Friday, December 12, 2008

Does Chicago Blow?

Re: Artists and Critics and Proximity

In the comments over at Don's digs, Alison Croggon suggests that there is better way to do things. I respond with some ribald doubt, but maybe she is right? (despite the ribald doubt, I do respect her blog.)

She speaks to the descriptions that many of us c-town bloggers have written about. So, is Chicago somehow more hierarchical than other theatre towns? Is there really something to this regionalist perspective that has been suggested now by critics in two different theatre towns across the globe? Or is this in the end...much ado about nothing? Will there always be a tenuous relationship between artist and critic?

Or if things really are so much better between the artist and critic in other towns, can someone from there share reasons why? Rather than merely dismissals of the Second City?

Critics and Artists of Chicago... I think we are both being sullied here. Am I wrong?

4 comments:

RebeccaZ said...

"Or is this in the end...much ado about nothing? Will there always be a tenuous relationship between artist and critic?"

Yup. I'll respond more when I get a chance on my bloggy blog. (Tricky to do right now because my arms are full of baby.)

"Or if things really are so much better between the artist and critic in other towns, can someone from there share reasons why? Rather than merely dismissals of the Second City?"

I think it's an "ignorance is bliss" sort of thing. People may very well hate what Alison writes and she's just not aware of it. Or Aussies are more polite than our blunt, midwesterners and just don't talk back as much. I don't think anyone's dismissing the Second City but I definitely think we have a way of responding to people, straightforwardly and honestly, that really surprises some ... even each other, from time to time.

Paul Rekk said...

You also have to look at the sampling of bloggers in each market. The Chicago blogosphere is a scrappy bunch. New York is very pragmatic. The Australians are definitely the most calmative of all of us. Is that at all indicative of the respective communities? I don't think so -- mainly because I know that I would make a horrible example of what a Chicago Theatre Artist looks, acts, and thinks like. As would many of us.

I have no problem with Alison's assertion that the Aussie blogosphere has a good working relationship with Aussie artists. That certainly does seem to be the case. However, if she's making the assertion that the Aussie blogosphere is a good cross-section of the Australian artist scene, I might throw the bullshit flag.

The blogosphere is all one big artistic random sampling. But we ain't nearly big enough to provide any sort of accurate insight into what our respective communities are all about.

Tony Adams said...

Well something can be said for the fact that folks feel free to speak their mind for better or worse.

Doesn't necessarily mean there's a worse relationship than other places, but I think there is definitely a different dynamic.

Ethan Stanislawski said...

DV, just discovered your blog after recalling this discussion on Don Hall's blog last month. I just wanted to clarify my position on Chicago theater. First off, though I am currently based in New York, until June I spent four years living in Chicago, where I reviewed several dozen shows and was the arts and entertainment editor of the Chicago Maroon, the University of Chicago student newspaper. Secondly, I'd like to note that after covering the off-off-Broadway New York scene for six months, I've come to appreciate that, no matter how reckless and tenuous the relationship between critic and artist can be in Chicago, that it's probably the only place in America where they actually have the same level of relationship. In New York, off-off-Broadway, which is the closest thing to Chicago's storefront scene, is lucky to get reviewed in anything, which is why they turn to upstart unpaid bloggers like me so often. Of course, when they do land a major review, it's at a publication like the New York Times, Variety, the Village Voice, or New York Magazine, which is nothing to slouch at. Then again, if the review is negative, it's even more useless than a negative review of a storefront show in Chicago. So while I think the expectations between artists and critics in Chicago is still out of whack (and I have lots of experience with the city's dynamic despite not living there anymore), I think it's somewhat extraordinary that anyone actually gives a shit about that dynamic at all.