No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: writing on writing

A bearded dweeb with a bad tie boring us senseless with his obscure expertise.

Isn’t interesting how when you talk or write about something, you start to notice stands of it coming out of every nook and cranny? Coming off my blog on why I blog and review, and think it’s important to have young voices, I was linked the next night through You’ve Cott Mail (which is the best arts email to arrive in my inbox – I am constantly finding inspiration and news I wouldn’t find anywhere else, highly recommended) to Michael Phillip’s writing for the Chicago Tribune in Right to an opinion – – or wrong?, about a critic was fired after editors thought his bias against the Cleveland Orchestra.   He has some wonderful thoughts:

Approached the wrong way criticism is an inherently arrogant and narcissistic pursuit, yet what I’m left with, increasingly, is how humbling it is. It’s hard to get a review right for yourself, let alone for anyone reading it later. It’s even harder to be an artist worth writing and reading about, because so much conspires against even an inspired artist’s bravest efforts.

It is exceedingly rare when I don’t struggle a little in reviewing a show, I certainly feel this responsibility to “get it right” just for me, and then trying to work out have I phrased this best for others to read?  Have I been fair?  Sometimes I just write and I feel like I got it on the first try, with very little editing (and these are exclusively raves), but most of the time there are hours of editing and re-wording and deleting and re-writing before I feel I am close to something I can publish. He finishes off by saying:

But a critic must write as if he has everything and nothing to lose, just as a filmmaker or an artistic director or a music director should have no choice but to aim high and dig deeply and damn all the rest of it. Otherwise, it’s steady as she goes and one more paycheck (if you’re fortunate) gratefully received, and that simply is not good enough.

I think I still have a way to go on this front, but I like to think I’m getting there.

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On Being A Young Critic

Last night after An Enemy Of The People (review has been submitted, I will post when published), during post show drinks at the venue, I talked to lots of great people who I knew well, who I had once known, who I knew a little, or who I’d only just meet (or, who I had talked to on twitter, and I introduced my self as “I’m No Plain on twitter…” awkward).   One of these discussions, which got rather heated and passionate was talking to a great guy, Kym (falling into the “knew a little” category) about reviewing, and specifically on why I review, why I feel like reviewing is important, and what gives me the right, as someone who is just 21, to think I have the background to truly give criticism.

This debate lead to me and Sophie tagging along with cast to the Exeter for more drinks and more discussions, and the night wrapped up at around 3am, after some of the most stimulating discussions I have had in a long time, meeting some wonderful new people, and reconnecting with someone whom I went to high school with.

But back to the debate: Kym asked why I, as someone so young, feel that I have enough experience to be able to give my thoughts on a play.  Most of the reviewers at the play on Wednesday night were significantly older than me, as are most reviewers in Adelaide, and probably Australia.   If you look at the photo of members of the Adelaide Critics’ Circle, they are primarily older men.  And that certainly doesn’t mean I don’t respect these reviewers – because there are many reviewers whom I have a great deal of respect for and I know they come from a much vaster history than me.  I know I’m still learning, and I have a long way to go, but I think that in itself can be an important voice to have.  And it’s not like I’m alone: there are other young reviewers in Adelaide, and hopefully we’re growing.

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