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October 27, 2006


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Ian W. Hill

Also, the gap between someone's ideas and whether they are succeeding in expressing them can often be HUGE. I've certainly fallen short at times of "getting across' what I'm trying to say in a piece, while thinking it was crystal-clear, and I've had many friends and collegues who very often have this problem.

At such times, I've appreciated the talks in bars after the shows, as my closest friends asked me what I was trying to get across and suggested reasons why I wasn't, as I hope my friends have appreciated when I've done the same for them.

As often as not, the solution lies simply in a craft problem, not with an idea, as in "That actress has terrible diction and I could only understand every third sentance she says -- you understand her perfectly because you know the script backwards and forwards, but the audience is lost."

John Branch

In at least one way, ideas are similar to artistic work: pretty much no one intentionally puts forth an idea they know to be dumb any more than they will present theater work they know to be bad. You can't go very far in this world without encountering an idea you think needs to be decried, or encountering some piece of art that you think needs to be denounced. But in either case, the tone you take can be important. Getting "mean-spirited and worked up" about either may not be productive.

However, that probably doesn't need to be said; it's not at issue here. What maybe I do need to say is that I'm not sure what Isaac means by ideas. Certainly his current partner in the production of In Public, George Hunka, has a lot of ideas at work behind the scenes, so to speak. I'm pretty sure that for him ideas are not "trivial things."

Scott Walters

Well, I would disagree. Ideas are not a dime a dozen, and there are many of us for whom our ideas are our creative work. We take them seriously, we craft them carefully, and consider them fully -- just like a playwright with a play or a director with a production. I am not saying that your policy is wrong-headed, but your dismissal of the importance and seriousness of ideas is problematic.

Also, I'm not talking about "mean-spirited and worked up," I'm talking about a willingness to be honest and rigorous in the evaluation of works of art, rather than being simply an arm of theatre marketing. So what you are saying is that the theatre blogosphere provides electronic blurbs for productions.

Maybe that's what is wrong with theatre right now -- nobody is willing to do the critical work it takes to make it a really serious art form. We'd rather be polite.

I once read a book called "The Inner Game of Tennis" in which the author spoke about his former tendency, when he was beating an opponent badly, to feel sorry for him and thus let him back into the game. What he came to see is that he was doing his opponent a favor by showing him his weaknesses -- without that knowledge, he wouldn't improve.

But then, that's an idea, and there are a dozen more where those came from.

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