think of myself as a late riser, but I’m often up and going before 8am. I was really cuckoo for the out-until-4am thing when I worked in restaurants. If I do that now, I am completely useless the next day.

And yes, I see plenty of the boyfriend. Will is a computer guy in the process of starting a software company with a partner (I’d love to tell you what it is they’re doing, but I’m not well-versed enough in statistics to ever fully grasp his explanations!), so he’s also working from home quite often. With both of us here, space and noise can get tricky. Headphones are crucial. I’ve actually started to enlist him in projects for Cardium– he’s a fantastic photographer, which comes in handy when you need a publicity photo, and he knows a thing or two about websites– I like to say that I built, but we all know he’s the man behind the curtain. We are also in the beginnings of talk of an upcoming Cardium project involving robots, which he’s taken up a fancy for building. That’s all hush-hush for now.

Q: Any other projects on the horizon for you besides your current ones?

We have an ongoing situation up on our website called The Crush Project. It’s recordings of dramatic readings of the “Missed Connections” section of Craigslist. We are in talks with a few folks about presenting it as an installation piece, but for now you can subscribe to it as a podcast on iTunes, or listen to it directly on our site. We’ve been lucky enough to have some fantastic actors from the indie theater world contribute their voices to it, including Fred Backus, Katie Brack, Maggie Cino, Jorge Cordova, Carrie Haugh, Nicole Higgins, Pamela Sabaugh, Skyler Sullivan and others.

In June, Ed Valentine and I are collaborating with the Museum of Natural History on a live show to accompany their new exhibit on Myths.

And we’ve also just finished a script co-written by seven playwrights (each took a turn writing about ten pages). We’re talking about collaborating with an artist up in Boston to present it as an animated series. We start doing the voices sometime between Mother… and Scout’s Honor.

As for me personally, it looks like I may head out of town in the fall to do a show with an old director friend in North Carolina.

Q: Any advice for all those multitaskers out there who may be having trouble juggling everything?

You know, I’m not one for self-help books, but I did read Getting Things Done by David Allen. He talks about a system whereby you break everything down into actionable tasks. It is so easy to get overwhelmed by everything– you know, there are about a hundred thousand steps that go into putting up a show. But when you break it down into actual actions, what you physically do, it makes it easier to get it all done. I’m a total nerd for lists. And day-planners. The old-fashioned pen-and-paper kind.

See what I mean? She makes this all sound so much fun. And easy. And, for Robin, it is. She thrives on having a full calendar, and those of us who know her are constantly learning from her that having a full life can sometimes help one live their life to the fullest. In a word: inspiring.

Clearly, theatergoers won’t be lacking opportunities to see Robin in action this summer, so I suggest you take at least one of them and check her out. You’ll be glad you did.

I want to keep sharing stories like these. I like them, and I hope you do, too. For every performer in New York, there’s a story like Robin’s. So tell me: what’s yours?

Fundraiser Follow-Up: Impetuous Theater Group

May 17, 2007

Today I’d like to briefly check back in with Josh Sherman and the gang at Impetuous Theater Group. You may recall that they had a fundraiser last month for their new show, The Chronological Secrets of Tim by Janet Zarecor. Since then, I’ve been wondering how everything went. I assumed it all went fine because their show is opening this week, but I thought I’d follow up with Josh just to make sure. 

When I reached Josh, he was “knee-deep in Tim,” as he put it, but still had a moment to spare for the following status report on Airplane! The Fundraiser!:

We definitely met our goals and more with our fundraiser – we found that by having a suggested donation people were more inclined to give more than we anticipated. Artistically, we felt that we did great considering our crazy-short rehearsal period. And in terms of attendance, we had to cut off ticket sales because we ran out of space (although I think we squeezed almost everyone in).

I figured everything turned out fine, what with the show opening and all. How great that the fundraiser not only met but exceeded the company’s financial goals. Anyone who’s ever had to throw one knows how rare it is that one can actually say that. So, my congratulations to Josh and everyone at Impetuous.

By the way: I’ll be seeing The Chronological Secrets of Tim over the weekend. Stay tuned for my review.

Samantha Lally Commits Butterfly Suicide

May 12, 2007

Summer Festival Season is finally upon us, and one of the first festivals of the summer starts this coming week. I’m talking about terraNOVA Collective’s soloNOVA Arts Festival, a three-week celebration of solo performance. This is soloNOVA’s fourth year in existence, and they’ve got a roster of over 30 artists playing two East Village venues: Performance Space 122 and Mo Pitkin’s House of Satisfaction.

Today, I thought I’d talk to one of this year’s festival participants, Samantha Lally. Samantha is an actress and comedian whose new show, Butterfly Suicide, opens at Performance Space 122 on Friday, May 18. Samantha is also a longtime friend and colleague (we went to high school together), so I’ve had the pleasure of watching her develop as an artist over many years. I saw excerpts from Butterfly Suicide during a November workshop last year, and the sneak preview she gave us was very exciting. And very funny.

