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February 04, 2010


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Have you tried playing Bingo with him? I hear it's loads of fun.


BTW, am I the only one who thinks it's incredibly amusing that this dude's name is Garvey?


I did note that sweet irony when I was posting Scott's comment. Heh.

Daniel Bourque

Boston. "a city not exactly known for good theatre" thanks for insulting an entire city full of artists there Isaac... Sorry that we're not living up to your standards. And if you read a little deeper into Tom's Blog, you'll find he sees stuff pretty regularly in NYC not to mention at Trinity and the Gamm in Rhode Island (which, ironically he currently has a rave review prominently posted about a production of 4:48 Psychosis currently running at the Gamm) out west in the Berkshires and also at the Stratford Festival. Did I mention his write up about his time in Edinburgh at the Fringe Festival? No? All that and insightful takes on Ballet and Opera also... which asides from one take on your first experience with the art form (opera) I don't believe you touch at all. So I'd say his horizons aren't as limited as you'd like to make out.


Whoa. The solution to understanding a critic who posts like a troll is to read more of his blog? Really?

That talk sounds like a sockpuppet.... that is the traditional next step for a troll....


I read your blog & 99s through my RSS feed, so I rarely see the comments. (I SHOULD! I KNOW! Because you both have smart commenters!)

In any case, given that I've only read a handful of comment threads, it's impressive that even I know that Thomas Garvey is a jerk. Even I've noticed that when "critiquing" playwrights and their work, rather than describing the qualities of their writing that render it (to his taste) unsatisfying, he lazily asserts his opinion through ad-hominem attacks. It makes me sad that someone who spends as much time writing as he apparently does has to resort to such juvenile tactics to make his point.

This last post is a perfect example. Lydia Diamond is a great playwright, so Garvey's bizarre projected fantasy of her supposed racial neuroses is obnoxious and nonsensical. But the fact that the sentence after he slams Lydia's writing contains this painful mixed metaphor "morphed into an orbiting system of obsessional dialogue about race"? Now that's just kinda sad.

Thomas Garvey

Thanks, Dan! But ya know, Isaac's a lost cause. If he and the rest of the gang in his treehouse stops reading my blog, it's okay with me. As I'm inching toward a thousand hits a day now, I doubt I'll miss them. (And if only New York could keep up with the best of Boston!)



I confess that I regularly log on to your blog, but it's not because I'm impressed by your towering intellect. It's for far baser reasons. I suspect there are others like me so I'm not surprised your traffic is increasing.

Jack Worthing

I'm not going to comment on the blacks vs. gays thing because I don't understand it well enough. But in my reading, Garvey didn't like the play because he saw it as agitprop. A SLAVERY = BAD baseball bat that skimped on emotional truth and complexity. I know the play and I wouldn't go that far, but I think it's valid and substantial criticism. Who are any of you to say this is in bad faith? And Joy, I'd hope that someone in your position would be careful about who you call a "great" playwright. Some of us might get big heads.


Hey, Jack-

Actually, the substance of this conversation hasn't been about his criticism of Lydia's play. I haven't read it and don't know it. The questionable thing, for me, from his review is the way he intreprets her "mental" issues and personality defects and implies that her production is solely due to her connections. That's what's in bad faith. And it's an argument that he lobs at female and minority playwrights and that I have yet to see him make at a male playwright.

There's a line between a criticism of the work and a criticism of the playwright's personality. I hope you see that.


what 99 said.

Daniel Bourque

I find it hilarious that anyone would think I would blindly agree with Tom about things- far from it, we've gone head to head on various issues and I don't always buy all of his arguments. I also tend not to comment much on blogs because... well, I'm busy doing a lot of other things and doing it seems far to often to dissolve into name calling and fighting. But like Ian Thal commented on another thread (and I think it was on Theatre Ideas) I think Tom is a provocative critic and writer and the idea that his dislike for Lydia Diamond's play somehow makes him a racist is just bizarre. In line with Jack, I don't have any problems with his criticisms of the play (I haven't seen it by the way, and never intended to in the first place regardless) and don't think they are particularly in bad faith at all. He didn't like the play and it just seems to gall some people that's he's open about that dislike.

