Day 13 2012: Touching a nerve.

Today’s blog post was going to be about food, or vendors, or something flippant about beer tent conversations… but instead, something interesting happened this morning.

While at the scrumptious staff breakfast that was hosted by a few of the other technicians (shout out to my peeps in the other venues) my iPad told me I had a new comment on my blog that was awaiting my approval. “Cool” I thought, “one of the techs is posting something”. You see, up to this point, the readers of my blog had included a few friends, some staff, and my aunt Hilda.

Hi aunt Hilda!

But it seems one of my entries caught the eye of Joff Schmidt. He made some excellent points defending critics at large, and mentioned that he has friends (ironically, while I start to write this post in the beer tent, I’m alone at a table). I’m happy that there is room in the treehouse.

So I approved the comment, which I do for all comments except the spam and hate speech ones (got an anti-gay comment the other day), and then I didn’t think much about it and went to see a show in the Kid’s Venue (shout out to the Kids in the audience who tell it like it is. “That man caught a fish, and the fish is talking to him mommy. He should eat that fish”).

After the show, I went to get some food and sit in the outdoor site with a samosa and a curry, and I opened my iPad.

Forty seven e-mails from WordPress.

Seems my post touched a nerve with the critics… and some sounded really angry.

So I approved them all, and then posted on my Facebook page that there was activity in case anyone wanted to respond. I was then accused of hiding on Facebook and not replying (not by a critic, but an artist).

I had to run a few shows and had tickets for a couple today, and it took me a while to read some of the lengthy replies, so I’m only getting to this post now, for which I apologise for.

I really didn’t expect the kind of response I got, but by the looks of it, people have some things to say about the current state of reviewing in the fringe. Actually they have a LOT to say. Wow. In fact SOME have more words for their replies than they do for SOME of their reviews.

It occurs to me, that if everyone is that defensive about this issue, then there must be a problem somewhere. I may have exaggerated to make my point, but I’m not sure that my post garners this much attention… I’m just a technician. A curmudgeonly technician actually, poking some fun at a poor guy writing alone in the beer tent while others whispered behind his back (no I won’t say who it was, just like I won’t refer to specific groups in this blog, I won’t single out a reviewer).

But it sparked some very verbose replies that all make good points for both sides of this issue, and I think that both sides have been waiting in the wings to make their voices heard. From my point of view, everything that has been said is valid… I don’t agree with all of it, but I understand.

I do, however, agree that critics have a vital role to play in professional theatre. During the MTC season it keeps us on our toes, keeps us honest. But I find SOME of the Fringe reviewing unsettling and sometimes downright mean, and I imagined what it would be like if there were no reviews for the Fringe, and what it must be like to tell the amateur groups that they are the worst thing since Jar Jar Binks. So I wrote a bit about it.

I shouldn’t complain. My blog usually gets about twenty to eighty hits a day… today I am in the thousands. Thanks for the traffic Joff.

So I don’t have much more to add to this dialogue because I’m not an artist or a critic, but I think you guys should talk some, because you clearly have something to say. Just play nice. You’re both pretty.

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About JBJ

John lives in an abandoned toolshed behind a fake rubber vomit warehouse in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada with a squirrel named Peanut Hoarder, where he steals an internet signal from the Kung Fu school next door. He is a little "off". View all posts by JBJ

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