by Jim Murchison
Life is very interesting. It is difficult at times and not always fun, but most of us choose to hang on to it. It is so unpredictable. A couple of years ago, I was pretty much a father and a civil servant. When I was asked to do a weekly column, I chose to call it A Fly on the Wall because I felt I was a fly on the wall; someone that had one foot in the theatrical world but with a background of once being a part of it.
Now I find myself interviewing artistic directors, discussing in informal forums ideas on the direction of theatre nationally and in Ottawa with other actors, directors and writers, and even acting again. This and critiquing theatre I had barely considered 3 years ago. Now I am faced with choices of what I should review and what I should assign to others as I am the Ottawa editor in chief and have exciting writers anxious to go out and see theatre working with me.
The world of art and performance are very tightly interwoven and there are a great many overlapping interests.
Now that I have worked with some of Ottawa's indie producers I have to think about sending out other writers to review shows that I would have pounced on myself so as to avoid a conflict of interest where if I gave a glowing review it might appear that I came from a point of bias. My first such decision was to review White Rabbit Red Rabbit, a brilliant concept piece written by Nissam Soleimanpour. My first thought was I shouldn't because it was a Company of Fools production which is helmed by Scott Florence who I had just performed with in Taming of The Shrew.
I went to see it anyway when the person I had asked to do it fell ill and as it turns out since it is undirected and not read by the actor until the night they perform it, there was no problem in me writing about it. The world of art and performance are very tightly interwoven and there are a great many overlapping interests.
In Valerie Cardinal's weekly column Review Squared someone asked the question in the comments, "What is the point of reviewing reviews?" My thought on that is the same as writing commentary on anything: to promote dialogue and debate and get us thinking. In talking with people that read reviews it has confirmed my belief that people like to read opinions of other people whether they agree with them or not. In fact a great many people will decide to see something that someone has written negatively about if they get enough understanding of the feel of a piece and understand where their ideas and the writer's part company. Sometimes what informs us is as much what we understand about the writer as what they say.
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