Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Changes, changes, changes

Once again local arts coverage is on the chopping block, and the butcher’s cleaver landed squarely on my theater reviews. I’d already been ousted from the pages of The Olympian, and cut back to three reviews a month in The News Tribune, and now the cuts are going deeper. Last week I got the word that my column has been downsized again and effective June 1 The Tribune will only publish one review a month.

I don't blame my editors – the papers are really hurting financially, and many staff writers, freelancers, editors and staff are being let go completely so I'm lucky to have a gig at all. The papers are becoming mere shells of what they once were and talented and hard working writers are finding themselves unemployed – you know, just like teachers and fire fighters and factory workers.

I have been reviewing area theaters for eight years. It has been a dream job. I get to take my wife on a date to the theater sometimes up to two or even three times a week, and then tell people what I thought about the plays, and I get paid for it. What could possibly be better? Now I still get to do that, but only once a month, and how long before even that gets taken away?

People in the theater community have come to expect my coverage as a way to get the word out about their productions, and I've always felt a responsibility to cover as much as possible, even reviewing plays in my blog that I haven’t been able to review in print. This is a responsibility I welcome, and I intend to keep that up to the best of my ability so long as theaters are willing to comp me. I don’t get paid for reviews published in my blog, and it costs me time and money, especially when having to commute now that gas prices have gone through the roof. I live in Olympia and have to commute to review plays in other towns. With this in mind, what I will do is sometimes get guest writers to review shows in Tacoma and elsewhere that I am not reviewing for TNT. For instance, Michael Dresdner is going to review “I’m Into Something Good” at Centerstage for my blog.

My scheduled reviews for the rest of this month are:
May 11 – “Unexpected Tenderness” at Harlequin Productions, reviewed for my blog (hint: already seen it and loved it)
May 13 – “Hello, Dolly!” at Tacoma Musical Playhouse, The News Tribune
May 18 – “I’m Into Something Good” at Centerstage, reviewed by Michael Dresdner for my blog
May 20 – “Dog Sees God” at South Puget Sound Community College, my blog
May 20 – “Fame” at Capital Playhouse, The News Tribune

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