Isaac brings up an important question about the identity of the blogosphere and the difficulty of open criticism here.
The fact is, blogging creates community, it creates awareness and, hopefully, stimulates conversation. It is, though, still teetering between (at least in the theatrical blogosphere) a message board on steriods and "new media."
We can't go backwards... this new and immediate media is here, along with it's off-line chatter and personalities. We're often quite open in criticizing culture and politics and other theatre artists. We are, though, challenged to find ways of discussing one another's work without fear of breaking some sort of code.
I know, for example, that The Most Wonderful Love got nothing but friendly responses on the blogosphere, but that, in truth, many of my colleagues had mixed feelings about it (length, structure, pace, what-have-you). Maybe in the thrill of a production, it would have been hard to hear tough talk about it. But there is a difference between criticism and comment or discussion.
One wonderful opportunity here is that there are many smart artists on this medium, and audiences, who have a new opportunity to engage with one another about the work in an active and immediate way. To talk about it (not judge it) and really enjoy the sort of spirited defenses and statements that come BEST from actual plays, not esoterica. Of course, when real productions happen, we almost all, on the blogosphere, immediately move into polite back-slapping.
So... since we can't stop the flow of information...I am interested in what bloggers and readers think is the best direction to consider. For example, should we:
1. Accept the inevitable awkwardness of discussing the work of peers, and simply avoid the issue as best we can?
2. Support one another online, and leave doubts or quibbles for private conversation.
3. Air all critiques with aplomb, damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead?
4. Come up with some ground rules that work for us... only respond when a response is asked for...
I'll say that I think criticizing others is generally NOT what we need to be doing. I think there can be a difference between responding honestly to someone's play, and not approaching like a reviewer and thinking of it in terms of approval.
What do you think?
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.