Department of Insulted Actors | Letters | Chicago Reader

Department of Insulted Actors 

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To the editors:

I am insulted by Jack Helbig's review of La Barraca '90's current play, The Sleepwalker's Ballad, which appeared in your May 1 issue. In it he states: "Even when the stage picture seems like a parody of bad Fellini--a dwarf sits half-dozing in a chair on a box above a man pulling yards of red silk out of an older man's chest while others look on--the overall effect is still sublime." I am an actress who happens to be a dwarf, and I resent Mr. Helbig's mention of me as a parody of "bad Fellini." He did not mention my character (Soledad Montoya, a character who often appears in Garcia Lorca's work and from Lorca's own drawings of her, is a woman of average stature) or my performance. I was simply objectified by the reviewer. I feel that this is as much a form of prejudice as racism, and in light of the current violence in LA, I don't see how Mr. Helbig or your paper could be so insensitive as to print such an ignorant review.

If Mr. Helbig did not understand what my character represented, why didn't he say that? Or if he thought my acting was bad, he could have said that. I do not want to be reduced to some freak who was chosen for shock value. My acting career has been devoted to knocking down the stereotypes dwarf actors have had to battle against. In fact I recently spoke on the panel of disabled artists which took place as a part of the Multicultural discussions at the Blue Rider Theatre. If I thought the director chose me for a "Fellini" effect, I would not have accepted the role.

Furthermore, I noticed that Mr. Helbig did not refer to Peter Cook as "a deaf man," but mentioned him by name. In his opinion, is it OK to be a deaf actor, but not a dwarf actor? I know that Mr. Helbig reviewed Peter Cook's Flying Words Project show, and therefore knows his brilliant work beyond this present play. I invite him to review my next Corporate Angels show (an hour-long act written and performed by me and my partner) and clear out some of the cobwebs in his head about dwarfs in theater.

I admit that some of my peers have given the rest of us a bad name, but I am asking the reviewer to judge me on my own merits. I realize The Sleepwalker's Ballad was not an easy play to write about, but Mr. Helbig's review did a disservice to me, my director, fellow actors, your paper and his craft.

Tekki Lomnicki
S. Federal

Jack Helbig replies:

I'm sorry if my review offended you. The line you found so insulting was meant only as a comment on the total stage picture.

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