Over the past month I have been part of a new play dramaturgy project at BU which has made me think a lot about where I am as an artist. I learned a tremendous amount about what it means to read, re-read and give criticism to a new piece. During this time I also realized how hard it is to do this to my own work. Luckily, the universe has a wonderful way of delivering news to people when they need it. Or at least in this case it did which is good enough.
This article from Howlround caught my eye for two reasons. First off, I am a playwright and any article about playwrights makes me excite. Second, critics are something that scare me, and so when I get a chance to read about them I do so I can understand them and not be so afraid.
Lou Harry is a playwright and a critic. This to me sounds like the most difficult professional choice someone could make because not only are you pouring our soul into a script, he better than anyone knows that there will be a critical reception of it. Why someone would make this choice, I will never know, but Harry bravely has.
Part of Harry’s struggle with identifying himself as a playwright and a critic is that he knew he could not be the critic to his own pieces. It also meant that any place that put on his shows he would have a bias towards. Whether or not that is actually true wouldn’t matter, because its what the theatre and readers think that ultimately make the choice.
As for Harry, he learned that his being a critic ultimately will effect his playwright life and vice versa, but in a positive way. It allows him insight on both ends of the structure, and most importantly that plays successes are not only the responsibility of one person, but a team of people.
For the bias he may have? He has decided it a moral line only he can track. He will do his best to be honest and let people know what is happening with the work they are doing.
As for me, I realized my work as an artist is not a solo mission. I feel like I have said this or some iteration of it multiple times but maybe not in this way. My future as an artist belongs in an artistic team. I cannot be the one critiquing my own work and I need to be honest with other people’s work. I need to find people that will tell me how it is when I put forward a poorly written piece or am acting badly. If I can find a group that this works with (which I suspect I may have over the past month) I don’t think there is anything to be afraid of in the future.