The Playgoer: Hedy Weiss speaks

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hedy Weiss speaks NYT's Campbell Robertson.

And dare I say, she might have a point? Her controversial review of a workshop evening hardly came out of the blue, since she had been invited (and written more positive pieces) many times before.

[Ms. Weiss] and others have written features about Stages in the past, and in recent years Ms. Weiss has written reviews as well.

The reviews came as a surprise, said Joan Mazzonelli, the executive director of Theater Building Chicago. But no one objected, and Ms. Weiss was always invited back.

This year, Ms. Weiss’s review of Stages, which ran on Aug. 16, three days after the festival, was far more disapproving than in previous years.

So it was only when she wrote a bad review that there were objections. The theatre company itself seems to have been giving lots of mixed signals, and it wasn't even them who complained, but the Dramatists Guild, on behalf of the authors.

In a written response to the guild’s letter, Ms. Weiss said that she had reviewed the festival in the past without objection and no one had told her she could not review it this time. She also said the festival was a public event, with an advertising campaign and tickets. (A ticket to one performance cost $15.)

“If you are given a press kit and if you are given pictures,” she asked in a telephone interview yesterday, “what are you supposed to do with them?”

Good question. So what was Theatre Building Chicago thinking?
Theater Building Chicago sits quietly in the middle of this tempest. Ms. Mazzonelli has distanced herself from the Dramatists Guild, acknowledging that she had not made the festival’s policy clear to Ms. Weiss, whom she had encouraged to attend, along with other members of the press.
I'm all for the prinicple of enforcing a safe space for work to be developed without immediate criticism. But also without press or p.r. buzz of any sort. As nonprofit companies become more desperate about marketing, they may forget you can't expect to have one without the other.

Lots more on the Chicago blogs. (Including Weiss' full response.) Lots of stored up bile against Weiss anyway which this seems to have given vent to.

UPDATE: Rob Kozlowski does the homework of comparing Weiss' pieces on the same workshop from last year and persuasively illustrates that she has now crossed a line.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I guess when it's Frank Rich, all the famous playwrights keep their mouths shut.