Friday, November 12, 2010

Ethical Codes

"International Association of Theatre Critics

Code of Practice

Theatre is among the most interactive of the performing arts. As privileged spectators, theatre critics share with audiences and performers the same time and space, the same individual and collective stimuli, the same immediate and long-term experiences. As working theatre commentators, we seek in our individual ways to articulate these interactions as a frame for discussion and as a meaningful part of the interpretation and significance of theatrical performance. The International Association of Theatre Critics therefore urges its members worldwide to accept as an agreed starting point the core professional guidelines articulated in this document.


As writers and thinkers in the media and/or as scholars connected to various branches of academic discourse, theatre critics should always remain aware of normative professional practices, respect artistic and intellectual freedom, and should write in what they believe to be the best interests of the ideals of the art of theatre.


Theatre critics should recognize that their own imaginative experience and knowledge is often limited and should be open to new ideas, forms, styles and practice.


Theatre critics should speak truthfully and appropriately while respecting the personal dignity of the artists to whom they are responding.


Theatre critics should be open-minded and reveal (as appropriate) prejudices – both artistic and personal – as part of their work.


Theatre critics should have as one of their goals a desire to motivate discussion of the work.


Theatre critics should strive to come to the theatrical performance in their best physical and mental condition, and should remain alert throughout the performance.


Theatre critics should try to describe, analyze, and evaluate the work as precisely and specifically as possible, supporting their remarks with concrete examples.


Theatre critics should make every possible effort to avoid external pressures and controls, including personal favours and financial enticements.


Theatre critics should make every possible effort to avoid situations which are or which can be perceived to be conflicts of interest by declining to review any production with which they are personally connected or by serving on juries with which they are personally connected.


Theatre critics should not do anything that would bring into disrepute their profession or practice, their own integrity or that of the art of the theatre.

(IATC – draft February 2010)

The Canadian Theatre Critics Association is:

A non-profit organization founded in 1979 under the auspices of the Toronto Drama Bench and incorporated federally in 1981

A member of the International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC)) under the umbrella of UNESCO

Our members are professionals in the field of theatre criticism and arts journalism who:
Attend national and international theatre conferences, seminars and congresses as representatives of the CTCA

Serve on the executive of the CTCA and on theatre boards and associations in Canada and abroad

Serve on regional critics organizations

Publish extensively on Canadian and international theatre and drama.
Our Code of Ethics:
Critics' ethics are based on consideration for others, just as any code of civilized behaviour. The Canadian Theatre Critics Association accepts the premise that its members are dealing with contributions to the public by artists and technicians who have worked long and hard on their presentation. It is thus agreed that while such considerations must not inhibit the reviewer in any honest estimate, is does presume respect for the contributors' efforts. Membership in the CTCA offers no license to insult, ridicule or denigrate artists who are serious about their work.

It is expected that critics be as objective as possible to achieve a balanced review. Comments on past performances or remarks on physical attributes of performers are justified only when and if the critic can establish a direct relevance to the production under consideration for description, interpretation, analysis and estimate. The production seen should be the production reviewed.

The critic should, whenever possible, prepare in advance of a performance. This includes reading all program and advanced material provided by the producing group. Reading a new script before attending its performance is optional but advisable.

The critic should attend the entire performance reviewed. If a critic must leave a performance early because of a deadline, this should be mentioned in the review.

The critic should behave in an unobtrusive manner, causing no distraction to audience members and performers. Arrangements for suitable seating should be made privately with decorum.

The critic should give full consideration and attention to all elements of a production. The work of supporting players, designers, musicians, and technicians is important, as well as that of leading players, director and author.

The critic should not under any circumstances exploit his or her position."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

They Eat Their Own

I’ve noticed this bizarre phenomenon lately: theatre reviewers don’t write reviews anymore.

 They review other critics’ reviews.

 Which are then reviewed by more critics.

 And personally, I am ALL for this new development!

 A critic’s ego is ALWAYS more interesting than a boring, turgid play!

 I mean, come on: a PLAY?

 Who even SEES those things anymore?

 I WRITE them, and even I think they’re boring!

 I actually read somewhere that - if waterboarding didn’t break them - Guantanamo prisoners were actually forced to sit through a seven-hour production of Our Town, starring Keanu Reeves and Bo Derek.

 Directed by Barbara Bush.

 And, frankly, while we all deny it: there is NOTHING more entertaining than a bloody, ruthless, crucifying review.

 As long as it’s not about us.

 So, if someone’s going to get ripped to shreds, let it be the critics!

 Let ‘em eat each other!

 It’s their nature, after all.

 Telling a critic to stop being mean is like telling a piranha not to snack between meals.

 It’s just who they ARE!

 Let them be free!

 And now that there are blogs, reviewers can say just about ANYTHING:

 Lies, personal attacks, slanderous garbage, conspiracy theories, butt jokes.

 It’s a blog: you can say whatever you want, and call it “edgy”!

And seriously: there is nothing easier than writing in a blog.

 It's comparatively one of the easiest things I've ever done, actually.

 All you need is about 15 minutes of spare time.

 And a mean streak.

 You know what is much harder than writing a blog?

 Writing a play.

 Or acting in a play.

 Or directing a play.

  Or designing a play.

  Or founding a theatre company.

 Actually, making waffles is a lot more difficult than having/maintaining/writing in a blog.

And, yes, I do mean the frozen kind.

 Don't let anyone persuade you otherwise.

With blogging, you can have NO ethical standards at all, and STILL get free tickets!

And if someone doesn’t like it, there’s no one to complain to!

