Shit on your Blog? No I’d rather not.
Look, I didn’t mean for this to happen.
No. I really didn’t.
I tumbled blindly, headfirst. Utterly, deeply, into this black framed abyss – a blog.
This was supposed to be a dormant archival holding-pen to keep all the zoo animals of my online writings – it wasn’t set up with any crusade nor strategy in mind. It was really just a place I could rely on to keep columns and reviews I had written for Artshub, Aussietheatre.com, Australianstage, newmatilda.com, and photos and advertising materials from my projects… a sort of cyberspace filing cabinet. That was in early 2009.
Since starting this site I have been quoted nationally and internationally on show flyers/media releases/ newspapers. I have been interrogated, insulted, personally threatened, and intimidated, ignored. I have been flown to conferences, I have been thanked and accused of being a fraud and a hack.
I have argued and defended and asserted many opinions and responses.
They have always been my own opinions and have never represented any of the arts organisations nor productions I have worked on.
No-one pays me for my opinion, or to write here. There is no grant offered to keep this type of public repository of conversation or criticism.
I sometimes fear that I may never be employed in the theatre because of it.
I am not protected nor promoted by an agent of any literary variety.
I also don’t have an editor… well that’s not true. Just as it takes a village to raise a child – it takes a community to keep my spelling and facts in check – and I have many “editors” that email corrections to me – to whom I am flattered and delighted and utterly grateful.
I often write in one sitting. I often don’t re-read what I write. I believe that what I am doing in this blog is giving a personal response to something. When I am excited or hurt or disappointed or invigorated or confused by theatre or art or the industry: I write about it. I don’t do it for fame, nor money. I do it as an outlet to help me order and articulate thoughts about my own practice. Reflecting this helps me – and might spur a conversation that reassures or invigorates others. And of course I love to celebrate great art and local artists. I care very deeply about my community of artists – and want to remind them, that they are remembered and admired and reviewed by someone who cares deeply and wants them to succeed.
This is me.
I read all reviews, commentary I can for about an hour a day. I try to write everyday. I try to attend as many shows as I can, I aim to produce/direct/develop a certain quantity of creative work a year. I bake muffins and bread when I am stressed. I never write anything I wouldn’t say to someone’s face. I always admit when I got something wrong.
I am passionately obsessed with curation and artist and audience development.
I love playwrights.
I am very scared of and completely in love with actors.
I love working with both (playwrights and actors).
I am 32 years old.
I am not from a wealthy (nor middle class family).
I am not afraid to tell you who I am, or what I think, or to cry or laugh in front of you.
Because of this – I use my name. I write under my own name. I stand by my name. I don’t read blogs written by pseudonyms or people who won’t declare their identity. I think that is cowardly. I think one of the hardest things to be is to be honest – and sometimes it is hard to be generous – and sometimes it’s hard to be hopeful about art. But I try to be all three – and sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I don’t.
Today there was a hoo-har (an article in The Global Mail) about a blogger who writes about theatre. I’ve tried reading her. But I don’t. I’ve found her observations unhelpful and in a tone that doesn’t appeal to me, mainly because it’s been anonymous – and those that write under pseudonyms don’t interest me. Today I have chatted and responded to many facebook and twitter conversations circling about this blogger who has finally outted her identity (after 6 months of blogging). Alison Croggon has beautifully summed up her thoughts on the article (after a vigorous day of twitter) HERE
I’m not interested in writing or people that drags art or theatre down. It’s like listening to a husband who complains that his wife snores…
I value the writer/reviewer who stares at theatre like a new beautiful, impossible object and constantly asks why it is/how it is/what it is.
I’m interested in honest, clear, open discussion that is respectful and intelligent. I respect those who do not share my views or tastes. BUT above all, I value bravery.
I ask for it, I reward and celebrate it…
I’m not going to shit on anyone or their play or their blog. I don’t think that’s cool. I don’t think that’s useful. But I will ask those who delight in the style of writing that empowers the anonymous and aggressive – if this is the tone and style of the artistic conversations we should be having? Is this the best we can do for each other?
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that writing about theatre should be sweet/placid/unconfrontational. I’m not saying that blogs are good and print criticism is bad (a lot of my friends are print critics.) What I’m saying is, that we must make sure that we constantly focus on what we want our industry to be – what we want our culture to be.
I believe in conversation and critical dialogue. AND it must be honest, no question. BUT it must also be respectful. And for me that’s about tone and about identity. It’s about declaring who you are, what you want, what you believe, what you value.
And this post is to declare that I believe in honesty and bravery and generosity in the arts – from all involved critics and artists alike- but in all cases the tone and the intention must always be respectful.
In the meantime, whilst others write as they will, you’ll find me cup of tea in hand, continuing to write my internet love-letters with the hope of maintaining my passionate long-term relationship I am having with the theatre.