Saturday, August 22, 2009

Criticism


AYTD is a work-in-progress. I have changed words here and there since the Fringe began. And I intend the alter it even further. I don't think it needs to be 80 minutes long. During the BIG BOX rehearsal process, I was kicking out long pieces of exposition. After BIG BOX I got the impression that the NY Marathon pieces were too long, they were difficult to say while running, and besides, we got it, Pengo - move on.

I also got the impression that people wanted more of Pengo, of the illustrator, of the relationships - I did not add to those, I cut the running bits so we could get back to them.

The reviews I have received here have been extremely helpful. Believe me, I am not just saying that. Some comments I find difficult to take seriously - TONY said (in addition to numerous extremely kind and positive things) "a virtual run through Cleveland goes nowhere." But when nytheatre.com adds "Segments about how he trained for the race, especially his final preparatory run, from his own home on one side of greater Cleveland, to his parents house across town, are similarly fascinating," it is easy to dismiss such comments outright. HOWEVER, I do believe I did not do an adequate job with the Cleveland run on opening night - when TONY was in the audience. And that has changed the way I have done it in subsequent days. That's a lesson, too.

As to the rest of the nytheatre.com review, Martin Denton states very clearly; "What I wanted was to understand why running is so fundamentally important to Hansen. But this show never really gets us to that place." This is extremely important to me, and I take it to heart. Denton's review was very carefully critical, like I was receiving feedback from a member of the Play House Playwrights Unit, or a teacher, or a friend.

What he never does in his review is get clever, add humor for its own sake, write with condescension ... it is as though he cares. And Martin Denton is, by the way, the founder of nytheatre.com. That's who they (he) sent to my show. Time Out New York sent Michael Freidson, the editor-in-chief. Both sites are trying to cover all 201 shows. I am flattered. And I really feel this trip has been worth everything.

3 comments:

Cris said...

Well, Denton may not have seen it, but *I* certainly saw why running is important to you.

I'm the LD of one of the other shows at the Robert Moss, Ectospasms. I caught your show in between two runs of ours and was enchanted. Of course, it helps that I'm partial to anything and everything running related, but I thought you did a great SHOW. I was impressed with your clarity, organization of thought, and bold maneuvers on stage.

Your descriptions of the NY Marathon experience are so funny and so accurate. I live on the route in Brooklyn and ran the marathon last year. It is quite an experience!

If there was anything I was confused about, it was the family timeline and your relationship with your daughter. I eventually pieced together what had happened (and was happening). But you concentrate on your boy(s) so much throughout the show, and then at the end - it's all about your little girl. I wasn't sure why the switch.

Well, I wanted to chat with you after the show, say how much I enjoyed it and perhaps offer my services as LD next time you do NY Fringe, but I could see you were busy with friends and family. Glad you enjoyed NY and had a chance to run every day. :)

I like your running notes and will keep your blog in my watched list, if you don't mind.

pengo said...

Wow - of course I don't mind. And I appreciate the words, I am hoping to have time to collect all of my thoughts on the run before too much time gets by, every comment helps.

And I remember you in the audience! Strange, you were smiling in such a way (this is when I am playing the teacher, in the house) that I could have sworn we knew each other. You just have a kind smile, I guess.

I will be keeping tabs on your progress - running and otherwise - as well. Thanks again.

Cris said...

I was afraid I was being too responsive, actually. But I felt like you were telling the story to ME, not necessarily to the rest of the audience. Maybe any runner in the house would have felt that.

We've traveled two difficult roads in common, if not side-by-side: the NY Marathon and Fringe. Yeah, I'd say we're friends. :)

Sorry about the spoilers on my blog, but man, that series ended months ago! LOL And believe me, nothing I said even touches on all that the series finale is, not even the important stuff. You will weep, you will laugh, you will pound your couch in frustration, and you will jump for joy.