What to do when critics get it wrong.

(For Erica who apparently reads this blog ☺)

I grabbed the wrong book from the library yesterday. Mechanics Library—probably my favorite library (and I have been in Chicago’s Newberry and Minneapolis’s beautiful new downtown branch)—is only four blocks away from A.C.T.’s offices and school, but it still an outing, especially when we are frantically trying to put together our study guide and production program for At Home at the Zoo. For a dramaturg, returning with the wrong library book is kind of like a member of the pit crew putting a square tire on a race car in the middle of a big race. . . only not quite as dangerous.

Worse still, I didn’t have time to remedy my error. The book was a different edition of what was requested by our resident dramaturg, and he assured me the substitution was adequate, but, needless to say, I was miffed at myself all day. And there isn’t really even time for me to be miffed. It’s the last show of the season and that project we pushed back that one day back in October, and then that other one we pushed back half a day in November/December/Jan./Feb.Mar.Apr. . . . they’re all making themselves felt now: “Remember me asshole! You thought I wouldn’t be back to bite you in the ass? You sad sucker, don’t you know: I always come back. . . ”

But it’s hard to be too much of a negative nancy right now because we just opened a beautiful new José Rivera new play, Boleros for the Disenchanted, that we are all so proud of, that the audiences are absolutely adoring, and that the critics . . . well, they got it wrong (My brain begins to turn a Hulk-like shade of green). I not only appreciate what critics do to demand higher standards from theaters, to protect audiences (especially during hard financial times), and to keep the dramatic arts firmly in the consciousness of the public (even those who do not attend). But also, a fairly harsh judge myself, I usually find myself agreeing with the less sympathetic commentaries provided, or, at the very least, understanding the perspectives of someone whose job it is taste-test for the plebeian kings lest they be poisoned.

With this show, however, they got it wrong. And the great thing about being a critic is that there is no legitimate forum for rebuttal. Even directly refuting their reviews on, say, a personal blog is considered taboo. All I can do is show you this and hope you come see the show:


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