February 4, 2008

o8 Fringe

John Smythe      posted 24 Jan 2008, 11:09 PM / edited 25 Jan 2008, 08:04 AM

There is no audience so obnoxious as other thespians. Yet another Fringe launch was marred by a few arrogant, self-obsessed participants and/or hangers on conversing loudly during the speeches and performance vignettes that attempted to launch the 08 Fringe (with Super-Action Megapower – Yeah right).

If I knew who they were and the shows they were connected to, I’d cross them off my ‘to review’ list. Why should I give them the time of day or night when they have no respect for their peers, let alone those who make the whole thing possible through event management and funding?

Obviously the answer is to hold the launch in a darkened auditorium with serried rows of seats facing a stage, and withhold the alcohol till the formalities are over. If not, why not?

Mind you, as soon as the formal launch is over, just when it should be possible for people to network and talk to their hearts’ content, a DJ gets going, pumping up to volume so everyone has to shout to be heard by someone an arms-length away. Why?

Yeah, I know, it’s always like this. But does it have to be?

Zia Lopez             posted 24 Jan 2008, 11:39 PM

Whoops. I think that curmudgeonly old fart gene’s kicking in, John.

Aaron Alexander              posted 25 Jan 2008, 11:16 AM

Similar behaviour seems to occur at Chapman Tripp awards, John. By all means get messed up and raucous after the proceedings if that’s what you’re into, but the rock-star arrogance some actors display during speeches by corporate sponsors (without whom, well…I shouldn’t have to explain), is deeply, deeply embarrassing. Not to mention the well-known phenomenon of actors always being late into their seats on opening nights.

It’s seems some people think that being an ‘artist’ comes with a licence to disrespect in the name of, I don’t know, ‘shaking the establishment, man’. It’s pathetic.

Pff. if that’s curmudgeonly, hand me my cane and point me towards my rocking chair. 

Zia Lopez             posted 27 Jan 2008, 02:30 PM

If the theatre fraternity shows little respect for Corporate Sponsors who support Wellington’s theatre critics being able to foist – for a SECOND time – their often dubious views on the community, perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised.

Aaron Alexander              posted 28 Jan 2008, 08:54 AM / edited 28 Jan 2008, 10:05 AM

Poor theatre fraternity…having a night to get dressed up,  celebrate all their year’s hard work, congratulate each other, give recognition and cold hard cash to a select few,  with music, food and booze, all FOISTED upon them…

No wonder they can’t suppress their righteous indignation towards the people who foot the bill.

Bill Andrews       posted 30 Jan 2008, 02:35 PM / edited 30 Jan 2008, 05:02 PM

Dear John,

I was somewhat surprised to read your post relating the behaviour at the recent Fringe Fest Launch. I agree that the behaviour you have cited is not really condusive to gain the most of this event; HOWEVER I find it most interesting that it is infact you that has made this observation. If I recall at the recent Bruce Mason Playwriting Award ceremony (late last year) It was you that was yelling out during the speeches in an attempt to input to the speech given by Playmarket director Mark Amery. I was surprised by this behaviour at the time, but even more surprised when I read your post on this forum.

Very interesting indeed!


John Smythe      posted 30 Jan 2008, 05:02 PM / edited 30 Jan 2008, 05:03 PM

Dear Bill

Whatever I may have said during Mark’s speech was (I believe) responsive, interactive and conducive to the mood of the occasion.   I was most certainly not ignoring the official proceedings and carrying on a completely different conversation with someone else in the near vicinity.

Since you are so interested, I say this in the interests of accuracy.

martyn roberts posted 31 Jan 2008, 10:23 AM

Children please! Enough of this carry on. If you can’t sort your differences out I suggest a little time out. Go your rooms and and have some quiet time, the rest of us need a break from all this.

Aaron Alexander              posted 31 Jan 2008, 11:41 AM

Is it really ‘carry on’ Marty?

Seems to me every post above has been expressed civilly. I guess I may have been sarcastic, but not nastily so, I thought. Seems like discussion to me…

But I’m happy to cease and desist.

We’ll be good.

Zia Lopez             posted 1 Feb 2008, 10:22 PM

Civil maybe but my remark about the appropriateness of Wgtn’s theatre critics getting to publicise their views twice got lost in somebody’s bluster. I’m still curious if anyone else thinks this is odd. Wouldn’t it be better if there was an entirely differently voting system for the annual awards based on the Oscar system perhaps? I’m willing to bet there would be completely different winners and losers; much more interesting and democratic.

John Smythe      posted 3 Feb 2008, 05:07 PM

Go for it ‘Zia’. Set up a voting academy of professional practitioners where voting members warrant they have seen all eligible productions [routinely 80-90 per year in Wellington alone – but presumably you would like a NZ-wide awards] and of course you will need the organisational infrastructure around it … Good luck!

