The Playgoer: Denver theatres still piping hot over smoking

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Denver theatres still piping hot over smoking

Now a Denver Post critic is getting involved, with this excoriating--dare I say, inflammatory--editorial against the recent judicial ruling denying an exemption for theatres to local public smoking ordances.

Says John Moore:

So all you actors who thought you were conveying meaning through body language or a gesture, guess what? A small group of bureaucrats, none of whom have likely set foot in a theater but have full authority to set public policy, don't get that. As a result, the individual constitutional freedoms the government has been chipping away at for the past five years just lost another chip.
Ok, I don't find myself getting quite as fired up about this. For instance, I can't quite sign onto Paragon Theatre co-founder Michael Stricker's dire prediction that "many of the greatest plays in the world simply won't get done locally anymore because they include smoking." Hm, I'm trying to imagine what titles a World's Greatest Plays anthology edited by Stricker would include? (Intro by Dennis Leary, no doubt.)

Still, it all brings up interesting (to some, silly) questions of what we mean by "realism" in the theatre. Is Moore right on target when he says: "When Hedda Gabler shoots herself in the head, if the audience believes they have heard a real gunshot, they will gasp. If they believe they have heard a cap gun, they will snicker"? I suppose once one commits to the realist aesthetic, then yes. But it's revealing how much these companies' legal defense depends on a strict adherence to that one particular aesthetic.

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