Thursday, March 22, 2007

The art of accepting criticism in the Arts

Well, all the reviews are out. 2 great ones and, yup, one stinker. On the ouch-scale of 1 -10, it was approximately - 20! Actually, it was beautifully and laughably bad. Think I might just frame this one. I've been blessed, usually, with very nice notices, so it's good to have this kind of humbling experience, once in a while.

This particular critic hated the play (though it's a very famous play, by a very famous, master playwright), and spent about three quarters of the review lambasting it, and the other quarter reaming the actors. Now I can understand someone not liking a particular production, but it was unnecessarily mean-spirited (his description of one of the leads was downright cruel, I fared a tad better), though there are some critics who seem to thrive on being mean. There are also those reviewers who wait until the other reviews come out and, just to be contrary, write the polar opposite.

Apparently a frustrated playwright, he's also one of those incredibly self-indulgent reviewers who happens to be in love with his own cleverness and words. Thankfully, critic for one of those free weeklies, he's noted for his nastiness, so people don't place too much credence in his opinion and it shouldn't affect box office, which is doing very well! And I really can't complain because the other ones were lovely. In one of them I had an embarrassingly positive mention. 2 or 3 paragraphs for my small role, which is unusual. So one bad review, from a hack critic, isn't going to make or break my reputation here. The irony of it all, is that this same critic submitted one of his plays to the theatre for consideration, and 3 days prior to publication of his review, had asked if they had made a decision about producing it. The answer was no. Not sure if that had a direct influence on what he wrote, but the theatre has decided he will no longer be provided with complimentary tickets. If he wants to review a show, he will have to pay.

Reviews are one of the hazards of the business. To survive, you have to develop a very thick skin. You realize, as with life and for whatever reason, not everyone is going to like you or your work, you just can't please everyone. So you learn to take everything with a grain of salt, both the good and the bad and just trust your instincts. And you don't ever take anything personally.

So, I'm going to frame the review and my latest residual check for .07 cents, to remind me what we're worth as actors, and why I still remain in the business.


Blazing Cat Fur said...

I hope you write a letter to the editor pointing out the obvious conflict of interest. The reviewer sounds all too typical but perversly "bad critics" are often the best weather vane. My rule of thumb is - if they hate it, it must be good - it is a surprisingly reliable indicator.

MUD said...

It never hurts to eat a little humble pie now and then. I agree that framing it on the wall is a good idea. I would make sure the other two positive one's are right there for all to see. Thanks for your post, I used it as a part of Life lessons 101 (Cont). I'll bet you are as nice as you are smart. Break a leg. MUD

Papa J said...

I give a lot of training in my job. I long ago decided that I would much rather have critisism than a compliment. Compliments might get you a hand shake and a smile, but that's about it.

Of course, the critisism that I receive isn't usually public and doesn't ever hurt my earning potential.

P.S. I'll take those free tickets if you want an honest critique.

andres said...

weel lady me to vegetarian and i'm interestin and . the spirituality i'm a colombian Rastaman.may be speak more about

Blazing Cat Fur said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Incognito said...

I'd love to BCF, but I'd have to do it incognito! ;-) And they usually like return addresses, real names etc. If I work in this town again, don't want him to attack me further. But as they say "opinions are like (fill in the blank) everyone has one".

Oh thanks, MUD, I try to be. And glad to be of help. :-)

Yes, Papa J, criticism is very useful, if rendered in a positive manner. It isn't always the case. As actors, we need compliments, though I always found it hard to accept them graciously. Too embarrassing.
and if i ever perform in your state, you are very welcome to some comps! :-)

thank you Andres, i don't know that much about Rastafarianism... but I don't do drugs. I'll take a look at your website soon.

Blazing Cat Fur said...

Actually I did delete the original to correct a typo but then the system did not let me re-post.. oh well, if he is a Rasta the Ganja is his sacred herb, it would be discriminatory to deny it to him.

Glad you got a good review and hope the show is going well otherwise.

Incognito said...

That's weird BCF, wonder why? Then again. Had tried to get back to the website with the Hillary chew and couldn't. When I got back from the show I was suddenly able to. Who knows.

Yeah..I do know a little about Rastafarianism.. Haile Selassie.. guess it's stilll going strong.

And yes, thanks, the show is going very well. Nice full houses. Guess theatre isn't that dead, after all.