Welcome back to the official relaunch of my actual blogging. If you're looking for reviews, you want to go back to my archival site, That Sounds Cool. But hey, so long as you're here, why not stay and check out the view? I've left the remnants of my stalwart-but-rapidly-staling rants below from when this place was called Verify This; the name of the site now speaks for itself. I don't believe in mixing blogging with criticism, so this will be the site where I make comments on my comments, and on the selected musings of others. As for the title of this post, the rather cryptic string of numbers refers to the inspiring date for this relaunch: a little blogging symposium moderated by David Cote on behalf of the Summer Play Festival salon series, with special guests like Isaac Butler, Garret Eisler, Cara Joy David, and George Hunka. (And by "guests like," I mean those specific people, specifically.)
The observations of the evening were what you'd expect, but they did shed some light into the conflict-of-interest debate that wound up removing two prominent bloggers from the gaping freelance staff of the New York Times, and the usual questions about the purpose of blogs and the use of complimentary tickets boomed throughout the attic studio. One clarification: I don't get free tickets for Show Showdown, the four-person blog/chronicle/race to see the most shows in 2007. If they were offered, I would certainly take them, although I would never pander to a publicist to maintain a sycophantic relationship. (I do receive tickets through New Theater Corps, the Theater Talk-sponsored blog for young critics for which I currently serve as editor, and occasionally through my own site and my own connections.) I consider the work we do at Show Showdown to be a valuable, albeit snarky and unprofessional, asset to anyone looking to see what's out there, and while the gimmicky nature of the site may explain why it is one of the first blogs to have been featured in the Arts & Leisure section, the work there is genuine and produced out of a real and undeniable love of theater. Blogs tend not to make money: after listening to the evening's panel, if not for love, what then?
The one worry I had was listening to how Cara Joy David had received industry "threats" because of her non-libelous and column-like posts. Does Michael Riedel get the same? Is an "insider" or a "journalist" not allowed to have an opinion outside of the news? Heck, they wouldn't be human if they didn't. (There are, for the record, many alien news anchors.) It's one thing for an artist to write to a critic and discuss a comment or review (some more vividly than others) -- and in fact, the panelists seemed to welcome raging debates on their sites or via more ignorable e-mail -- and it's another to use the leverage of excompensation, like some Pope of Theater, against freethinkers and freer writers.
I also wanted to address an issue that didn't come up at the salon, and this was the necessity of blogs to review certain shows. Theater, especially off-off-Broadway theater, the kind that doesn't get coverage in even the local media, is the most transitory art form out there. As a happening, that's fine, but as the product of hard work, it drives me nuts that there is often no record of the fine theater being produced every day. A network of hardworking bloggers can help point out some of the overlooked gems the city has to offer, and the rapid response times allowed by online publishing allows the word to get out almost instantaneously. I'm a big fan of Isaac's process-oriented musings of theater craft, and I check Garret's journalism (vulturized from other writers or not) religiously, but don't leave legitimate review-oriented sites out of the blogosphere.
It's a pleasure to be back, folks. I hope you'll stick around for a while.