George Hunka, before his hiatus, takes a moment to win friends and influence people by beating the shit out of pretty much everyone associated with "100 Saints You Should Know" at Playwright's Horizons.
I dunno. Maybe the play blows. I haven't seen it. I'm pretty sure no one was specifically attempting to abuse the audience. I don't see much evidence of Artaud at Playwright's Horizons.
Certainly, I've seen much ballyhooed stuff that I found not-so-good. I've even felt the way George seems to be feeling: baffled and furious that something given this many resources seems so criminally inept.
But I never really walk out. I mean...I never walk out. Of anything.
"Poor 100 Saints, perhaps -- workshopped within an inch of its well-intentioned but pale, weak life. I left at intermission, I'm afraid, not compelled to return by the tree-injury ex machina that closes the first act, but since Ms. Fodor, the director, the cast and Playwrights Horizons are producing a play that knows more about itself than the playwright or any of the creative team, I hope nobody will take the above words personally."
Now, George didn't go to this show as a reviewer in any official capacity (unless he was given free tickets by Playwrights Horizons) so it's his right to walk out. I'm sure many people walk out regularly. In fact, I know so. I've seen them. But I find myself pretty much glued to my chair whenever I see a show, whether or not I'm there to review it.
The reason: I just think that even a pretty bad show has to have been sprinkled with a little love, and it's the least I can do to give them my attention for the duration of the experience. Who knows what it all adds up to? And, in the end, my job isn't hard, even if I don't enjoy the play. I'm watching the play, being generous with my attention. Even the very worst productions aren't there to personally offend me.
I guess I sympathize with anyone putting plays on the stage. It's hard for me to imagine turning my back on them and heading to the bar early.
If I'm reviewing the production, of course, it's more than just sympathy that keeps me watching: it's responsiblity. If a given production is going to wind up with a bad review from me, then it's pretty much only fair that I watch the entire play. Simply put: I think it invalidates my opinion to not experience a play from beginning to end. To give a production the middle finger in print after only watching about half is pretty much something I wouldn't be comfortable doing.
I'm curious what readers think about "walking out." What's your limit? Have you walked out? When you do - why do you? If, like me, you don't - why not?
- 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.