Who are we?

We are two ordinary theatre-goers getting a few things off our chests.

If we went to Argos and bought a kettle that didn’t work the law would allow us to take it back and get a refund.

But what do we do when we go to see a show that doesn’t work.

The sales of goods act says that the product should be ‘As described, fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality’.  It says nothing about whether you should ‘like’ the product.  Our mission is to ask these difficult questions about the theatre and related art forms.

6 Responses to Who are we?

  1. soneil says:

    hey rageoffstage:

    just clicking through from your response to my comment at who needs critics on the guardian site.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/theatreblog/2011/nov/23/who-needs-critics-sondheim?commentpage=1#comment-13445863

    not sure I understand your bullying defensiveness. see Critics: Lack of Comprehension & Attention To Detail.

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    • rageoffstage says:

      Hi Soneil
      Thanks for getting in touch. Can defensiveness be bullying? Do you generally find that if you attack people they don’t defend themselves? Interesting. We don’t discount the fact that there are some bad critics out there who don’t get it, and when we were involved in the student drama/amateur/fringe scene we had our fair share of reviews that were less than kind, but we got good reviews too. Surely to suggest that every time you get a bad review it must be because the critic doesn’t comprehend the work is stretching credulity. It just sounds like sour grapes. We thought our question was fairly clear, but you haven’t answered it.

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      • soneil says:

        I would venture there are plenty of people outside of your narrowly defined range of “critic to people who can’t write.” There are plenty of bloggers who can write so there’s no need to be so defensive. There are plenty of bloggers who can’t write and, as I said, try to carry off an “establishment/broadsheet” style without realising that their words do not carry that kind of weight. Suggesting a collective medium needs to find an original voice isn’t the same as telling them what that voice is, nor does it pose any other restraint. Most bloggers do not have the gravitas to carry off the authoritative critical appraisals of broadsheet journalists anymore so than an X Factor contestant can carry off a legitimate, original pop performance. You can’t hang me for that. Are you suggesting that the blogosphere to which you belong has comfortably settled into its own unique and valued place amidst more prominent, established and trusted arts media? Surely you must long for a larger more attentive audience to give your words authority? You’re publishing your views but the power of an arts blogosphere would still seem to be developing. And, for the record, none of my commentary was directed specifically at you or your site.

        If the question is “who is your work for?” than the answer is: the audience. I think what’s being missed here, by both yourself and Billington, is the question of “do creative artists work in response to what critics say?” and the answer is: no. You’re on your own. You do what you do, I do what I do. Do I take seriously the response of some grumblefuck critic who gets none of the details right, writes poorly and for whom the event is just an opportunity to be clever? No. Why? Because there are audience members who are much more engaged, attentive, vocal and affected by the work than most critics, both during and after the event. The artistic criticism that Sondheim speaks of is that which is of value to him – feedback, response perhaps straight up formal criticism from people whom he considers his peers not someone with a byline. Most experienced artists have the ability to personally appraise their own work anyway – they’re not sitting around in the dark waiting for a critic to turn a light on.

        Good reviews, bad reviews – it’s true, if you believe the good ones, you have to believe the bad ones. I won’t lie – having a nicely written, succinct, positive appraisal of your work that you can pull an impressive quote from is useful. It’s a kind of currency with a certain set in this industry. And I’ve never actually suffered much at the hands of critics; there’s always a few who slag me off, fair enough. The production I was in recently probably got like 90% good reviews with good notices for myself but I appreciated the few bad ones more because they more aptly described my experience with the production (they praised the actors, slagged off the director). I suppose too there is a misappropriation of responsibility on a production that often irks because it lacks any knowledge of the actual process of making theatre. Actors are never as liberated as critics would make them out to be, even less so on film. We are often almost always in service to someone else’s vision. I could go on but I won’t.

        What is funny, if you look at your response on The Guardian site, is how thin-skinned, over-sensitive and downright defensive you are in the face of…criticism, however indirect. So breathe into that for a few minutes, see how it feels. Praise you, just for being a critic? I don’t think so. You still have to do your job well.

        Very nice, informative site here, btw. Will definitely spend more time here. Thanks.

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      • rageoffstage says:

        Thanks for your comments and for adding to the discussion. Call us arrogant, but we never took your comments as a personal attack on our blog, indirect or otherwise. We wanted to enter the debate, and, like you, we are passionate about our subject. Thanks for the positive feedback though

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  2. timread101 says:

    Hi,
    I like the blog and particularly the pun-tastic review titles.
    Since I have never found anyone else who has been to the Ye Old Rose and Crown in Walthamstow (particularly to see a Howard Goodall musical – I saw Girlfriends last year), I thought you might be interested in this to be premiered at the R+C in June: http://www.wagthemusical.com/

    The mind boggles!

    Keep up the good work.

    Like

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