Oh yes, and there's still that slam of Boston Theatre and artists in general. I see plenty of theatre in both Boston and NYC and I'll pretty much concede that for range and depth NYC has got us beat- I come to NYC regularly to see stuff that isn't going to make it to Boston but there's plenty of interesting stuff going on here also. And boy it's rude when someone dismisses a whole city offhand because they don't like one person's opinions. So much for avoiding stereotypes.


Yeah, you and Ian are just basically ignoring the actual post that started all of this. Neither I or RVC Bard actually referenced the Lydia Diamond review. Isaac brings it in here, because, in the review, Thomas leaves his discussion with the play to tell us that Lydia has mental problems and that her success is due, not to the strength of her writing, but because of her husband and her connections. While that's not racist or biases necessarily, I don't think that counts as "good faith."

I know that Thomas is a big fan of talking about things he hasn't read, but it doesn't actually help your case. Read Thomas' "Race and Neurosis" post and then come back to discuss good faith or whether everyone is upset that he gave Lydia a bad review.

Thomas Garvey

Well, Kim, if you're doing something base by all means stop it immediately! As to 99's comment - this is the second play of Diamond's I've seen, and they've both been marked by obvious psychological tics. So I mentioned them. As for not mentioning other playwrights' connections - are you kidding? Tell it to Ronan Noone! Half my blog is dedicated to delineating the academic connections which are such a drag on Boston theatre. It's intriguing that you immediately read my comments as being about Diamond's race and gender rather than relating them to one of my blog's central concerns. More of that neurosis again.

Thomas Garvey

Oh, yeah - and didn't I rake Noah Haidle over the coals because of his connections with Nicholas Martin? I guess I did that because he's female and black, too.

Ian Thal

I'm not ignoring the actual post, 99.

It's just that I spent a couple of days away from reading my usual blogs to deal with real life issues of having a day job, working at being an artist, and tending to my terminally ill cat, that I had to follow a chain of links to various posts that were talking about "what Thomas said" without giving me an inkling about "what Thomas said" and quite bluntly it's taking me far too much back and forth to actually find out what the hell anyone was talking about.

This of course gets back to my point last week about the fad of "RTWT" because it has apparently already fallen out of fashion to clearly label and link to the article under disputation. This week the fad is to link to articles that link to articles that talk about the offending article without actually linking to it (or even posting a representative excerpt.) So at this point, I've sort of lost my patience with this whole dispute, in part because none of the participants seem to take it seriously enough to state their case.

I also want to add my voice to Daniel's in thanking Isaac for his comments about Boston theatre. Boston may be a tough town to do theatre in, but I still have managed to attend two staged readings and a full evening of theatre over the last three evenings-- so we manage.


I'm sorry to hear about your cat.


Note the irony, if not hypocrisy, in assigning motives to Thomas’ writing. Labeling someone a troll is the very same ad hominem attack he is accused of perpetrating. The obsession to do so by all the happy campers in the theatrosphere is a fascinating study. 99 Seats even has a negative quote from Thomas in the sidebar of his blog as advertisement: "...Not just a mediocre playwright but a dishonest mediocre playwright." The lady doth protest too much. Methinks the chorus does here as well. Thomas speaks the truth sometimes. He also often manipulates the truth, but so does the chorus he attacks. And truth is much more difficult than political correctness when discussing subjects such as diversity. The RVC Bard comment Thomas cited was racist. (“My experiences with White people have been confusing, uncomfortable, frustrating, and exhausting … if you're White, and you met me in person, I'm probably talking about you.”) Does anyone dispute the racist attitude that this comment represents? So why doesn’t Isaac or Scott or 99Seats (the diversity discussion shills) call RVC Bard on it? The answer is simple. It would be unharmonious to do so. The PC chorus will always be the real bully in any supposed “diversity discussion,” not some obnoxious lone blogger like Thomas Garvey.


