Friday, November 16, 2007

Boston Theatre - Streamers Opens

Streamers opened this week at the Huntington. File the reviews under: "Did they see the same show?"

Louise Kennedy is completely underwhelmed, as is Jenna Scherer in the Herald. While, Thomas Garvey calls it the Best Show of the Year.

Jenna Scherer in the Herald wins the I don't think this is exactly what you meant award:

But “Streamers” is not about war. It’s about untested young men thrown together in tight quarters and faced with an overwhelming possibility.


Nah, doesn't sound like war at all.

14 comments:

Thomas Garvey said...

You know, this is one of those moments when you realize how unfortunate it is that all the major print reviewers are women - a great playwright like David Rabe basically doesn't have a chance with them. I mean, can you imagine a male reviewer having the sheer temerity to describe, say, The Heidi Chronicles as "about this chick sorting out her issues"? As for Kennedy - a comparison of her takes on Streamers ("this play simply does not work") with her take on Mauritius ("the real thing") should give some idea of her perceptiveness.

Jenna Scherer said...

Dude...sexist much? I'll see if I can do something about those unfortunate ovaries of mine.

Side note: the sentence you're referring to was edited from what I originally wrote. I agree that it doesn't make sense.

Art said...

Hi Jenna,

I apologize for the shot if that wasn't what you wrote.

I read it a couple of times trying to see if it could be taken another way.

Thomas Garvey said...

I see - so it's "sexist" to point out your own sexism, Jenna. An intriguing defense - although my post wasn't really about your ovaries, but your attitudes. Still, you were clearly more open to the play than Kennedy, and despite the mangling of the Herald editors, I understood what you were getting at - Streamers isn't really a "war play" - or if it is, it's also a "gay play," a "race play," and a "class play," too.

Jenna Scherer said...

Thomas--

I'm wildly curious what you find sexist about my review. Would it not have been sexist had I wrote, "It's about four people in a room dealing with their issues"?

My beef with Streamers was about dramatic structure. It's not that it didn't get it because it was about men. I don't think the fact that I'm a chick closed me off to Rabe's work.

Also, what isn't sexist about: "This is one of those moments when you realize how unfortunate it is that all the major print reviewers are women - a great playwright like David Rabe basically doesn't have a chance with them."

Thomas Garvey said...

I really don't feel like getting in a long back-and-forth with you, Jenna. You're not nearly as sexist as Kennedy, although I do believe you are somewhat sexist in your attitudes (sorry, I don't have time to quote you chapter and verse about that; and at any rate, you're more 'ageist' than sexist), and with a more balanced leading reviewer, your sexism probably wouldn't really be a problem. And you're right that Rabe toys with dramatic structure in ways that don't always pay off (although I think it's clear that he does understand dramatic structure). As for my statement that it's unfortunate that all the leading print reviewers are women, I stand by it. In general, I find women are just as sexist as men, and so the arts would be better served if both sexes were present in the leading media.

Jenna Scherer said...

Thomas--

If you're going to make statements like the above, you can't expect that no one will respond. In my opinion, good criticism should be a conversation, not an unanswered statement.

I'll be sure to turn into a middle-aged man just as soon as I can so I can stop being sexist and ageist.

Ophelia said...

Mr. Garvey - if you are so concerned about the lack of male reviewers in the leading press, you should apply for a job at the Herald.

It appears, however, that you prefer to make your audacious claims in the relative privacy of the blogosphere, rather than in the "leading press", as Ms. Scherer does.

It's best that you do so, as anyone can see that the phrase "four guys, in a room, dealing with their issues," isn't necessarily dismissive. Her later references to the "elevator play" clarify what she means - the focus is on the individual, rather than the epic; the interior landscape rather than the exterior. Your analysis of this one sentence, I would say, is inaccurate, while the idea that it should be founded in Ms Scherer's gender is ignorant, although these are two separate issues.

I agree with you that it would be nice if the theatre crit field in Boston were more balanced; this is good for a number of reasons. However, by attacking Ms Scherer's gender over her criticism, your argument loses its value because it makes no sense. In this situation, you are setting up a straw man (or is it straw person? straw woman?) of a sexist critic and attacking that in place of Ms Scherer's actual position - perhaps because you are upset that you are not in Ms Scherer's place.

SturgeonsLaw said...

Thomas - would you label yourself sexist then?

Thomas Garvey said...

