Saturday, January 26, 2008

Thoughts on a professional paradox; or, the only post you'll ever read in which Terry Byrne and Bertrand Russell are both mentioned

To the many people who have emailed to ask why I ended my relationship with Zeitgeist Stage: yes, you guessed right, there's no love lost between me and David Miller. But that's not the main point. The point is that I also realized that any relationship with a theatre company was untenable. Obviously, after recent events, for a local theatre troupe to hire me would be roughly the equivalent of painting a target on its back - and no theatre deserves that.

Before I took the job of directing Blowing Whistles, I was most concerned, naively enough, about how other theatre companies would react to my directing, but they've by and large been quite supportive; it seems people trust me to deal honestly with their productions even when I'm in "competition" with them (whatever that means) - or, perhaps they simply don't want to endanger their relationships with me, as I'm known to give just about everyone a rave when I think they deserve one.

No, it's clear the deal-killer is going to be the other critics, who I think aren't going to be content with simply sending me nasty e-mails anymore (as several of them do). And being able to respond honestly to invalid reviews is something I think the blog has to be free to do - but again, that would only threaten the theatre companies in question, who must remain politely supine before even the most numb-skulled review. For instance, I'd love to ask Terry Byrne, who claims that nothing in Blowing Whistles would shock a "soccer mom," how many soccer moms of her acquaintance sniff cocaine off gay men's cocks. I mean I'm sure she knows some; I'd just love to meet them (and I'd really like to party with them)! But this is impossible without endangering Zeitgeist, so I can't. It's really too bad.

But hey, life's unfair, right? To be a critic and a theatre director is a bit like trying to be Bertrand Russell's barber who only shaves men who don't shave themselves; it's a paradox in which the professional logic of theatre and criticism collapses. The only way to transcend the conundrum is to be entirely self-sufficient, to be a kind of singularity. Maybe some day that will happen. But I won't be directing again until I'm sure my critical enemies can't do my collaborators any harm.

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