Books Are Dead. (Long Live Books.)

The Technophobic Hysteria of Portland Center Stage's futura


Allison Hallett’s review of Portland Center Stage’s futura, while praising certain parts, accuses it of stifling discussion of issues that Hallett herself acknowledges. Yet as any reviewer should know, a polemical play sparks dialogue after the lights come back on – and often intentionally so. One doesn’t have to regard a work as flawless in order to not be disrespectful, as Ms. Hallett’s review is; if she thinks parts of futura are clichéd or unoriginal, that’s fine, but it’s uncalled for to lambast the playwright’s cultural literacy or cry “hysteria.” Most confusing of all is that Hallett, conflating a specific production with its art form, questions whether futura should be produced by “theater” as such, as if the latter must endorse the beliefs presented in the works it produces. Odd it is that a reviewer would be so ignorant of the nature of her specialty.
it is true that Hallett will tend to indulge her often lazy and under-informed perspectives. for me it is an art crime to have a mostly ignorant (and arrogant) critic, with what seems to be a free and un-edited hand, sitting in judgement on artists many of whom dedicate their lives, usually with great financial/social sacrifice, to the rigors and disciplines of performance. adopting a lofty attitude w/out doing the homework and then publishing it weekly harms much more than it helps.
What the fuck is an "art crime"? And the kind of people who refer to anything as a polemic need to go masturbate furiously some more.

While I often disagree with Alison's reviews, I don't feel the need to accuse her of boring ad-hominem attacks (lazy, under-informed, ignorant, et al). Too many artists think that just because they made something, people should respect their work. Bullshit.

"Just because I like drawing something, doesn't mean it's worth looking at." - Laylah Ali
Brrrrrffff !!! {a.k.a.artsy fartsy}Eeeets all gooood!!
ya know missed the point. those words - lazy, under-informed, arrogant/ignorant - are adjectives that accurately describe much , if not all, of Hallet's theatre reviews. they are not attacks, they are words to amplify my opinion. what does have a destructive effect (on productions) are reviews that are lazy, under-informed and arrogant instead of thoughtful, mature criticism.....and, contrary to your knee-jerk assertions, i'm not interested automatic, undeserved respect from anyone - much less reviewers. however, when the work is clearly respectable, and not the usual intra-mural mug-and-mumble fest that generally passes for it here in PDX, it should be accorded a robust, well-informed review - negative or postive. in days of yore the role of the critic was assigned to an elder. this person would have demonstrated over time that they knew what they were talking about and therefore could be useful to the public by advising them on the bad, good and great shows they reviewed. it was hoped that these writers would have passed through their conceits by the time they were given this responsibilty and would as detachedly as possible craft reviews of value for the people. PDX audiences should not have to rely on such blatantly immature and narcissistic reviewing.
Setting aside the passionate discussion of Alison's reviewing skills, I thought this was a pretty bad play. For a lot of reasons. The narrative structure was lame and didn't really build to anything (while I was hopeful the play was over, I wasn't sure I was free until they took a bow).

The lecture in the first half could have been intriguing, but rather than really going for a highly intelligent, abrasive, unpleasant woman, it teetered back and forth with dumb laughs (she's making fun of you) and not very deep analysis that made her seem kind of dumb herself. The small ensemble second half was equally odd with unclear characterization and wavering between somewhat boring conversations about ideas.

And as the review above discusses, the ideas also seemed really weak. I love libraries, books (particularly science fiction), and technology. I even find typefaces interesting. But come on, this was DUMB. If people can still read, I bet they can still figure out to write. With a stick in the dirt, if it comes to that. If the guy can build EMP bombs, he can figure out how to write and probably isn't the idiot you're making him out to be. And it's not either/or with physical books and digital books. Why draw the line with the futura typeface between all that is good or evil? I could keep going. Ei ei ei.

I suppose this achieved the PCS goal of sparking conversation, but mostly it made me think I'm tired of PCS plays. At least the Portland obsession with the standing ovation didn't occur.

The best things about it: gooey blood and it was short.