Monday, July 26, 2010

Into the Bitch

I try my best not to read reviews.

If I'm acting in the play, I ALWAYS try to wait until the play is over, as even a positive review can fuck up what you're doing.

Sometimes I'm not so successful in avoiding them (I get emails sent to me with review blurbs, sometimes by the theatres themselves), but I TRY.

But if I WROTE the play, (and I'm not performing in it), I usually read them during the run.

I am curious, after all.

And, like most writers, I want people to like my work.

Even Ivo Van Hove cares how people respond.

And critics, in theory, are supposed to be these enlightened, perceptive, tasteful, seasoned play-goers who know a thing or two about theatre.

So, I've been reading the reviews of Grimm, which opened last week.

As usual, they range from the vaguely positive (The Boston Globe) to the wildly mean-spirited and negative (The Boston Herald).

And that is as it should be, really.

No one sees a piece of art the same way, of course.

But the system is flawed, unfortunately.

To my mind, theatre is an ephemeral thing: it opens and closes and is never seen again.

Reviews, however - especially in this day and age of the Internet - are FOREVER.

They are the only record that the production ever existed, sometimes.

So in that sense, critics wield a great deal of power, and it upsets me when I feel they use that power irresponsibly and recklessly.

Artists cannot defend their work from critics.

It will ALWAYS be seen as sour grapes.

So, there's really nothing that can be done or said.

But every now and then, a review lays some wildly bogus claim, and I feel that I must address one that has been laid against me.

I am referring to the review of Grimm that was published in "My South End", which you can read here:

I am ambivalent to even refer to (and thus, empower) this poisonous review, because, as you can see, the reviewer totally eviscerated nearly all these new plays.


He can do that.

And in a sense, I got off easy: he only wrote one line about my play, Red:

"And in Kuntz’s Little Red Cap the play owes too much to Sondheim’s Into the Woods"

Here's what's wrong with that statement:

I have never SEEN Into the Woods.


I've never even heard any of the music.

I know the gist of it, and that's about it.

I know, shocking.

I'm sure someone will revoke my fag card now.

But as I've written before, I'm not a huge fan of musicals, unless they are really dark and disturbing.

And maybe Into the Woods IS dark and disturbing.

But I wouldn't know.


So I'm not exactly sure what I OWE to it.

And notice, it's not that I owe "much" to Into the Woods, it's that I owe "TOO MUCH" to Into the Woods.

See, my problem here is that the reviewer is actually accusing me of ripping Into the Woods off.

That I just stole all my words and ideas from fucking STEPHEN SONDHEIM.

I wasn't even given the benefit of a doubt.

It is laid out here as a FACT.

Perhaps I should be flattered, since I know that isn't true.

Perhaps I should laugh.

Perhaps I should just forget about it.

But to anyone reading that review, I have just been branded a plagiarist.

I really can't think of a more damaging activity of which to accuse another writer.

And it is here on-line.


And it was so lazily, thoughtlessly, blithely done.

Well, I would like to set the record straight:

I do not owe ANYTHING to Into the Woods.

Every word, every idea in that play - for better or worse - is MY OWN.
And I really resent the implication.

If there IS a similarity (both plays - I understand - use Little Red Riding Hood as source material, after all) then it is a fucking COINCIDENCE.

Here's what I think:

Do NOT empower irresponsible, dismissive, reckless critics like this.
Do not let them tell you what to think.

Go and see the show.

Grimm is still running.

It is a NEW ORIGINAL PIECE in its WORLD PREMIERE that needs and deserves support.

It was a brave, risky, adventurous choice by a daring theatre company.

It is NOT some re-hash of a recent New York hit.

It is NOT some unimaginative re-mounting of a tried and true chestnut (like, btw, Into the Woods).

It features NEW work by playwrights that I admire IMMENSELY: Lydia Diamond, Marcus Gardley, Melinda Lopez, Kristin Greenidge, John ADEkoje and Gregory MacGuire.

It has a wonderful cast, directors and design team.

And this original production will soon close and be gone forever.

So I hope people will come see the show and make up their own minds.

No comments:

Post a Comment

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