by Joe Straw
I recently had a press person tell me about one of my reviews that, “I didn’t get it.” She also said that a lot of other audience members “didn’t get it either”. I’m delighted I was not the only one, but when a lot of people don’t get it then maybe it wasn’t there to be got.
I’m just a lone voice in a crowd of benevolent theatergoers. My question is: How many people have to tell you “it’s not working” before you believe a change needs to be made. I suggest that if it’s more than half then serious work still needs to be done.
I think it’s important to give you a perspective about my background so that when I see a show and review it you might think that I may have the experience to back up my thoughts.
I’ve studied acting over thirty years and in particular the works of Stanislavski, Strasberg, Hagen, Adler, and Clurman. Also, I have studied with some very fine acting teachers in Hollywood and have worked with world-renowned actors. I am a member of the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA.
I’ve produced, directed and have acted in a number of equity waiver productions. I’ve worked in television and have worked on over a hundred films in various capacities. I’ve also directed and produced two independent feature films and produced and directed a number of short films.
And I have to be honest with you; it’s a pet peeve of mine to arrive to a show on time only to have the curtain delayed twenty minutes. This shows very little respect to the audience who has paid to see the performance. I try not to let those emotions interfere with the work going on stage. But, in the back of my mind, it does.
When I see a show that doesn’t work I try to figure out why it didn’t work. I read the play (if available) as many as 12 times to figure out why a successful play is not as successful at a particular venue. (And more often than not, I usually get it.) While I may not agree with the directors choices, a strong choice is better than choices with no imagination.
Anyone whose has ever taken a scene study class knows a good performance from a bad one and although the opinions vary they usually let you know that it didn’t work, but when it does work generally there is nothing but praise.
Praise is rewarded to those who take pride in their work. It is tangible. It is visible. And it is gratifying.