Tuesday, May 20, 2014

After Dark, May 20, 2014

A mini-rant
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

I was just going to ignore something, but now, weeks later, it is still bothering me.

I will not name names, because the central figure of this tale is, quite simply, an idiot who does not merit another iota of attention. He is (was) a well-respected actor and, it seems, writer. A few weeks ago - when a play of his did not appear in a theatre company's announced season - he did the dumbest thing anyone can do: he forgot to think twice. He subsequently mass-emailed members of the press (at least) berating the company for not doing his play and then naming other playwrights as turning out work not as worthy as his own. One playwright he referred to as a "House Negro" - so managing to offend more than just the people he was aiming at.

Subsequently, when news got out that this had happened, other idiots sided with him which only goes to prove that we are no brighter in the arts than in other groups. What made all of it so abhorrent is that it not only showed up the actor for being an idiot, it also showed him up for being the most jealous, petty-minded person in the world. The one thing I can say for him is he put his name to his screed, unusual for this kind of diatribe (and another thing that shows a stupidity so profound it beggars the vocabulary).

What it also shows - and the reason I call this piece "Depression" - is that after four decades in and around theatre I have seen this kind of internecine fighting before. It may be one of the reasons the arts remain forever fragile. We say we love each other and we pretend to be celebrating each other's work, but there is a through-line of resentment, jealousy and bitchiness which keeps rearing its hideous head. Take the recent ugliness between theatre people and Equity.  Or take one of my first exposures to this kind of thing, when I praised an actor in a review and received an atrocious (anonymous) letter telling me what a bitch the actor was. (Talk about a way to get started as a critic!) 

So this: let's stop. It's intolerable. It's wrong. And it's stupid, stupid, stupid.

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