Here’s what Samantha recently had to say about her show and its creation. As you will see, she doesn’t lack moxie or ambition: 

You play multiple characters in your new solo show, Butterfly Suicide. Who are they, and how did you come up with them?

I’m a New Yorker – born and bred. New York has a multitude of characters walking around every day. I’ve been writing characters for years. It’s become what I do. Now I even have a writing team. My sisters Rebecca Lally and Jeannine Jones. They are equally ridiculous and get my humor.

Usually a character is inspired by a type of person or more often a piece of clothing. Years ago when I was doing a regular live weekly sketch show, I developed a ballerina character piece called Pretty Dancer. She was inspired by a long pink dress my grandmother had. Very Martha Graham looking outfit. That, combined with the insane discipline all of my dancer friends have about their bodies and daily regimen, made Pretty Dancer.

Lately I’ve been exposed to the world of clowning. That sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. My work has always been very audience interactive, but I found clowns to be so interactive they would very often just stop completely and stare at the audience. Looking for answers it seemed…lost. Vulnerable. A clown walks across the stage and comes across an obstacle in his/her path. A feather. The clown stops and considers it. Thoughtfully. Then looks out to the audience. Then back at the father. The audience laughs. It’s so simple really. It’s letting the moment happen. Truly happen. Let the pin drop and resonate. So out of this exposure to clowns came the piece So and So. We see a woman from the 1940’s on stage, seated, with a spotlight on her. She is beautiful. She smiles. She loves her hat. She wears handcuffs. She killed a man…apparently. My goal with this was to absolutely seduce the audience into the character’s beauty. Not sexually. Just by simply considering them. Taking my time. Clowning. This woman is immediately loved by the audience. She also scares them to death, but it’s like a car wreck and they can’t look away.

My characters are eclectic, driven and lost. In Butterfly Suicide, I like to say they are beautiful on the outside and not so beautiful in the inside, but somehow you love them anyway. You understand them. I’m lucky enough to even have audience members say they identify with them! These characters are looking to be reborn. Whether it’s an Upper Eastsider trading wealth for wilderness, or a summer butterfly trading love for life, I like the work to be provocative, interactive, and absolutely ridiculous.

What came first: your ideas for the characters, or the overall theme/idea for the show?

The characters always come first. With my sister Rebecca, we developed a piece about a monarch butterfly. I had a couple of pairs of butterfly wings left over from Halloween and I thought a butterfly would be interesting. The piece is about a monarch butterfly from Vermont who falls in love with another butterfly. A real risk taker. The equivalent of the boy on a motorcycle you hope your daughter never falls in love with in high school. Anyway, he convinces her to move to New York to join the butterfly display at the Museum of Natural History. I won’t give the piece away, but lets just say someone dies. That’s where the title came from. Butterfly Suicide. I also liked the title because its beautiful and ugly. Much like the characters I portray.

This is your fourth solo show. At this point, are they getting easier to do or harder?

I would say the work is getting deeper. Much deeper. It has to. I started writing in my early 20’s. Now, in my 30’s there’s so much more to say. These characters resonate much more deeply than they did years ago. My director – Debbie Jones – also knows how to push me. She’s brillliant. She doesn’t even have to push very hard. In one rehearsal I finished a piece and she said, “Okay, that was good. Now I want you to do it one more time…like Owen Wilson. Go!” I can’t tell you how much more interesting the piece became. It’s now in the show.

You’re also a stand-up comic, so you have a lot of experience performing solo. For you, what’s the perennial attraction to solo performance?

I like to perform alone and with other people. The original attraction to solo, stand-up, whatever, was that I didn’t have to depend on anyone else to work my art. I could walk down the street to the local comedy club and simply work. On the other hand, there are no excuses when you are a solo performer. Nobody stops you but you. I think I liked that part of it too.

I think audiences are attracted to solo work and stand-up because it horrifies them. It’s so exposed. They know that it’s all up to you and it could be great or awful. Again, the car wreck.

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to develop their own solo piece?

Do it. Everyone should. There are all kinds of tips I can give people to start developing materiel. I’ve given many of my students tricks. One great one is to walk about 10 paces behind someone of the street and try to walk exactly as they are walking. Pick the opposite sex if you can. The emotions it brings up will lead you to writing. At the very least, you’ll have a heck of a story to tell people. Just remember the 10 paces…or 20.

Tell us a little bit about Dora Mae Productions, the company behind Butterfly Suicide.

