As a lifelong theatregoer and former theatre tour organizer, I’ve never turned down the chance to attend post-show discussions, or have them scheduled in multiple formats. I was interested to read in your “Talkback Backtalk” article (Oct. ’18) that David Mamet has banned them and that other playwrights may have participated under duress.
Playwrights, I’ve observed, have masked their discomfort well. I don’t advocate play composition by committee, but if theatre is a collaborative art, then I think post-show discussions have a place. Any audience will include individuals with differing perspectives and backgrounds that just may enhance the playwright’s understanding of the impact of his work. It’s even possible that someone can correct a factual error in the script, such as in a play I attended in Washington that referred to Niagara Falls as a national park, which it isn’t. I knew this having spent a few years in the National Park Service. The playwright thanked me for the correction, and for possibly saving him from embarrassment when the production reached New York.
For playwrights nervous about being skewered by their paying patrons, I can only say that the comments I’ve heard in post-show discussions, if perhaps not always helpful, have been overwhelmingly positive and cordial.
Self-Awareness and Self-Care
[In response to Quiara Alegría Hudes’s “High Tide of Heartbreak,” Oct. ’18] I have a TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) company that does shows based in character development, and I write for it, and I agonize often about my voice, and what I should say, and how it is received, and if people are listening or getting it, and what is my responsibility in how they receive it. And I wonder how “out there” I can be about the fact that some of my work, although universal, comes from my life as a Black woman married to a Black man who together have a Black son, and how I want to create a world that he is safe in. And I expand and retract. It’s a lot. I thank you for your voice, and for the wisdom in self-care in stepping back and making yourself whole.
Producing artistic director
Building Better People Productions