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October 17, 2007


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Kerry Reid

Finding the female critics isn't the problem -- there are lots of us out there. Getting the regular staff gigs is the real issue, particularly with declining print media.

As for Lahr: "Only (and I tell you this, Kris). Only, and I'm not, I don't think, casting anything on anyone: from the mouth of a Northern effete asshole of a vicious nowhere jerkoff can this trash come."

(Actually, I like Lahr, but that's a super-dumb -- and super-lazy -- line.)


"...Only, and I'm not, I don't think, casting anything on anyone: from the mouth of a Northern effete asshole of a vicious nowhere jerkoff can this trash come."

Kerry, that was devine.
You should be a writer. :)

Kris Vire

No, you're right, Kerry. That was mostly just an excuse to point out the existence of the AWJ/Goodman program.

The answer isn't more female critics, a flip remark on my part that also shortchanges the many male critics, including myself, who try to avoid saying super-dumb and super-lazy things about plays by women. But between Isherwood and now Lahr, I was starting to sense an unfortunate trend.

Kerry Reid

Well, I'm glad you pointed this one out because I'm doing the AWJ thing and plan on bringing this to the first meeting on Saturday.

I don't even think the answer is more women critics as much as it is getting more women in the executive editorial offices. But that's a rant for another day.


I haven't been to NYC to see this but--well, everyone knows that girls have cooties. I learn't it in kindergarten. That's science . . . So obviously the problem is not the writing, it's cooties. (End scene.)

A chick-it lifetime movie knockoff of Mamet doesn't sound any better than an adolescent-sophomoric boy trapped in a grownups body knockoff of Mamet (Read LaBute.)

But I wonder, not being a critic myself (one of the few areas of theatre I have zero experience in.) I wonder if there is more to the frequent comparisons with lifetime et al.

I think everyone is aware that more male playwrights are getting produced than female. The 20% figure is thrown out quite a bit.

Does this factor in the back of a critics mind? It seems that some, if not most, critics are less likely to take the gloves off if it is a female writer. Is it a subconscious act of dismissing something as a lifetime movie as opposed to saying the writing is crap? (If it is.)

Kerry Reid

I think that's a good point, Tony -- dismissive rather than truly critical is indeed something I read into the Lahr one-liner. Like Kris, I have problems with some of Rebeck's writing -- she always strikes me as a little too glib. But like you, I also have problems with LaBute's writing.

It would be interesting to do a more exhaustive comparison of how plays on domestic themes by women are reviewed, vs. those on the same themes written by men. I think perhaps the "Lifetime channel" and "chick lit" lines are just ways of saying "There go women writing about family and relationships again," whereas when men do it, maybe -- just maybe -- there is a tendency to read something more epic and challenging into the writing.

Of course, I have no time to undertake such a survey at present.

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

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