Many theatre artists appear to be ready to bang their head endlessly against a brick wall, rather than admit anything in their work can be improved.
by Keir Cutler
A good friend and colleague of mine has been performing a solo show at different Fringe Festivals for the last few years. The show has some wonderful parts to it, but is flawed. The main flaw in the work has been pointed out in several reviews, and prevents the show from gaining the acclaim it could and should achieve. I’ve tried a few times to subtly suggest he make some improvements, but nothing has happened. Recently he had a very poor showing at a Fringe Festival, where he might have been a hit. I decided it was time to write, and tell him what he must do.
I wrote my friend back an apology. Clearly I had no right telling him what to do, it is after all his show. But, my God, why do we artists so often believe that constructive feedback is really worthless insults that are bent on destroying otherwise mediocre efforts?
Sometimes this unwillingness to correct goes even to not fixing errors of fact. I was at a play in Winnipeg a few years back that had a scene set in a Montreal bus terminal, but all the arrival and departure announcements coming over the PA were in English. This was incredibly jarring. I couldn’t help but go talk to the director/writer after the show. I told him it was impossible for a bus terminal in Montreal to have English-only announcements. But instead of receiving thanks, I once again offended the artist. He resolutely refused to consider changing the announcements, as though there were some hidden genius in the blatant error.