Friday, October 19, 2007

Tough room

John Barry's brilliantly funny piece in The Smart Set details the multiple horrors of sitting through a bad theater production and then trying to write something true without being bitchy, all for the princely sum of $55.

Along the way, he zeroes in some tough truths about anyone trying to make a life in the arts -- in Baltimore, where second-raters apparently go to die, or anywhere.

Now, in a world where it's constantly pounded in our heads that there's someone more interesting going on somewhere else, people need to be told why they're doing it and what they're going to get out of it. In Baltimore's community theater, that's not always clear. There aren't any big names, and no one's breaking new ground. It's not guerilla theater, and it's not fringe theater. It's exclusive, durable, conservative, filled with core actors and playwrights who are a little jealous of their turf and a little grumpy with people who wonder why they don't take a few more risks. You can't blame them: They've created a small comfort zone in a city where theater is underfunded, overlooked, and loved by a shrinking crowd of advocates. Whenever I try to play Frank Rich with them, there's one question I can't get out of my head: Does the world need one more unread reviewer telling unseen actors to stick to their day jobs?

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