Okay. Got my very first review of my very first play. I'm about 75% sure it's a bad review but I'm having a problem translating the reviewers circular speak. My play is "Meeting MySpace by Elizebeth Turnquist." (The reviewer added an "in" to the title of my play and continued the misspelling of my first name that the theater started.)
Here's my main problem; if it's a bad review, I'm not sure if I should take this as a review of my writing or as a review of the directing.
I wrote the play as a reflection on the fact that Sacramento is diverse and has many different personalities. My director went for the laughs. The characters were played WAY over the top. I was writing in what I considered a realistic style and she directed it as a romantic comedy.
I could just blame the director and say that it sucked because she sucked but that feels like a cop out. I want to get some learning out of this experience. I want to be able to grow from the criticism given by the reviewer. I guess I want too much.
Has anyone else had a problem like this before? Sorting out if it’s your writing or the directing that earned a bad review?
Congratulations on your first play! And on your review! In my opinion, the most frustrating thing is not to be reviewed at all--to feel that you've done something and no one saw it. Based on your other posts, it seems that you probably already have learned a lot through this experience, no?
Collaboration is difficult and annoying when you don't agree with the director's choices. It's been my experience, however, that things eventually even out--and you end up with a director who lifts your words up, and makes them sound much better than you ever expected. It's only a matter of time before you land on your Director Soulmate.
Two quick thoughts: If you genuinely feel it might be your writing that's in question, now's the time to quietly sit down with it, in the aftermath, and try to turn a self-critical eye on the play. Are there things you didn't like when you saw it done? Lines that seemed clunky or unnecessary? Can you make it better--if you even have to?
Otherwise, remember that your play got filtered twice. Once through a director who may not have gotten it, and once through the perception/interpretation of actors who were charged with following that director. So maybe it's them.
But here's the thing: F the critics. Did the audience enjoy it? They're the end user. They're the ones you need to please in the long run. Look at it this way: food critics will tell you a Quarter Pounder with Cheese is awful, but damn it all, I love 'em. So screw the critics, hard and deep. Did the audience dig it? There's your payoff. Critics are paid to be bitchy; audiences pay to be entertained. Were they?
In looking at that review, the critic really kind of whizzed right past you. Two adjectives do not a review make, my friend. Move on and be glad your work got seen.
Just because something is realistic, doesn't mean it can't be sentimental and/or idealistic, too.
But from what you said, it sounds like the director didn't bring out the soul of your play, and that's too bad. I would suggest doing is looking through your script to see if there is anything you can change to make what you want more clear to a reader (and potential director) in the future. Keep in mind, though, that directors tend to skip over stage directions, notes before or after the play, etc., and may not get any cover letters.
If you're interested in hearing completely different director and writer takes on the same material, check out the 2-disc version of True Romance (Tony Scott/Tarantino).
Plus, here, it sounds like an uneducated reviewer. Probably someone who wanted to do political journalism and got stuck reviewing local arts. I was told "Carl Brandt Long's Soapbox, an absurdist examination of political rhetoric, stumble[s]" by a similar person. Both the script and the production of it (at least the night I saw) did not stumble.
Best to you in the future. I hope you find better directors, and that better reviewers find you!
Shanahan wrote: Moon wrote: In my opinion, the most frustrating thing is not to be reviewed at all--to feel that you've done something and no one saw it.
Amen to this. I've had plays produced at last count by 27 theaters and I believe I've had two reviews.
(But I've had theaters tell me how much the audiences loved the plays.....you see?)
Amen to the amen. I've only had one review, it was bad and yet I got nothing but compliments from audience members on that show (one woman saw it 5 times and brought someone new to it each time). And as far as all of my non-reviewed shows, each audience was overwhelmingly positive. They're the ones I'm trying to make happy.