With great power comes great responsibility.
I’ve been flaunting my press pass around the Hollywood Fringe Festival for the past two weeks, demanding free tickets left and right, and, well, looking super cool. Sure, I know that the real reason I have my laminated badge of royalty is that Colin and Enci are really busy this year and asked me to see as many shows as possible on their behalf, but it still makes me happy to force people overlook me to that see I might actually have something to contribute to the community.
However, as the Fringe Festival is coming to a close, masquerading as a theatre reviewer is finally catching up to me. I keep getting questions like, “What kinds of things have you written?” and, “Are you going to review our show?!” that I find difficult to answer. I try to change the subject or mumble something like, “Oh, yeah, we’ll see…!” So I’ve started thinking that maybe I should actually write something. Maybe it’s about time to let the internet know what Maureen Chesus thinks about the theatre scene in this town.
So if I’m going to pen down my opinions, I need to find a solid lens through which I see theatre; a point of view. What’s my lens? I know I love new stories. I’m always asking how drama is evolving to adapt to our always changing world… how we can be relevant, and how we can have the most efficient exchange with audiences. In trying to narrow it down over the past few weeks I think I’m asking two things: How taken into their world am I (level of engagement), and did I learn something from this/did this cause something shift inside of me? I think if those two aspects come through, I can give it my stamp of approval.
Another review element came to mind in a great conversation I had yesterday with Ian Federgreen and Mary Kimball about universally-determined quality versus subjectivity. Are some shows “just bad” or is it a matter of one’s own personal opinion via their background, experience, etc?
I’d love to hear other reviewers/drama nerds’ opinions!