And if someone DOES have the nerve to complain, shut off the “Comments” and just sit back and relax in the vast peacefulness of your cyber tower.

Besides, actors and artists can’t say shit about their own reviews, or really ANY review: a response would just be seen as “sour grapes”.

And empower the critic even more.

And the best critics (and by “best”, I mean the cruelest) know this oh-so-well. It’s totally awesome!!!!

I should know, because the last time I wrote about critics on this thing, I was savagely, viciously attacked by one of them for months.

Ironically, my initial post was about how savage and vicious some critics can be.

So, at least it proved my point…

But, full disclosure: I am totally fine with it.


Because to me, he isn’t a critic.

He’s my pooky-bear.


That’s what I used to call him, anyway.


It was years ago.

(music.  light shift.)

I was a long-haired, bare-foot actor living on hopes and dreams.

He was a burgeoning singer/mime.

But then he got bitten by the critic bug.

It tore us apart.

The break-up was bad.

He poisoned my goldfish and smashed my Hummel collection.

Some people turn to pills and booze to forget.

He turned to blogging and donuts (I hear the endorphin rush is similar…)

He never did lose the weight...

I did that to him.


in a way,

I guess I deserve it.

Pooky, if you’re out there, I want you to know:

There’s still a part of me that cares for you.

I know it’s been years,

And I’m married now,

and you’ve moved on.

But I will always remember those late nights

When we would drink a six pack of Zima

Smoke come crack

And you would play “Barb’ry Allen” on your pan flute

Until the wee hours.

And we’d hold each other at night

When the darkness seemed ready to pounce and devour us.

I’ll never forget that


I hope you don’t either.

Love, or something like it,


 (Fade to black)


Note: any resemblance to persons living or dead in this piece of fiction is PURELY coincidental.


Republicans Suck

"Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term."
                                                 - Senator Mitch McConnell, minority leader

That's right:  when Mitch McConnell isn't busy looking like an uncooked Perdue oven-roaster, he's spouting pearls of wisdom like this one at press conferences. 

To be clear: that's the Repubicans' NUMBER ONE PRIORITY.

The GOP is not concerned with jobs, or the economy, or the environment, or the unjust, preemptive wars started by George W. Bush.

They do not even want to PRETEND that they will work with The President, or Democrats.

All they want is power.  Plain and simple.

And yet Obama keeps trying to co-operate with these guys.


Forget it, it WILL NOT HAPPEN.

One thing is painfully, painfully clear, to anyone who can read and write their own name: the Republican Party has been bought and is owned by the rich individuals and corporations in this country. 

The GOP represents their interests and ONLY their interests.

Because that's who they work for. 

They do not work for the working or middle class.  They do not work for the poor (why would they?).   They do not work for 98% of other Americans.  They are a bullying, greedy, loud-mouthed, lying, ruthless group of ideologues with absolutely no conscience whatsoever.

They will block ANYTHING that goes against the interests of the super rich.


Why pretend otherwise?

I'm not saying the Democrats are perfect. 

But at least they have what resembles a conscience.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What's for dinner?

I made dinner. 

It’s pot luck. 

I just threw everything together:

A can of cream of mushroom soup

some frozen peas



some browned beef

pineapple rings

a can of black beans

a can of black olives

some left-over Mac and Cheese from a few weeks ago

(there was something green growing on top of it, but I just scraped that off...) 

topped the whole shebag with crushed Hi-Ho crackers

soaked in cooking sherry 

baked in a buttered casserole dish at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.


is a half-eaten Twinkie

I found in the glove compartment

of the Honda. 


Monday, November 1, 2010

Stripper Funeral

Daddy drank too much.

And Mama? 


Mama just cried.  

Old Nelly lived with us too.

I assume she was my aunt (but I was never quite sure of that).

She would touch me in places that I had to point to on a doll


in the county courthouse.

Before they took me away.

But back then she lived upstairs.

Old Nelly loved prune juice.

"Like drinkin' sunshine, boy!"  she'd holler, though I was standing right next to her.

I’d hide her prune juice sometimes, and she's roam around the tiny dormer room upstairs.

And she’d scream: "Damn you damn you damn you to hell!" 

When Daddy died I rolled up the rugs and made egg nog. 

I’m not sure why. 

I thought that was what one did, when someone died.

I was only ten. 

Even by then I had done a lot of drugs.

I mean a LOT of drugs. 

And I wasn't sure if the things I saw were real.

Or just pictures in my head.

When Daddy died Old Nelly cried:

"Oh God what should we do?  What should we do?" 

 And I tried to pour her prune juice down the sink but the pipes had rusted. 

They sighed like a cheap whore spread eagle on a carny’s knee. 

When Daddy died the gang of old men from town gathered in the parlor for the funeral.

And they looked up, trying to find the source of that horrible noise. 

The creaking pipes.

And my aunt wailing.

When Daddy died, they hired an Asian stripper to dance on his casket. 

She took off all her clothes, except for her high heels.

And for a finale, shot bing cherries and a cucumber out of her vagina.

Like a machine gun.

We drove to the graveyard and lowered Daddy into the ground.

I stood poised over the casket in the hole, like a tightrope walker on a Udon noodle. 

Old Nelly cried.

Mama was still.

And the men - who had hated Daddy, one and all  - laughed and laughed, spewing out spiral staircases of cigar smoke. 

"He would have wanted us to remember him this way." 

They said.

I laughed with them.   

Poised, waiting breathing. 

Over that hole with the great big box. 

And then.

I jumped.