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October 29, 2007


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Kerry Reid


Kris, you seem to have stumbled into my bete noire of the moment (see http://jeffreymjones.blogspot.com/2007/10/thinking-about-writing-about-thinking.html).

Simply put, it's offensive to lump "kids, teenagers, and 40-year-old women" together into a category that you seem to be defining as "people who won't go to theater unless it's mostly entertaining and not too challenging." Surely you can see why? (If not, you need to meet more 40-year-old women.) I would never dream of saying, for example, "Well, this frothy musical campy show is a good 'gateway drug' for all those twentysomething gay boys." Because somehow, I've picked up on the fact that not all gay men are the same, and their cultural tastes can vary wildly. And hey -- whaddya know? It's EXACTLY the same way for women -- of all ages! (And kids and teenagers too -- though let's keep the conversation focused on adults for now and not continue the mistake of conflating "older female" with "immature.")

I am really fucking tired of running up against people in theater who don't seem to find anything wrong with using "middle-aged/older woman" as code for "unsophisticated and shallow. (I never see "older men" used in this condescending way -- no, nay, never -- even though I think most theater surveys would show a lot of older straight men go to theater only because they're dragged along by their unsophisticated pain-in-the-ass wives.)

Again, I know you didn't mean offense by this, but man -- lumping grown-ass women into a category that includes juveniles is, on the face of it, not good.

Sorry to ride you, but this shit bugs me. Obviously.



look around when you're at the theatre next time, kris. you might indeed see me there. more than that, you'll see a lot of women who are, gasp, OVER 40 there.

perhaps you'd like to elaborate on your comment that suggests that 40 year old women need a dramatic 'gateway drug' to get their finely sculpted butts into any theatre seat.

Kris Vire

Kerry, Martha, you're both quite right. I intended the emphasis of that sentence to be "in the first place," as in the idea that the glitzy shows can attract patrons who are inexperienced with theater, whether they be kids, teenagers, twentysomethings or middle-agers of any gender. But looking at it again, it clearly reads the other way around. The implication that the tastes of all women of a certain age is the same, or that all of them universally need to be eased into theatergoing, is incredibly careless of me—particularly given that I've so recently pointed out other critics using phrases like "chick-lit" or "Lifetime movie" in derisive or dismissive ways.

And Kerry, your point about older straight men is obviously salient considering our conversation the other night about all the male commenters' defensiveness about enjoying Jersey Boys.

This is why I'm starting to appreciate having editors at the day job. Mea culpa. Thanks for calling me on my shit.

Kerry Reid

No problem. Thanks for owning up. That shows class.


ditto. keep on writing kris. you caught me on a "i AM a grey haired lady" day.

the jeff award winners? from "the price" to "the best man" to "raisin" to "argonautika" to "august" ... chicago and american theatre doing some fine things lately. proud to be here.

Kerry Reid

I'm also thrilled about "The Adding Machine" winning and getting another production in New York. (Not that it needs the New York imprimatur to convince me it's good, but I'd like to see that show have a life in the regional circuit and beyond.)

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  • Kris Vire
    I write about theater for Time Out Chicago. I write more about it here.

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