Temper Tantrum | Letters | Chicago Reader

Temper Tantrum 

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To the editors:

Unfortunately, the opportunity to review a theatre piece sometimes produces a critical performance which overshadows the artistic performance of the players. Such may be the case for many who both saw La Nik a Wet (Dreiske Performance Company Theatre, March 3) and read Justin Hayford's shrill, non-stop temper tantrum, which seems to say a lot more about the critic than the work reviewed [March 9].

References to "shockingly irresponsible artists" doing "all kinds of crass, undignified, 'inhuman' things" obscures the work with the critic's judgements instead. These tend to present the audience with unsolicited impressions of a defensive and intolerant personality. Why should any past or future audience entertain the notion of what Mr. Hayford approves as "responsible" art?

An editorial reading of the review cries out for a complete cut after the first paragraph, much as the critic says of the play: "after 15 minutes, I thought they should be stopped." Again, one is left with the impressions that Mr. Hayford does not have the concentration to maintain an open mind for any new work, and would have stopped the show if it were in his power. Is this the type of personality the public deserves to report and elucidate its experimental theatre opportunities?

I only bother to comment on the rest of the review because it unwittingly implicates me personally and unfairly as witness to support its negative conclusions. I must take issue with the premise of audience participation described as "most offensive of all," in which a crown was placed on my head. I was not, by my own reckoning if Mr. Hayford will allow it, "made a fool," nor was my "dignity entirely ignored." Rather, I felt engaged and included in an exposition interpreted as a valuable and artistically credible rendering of every couple's entirely human foibles in the home and ever corrupt world.

Simple stuff and certainly my projections on the piece, I do not feel these impressions are given room to breathe or even exist within the Hayford treatment. Such a basic but sympathetic interpretation is apparently beneath the dignity of the critic, who'd rather put on parade his fine vocabulary and critical prattle about Beckett, which means nothing to the average person on the street with no academic theatre background.

Please, find other reviewers more sensitive and tolerant of the avant garde theatre to guide an inquisitive public into regions of new sensibility. Perhaps Mr. Hayford would experience less abuse and indignance with an assignment on some sports page, where methods and outcome may less unpredictably grate on traditional celebrations of human spirit and dignity.

Nicholas Peneff

Dreiske Performance Company

W. Fullerton

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