Everything be damned

Damn it Damn it Damn it Damn it Damn it Damn it Damn it. Why?! Why? They hated it. The first reviews are in and I have yet to read anything more vitriolic. Take this particular gem:

- Self-aggrandizing, petulant, faux academic. These are just some of the words one could use to describe “Walls and Flames”, the premiere work of an auteur credited only as “Adam” on the playbill. Sigh, as if this production couldn’t get anymore pretentious.
The production itself was adequate, though somewhat sparse. Indeed, I often found myself at a loss for the intent of the set design, and the dramaturg responsible should go back to studying Munch’s sketches for the first productions of the works of Ibsen if they truly feel so compelled to use curtains as an integral part of the scenery.
But perhaps the most stupefying blunder of the performance was the choice for main character. Also named Adam, I cannot interpret his character as being anything other than an unmitigated power fantasy. The character is beautiful, beloved, perfect in every way, but with a profound sense of ignorance of what those things actually mean. It’s as though the author learned everything he knows of human relationships and character from prosaic old works.
Not that he’s not erudite. Quite the contrary, perhaps a classically trained thespian would have made better sense of the dialogue, but there is only so much an actor can do. This one act play runs the gamut of awkward scene writing: cloying romance scenes, cheesy moments of action, and a hammy, bombastic finish that sends this production’s cholesterol into the stratosphere. Though it’s obvious that Adam (the writer) possesses a wealth of refined knowledge, he seems largely ignorant of something as basic as warm human interactions.
In closing, unless you’re looking for a cholesterol heart attack inducing performance, stay away from “Walls and Flames”.

Self-aggrandizing? Self-aggrandizing?! This arrogant fop doesn’t know the first thing about self aggrandizing. Yes, the protagonist might be based on me, somewhat, but that’s not to say that this is a work of narcissistic fancy. I am a man, and I’ve suffered, known suffering, so that’s what I wrote about.
God, they don’t understand. It’s not just words up on stage, it’s me. It’s me right down to my very soul, all my fears and all my hopes. And they thought it was trash. I can’t even explain what I feel right now. It’s as though a weight has been foisted upon me, crushing my shoulders, grounding my feet and halting my pace. I don’t even want to continue writing this post, but I’m doing it for you, dear readers.
I cannot stand for this. This man, this worm, has not only insulted my work, but has assaulted my very character. Who does he think he is, that pathetic, spineless waste of a man? Who doe sjso-

(UPDATE: In my rage I struck at the keyboard and forced a restart. Luckily, the post was auto-saved. Shelly seems afraid of me and won’t come down from the top of the kitchen shelves.)

6 Responses to “Everything be damned”

  1. WackyMPractical Says:

    I am very sorry to hear this. That is some very rough criticism. I haven’t had the opportunity to go see your play, but I would’ve really liked to. You seem like a very sensitive soul, and anything you write is surely to have come from the heart.

    I can’t say for sure whether your play was good or whether it was bad. But in either case, it’s not the end of the world. Yes, it hurts, and you’re going to have to accept criticism when it comes. Even experts and celebrated playwrights get harsh reviews like this. It’s nothing personally charged at you, even if it feels like it. It’s something all artists have to deal with at some point in their careers.

    You were fortunate enough to have your first play published, and to get so many people involved. And in the end, you made this thing. It was bigger than yourself and much larger than the sum of all it’s parts. It didn’t please everybody, but that should never be the goal. Just be proud of what you made. Let everything else fall to the background.

    Keep up the craft. Learn from the criticisms you receive so you can improve and never have to hear them again. And only then can you show that critic who he was dealing with.

    Good luck on all of your future endeavors! And God bless you.

    PS: I hope your cat feels okay. Just try not to throw any more tantrums around her. She’ll be fine.

  2. DRYUNYA Says:

    HELLO ADAM. I WON’T JUDGE YOUR PLAY AS I HAVEN’T SEEN OR READ IT, BUT I’LL TELL YOU SOMETHING. THERE’S A BOOK, “THE MASTER AND MARGARITA”, IN WHICH A MAN’S MAGNUM OPUS WAS CRUSHED BY THE CRITICS, JUST LIKE YOURS, WHEN IN REALITY IT WAS PROBABLY THE MOST TRUE-TO-LIFE NOVEL IN EXISTENCE.
    I’M NOT SAYING THAT YOUR WORK IS GOOD JUST BECAUSE THE CRITICS HATED IT. I’M SAYING THAT WHAT REALLY MATTERED WAS YOUR FEELINGS THAT YOU MANAGED TO SHOW TO THE WORLD. NOT EVERYONE GETS A CHANCE LIKE THAT. BESIDES, YOU HAVEN’T TOLD US WHETHER _THE AUDIENCE_ LIKED YOUR PLAY. THAT’S WHAT’S TRULY IMPORTANT.

