Arbitrary Censor of Taste | Letters | Chicago Reader

Arbitrary Censor of Taste 

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Justin Hayford's coverage of the Piven Theatre's production of Orlando (June 12, '98) was uninformed and irresponsible. There is no trick to being negative or expressing what one doesn't like.

It was written without any theatrical context. The critic seemed to have no knowledge of the Story Theatre form first created by Paul Sills in the late 60s (I was in the original Story Theatre Company) and later developed into a literary form by the Piven Theatre Workshop. But then there was no political, social, historical, or literary context for this evaluation of Orlando itself. Hedy Weiss was also at the same opening night. This appeared June 9, '98: "With a clear, witty, wholly engaging adaptation by Sarah Ruhl and delicate but incisive direction by Joyce Piven, the cast of 10 smart, attractive and surprisingly subtle young actors in 'Orlando' has created a sophisticated piece of theater that sensitively explores issues of gender, history, and social norms."

Such a disparity of opinion leads one to view the Reader piece as yet another arbitrary censor of taste. Good criticism should be of a higher standard. It should not be about muckraking a theatrical form, but about elevating the dialogue between artist and audience.

Joyce Piven

Piven Theatre Workshop

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