Writing about writing about talking about seeing what someone/s did. Mar 8, 2013

by Zoe Scofield

Its sort of funny writing about an event that is about writing. 


I must confess that I usually feel unqualified to write about shows, art, etc- that I should have more writing experience, or more knowledge in whatever field to justify my opinions. So then I don't write or share my opinions in a public forum, because it feels like such a vulnerable position to put myself in.  All of which seems sort of odd considering that I make performance that at times puts me in a vulnerable position publicly.  And I believe that one of the desires of Culturebot is to erase exactly the resistance that I have to writing / speaking my opinions online, in some kind of public forum. 

So there you have it, my qualifier, disclaimer about needing a disclaimer. 


(I must say, writing my opinions about other people's work and putting it out to the public does engender quite a bit of empathy for critics…this is a good thing. Either position, artist or critic, is not an easy one nor lightly taken when done with integrity, honesty and risk.) 




I don't believe there is one right way to write or talk about art, or to encourage and deepen the dialogue about art. Not that people were talking about it in a binary way last night, but just to put that out there. It seems like a futile position in which to approach or talk about something which is inherently fluid, nebulous and dynamic. 


Quotes: (Boy is it hard to write and listen at the same time… I don't know how you critics do it?! Forgive me if I have accidentally bastardized what you said, I tried.) 


Jose Amador:  "The age old struggle between giving the audience what they need versus what they want. … There is a place for traditional theater, thats why they are called the classics." 


Brendan Kiley:  speaking about critics,  "Lack of accountability is our strength… We are paid to say in public what other people say behind your back."


Olivia Menzer:  "It's easy to over complicate our subjective reactions to art."  (sooooo true.) 


Matt Richter:  " I'm fascinated by intersections, its where the most interesting things happen. … Streets are for specialists, intersections are for generalists. " 

AND:  A very, very good piece of advice to The Stranger via Brendan Kiley: Do away with the categories in the Genius Awards!!!! Hell yes. 


Serge Gart: (12 year OtB subscriber- good work!) on why he keeps subscribing to OtB / going to theater: support and see people be able "… to act on what we want more of." 


Tonya Lockyer:  "Contemporary dance makers want to use whatever means are available to them to share. … Dance intersects the world in multiple ways. … Dance is in a continuing state of becoming, yes…and…and…yes. " 


Tommer Peterson (employing some of the best use of squirrels and $20 rainbow graphics in a presentation that i've ever seen): "Funders and funding institutions need artists and arts institutions to be able to fulfill their job. … Art is a way of knowing the world and not a product to be delivered or consumed. " 


Context. I found myself conscious of subtle things last night that I felt would have created a more relaxed environment, which I think encourages the kind of conversations that I think Andy and Jeremy are going for. 

I wanted more space from the screen in the first half, more time with each speaker and the clips they were showing. A little more space and time for these interesting opinions to develop and for me to take it in. It all felt a little rushed. 

During the second half I wanted background music. I wanted to feel like I really was at a bar, or someone's house hanging out.  I needed a little bit more of a physical separation from an actual theater and the stage. Its hard not to be aware of where you are and what happens on a stage. 


Heres to the spirit and actual attempt at risk. Thank you Andy and Jeremy for taking initiative when you felt there was a problem; that there could be something else even if you aren't sure what that something else is. Thank you and On the Boards for continually being willing to be in the gray with us. Thank you On the Boards for once again taking a risk, providing the literal and proverbial space for people with ideas and desires to fully investigate them and for us the audience to experience them. For providing the space to enjoy it or not, to have an opinion or not about each piece that's presented in the season, all with an eye to, an understanding of, the long term, the arch. I respect anyone or institution that respects and believes in my intelligence, discernment and ability to develop / challenge my own aesthetic enough to give me a multitude of performances, operating on a multitude of levels (geography, skill/craft, medium, genre, etc) allowing me to form my own dynamic relationship to them individually and overall. 

That is what I want and need. 


And I would be remise if I didn't say what I kept thinking last night and was waiting for someone to say… Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. Even being slightly trite, there is some truth in there.