Search This Blog

Saturday, May 22, 2010

An Unceremonious End

I mentioned in my last entry that I needed a little break, explaining my blog silence for a couple of weeks. Well, now I'm thinking that I need more than just a break.
I've been in a bit of an internal wrestling match lately regarding this blog. On the one hand, I do enjoy writing it when I feel that I have something to write about (there's the rub, of course), but, on the other hand, I'm not sure that I'm still serving the purpose that I set out to in the beginning.
I've almost completely abandoned writing about specific local productions, because I don't really like that people were looking upon my blogs as critical reviews (which I've talked about before). So, I've moved more into the area of general discussions about theatre. Most of the "discussions" there, though, occur between me and the spammers. (You all don't see their posts, but I seem to spend most of my time on this blog lately rejecting spam.) This suggests to me that there isn't a lot of interest in what I have to say or the way that I choose to say it.
Recently, I added Google ads to this page at the recommendation of several friends. One of the first local ads that appeared was for a theatre company presenting the fourth local production of a musical in eighteen months, and you have all seen how I rail about that sort of thing. I believe I could actually see my integrity going down the drain.
Earlier today when I was toying with the notion of ending this blog, a thought entered my head.
The Colorado Shakespeare Festival is coming up, and if I end my blog now, I won't be able to get the media comp tickets anymore.
Well, the fact that I entertained that thought - even for a moment - made me realize that the reasons for starting this blog and the reasons for continuing it are worlds apart in terms of philosophy.
I've tried to make a difference with this blog, and whether I have or I have not is one of those things that I simply may never know.
It was fun until it wasn't fun anymore. It was good while it lasted, but I think it's lasted long enough.
I'll leave this entry up for about a week for those followers who only drop in periodically, and then I'm going to hit the "delete blog" button.
I may return to the blogosphere again at some point, but I think it's time to let the One Big Bad Wolf return to the wilds from whence he came.
As the Irish say:
"May good luck be your friend in whatever you do, and may trouble always be a stranger to you."

EDIT - Okay, by request, I will leave this blog up for a while longer for those wishing to re-read or save any of the older entries. Eventually, though, it will be deleted.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Closet

Apologies for the silence of the last two weeks. I needed a break.

So, there has been some furor recently over Ramin Setoodeh's Newsweek editorial/review of Promises, Promises on Broadway starring openly gay actor Sean Hayes in the "straight" role of C.C. Baxter.
The article received an angry response from Hayes's co-star Kristin Chenoweth and a call for a boycott of Newsweek from Glee creator Ryan Murphy over the claimed blatant homophobia of the article.
Well, I read the article, and, while Setoodeh could have chosen the words used a bit more carefully, I wouldn't say that I found the piece overtly offensive or homophobic. Is it appropriate to factor in Hayes's off-stage sexuality in critiquing his on-stage performance? No, probably not. Having not seen his performance, I really can't comment, but I do see how knowing a good deal about someone's private life could affect an audience's ability to accept an actor in a different role. This may or may not necessarily be a reflection of the actor's actual performance.
Setoodeh's related criticism of Glee actor Jonathon Groff isn't as easy to dismiss, but, again, he was trying to make a point, though perhaps not with the utmost sensitivity.
I don't know that a boycott of Newsweek over the article is necessary, though a related article about "celebrities we knew were gay all along" certainly warrants heavy scrutiny, in my opinion.
I do think that there is some merit in the article - less for its criticism of openly gay actors seemingly (again, I can't comment on either performance mentioned) unable to effectively portray their straight characters.
The merit exists in the thinly-veiled indictment of the effect of celebrity on artistry. This takes two forms: first in the roles for which the actor is best known affecting the audience's acceptance of a new characterization, and, second, how knowing too much about an actor's private life can affect how we view these actors in the make-believe world.
Is Setoodeh's criticism of Hayes in a straight role an effect of knowing that Hayes is actually gay or the fact that Hayes's role of Jack on Will and Grace is so indelibly linked with the actor? It's hard to say.
Is it worth asking? That's a tough one. I think it's a touchy subject when one broaches the question of an artist's private life, but we do live in an age of multi-million dollar salaries for teenagers, tell-all biographies (and autobiographies), and the E! Channel. Maybe what I see as a "line not to cross" is really only there in my imagination.
Sexuality aside, are we as an audience affected so heavily by the image we associate with an actor - whether real or imaginary - that we cannot see them in any other way?
I think sometimes we are - at first. Whether we can get past that (or how fast) depends upon how well the actor fully realizes the character.
For Setoodeh, perhaps Hayes and Groff didn't accomplish that, but, perhaps also, blaming their private lives was out of bounds.
Still, Setoodeh was obviously looking to open a discussion (though he may have got more than he bargained).

Monday, May 3, 2010

Punctuate This!

As a director, actor, and theatre blogger, I read many articles every week about theatre. Some are on the the blogs of others like myself, some are in European and American newspapers online, and some are just articles on theatre industry sites.
I have noticed an inconsistency in the formatting of play titles among all of these sources. Some use italics to adorn the title, while some merely enclose it in quotation marks.
While I know that I do, on occasion, break the rules of proper written grammar in order to effect a more conversational tone to my blog (or sometimes simply for emphasis), I do think it would be good for us to have some consistency on this point.
Here is my understanding of how the punctuating of titles works:
While some people ascribe to the big vs. "little" rule, I think it is more accurate to think in terms of whole or "part."
For example, the book, Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, should be italicized, while chapter seven of that book, "The Sorting Hat," belongs in quotations. Movies are in italics, but, if the director chooses to break the movie up into titled parts, each of those parts would be addressed later by quotes. A television series like Doctor Who gets italics while one of that show's awesome episodes like "The Doctor Dances," should be punctuated to indicate that it is a "part" of a greater whole.
To my understanding, plays and musicals should get the same treatment as films. They are to be italicized. If the playwright has chosen to name specific scenes in the play, those scenes should be in quotes. The same goes for musical numbers in a musical. I once had someone try to tell me that musicals were italicized but plays were not. I have found no evidence to support that position, though, so I am inclined to think that person was an "idiot."
Now, in the age of Twitter and Facebook, sometimes the option of italicizing a title just isn't possible. In this case, I think it is acceptable to use quotation marks universally so that offering to loan a friend your copy of A Flaming Case of Herpes doesn't lead to confusion, hurt feelings, or mass "un-friending."
In all other cases, though, italics should be used to indicate the title of a book, a movie, or a play.
Now, I know that at least one of my readers is an English professor, so please feel free to correct or expand on what I've said here.