Saturday, April 5, 2008

Marx attacks!

Ah, Bill Marx. The sweetly smiling visage at left (no doubt he was thinking of me at the time) hardly prepares one for the vat-load of venom hidden in those incisors. When I pointed out that his puff piece on the Huntington's Breaking Ground festival neglected to mention that critics were - how to put this? - personae non gratae at the festival, even though at least one of the playwrights in question actually wanted them to be there (or rather me, not him), he suddenly stopped tickling Ilana Brownstein (below right) with the feather of his pen and plunged its point into my side (on Art Hennessey's Mirror Up to Nature):

The heart-rending sight of Mr. Garvey fighting the shadows of assorted straw men (academia,left wing fiends, ememies domestic and abroad) is nothting new. But I am deeply worryed with his latest self-destructive delusional bout -- he is battling with his own shadow. Perhaps he is frightened by the sight.

A theater company can ask that a critic not come to a public reading or a production, but that request has no legal standing. There is nothing stopping Mr. Garvey or any critic from walking into Breaking Grounds and writing about what they see.

If he is stopped by the HTC from entering the theater he has something to complain about. Until then, he is punching at air, as usual.

No, sorry Bill - I'm punching a punching bag that looks a lot like you, and you know it. How else to explain the fact that, despite a barrage of insults, you never actually approach the central question of my piece? My point was not to simply wail about some imagined mistreatment at the hands of the Huntington, but to reveal that the theatre was attempting to shut down critical conversation about the process itself, and that in the meantime they were frustrating the wishes of at least one supposed benefactor of that process. Let me say it again - the Huntington is fully within their "rights," if you will, to operate their development process outside the critical radar. But then shouldn't a genuine critic be a wee bit more skeptical about it? To ask that no one review a script in development is perfectly understandable; to throw a veil over the very process of development itself is something else. And to have the supposed critical scourge of Boston seemingly pleased as punch with the effort is something else again, isn't it. (It almost makes you wonder - is Marx invited, while other critics aren't?)

As for the recommendation that I simply show up at the theatre anyway: really, Bill, only you could be such a jerk as to barge into a theatre where you weren't wanted (and even if I did so, I doubt the playwright in question would be much pleased). No wonder you call yourself persona non grata, and have obviously researched the legal questions involved!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Thom,

    My thought is that some of the supposed "ethics" in reviewing theatre are really no more than protocol. The contract and ethics ultimately should be those negotiated between artistic peers. The producer and the press may have a protocol or contracts that are detrimental to the relationship between the artist and critic. The argument may eventually come down to a very simple one: Process v. Product. The artist/critic will need to align themselves between those poles. Criticism as a function of dramaturgy within the process, or criticism as species of service journalism for the consumer/audience.