Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Play: Adjudication and Reviews

Overall, I have been really pleased with the production that I'm currently in. The actors all get along really well, and for the first time (ever, I think), I am 100% confident in everybody's work onstage. For those of you who have done local theatre, I'm sure you've experienced those cringe-worthy moments when you know something is bad, but it is just never going to be fixed and you have to deal with it. I don't have that with this play. Not for one single second. The acting is strong, the set is wonderful, the direction is good. It all works. And I'm pretty harsh when it comes to shows I'm personally involved with, so saying that means alot. This week brought us our reviews and adjudication, and for the first time, I felt a bit deflated.

The problem is that reviews for local theatre aren't, technically, actual reviews. They're more like re-caps. They tell the readers a lot of what the play is about, hoping to lure people to the theatre I guess, but they don't say much about what is actually good or bad about a production. They focus on the positive, which is good, but gives you the feeling that they say nice things about every production. And that, of course, makes their opinion less...valuable? trustworthy? Who knows. And they're not necessarily written by people who know anything about theatre.

For example, our first review stated "The performances from the actors in this movie were raw and honest.", which is very complimentary - if we were in the movie. Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins were certainly good, but we are not them. Was that a typo? Or did she think she was seeing a movie? Or did she just rent the movie and pretend she saw the play??

Our second review was also positive, written by a blogger who usually reviews professional productions, but was somehow convinced to see our play. She definitely liked the show, but made a point of saying how it was unusual for "community" theatre to be so good. Kind of a back-handed compliment, no?

The third review was much better than it's predecessors, but made no mention of ME at all (except for the fact that I was, in fact, in the production), so OF COURSE I am all bitter and don't like it eventhough it was quite positive. Nyah. I'm so mature.

On Sunday, we had our adjudication for the ACT-CO awards. The winners in this festival remount the show in May and compete against other winning productions from different sectors. We were all incredibly nervous. I, for one, haven't done an adjudication since high school, and wasn't particularly keen on it. I'm incredibly proud of this show, and I have no desire for anyone to tell me all the things that are wrong with it.

All in all, it didn't go how I thought it would. The adjudicator seemed to like it, but criticized the pacing in the first act especially. He thought it was too fast and didn't give the actors time to react "in real time". I see his point - we were nervous and perhaps going a bit fast in Act 1 - but the work was all there, and so were the reactions. With a wordy play like this one, the pacing is crucial - go too slowly and it dies right there on the stage. I also thought he would have a more "bird's eye viewpoint" of the production. Talking with him was much like getting director's notes after a rehearsal. Instead of saying "I like how you reacted to that line", I thought it would be more of a "I liked/didn't like how you portrayed that character." Overall, I left the adjudication feeling uneasy, and even unsure if he liked it.

One week left. No matter what happens, I will be very sad when this show is over.

Cross-posted at Playdate


Mary G said...

Oh, I do know the feeling. You have put so much thought and work into it and you want a review/adjudication that recognizes that. That hits what you think are the important points. And, instead, someone hands you a lollypop.
Well, at least the recognition you did get was positive. I so wish I lived anywhere near enought to have seen the play.

Mad said...

I just popped over to the site and looked at the reviews. That one by the blogger made me want to barf. It's that kind of patronizing condescension we often get in the regions too (for professional or community theatre) and it smacks of a certain kind of Toronto/Vancouver bogus theatrerati. A review should talk about the production not about how knowledgeable the reviewer believes herself to be.

I'll say it once again: I really wish I could see the production. Good luck with the final few shows.

crazymumma said...

you need to tell me where to go and read the bloggers review...(email me...NOW)

anyhow. I thought it was a really good strong show. The acting frankly was excellent the sets fantastic.

And as I have said before, you look far too good in a pair of slacks for a woman with two under the age of five.

Beck said...

I was given a pair of tickets to a local production, and asked to write a review of it - I HATED HATED HATED the play, and so went home and wrote that the acting was strong but the play itself was krep and the paper then didn't print it, because I wasn't totally positive about it. Suuuuuure.

I wish I could have seen the play! It sounds TERRIFIC.

painted maypole said...

reviews. ack. I am shuddering just thinking of them.

I've had my fair share of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

but usually they just make me go hmmm... ????

love the pic!!!

Mac and Cheese said...

Reviews sound stressful. That being said, I'm so glad I made it out to see you perform! I thought it was fabulous! Hope you were out celebrating after and aren't too sad about it being over.

motherbumper said...

I am so glad I got to see you on stage finally and loved every moment of it. Reviews are always so strange to read because sometimes I wonder "did I watch the same play b/c what the f**k are they talking about?" Look: I loved it, loved you, totally agree with crazymumma about the pants, and did I mention I loved you.

Mamalooper said...

Glad as well to have seen you last night! Totally worth seeing. And from this "civilian" theatre watcher, the pacing was perfect.

Mimi said...

I remember adjudications. Shudder. I wish I could see your play.

metro mama said...

This drives me crazy about book reviews too. So much of it is just plot summary.

I thought the pace was just fine!

bren j. said...

When I was a kid, my piano teachers always made me compete in the yearly arts festival. I. HATED. IT.
Finally, I found a teacher who said I would still have to be in it but I could go in the non-competitive category which meant - hooray! - no adjudication. I thought I was home-free from any sort of adjudication until I got to high school and our jazz ensemble sang a song at the festival (in which I had a solo) and we were adjudicated by the man that wrote the arrangement of the song! GACK!
So, just reading your post I was nervous all over again.

I'm so glad you're having (had) fun and the show was well-received!

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