    (SORRY ABOUT THE CAPS. I HAVE A CHEETO STUCK UNDER MY KEYBOARD.)

  3. theimprobableone Says:

    Ouch. That’s an extremely scathing review. My sympathies.

    Still, don’t let it discourage you. Keep creating new things. From this blog I can tell you’ve got a lot to say, and it would be a tragedy if you were to stop writing. It may take years for you to write something that the critics like. Or they may never like you. But you have to accept that. Sometimes one man’s vision just isn’t what the establishment wants to see.

    It’s a rocky start, but I believe you could have a stunning career ahead of you. And the only way to know for sure is to keep at it.

  4. Scarab Says:

    Ouch. Damn, that is one caustic review.

    In all honesty, when we said we liked your play from what little we’d seen we MEANT it. That you have potential goes without saying. I mean, I basically agree with everyone else here and won’t bore you with repetitions. I mean I really can’t judge the rest of the play because I didn’t read the rest of it, but you MUST have had potential otherwise it would never have been produced.

    You did something that meant something to you… there’s no shame in that. They say art comes from pain, sometimes. It was also your FIRST work. You’re a writer and probably have a lot more plays inside of you. Your first is NEVER going to be your best, but that doesn’t mean it should be your last.

    I also have a theory to posit to you: I often notice that … people often have far less tolerance for suffering in fiction than in real life. Let me give you an example: a story about two brothers in constant conflict is panned by the critics because of their behaviour – they’re caustic, rough, cruel, unnessecarily self absorbed and trapped in a vicious pattern, but utlimately good people who want to help others – they just have trouble getting over their own issues in order to do so. In reality there are many such relationships – unhealthy, sad, and desperate, but with love. For them it is real and painful and that kind of conflict would draw sympathy and ire in turns in real life. But if one of those two were to write all their experiences up as a play or novel and soread it around? Well, a lot of people would pan it for being overly morbid and for their behaviour. The truth is, people are a LOT less tolerant of peoples pain in fiction, because people can’t real about others pain all the time ad they went there to see a story being told, not to be the characters therapist. There us a natural distance between a character and their audience, a gap which is difficult to bridge. This is also the reason why, say, many people sympathsie with villains in plays in spite of their acts. They are distanced from the true ain said villains cause.

    Please understand, this critic did not intend to mock YOU. He doesn’t KNOW you. They never experienced what you did. They only know the play they saw and they come at this as people, detached from yourt experience where as we… are endeared to you. We like you. We sympathise with your plight. Your strength in writing comes from the feelings you poured into it… but you must also learn to draw the line, to seperate yourself from your work enough that you can view it from both angels, both the fans and the critics, while also remaining true to yourself.

    Keep on keeping on, Adam.

  5. Scarab Says:

    PS: I am sorry for all the typos >.<

  6. QXZenith Says:

    Dear Adam,

    Well, what can I say? The review is offensive, nasty, disproportionate, and no more than I expected.

    Here’s a gem from people on our end of the industry: critics have no soul. No matter how masterful, how beautiful, how deep and touching and true-to-life a work is, the critics will give it an awful review, because that’s what sells better in the papers. It’s cold, but true.

    (You’ll find in Ephraim Kishon’s bitingly hilarious book on theatre culture, Nuts Hams and Prompters, there’s a scene in which a critic who has given a viciously scathing review for a play later admits to never having actually seen the play in question.)

    What I suggest you do– what many of us writers, myself included, who are willing to neither give up nor to simply develop a thicker skin when it comes to our writing– is read between the lines. The critic felt practically contractually obligated to write a negative review; but in between the petty insults, he’s basically saying that you’re a brilliant writer, and your performance was staged with an enjoyable, simplistic beauty.

    Hang in there, Adam, and keep writing; don’t let the pathetic, miserable excuses for humanity that we generally call ‘critics’ get you down.

    All the best,
    Qara-Xuan