About This Blog

I really like theatre, and I like writing and talking about it.

This blog is mostly about my relationship with theatre, the moments that make me fall in love with this art form, and the times when we don't always get along.

I'll be writing about things that I like, that I think are good and interesting and want to share. I will probably also write about things that I don't quite get, or think are wierd. I may also write about things that aren't theatre, strictly speaking, because it's my blog and I can.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

So...What Did You Think?

Another blog I follow lead me to an interesting article today, and I think it's an important topic that people who work in the arts (or have a lot of friends in the arts) need to address: how to tell your friend what you thought of their show.

The linked article is great, and I definitely suggest you read it. I would also like to share two memorable experiences I've had with this, one many years ago, the other quite recently.

As a student, I had a large role in a production of The Crucible. Another actor from the production and I were good friends with a girl who was doing Our Town at her school a few weeks before it opened, so we went to see it. Our friend was good, but many of the other actors were flat and it was generally a dull production. But when we greeted our friend after the show, we told her how good she was, and found some nice things to say about the show.

A few weeks later, she came to see us in The Crucible, and afterwords when we asked what she thought, she just said "I didn't like it". That was it! Now, I know the show wasn't Tony-worthy; it was a student production and obviously had its problems. But it was not completely without merit, and had a lot of really good moments. None of which she chose to mention.

As for the other story; I'm currently involved with a well-reviewed production that is enjoying a successful run in Los Angeles (I was the dramaturg; in this context I mostly acted at an artistic consultant). The play is notable for its "love it or hate it" twist ending. A friend of the company came to see it, and afterwards loudly announced to his friends that he had figured out the twist for himself, was disappointed by it, and from that point on had ceased paying attention.

So three of his friends are on stage, giving physically strenuous and emotionally gripping performances, but he doesn't like the plot twist, so he's just completely checked out. ???!?!!

Based on the above, I would like to provide a few tips for going to see your friends' shows:
-Stay for the whole thing, and make sure your friend at least sees you afterwards. You are there to support your friend, and not just for your own entertainment, so even if you're not enjoying yourself, stick it out.

-Give your friend a "Good job", whether it was deserved or not. Don't ruin the post-performance afterglow.

-Come up with something nice to say about the production; cool costumes, fun choreography, that one really funny bit. Anything, so long as you don't just say "Good job" and then stand there staring at your friend.

But the most important thing, really, is to know your friend. If you know he's really thin-skinned and can't take criticism, pick out a few strong points to praise, and hope the topic never comes up again. If you see a serious problem that may hurt your friend's career in the long run and needs to be addressed, find a way to gently inform him of it. But if you have the kind of friends who are capable of objectively deconstructing their own work, you can actually tell them what you thought of it (but I'd recommend this for drinks a week later, not in the lobby after curtain calls)

But with any luck, your friends' shows are all really good, and you'll never have this problem.

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