Dora Mae is a company I started with my family officially in the early 90’s. We’re a house of artists and found that an easier way to get thins done artistically was to help each other out. As kids, my sisters and I ran props, handed out programs, and sold refreshments at my mother’s play readings and productions. As we got older, we started producing comedy shows – since that’s where I seem to be going. Then films – Rebecca was in film school. Then more plays as Jeannine developed into a writer. Now – years later, we’re in post for our first feature film and we are aiming for Sundance.

What does the future hold for Butterfly Suicide after the soloNOVA Arts Festival?

Our goal with this show is a full-out run in a theatre. We’d like to filter in new characters here and there, so people might even come back a second time to see new stuff. A big part of the show is the transition from character to character. We want the audience to feel the process. So very often I ask for their assistance in costume changes or use them as a mirror for putting on my lipstick. Anything to draw them in. My dream would be The Public and then maybe a smaller Broadway house. Then we want an HBO special. We’re very interested in taking it to Edinburgh next year also.

Knowing Samantha the way I do, I wouldn’t be surprised if she achieves all of these goals. She’s tenacious, a fighter, and a real go-getter, qualities which are also evident in her work.

Butterfly Suicide runs through Tuesday, May 22 at Performance Space 122.

ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway

May 11, 2007

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending an advance screening of Dori Bernstein’s new documentary, ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway, and enjoyed it a lot. Bernstein takes an inside look at the making of four different Broadway musicals from the 2003-2004 season – Avenue Q, Caroline, or Change, Taboo, and Wicked – and follows their paths from rehearsals to opening night to the Tony Awards. It’s a funny, insightful, and inspiring film that takes a most interesting (and unexpected) position: that the makers of these Broadway musicals (or any Broadway musicals, for that matter) are not only the biggest dreamers in show business, but also the biggest risk takers, as well.

Bernstein talks to a lot of people involved with all four shows, and it’s interesting to see the behind-the-scenes dynamics from each rehearsal room: the producers of both Wicked and Taboo are optimistic about their respective show’s commercial prospects. And, the casts of both shows are enthusiastic and happy-as-can-be about working on each project. But, while the Wicked crew seems relaxed and confident about how their production is shaping up, there’s a little more anxiety and uncertainty over at Taboo. Most of them are not used to the media attention brought by their producer (Rosie O’Donnell) or their star (Boy George), and they just hope the show can stand up to such scrutiny.

By the way: anyone looking for hints of Taboo‘s much-publicized behind-the-scenes turmoil won’t find any here. All the principals – Euan Morton, Raul Esparza, and Boy George – are on their best behavior for the camera, and present a solid, unified front. (Morton does get in a terrific little anecdote about George’s first meeting with, and impression of, O’Donnell. I can’t repeat it here, but it’s a classic.)

The Avenue Q team are clearly nervous. They’re hoping for the best, but have no idea how their little-show-that-could will fare on the Great White Way. Composers Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez are interviewed at length about the genesis of the show, which they had high hopes for from the start (they first conceived it as a television show). Marx is also up front about the creative friction between himself and book writer Jeff Whitty. Ultimately, though, they realize that the show is bigger than both of them, and they each buck up and take care of business.

By comparison, the Caroline, or Change team are so laid back they look like they’re on vacation. They know their show is the least commercial of the bunch, but that knowledge seems to liberate them all from caring. They just focus on getting the job done, and trust that the chips will fall where they may. There’s a lot of great rehearsal footage from this show: composer Jeanine Tesori and book writer Tony Kushner sitting at the piano writing a song together; director George C. Wolfe orchestrating tech rehearsal with a firm but nurturing hand; and star Tonya Pinkins talking about how her life up to that point has prepared her for this role. (Pinkins has quite a story to tell, worthy of its own documentary. Click here for more about that.)

All throughout, Bernstein throws in interview footage of several theatre insiders – including Alan Cumming, producer Rocco Landesman, and publicists Chris Boneau and Nancy Coyne – offering their thoughts on the art and business of Broadway theatre. Good stuff.

Sadly, the folks who come off looking the worst are the critics. Bernstein convenes a roundtable of theatre critics (who shall remain nameless here) several times throughout the film to discuss all four of the shows, as well as the season itself. It’s unfortunate (and more than a little dismaying) that not only do they all come off looking like the moustache-twirling villains most people think they are, but a couple of them seem to play that up for the sake of the cameras. Ugh.

Thankfully, the good will and optimism shown by the artists far outweighs any negativity from the critics. Bernstein shows the theatre off as a noble and soul-nourishing vocation that rewards all who fully invest in it. And, even though we see lots of behind-the-scenes footage, Bernstein still manages to keep the magical mystery of the theatre intact for the audience. A very neat trick.