You know, I don't want to give the impression that I feel women have nothing to struggle against in the local theatre scene (or the general theatre scene). But I notice that the sexist elephant in the room, as it were, is rarely mentioned - the lack of major women directors in Boston. There are a few, of course, and there are women who play major artistic roles in the area - people like Kate Snodgrass at Boston Playwrights, or Ilana Brownstein at the Huntington - but it's a bit odd, isn't it, that none of the major local theatres is led by a woman. This doesn't mean some theatre should run out and "hire a woman, quick!" (I confess I'm glad, for instance, that the ART has dropped Anne Bogart from its short list). It's just an indication that even in this most "progressive" industry, there's still a kind of glass ceiling out there.

Thomas Garvey said...

To Jenna:

You wrote -

If you're going to make statements like the above, you can't expect that no one will respond. In my opinion, good criticism should be a conversation, not an unanswered statement.

But then you move on to cringe-worthy self-accusations as: "I'll be sure to turn into a middle-aged man just as soon as I can so I can stop being sexist and ageist." Tell me you're kidding, or at least that you meant that little joke on yourself. Whether you like it or not, I still believe that you are somewhat bitterly sexist (you tend to dismiss "guys' issues" more than women's, and your harping on gender-loaded terms like "ovaries and "chicks" hardly mitigate that impression), and that you're also definitely ageist (it's very hard to construe your writing in the Weekly Dig any other way). Calling me a middle-aged man doesn't really change that, I'm afraid. If this is your idea of conversation, yeah, count me out.

"Ophelia," meanwhile, suggests for some reason that I should apply for a job at the Herald! Uh - what? They wouldn't want me there, and I wouldn't want to work there, for political and editorial reasons. I didn't like working for the Globe, for chrissakes - why would I want to carry cultural water for its red-state rival? I'll leave that to the Brandeis grads! As for my analysis of Ms. Scherer depending on one sentence - believe me, I've read plenty of her sentences. And at any rate, if you'd read carefully my other posts, you'd see that I actually agree with some of Ms. Scherer's analysis of Streamers. I do get a kick, however, out of lines like, "Your analysis of this one sentence, I would say, is inaccurate, while the idea that it should be founded in Ms Scherer's gender is ignorant, although these are two separate issues." Thank you, professor! Another logical problem, btw, lies in the fact that you "agree" with me about the ill effects of single-gender local reviewing, even though my argument "makes no sense" in the case of any single member of said press.

Finally, in response to "sturgeonslaw": yes, I'm totally sexist, and that's why I'm trying to fight sexism.

Jenna Scherer said...

Thomas, umm...why do you know where I went to college?

Art said...

It appears, however, that you prefer to make your audacious claims in the relative privacy of the blogosphere, rather than in the "leading press", as Ms. Scherer does.

Come on Ophelia, "the relative privacy of the blogosphere?" :)

I know my blog doesn't have the circulation of the Globe or the Herald, but it does get about 2000 visits a month and if you google Boston Theatre Reviews I come up on the third page, (ahead of the Weekly Dig, The Boston Herald and the Boston Phoenix.) I am also linked to by many other theatre blogs, some of them kept by "leading press" around the country. Yes, I do keep track of those things from time to time.

Ms. Scherer, (while I support her voice, and have from the beginning, even at odds with others,) has had her share of audacious, (and sometimes demonstrably false,) claims in print. Some itemized on this blog.(To her credit she will clarify or apologize, which she doesn't have to do.)

Let's leave aside the lightning rod word "sexist" and concentrate on your statement:

I agree with you that it would be nice if the theatre crit field in Boston were more balanced; this is good for a number of reasons.

Great! But don't hold your breath waiting for that think piece to emerge from the pages of the "leading press."

And before this comment thread, if you asked me if there was any print theatre critic in town who might even approach it I would have said, "Maybe, Jenna Scherer," believe it or not.

I think, Thomas and I were talking on our blogs about the possibility of diversity in the new AD positions at the LORT anchors Months ago:

Here is my post last July:

http://mirroruptolife.blogspot.com/2007/07/boston-theatre-search-commitees.html

From the leading print media so far? (Cue crickets.)

Art said...

BTW Jenna,

I think I thought you were a Brandeis grad, too. But I honestly cannot tell you why I had this in my head. I don't ever remember discussing it with anybody, or hearing it.

Are you sure you didn't mention it at some point in a review or a blog posting?