Friday, February 1, 2013

A Pre-Manifesto

(I was so happy to find, after writing my review of 4000 Miles, that this image exists. Read the article to see why. Photo by Kevin Berne.)

I've been doubting the quality of my writing more than usual lately. This review, of A.C.T.'s 4000 Miles, feels too oblique, like it's always just winking at you, circling around its main point instead of coming out and saying it. In another review, of Af-Am Shakes's production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, I talk about the play itself for so long that my discussion of the production feels like an afterthought. And in still another review, of Manic Pixie Dream Girl at The Costume Shop and Why Torture Is Wrong and the People Who Love Them by Custom Made, my thoughts look choppy when pared down to meet the daunting constraints of print journalism. (My online articles give me more freedom, but not much incentive; the pay, I like to joke, is milk money.) 

I think I'm chafing at the form of a theater review. The system under which I write is not conducive to thoughtfulness, complexity, or, heaven forbid, research. It does not encourage diligent but slow pursuits of the right word or exquisitely crafted phrases. It's geared toward "producing" a specific "amount of content" on a "quick turnaround." (William Zinsser just had a heart attack.)

Lately, I've been turning over and over in my head an idea for a new system. I've been talking about it with people who I think might be interested, both to mine them for ideas and to create social pressure so that I don't give up on the project. (I like to think of myself as a master in the art of manipulating myself.)

As I said to someone at a show last night, "nascent" would be a generous term for the state of this idea. All I have for now is desire and energy. 

I'm on the hunt for other alternative models of arts criticism, to expand my narrow horizons (and to further plunder others' ideas). Readers, have you any directions in which to point me?

4000 Miles continues through Feb. 10; info here.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof continues through Feb. 17; info here.

Manic Pixie Dream Girl continues through Feb. 10; info here.

Why Torture Is Wrong and the People Who Love Them continues through Feb. 17; info here.

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