While I'm loathe to dive back into all of this, I just don't want to let this slide. Nick, this is what happens when people complain about racist attitudes: they get called a racist, told they're being PC and all manner of STFU.

I didn't dispute that RVCBard's quote is racist because (are you listening?) I DON'T THINK IT IS. I would have figured that was clear from the context of my response to Thomas' post. She's not saying, "I think white people are X" or "all white people are X" or really making any generalization. She's saying, "This is my experience." And, frankly, it's an experience I can understand and, after the last two weeks, I can almost get right behind. While I remain a staunch integrationist, comments like this one really put me off the whole endeavor.

Expressing frustration, disappointment and anger at one's treatment is not an act of racism. Who is being discriminated against? Who is being harmed? How are the fortunes of white people being hurt? One, really, read up on the differences between prejudice and racist. At no point, in all of this back-and-forth has anyone called Thomas a racist (a charge he's happy to throw around). I think he's a bigot, which isn't about assigning motive or mindreading his intent. It's about reading his words.

I really don't mean to get all hot about this, but one thing that pushes my buttons is that when a white person just makes up what he thinks a black person is thinking about race and assigns all kinds of feelings, and neuroses to it, that's somehow legitimate inquiry, but when a black person calls them on it, they're the ones being racist. I can't abide by that. And I can't in good conscience let it stand.


[...] one thing that pushes my buttons is that when a white person just makes up what he thinks a black person is thinking about race and assigns all kinds of feelings, and neuroses to it, that's somehow legitimate inquiry, but when a black person calls them on it, they're the ones being racist.

Don't worry. It ain't the first time (definitely read and digest the comments following that one).



My bad. You are right. Thanks for the correction. You are more schooled with the language here than me. RVCBard’s comment is not racist. But it does express a cemented prejudice. Flip the color scheme on that comment:

“My experiences with Black people have been confusing, uncomfortable, frustrating, and exhausting … if you're Black, and you met me in person, I'm probably talking about you.”

Any White person who would categorize their experiences with Black people so narrowly and negatively is probably someone you could label a bigot, same as you do Thomas. However, one bigot offends you, while the other bigot you “can almost get right behind.”

defending boston


Look, I am all for cutting Garvey down to size by a thorough dismantling of his specious arguments, but seriously, do you need to harsh on Boston theatre? Doesn't Tom do enough damage to our excellent working artists on his own?

I respect you and your blog, but that was an unnecessary and flippant remark, based on not knowing enough about what's really happening in the Boston scene. As a person who has been working in development of local Boston theatre artists for the better part of the last decade, that hurts man.

Thomas Garvey

I have to admit I'm more and more intrigued by this new meme that 99 seems to subscribe to of "No one can tell what I'm thinking!" Didn't Isaac recently say much the same thing? I get the odd idea that you guys somehow tell yourselves that no one could possibly analyze what you write on your blog, that your actual characters are screened by lead or something. What's most amusing is that, in a contradiction much like the one nick cites, you nevertheless constantly, if clumsily, toss around wild surmises about other people. If you can even call them 'surmises,' that is. You stamp your feet, you call your opponents trolls, you cry, you wail, you beg for pity so insistently I really have to admire your stamina, and you repeatedly insist that you're "not going to let Thomas Garvey get away with this!!" But really, what can you do to stop me from posting my own thoughts on my own blog? Meanwhile I'm going to other shows, writing up new analyses, hashing out the nominations for this year's Independent Reviewers of New England Awards with the other critics, working on a new piece for Leonard, and laughing with friends about how all the ditzy bloggers are calling me a racist - oh, sorry, a "bigot." Every now and then I check back in and you're still rolling on the floor, screaming. It's just sad. You posted a scene from your new play, which was okay, but obviously needs more of a kick or tease at its finish. Why don't you go work on that?

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