This piece by Chicago Tribune critic Chris Jones, has elicited responses from several in the blogosphere, including Garrett Eisler of Playgoer.
I agree with Garrett that Mr. Jones seems to be speaking more tongue-in- cheek rather than ass-in-sackcloth.
But I was reminded of my favorite and sincere critical mea culpa that I have ever read. Adrian Ryan of Seattle's The Stranger wrote of a tendency to be overly harsh to small theatre companies in the beginning of critical career. She speaks about trashing, (really trashing if you read some of the quotes,) a company, Hyperion Productions, and their lead actor. However, she admits:
"Today, oh so many moons later, I must admit that I have a much broader perspective as far as theater criticism is concerned. I have seen 12 gagillion tragic Seattle shows in the intervening years, and I realize that I was dreadfully hard on Hyperion Productions in general and Mr. Sebers in particular. Although it may seem a bit grand, I feel that I contributed a nasty shove to Hyperion's fall—and perhaps even to Josh Sebers's, who, I have come to realize, was a darn good actor.When I think of it now, it makes me want to vomit."
90% of all theatre is done by people like Hyperion Productions. People who make absolutely no money from the endeavour at all. I don't advocate that they should be given a pass on anything, (90% of that 90% is mediocre to really bad.) However, as far as mainstream press, or even established alternative weeklies go, there is a real problem: The experienced critics don't want to waste their time going around to every small production, and the stringers who do go to the smaller shows can sometimes be a little inexperienced and every now and then overzealous in their condemnations.
Just some thoughts.