Meanwhile, when you complain that Wellington’s theatre critics get to “foist” their reviews on the community TWICE, is this because those who appear elsewhere in print or on other sites also get space on Theatreview?

If so, may I explain: the principle behind this is that the range of reviews can ‘converse’ with each other in the one ‘venue’, and because they are all on a website, anyone else can enter into the ‘conversation’. (I note you have so far posted 45 Comments and 128 Forum postings, under a range of pseudonyms, so you are clearly aware of your democratic rights on Theatreview.)

Or are you saying the “SECOND time” occurs because the Wellington critics take on the aforementioned commitment then add value to thier accumulated body of knowledge, experience and (often differing) opinions by convening to vote on the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards? 

If so, I am sincerely sorry, ‘Zia’, that you feel so “foisted” upon – twice! – by our activities. Would you feel less victimised if your own reviews were published on Theatreview? If so, feel free to offer your credentials. Key criteria include: a passion for theatre; a clear understanding of how theatre gets made; an ability to articulate your response well in writing; a capacity to contribute fearlessly to the celebration of excellence in theatre craft, including confronting and critiquing failures to meet professional standards; a willingness to put your necessarily subjective opinions out there for scrutiny and counter-critiquing; an abiding desire to help write theatrical productions into history … Have I missed anything? 

Of course you would have to apply and write under your real name to get your reviews on Theatreview. And if you wanted to join the critics’ panel to redress the balance of “foisting” you would, of course, have to see all those eligible productions …

Alternatively you could set up you own website and do as you please.

Zia Lopez             posted 3 Feb 2008, 11:11 PM

We’re still curious.

Jackson Bridge   posted 4 Feb 2008, 08:22 AM

‘Curious’ is one word for it, Zia. ‘Peculiar’ may be better.  What exactly IS your problem?

Zia Lopez             posted 4 Feb 2008, 10:00 AM

I’m curious to see if anyone else apart from me and some of my friends thinks that it would be better if people other than the theatre critics, who have already aired their views publicly, judged Wellington’s annual theatre awards. We think the theatre critics’ views are being given far too much weight by the current system. Other places have different systems which seem pretty straightforward which allow practitioners to vote instead, for instance. I think this would be much fairer and more interesting, and allow a wider spread of views to be aired and discussed, and a wider group of theatre people’s work to be publicly praised.

Jackson Bridge   posted 4 Feb 2008, 10:33 AM

Thank you Zia. So, given John’s comprehensive response, how do you propose that a credible ‘academy’ system be set up? Or what other proposal do you have for a system that is fair, equitable, informed, and involving only voters who have seen all the eligible productions?  Also, do you envisage lobbying becoming part of the process? (Does this happen already?)

You speak as if the critics’ panel represents a conspiracy of like-minded power-mad egotists with some kind of hidden agenda … which would be what, exactly?  As I understand it they cover a reasonable range of ages, genders and backgrounds. And a scroll through this website reveals they often differ in their opinions.  And where they don’t … that may be where a consensus can be perceived.  Is that a problem?

The voting process has been well explained elsewhere on this site.  Inevitably results must become skewed at times because one or two critics hold strong views pro or con a particular piece of work.  Would the outcome of an academy system be any better?  

Presumably you are disgruntled that certain people or productions haven’t won awards.  Do you also think there have been undeserving winners? And how would your alternative system insure against that ever happening again?

martyn roberts posted 4 Feb 2008, 10:41 AM

Correct me if I’m wrong but I understand the Chapman Tripp Theatre awards were founded by the Wellington theatre reviewers to acknowledge, in their opinion some of the achievements of the year. As I understand it and I have always taken it as such, it is a fun and not too serious way to pass on gratitude to the practitioners who work in the Wellington theatre scene. For ‘Zia’ et al to take it as a be all and end all snapshot of the year is to miss the point. The awards have never been seen in the community as anything more than a great way to celebrate ourselves, have a party, slap ourselves on the back and yes gossip. We love to gnash as we rue the missed nominations – so and so should have been nominated or won or lost or should have just plain shut-up…

If there is anything to be had in this pauper community we call theatre it is a chance to be celebrated, and regardless of whether the final roll call of award recipients is ‘true’ or ‘correct’ we must hang on to those moments that make us all feel good. And an awards night is in the spirit of celebration. Can you’ Zia’ come in from the cold? And anyone else for that matter that feels slighted for any reason by something that has always only been a jolly big cheer up.

John Smythe      posted 4 Feb 2008, 11:05 AM

This thread is being moved to a new Forum topic: Alternative Model for Theatre Awards?  Please go to that one – unless you want to discuss Fringe 08, in which case stay here. 

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