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Leonard and David sitting in a tree, b-l-o-g-g-i-n-g

By Nick Fracaro at 12:30 pm on Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I seem to be mistaken about the theatre editors having any regrets over what they have made public. Neither appears particularly flustered by the attention to their private beliefs and lives. In fact both seem to have flourished somewhat under the scrutiny. And the private/public rift that has developed between them has all the drama and scandal potential of a Rosie/Donald episode. For theatre’s sake, let’s hope they exploit the opportunity. I kid the critics.david's emblem

David wants his pathology to be read like a book. The masthead emblem of his blog is the lone player standing on stage with a defiant fuck-you gesture thrust at the hostiles in the audience. That actor would be David. In recent days he has constructed his makeshift platform and has gathered the hostiles for his performance. Catechism on a hot tin roof His latest post begins with an address to the offended public.

In response to the righteous indignation that my posts and reviews have ignited here, here, here and here.

The title of David’s blog, Histriomastix, has a wikipedia link to explain it:

Histriomastix represents the culmination of the Puritan attack on the English Renaissance theatre.

David obviously imagines that this 400-year-old antagonistic Puritanical audience is alive and well, and still in onslaught against his beloved theatre. Going a considerable step further, he has conflated the Puritans with all “people of faith,” suggesting that the Us v. Them divide is much larger than most of us working in theatre ever imagined. So the Chosen Ones of theatre in David’s eyes are those who have sworn off all religion.

Statements such as “Religion is bad theatre for stupid people,” inappropriately placed in a theatre review, are sure to draw a crowd of hostiles. But the critic/actor maintains his haughty position on stage, daring the public to drag him to the pillory.

I admire David’s honesty and refusal to stand down from his beliefs. This stance is not likely to further his career as a mainstream theatre editor and reviewer. As reader, I never would have caught the offending line in his review if it weren’t for the brouhaha that developed around his diatribe against THEM in the Mike Daisey incident. Having seen Young Jean Lee’s Church, I was waiting anticipatively for his review on that particular piece in light of his exposed prejudices. I’m sure other bloggers were doing the same.

I find both David and Leonard’s personal blogs refreshing, especially when contrasting them with their “official” blogs at TimeOut and BackStage. Leonard is genuinely endearing with his backstage gossip and rants. But again, one wonders how well all this honesty and transparency will serve a mainstream career. We should wish them both the best of luck. We will all be better off if it does.

Filed under: Artist/Critic6 Comments »

6 Comments

1
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Comment by Leonard Jacobs

May 17, 2007 @ 6:41 am

Trouble is, neither David nor I have enough hair to be either Rosie or the Donald. However, if I, at the mouth of a gun, were forced to choose, I’d have to play the role of Rosie…maybe for a day. I don’t think I could play her for more than a day. Icky-poo-gag-me-with-a-spoon poetry (ever read HER blog?) makes me ill.

Let me add that it’s not a rift, really. I called David out because I thought he crossed a line. And, in the true spirit of the blogosphere, I wouldn’t have noticed that sentence in his review if I hadn’t read Rob Kendt’s blog (since I hadn’t read my issue of Time Out at that point). The real concern is David’s email to me, turning his nose up at getting castigated “by the likes of you.” That’s the kind of unhelpful language that would not be unwelcome in David Duke’s living room.

2
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Comment by David Cote

May 17, 2007 @ 8:58 am

Leonard: First you appoint yourself the Grand Inquisitor of what constitutes “crossing a line” in theater criticism/public discourse, then you equate my disrespectful remark to you (in a private e-mail I might add) as comparable to white supremacist hate speech? An impressive display.

3
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Comment by Leonard Jacobs

May 17, 2007 @ 2:30 pm

Thank you for acknowledging that your remark was disrespectful. Indeed, an impressive display.

The “likes of you” swipe, with malice in your heart, added a layer of toxicity to the matter. I called you out for the inappropriateness of what you published in a theatre review, one that many people in the community obviously agreed was an unprovoked attack upon those that possess spiritual beliefs. The adjectives I chose to use regarding the content of your review referred in addition to what I felt was being communicated about the person writing the review. What does it say to the reader, what does say to the American theatre, when a critic feels it is his duty, his privilege, his right, to blithely swat, as if with the back of his superior hand, those who believe in God, those who believe in religion, those who cherish, for whatever reason, all of religion’s rites and rituals? (For the record, I am largely a nonobservant Jew.) Is it possible that you could state your beliefs — to which you are fully and unquestionably entitled to — without sticking verbal bayonets into people who do not share them?

You will note — and I hereby offer to clarify this on my blog if that will mollify you — that I also called you “very intelligent, often thoughtful, well-educated, and not given to fits or fusillades of unnecessary vituperation.” I stand by those words, though I am sure you have already dismissed them.

The difference in all this, too, is that your private email even more fully exposed the hatred you have for me in your heart. It does not seem unreasonable to me, in the wake of the debate metastasizing from mostly professional to mostly personal, to publish on my personal blog my personal feelings regarding how “the likes of you” statement personally made me feel. And you do not have the right to attack someone personally and then act surprised when you are counterattacked.

Perhaps you feel the words I used to object to your review made it a personal attack as well. I can see that argument being made, and quite effectively. If you want that argument to be won by you, I shall get down on the mat and allow the referree to take a very long count to ten. But “the likes of you,” like it or not, smacks of a raging superiority complex. And if a raging superior complex is not a quality that we, as Americans, can easily associate with such social dysfunctions as white supremicist hate speech, I just can’t imagine what would be.

I’d offer a truce, you know, but I’m waiting for your next attack.

4
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Comment by David Cote

May 18, 2007 @ 4:42 am

Leonard: By your tortuous logic, any person showing the slightest personal distaste for your petty, arrogant, hysterical, defensive, sanctimonious bluster is transmuted into a hatemonger on a par with a white supremacist. Why not go the whole hog and bring on the anti-Semitism? What’s worse–glibly implying stupidity or glibly implying that someone is a fascist? I was trying to score a satirical point in my review, you seem to want to be the lead torch-carrying villager.

5
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Comment by Leonard Jacobs

May 18, 2007 @ 5:12 am

“petty, arrogant, hysterical, defensive, sanctimonious” — an excellent description of yourself. End this now.

6
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Comment by David Cote

May 18, 2007 @ 5:23 am

YOU DON’T GET TO END THIS. I DO. Okay, it’s over now.

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