Friday, October 29, 2010

Rising Action Descends to Idiocy

Running a theatre is a tough endeavor.  Everyone who reads The Scene knows that; audiences are fickle and hard to attract, newspaper ads have increased in cost and decreased in effectiveness; it's hard to get coverage that brings people in.

And when you get a bad review for a production that needs to succeed, it does more than sting a little.  And if you're a fringe company with a spotty track record, it hurts.  A lot.

Rising Action Theatre is such a company.  They've recently moved into a new location, a measure which lowers their operating costs.  But it's a few miles from their old home, and nothing lures  people out like a hit.  And with shows like Take Me Out and Flora, The Red Menace, they've demonstrated that they can do decent work.  So all they needed to do was mount a solid production to launch their new space.

Several reviewers felt they didn't do that with Fit To Be Tied.

Bad reviews happen in theatre.  Even the best companies have done shows that got panned, great actors have had performances ripped apart.  Professionals know this, and shrug off the bad notices.  After all, everyone is entitled to their opinion.  Better to look to the next production than get mired in the last.  Professionals also know that if you consistently get bad reviews from a variety of reviewers, you probably have a problem that needs addressing, particularly if they are all saying the same things.

But if you're Rising Action's David Goldyn, you throw a temper tantrum and draw a childish line in the sand.  That's just what he did when reviewer Mary Damiano called and asked for tickets so she could review their next show for The South Florida Theater Review.

According to the Broward/Palm Beach New Times, this was his response:
"We no longer want to offer you free tickets to get out your anger and frustation [sic] at our expense," Goldyn wrote. "You are welcome to purchase a ticket."
This isn't the first time David Goldyn has lashed out at Mary Damiano. She has reviewed shows there often, and while she's never given them a glowing review to my knowledge, neither has she displayed malice towards the company. She has been harsh, at times, and her review of Fit To Be Tied was one of those. 

But if you read through all her reviews linked through The Scene, you find that she doesn't always give out bad reviews, and doesn't demonstrate "anger and frustation" at any of them.  (Well, maybe a little frustration: a couple of actors Goldyn favors have never gotten a good review anywhere, to the best of my knowledge.) 

Theatre reviews serve two purposes:
  1. They publicize the show, making people aware that there is a production.
  2. The evaluate the show, helping people make informed choices about what productions might interest them.
In a world where the  Sun-Sentinel has effectively stopped covering theatre, every chance to get the word out must be pursued.  The only thing worse than bad publicity is no publicity at all.

Not long ago, a friend called and asked for some advice: they were producing a play, and they weren't sure if they should get reviewers in to see it.

Our response: it's a no-brainer: of course you want the show reviewed.

If you refuse to have or resist having your shows reviewed, it's because you believe your shows are going to get bad reviews.  And if you believe your show is going to get a bad review, it's because, deep in your heart, you know it's a piece of shit.  And if you're knowingly producing pieces of shit, you deserve to receive bad reviews.

It appears that Mr. Goldyn doesn't want honest theatre review; he just wants people to say nice things about his work.  And he'll piss on anyone who dares to point out that his work really isn't all that great.  The Theatre Scene believes Mr. Goldyn should spend less time trying to figure out how to work gratuitous frontal nudity into every show, and more time reading all those reviews and taking note of the common complaints that repeat over and over again. Because a professional knows that if you're hearing the same comment over and over again from all the reviewers, there just may be some merit to the complaints.

The good new for us is that The South Florida Theater Review intends to review shows at Rising Action Theatre, and will send whatever reviewer they've chosen, even if they have to purchase a ticket.  And of course, The Scene will continue to link to those reviews and stories.

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