Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Times Giveth, The Times Taketh Away

The lack of respect for indie/off-off-Broadway theatre from The New York Times in general and Charles Isherwood in particular continues unabated in today's paper, where an article about the collaborations between off-Broadway companies like the Vineyard and New York Theatre Workshop with off-off companies like New Georges and Elevator Repair Service begins, gratuitously and mean-spiritedly, with this helpful "primer" by Isherwood about how to tell the difference between two species of NYC theatre:

If you are paying $65 or $75 for a full-price ticket, you are seeing an Off Broadway show. If you are fanning yourself with your program and wondering about fire-code violations, it’s definitely a double-Off experience.

Actor you recognize from television: Off. Actor you recognize because he’s your son’s second-grade teacher and he invited you (well, actually implored you) to see the show: Off Off.

Engulfed by the sound of uncrinkling candy wrappers: Off. Surrounded by tattoos and Obama buttons: Off Off.

Isherwood goes on to say "The cultural and financial divide between these two classes of theater often seems to outstrip the gap between Broadway and Off Broadway."

Gee, I wonder where that cultural divide comes from, and how it gets perpetuated?


Tim Errickson said...

the intro to this article made me extremely angry. And there was no need for it in an otherwise interesting article. Isherwood has no idea what he's talking about in terms of the profile of Off-Off Broadway. And if that is the ignorance he brings to his writing, we don't want him. Stay uptown Chuck, you aren't welcome in our theaters.

Mark said...

I read that article and said almost the exact same thing to my wife. Last I checked, none of my performers were second grade teachers, nor were my audiences covered in tattoos or Obama buttons...

Anonymous said...

I agree with you as well as the other comments posted. I felt extremely angry at the condescending tone Charles Isherwood used in his article, which aimed to profile the bridging of the gap between Off-Broadway and Off Off Broadway, but did little to help encourage interest in the Off Off scene. I have worked on several Off Off Broadway shows and have never come across the level of amateurism Isherwood describes in his article. By portarying the Off Off community as a rag tag group of amateur artsits he has done us an incerdible disservice and I sincerely hope that he reconsiders his view on what is a vital part of our theatre society. The large Off Off community is the foundation from which both playwrights and actors can make their way in the industry and every single actor and director I have worked with has been an immaculate proffesional, showing the kind of dedication, courage and ethusiasm that is often missing in larger more publisized productions. It really is a shame that Isherwood would stoop to such lows in his writing. His lack of knowledge and understanding makes me wonder what he is doing as a theatre critic at the NYT. If he wishes to criticize off off broadway productions then by all means come to them and see the work rather than judge from his position of ignorance. I have lost my respect for him as have my colleages in the industry. The majority of work that is created in The Off Off Broadway theatre world is respectable, gimmick free and open to all audiences. Can you say the same of the work you see and criticize from your limited and arrogant point of view Mr. Isherwood?
Shame on you for trying to degrade our hard work and commitment. You are not welcome and neither are your opinions.

Germ said...

yeah, terrible shame is what it is. i saw an AMAZING off-off broadway show over the weekend (black door theatre company) that would rival any off-broadway show currently running. he just makes statements that aren't grounded in any truth whatsoever.

Selena Montes said...

Theater companies who have the luxury to depend on larger operating budgets, and, therefore, are more subject to the scrutiny of a critic like Isherwood: Off. Theater companies who possess the creativity and resourcefulness and innovation to make theater magic happen with next-to-nothing, and, therefore, do not need to give a rat's ass what a yuppie tool like Isherwood thinks of us: Off-Off.

Annie Kaplan said...

HaHaHa! Well said, Selena!!