Ode to the Haters

7:15 PM / Posted by Ashley /

I'm fascinated by "theatre people" that hate theatre. No really, I am.

What I mean... A friend of one of my creative partners was making his Broadway debut and we were hooked up with free tickets for one of his first previews. Generally these previews are packed with fellow "theatre people"... producers, directors, actors, playwrights, designers, marketing, etc... Often times, the discussions before and after the show with audience members are just as interesting as the play itself.

That night I got into a conversation with a typical 20-something director sitting near me that went something like this: "I heard great things about this playwright and show. I'm very excited..." I said and spoke a bit about the playwright, the development of the work and how exciting it was that it was his Broadway debut and how the play had evolved.

"Oh. I'll believe it when I see it..." He responded in a typical smug mid 20-something director way and went on to acknowledge how he has absolutely hated everything he has seen this season, hasn't been blown away by the theatre in years and can't fathom why half the shows in NY are a waste of time, the actors suck, the playwrights suck and the directors suck even more etc. etc. etc.

When he finished I stared at him for a moment. Of course, this is nothing out of the ordinary. I have several friends like this. There are many people like this in the theatre community (and even more in academia). In fact, with his big fro, hipster glasses and blue button down, he reminded me of a graduate student.

When conversations like these go down generally I smile, nod and go back to reading my program but this time I said "Wow. That's really sad."

"What do you mean?"

"It must be really sad to be an artist and so uninspired by other people's work."

"Uh...um..."

"I mean, how do you grapple with that? How do you stay inspired? "

The lights went down and he jetted after the show so I didn't have a chance to hear his response but it really brought this issue to light, yet again. There is a fine line between being an intelligent critic and an insecure asshole. Often when reading reviews you can tell who writes with a passion for theatre and who writes as a failed artist who takes their rage out on others who are putting themselves out there.

So, this is my ode (or perhaps just a public acknowledgement) to the "theatre people" that hate theatre. We all know these types. They are our friends, colleagues, teachers and former classmates. Mostly they are artists (or former artists) who at some point couldn't handle the rejection any longer (and who can blame them really?) They are the ones who go to shows wanting it to flop, perhaps to make themselves feel better about their own failures or because they genuinely get a thrill from watching others suffer.

I feel bad for these folks.

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