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Playwrights: How Do You Handle Criticism

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A friend of mine, a former coworker, recently staged a play in the D.C. area, and although we're not close, I dropped him a note to congratulate him and tell him how excited I was for him. I had seen the play a year earlier, as part of a fundraiser for his new theater company.

The play opened in August, and partly because things were slow on the theater front, it got press in the Washington Post, the Washington Times and our free weekly, The City Paper. The latter two reviewed the play -- negatively. The Times review wasn't too harsh, but the capsule review in the City Paper was tough, and I'm told the full review, published while I was out of town, was positively brutal.

I'm wondering what one says to a playwright who's just had his first production scorched. Do I say anything, or just let my earlier congratulations stand? If I do drop him a line, do I acknowledge the beating the play took, cheer him up, or avoid the reviews altogether? I know from our past friendship that he reads reviews, so I'm guessing he must have gone from an emotional high -- getting the play staged -- to a real low. But I could be wrong.

How have you playwrights handled bad reviews of your work? Do you want friends to comment on reviews? Or are you all geniuses who only get glowing write-ups? smile.gif

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Christian wrote:

: How have you playwrights handled bad reviews of your work? Do you

: want friends to comment on reviews?

Ask Ron how he handles it when it's his friends who are WRITING the reviews (and negative ones, at that). I still fondly recall a very gracious e-mail he sent me after I panned one of the plays that his theatre put on. (I later bumped into one of the other actors, who thanked me for my honesty and said my criticism of the play's set design had been spot-on.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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