I’ll leave the last word to Pinkins, who makes perhaps the most positive comment in a movie full of them: “Things always work out in the end. If they don’t work out, then it’s not the end.”

nytheatre mike Weighs In – Part 2

May 9, 2007

Picking up where I left off on Monday, I’d like to address something Isaac brought up: reviewers reading the script of a play they’re reviewing before they go see it. This is both a good and a bad idea, I think. On the good side, there is much potential for discerning, as Isaac pointed out, “how much of what’s going on is based on choices…made vis-a-vis bringing the script to life on the stage.” (Which also ties back to what Matt wrote about directors being choice makers and problem solvers.) On the bad side, there exists the very real possibility that reading the script beforehand will blind the viewer to the production on stage in favor of the one already created in his or her head. I don’t think there’s any way one can read a script without doing this to some degree. Which can be very beneficial for anyone who’s working on the production. But, for a reviewer to attempt this with a new play, I think, is ultimately very dangerous.

Then, there’s the whole matter of reviews as marketing. As a former producer myself, I understand the need for a good pull-quote. But, reviewing, in and of itself, is not a marketing technique. Theatre reviewers certainly don’t think of their work as such; producers do. Which is as it should be. But, to think of reviews only in those terms is perhaps a little reductive. Yes, it’s true, a review is only one person’s experience of a given production. But, it’s an experience that theatre artists could potentially learn something from. If the artists look to the audience as their ultimate constituency, then I think they need to include reviewers in that, as well, because reviewers are audience members, too. Isaac hit the nail on the head when he said that “we absolutely cannot look to reviews for any kind of validation.” Definitely not. An artist must validate themselves first, before anyone else tries to do it for them. But, I do believe that theatre artists can (and should) look to reviews to gauge their measure of success.

Reviewing is an imperfect art (or science, depending on how you want to look at it), just like many others. But, I think if it’s approached in a healthy way, it can turn into a conversation between the artist, the reviewer, and the audience that benefits all three. I know I’ve already grown as a reviewer just from having this particular conversation here on the blog, and I’m grateful to Isaac, Don, Matt, and everyone who commented for helping me do that.

nytheatre mike Weighs In – Part 1

May 7, 2007

My turn to weigh in on the conversation about reviewing directors and directing. This subject has inspired not only a passionate number of comments from the readership, but an entry of its own on my colleague Matt Johnston’s blog, so obviously a nerve was touched. My thanks to everyone who’s commented so far, and by doing so has continued the conversation. And, thanks to Matt for picking up the baton on his blog. More on that in a minute.

Let me start by invoking The Boss. No, not Springsteen: Martin Denton, the editor of this here site. His comment about Part 1 of this conversation brought up an important point: the kind of reviews I like to read, as a theatergoer, are the ones that make me look at something in a new way, and that inspire me to think about (and possibly challenge) my own opinions. And, of course, I also like the ones that make me want to see a given show. Even if it’s a negative review, if there’s something in there that piques my interest (which is completely subjective), then I’ll want to see that show. As a reviewer, these are also the kinds of reviews I try to write.

Having said that,  I got the impression from both Isaac Butler and Don Jordan’s responses that today’s theatre directors feel mighty unappreciated when it comes to reviews. Which is understandable. If I worked a vocation that people constantly misunderstood or misidentified, I’d be peeved, too. (Oh, wait: I do work such a vocation. Never mind. Directors, I feel your pain!)

Matt Johnston took the bull by the horns in his post, and offered what I thought was some really sound advice on how to review/recognize theatre directing. The five main points he brings up are designed for practical application. Having practically applied them myself several times since first reading them, I can testify to their effectiveness.

I also agree with Matt’s assessment that a director is a choice maker who decides what ends up on stage (this echoes a similar sentiment voiced by Don, as well). I’ve always viewed the director’s role as being similar to the coach of a sports team. In sports, the coach designs the overall playbook, and tailors the gameplan to the strengths of the team roster. The coach implements the strategy and the philosophy, then its up to the individual players to execute as a unified team.

Matt was also quick to point out that, ideally, reviewers with practical theatre experience have a better shot at evaluating how directors solve problems than reviewers who don’t. Which is a viewpoint that we, here at HQ, are much in agreement with.

Isaac voiced concern over reviews these days “disregarding basically everything other than the script [his italics]…The reviewer critiques the script as if he or she were reading it.” I understand where he’s coming from. I see reviews like this often. For my own part, I know that I try to talk about the content of a play, and my reaction to it, when writing a review, rather than “critiquing” how a script reads on the page.

It should be pointed out, however, that reviewers often are reading the script. It’s common practice to include a copy of it in the press materials if the production in question is a new work. Which can be an enormous help afterwards in clarifying something Matt keenly mentioned: “which problems are problems of the play, and which are problems of the production.” In that regard, scripts are a valuable resource. But, I never sit down and review just what’s on the page.

More on all this tomorrow. I just wanted to get this ball rolling again, so that you all didn’t think I’d forgotten about it.