Theatre Salon Blues
November 15, 2011
Last Sunday's effort, however, left me feeling a little disappointed. The topic at hand was "criticism" and we conceived of the term in the broadest sense -- we wanted to explore not just the traditional relationship between theatre artists and sanctioned members of the media who review the artists' work, but the level of critique that goes on (or fails to go on) within the arts-making community itself.
Given the fact that Bay Area arts people are notorious for being nicey-nicey even when the work sucks, this is a prescient topic. However, as the evening evolved I became more and more dispirited. I wasn't sure at the time what was bugging me beyond the fact that I felt tired .
But since then, I think I've figured out at least in part the problem with Sunday night's Salon: People seemed to pay lip service to the idea of true critical engagement ("We need to stand up for ourselves!" "Only if we're honest about each others' work can we improve!" "We owe this to our audiences!" etc) without getting into specifics about how the really important critical conversations might actually take place in an environment that doesn't really support critical discourse.
If I had thought of this at the time, I would have tried to steer the conversation in a more productive direction.
Perhaps this blogpost can serve as an opener to a new discussion then: What needs to happen in the (Bay Area) arts scene in order for people within the community to be able to have frank and constructive discussions about the work being produced?