• gerald brennan

    There yet another way: Stop obsessing about it.

  • Cassie

    “We theatre journalists are a marginalized minority ourselves: overworked, underpaid, and constantly fighting to justify our existence.”

    That is a ROUGH sentence, American Theatre. Journalists, arts or otherwise, should not start equating themselves with ethnic or racial minorities

    • I might be off-base here, but isn’t the author a person of color?

  • Moby Pomerance

    Some good points, especially from Thal. You’re too quick to leap on the hyperbolic bandwagon for the sake of copy.
    As to your statement: “We’re not all that different from the artists we claim to love.” That you might actually believe that to be true – on any level – is the worst nightmare for any playwright (for whom I can, arguably, speak). You’re a consumer, at best you aspire to cultural obesity; what you’re not is a producer. But that’s okay. As you put it, since you’ve been “unintentionally offensive,” the best thing for you to do is own up to it. Don’t be defensive or dismissive. And try to do better next time.

  • Adam Feldman

    A very good piece. Two quibbles:
    1) Jamie’s Jewishness is featured pretty prominently in The Last Five Years, so I’m not sure that’s a great example.
    2) For what it’s worth, the over-the-top “exotic” style of Helena and Neville Landless in Drood is clearly intended as a joke *about* the racist stereotypes/conventions of the Victorian English music hall. (In the Dickens novel, if not explicitly in the musical, the Landless siblings themselves are not even ethnically Sri Lankan; they were just raised there.)

    • Ian Thal

      1.) There seems to be an epistemological hole in the larger culture where a lot of non-Jews are ambivalent about how to categorize Jewish identity and difference.

      2.) A lot of people have trouble grasping the difference between satire and the object of the satire. It’s just sad when people who are supposed to be engaged with literary and dramatic texts have that problem,

  • Hi_Denahnah

    Ugh. It isn’t just that Chris Jones has aged, it is that he is now out of touch with the very community he is supposed to be representing.
    Age has very little to do with it. Privilege, ignorance, and an inability/lack of desire to continuously educate himself on issues that are relevant to a new crop of theatre-makers and audiences is what the root of that issue is. The same is true for Hedy. In fact, the instance referenced in the article is only one of many that she has made some seriously offensive and off-color remarks about people in minority groups.

    If critics want to remain relevant, then they need to stay up to date on the issues that concern the newer generations of their communities.

  • Colby Day

    A lot of these rules apply to gender norms too!

  • Ian Thal

    Some good advice in general, but attempting to cast Gantz as a villain on par with John Simon is absurdly hyperbolic — especially since Gantz’ whole point was that he was hoping for a greater exploration of difference on American stages — he may have made his point poorly, but clearly, his actual impulse was anti-racist and pro-diversity. So, while he may deserve some criticism, there’s an opening for measured criticism and engagement here.

    Secondly, as far as Samuel Hunter’s writing of white characters — note that in his best known play, “The Whale”, the characters’ culture is something very specific: most of them are Mormon (or really, ex-Mormon) and the Church of Latter Day Saints, its culture, theology, history, and scripture permeates the lives of all the characters. Hunter’s characters are not examples of white as a default universal, but of a very specific cultural group that most American theater goers probably don’t know a lot about. I’m not a fan of the play, but that’s what Hunter wrote.

    • Moni Rio

      Thanks for the whitesplaining. How about doing less talking and more listening? Perhaps then, you wouldn’t have missed the point.

      • Ian Thal

        I’m sorry, I was too occupied with being an engaged reader to toss out insults and slogans.

        I actually am a critic, and since Diep Tran’s essay was directed at my entire profession, I thought it behooved me to take the ideas seriously. I agreed with the general thrust of it — but some of the specific examples were not particularly good ones.

  • 4 simple and reasonable steps.

  • TW

    You know, I have always wanted to ask A.R. Gurney, “Why are all your characters white?”

  • gwangung

    Hear, hear!