Monday, August 10, 2009

The Times they are a-changin'

I live quite happily without a television, having very little time for passive entertainment and keeping up with current events through online periodicals. The news has always been difficult for me due to my feint-of-heart sensitivity to violent images and my talent for crying over just about everything (international tragedies and Pixar films alike). I'm very thankful for the easily accessible, alternate source of news that enables me to choose which articles I read instead of tolerating unannounced gruesome images and the repetitive nature most news channels thrive on.

I like the New York Times. I find the articles informative and compact and the website is easy to navigate. I start with the "front page" and move on to national headlines, then to the international section. I peruse the science and health articles, and if I have time, I read an opinion or two. I end with the arts section, working my way down the artistic alphabet (skipping over "Television") until I arrive at the theatre page. This should be my favorite section, but it's not. I usually take in the reviews with an open mind, and find the informative articles educational and enjoyable. I love the audio slideshows. However, there are two particular articles I've read lately that have left me a little embarassed for The Times:

A recent review of Gorilla Rep's "Joan of Arc" addresses some legitimate critiques of the production from a company that is famous for outdoor, wordsy theatre...except that a large part of the article was criticising it for being...outdoors and wordsy. I am not suggesting that mud and mosquitos should be an understood and accepted aspect of outdoor theatre, and therefore should be left out of a review completely. Folks who have never seen a Gorilla Rep production should be advised to bring bug spray and sneakers. The company is considerate enough to add a disclaimer about the nature of their performances on their website. I would have appreciated critisism that did not dwell on the advertised, if not renown style of their environmentally staged performances.

Secondly, there was a great informative article on the process the playwright underwent in the development of Primary Stage's "A Lifetime Burning." The article focused on the playwright's obsession for modern design and how it was translated into the play and the set design. Though there is a photograph of the set and it is mentioned several times, none of the designers are credited except for the company which provided some of the furniture. I don't expect the production team to be recognized often, but since this piece is so particular about the aesthetic inspiration of the show and the set design, I would have expected the designer to be credited. Please note that this article appears in the Theatre section of the New York Times website, but originally appeared in the Home and Garden section of the Style Page in the published periodical.

As always...what do you guys think?

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