Sunday, July 19, 2009

the critic speaks

So, I have to admit, I forgot about my blog. I just got busy lately: visiting my sis in North Carolina, teaching, writing, RE-writing, auditioning, going to Six Flags, writing, driving around Western Mass, eating fried clams, going to out door theatre. You know, summer stuff.
But I was reminded of Hambone recently when I received a response on FaceBook from Lance Norris, the critic/actor/figure from my South Shore past who reviewed our production of Much Ado (and basically tore it to shreds) on the website about a month or two ago. Apparently he stumbled on my humble little blog and mistook my post "Much Ado Two" (see back in June) as a call to retract his critical opinion (it wasn't, by the way).

Here is what he wrote to me:

""zaftig local character"? how dismissive. Although it was edited with ham hands, I stand by most of that review. I enjoyed the show but found all most all the doubled characters lacking and yes, your theatre is in a bad part of town. Although you claim to be bringing culture to the natives, I didn't see a whole lot of locals in the house the night I went.

Be well."

When I went to respond on FB, I found I had been "de-friended". Ouch. Oh well. But his message really forced me to articulate what I was trying to express in that earlier post, and I wanted to share it. Here it is:

"Hey Lance
I received your message via FB. I’m so sorry if you felt dismissed, that really wasn’t my intention. My blog is written for the few people that might have an interest in me and the work I’m doing, so I really didn’t think you would ever read it. I certainly wasn’t looking for a response or a retraction from you, as you seem to imply in your note: you have every right to your opinion. If I had been looking for such a thing, I would have written to you or the website directly. Why I wrote about it on my blog revolved around the interesting (to me, anyway) fact that I had known you growing up and also as another actor. I really didn’t mean “zaftig local character” to be an insult. If I had wanted to insult you I would have chosen different words. I consider myself a “local” actor, I’ve lived here all my life. It’s not a pejorative for me. “Zaftig” I always felt to be a rather endearing term for someone who is large – which I always felt you knew about yourself and informed who you are and was an acknowledged part of you. And as for “character”: well, that’s truly how I remember you, Lance. You were someone I knew from Cohasset and grew up with, and that I associate with that town. You knew me, you knew my sister, you probably had my father as a teacher in high school. You are someone who I would sooner expect to see at my father’s wake in Cohasset than on a web page, lacerating the company I helped to found. So what I was writing about, partially, on my blog was the interesting idea that an entire history (albeit a brief one – we were certainly never close friends) could be obliterated completely and a rather mean-spirited review would suddenly take its place. I find that to be a reflection and unfortunate symptom of our rather throw-away, shallow American culture, where relationships and histories and connections are rendered utterly meaningless. As if to prove my point, I notice that you “friended” me on FaceBook, and now, after my “dismissive” blog entry, have “de-friended” me with the click of your mouse and a rather chilly, impersonal note (which, again, is all good: we clearly were never close friends in the first place). It’s ironic that one of the things ASP tries to do, in our imperfect way, is to build and strengthen communities and neighborhoods, and meanwhile this other small personal connection just disintegrates indirectly thru ASP.

But anyway, that’s mostly why I was writing about it in my blog. I also, clearly, disagree with what I took to be a rather obsessive negativity concerning the neighborhood where we were performing (your title and first FOUR paragraphs talk of nothing else but danger, gunfire and certain death to anyone who might venture to Hiberian Hall, which, I suppose, isn’t surprising for someone who is used to living in a privileged, wealthy, safe town like Cohasset), and I was hoping to direct anyone reading my blog to other reviews/opinions and to encourage them to make the trek out to Roxbury. And yes, in response to your note: we did have trouble getting local residents to come. It’s our first time in that space, and it is always a problem we look to solve. But it is a worthy endeavor, I feel, and one that I’m committed to. The residents that DID manage to come enjoyed it (we ran for five weeks, so there were other performances for them to attend, besides yours). But all that is moot now, as the play is closed.

Be well, too. "

This notion of throw away relationships and erasing histories has got my brain twirling lately. So I'm quite grateful for that. Even if it cost me a FB "friend".

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.