Talking to the Critics

Mark Fisher, who has written extensively about theatre in Scotland, gave this blog a recent mention on his own theatre blogspot, so I will reciprocate - mainly because I think he is right. There should be a dialogue between all kinds of people associated with theatre, audiences and critics as well as practitioners, instead of the habitual 'them and us' stance that infects so many of us (me included if I'm honest). The convention is that the critic criticises and the playwright pretends to ignore whatever is said. You don't of course. You smart a bit and get shirty. Or at least sometimes you do. Sometimes you rejoice in the good review, until your insecurity devil whispers in your ear 'Can it possibly be true?'
There are some critics whose words can (whisper it who dares) be rather helpful and perceptive, so that once the initial impulse to indignation goes away, you have to acknowledge that they might have a point. But then, you want to ask questions. Why on earth should the playwright have to go on pretending that (a) he or she doesn't read the reviews and (b) isn't affected by them. Because plays are always works in progress, you so often feel that it would be good to talk. You can't possibly write to please everyone, and only a fool would try. But sometimes it would be nice, as Mark says, to get some kind of dialogue going and the internet is surely the place to do it.