The Playgoer: Weidman to Weiss: Oops

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Weidman to Weiss: Oops

Playwright and Dramatists Guild prez John Weidman has apologized to controversial Chicago Sun-Times crit Hedy Weiss for misunderstanding the circusmstances of her non-review review of a musical workshop.

In a letter to the paper that appeared yesterday he wrote:

Before writing the letter, I confirmed with what I believed to be an entirely reliable source that Weiss had been told by the producers of Stages 2006 that they did not want these presentations to be reviewed. This is not something I deduced. It is something I was told, directly and unequivocally. It now turns out that what I was told was untrue. That Weiss believed that the managers of Stages 2006 would be neither surprised nor distressed if she reviewed the eight presentations in question is now clear.

I asserted otherwise. For that I apologize.

But Weidman is not backpedalling on his basic argument.
Having said that, I will add this. That Weiss' decision to review a workshop presentation of eight new works-in-progress, to base those reviews on having seen, in some cases, no more than a fragment of the presentations, and to publish those reviews in one of the most influential newspapers in the country, remains irresponsible and unprofessional. Writers must be allowed to evaluate their work in a environment protected from critical appraisal, and professional critics should be expected to review an entire work, not just a few minutes of one.

And so the debate shall continue, no doubt. But at least theatre companies will be a little more careful about what to expect when inviting press.

BTW, didn't John Simon routinely walk out on shows and brag about it in the review?

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