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Director: Calling Our Play a 'Failure' Is a Bit Scathing

I have always appreciated the Tucson Weekly's outstanding coverage and support of our local arts scene, and was delighted to learn that arts editor Margaret Regan chose to attend the opening performance of The Transylvanian Clockworks at Beowulf Alley Theatre. However, I was so stunned by the dismissive quality of her review that I felt it could not be ignored or left unchallenged ("Looks at Love and Sex," Performing Arts, Oct. 28).

As the director of the piece (and speaking for myself and not necessarily the company), I can probably be expected to differ with Ms. Regan's assessment of our work. However, I well understand that critics, absent any particular ax to grind, attempt to make a reasoned evaluation of what they see and report honestly to their readers. I can take no issue with that, and I take her at her word that she felt the collaborative effort of a score of dedicated artists and technicians over several weeks amounted to no more than "an ambitious failure."

I suppose it is the use of that last word, "failure," which has moved me to respond as I have never done before to a published review. I can accept that Ms. Regan did not appreciate the genius of Don Nigro's script, that she found the two hours interminable, or that she found the pace of my direction to be "glacial." And I appreciate her recognition that we chose to produce a challenging script. That all our efforts resulted in a disappointing experience for one audience member (unfortunately, one who gets to publish her opinions) is truly a disappointment in itself. But "failure" seems a bit scathing, does it not?

Were the actors unprepared? Were scene transitions—and there are a lot of them—sloppy? Were there any technical gaffes, costume problems or difficulties with any production element? Did we at any point betray the playwright's intentions? Did we fail to tell the story? Were we in any way insensitive to our audience? If so, Ms. Regan did not indicate as much. I'm relieved that for the most part she was kind to my actors and production team, saving the brunt of her displeasure for me and the playwright, but I find little justification for the brand of "failure." Surely we must have succeeded somewhere. I would expect to have our ears boxed for a slapdash reading, but I can't imagine what Ms. Regan saw was any less than a solid production, whether or not she enjoyed Mr. Nigro's script or my direction.

We have a diverse mix of participants, from seasoned hands with decades of professional experience to students gaining practical experience in the field. I understand, as I'm sure my colleagues young and old do, that the critic's role is not to stoke our ego. Obviously, we would love to hear an "official" pronouncement that our efforts were successful, but ultimately, a fair assessment of both where we excelled as well as where we fell short is what we should expect. Does Ms. Regan really feel that we would be comfortable delivering anything less than our best effort to our audience? Granted, sometimes you do your best, and it just doesn't work. If that was truly the case with The Transylvanian Clockworks, we would have liked your readers to understand where and why, so they could make a truly informed decision. Thanks to Ms. Regan's curt dismissal, I doubt many will read past the headline.

I've truly enjoyed reading Ms. Regan's articles over the years, and recognize her skills as a writer and critic. I appreciate your time and consideration for reading what unfortunately had to be a complaint, and wish everyone at the Weekly many, many more years of success.

Dave Sewell

Director, The Transylvanian Clockworks at Beowulf Alley Theatre Company


Comments From Readers at TucsonWeekly.com

Regarding various election coverage:

I'm so glad (Jesse Kelly) lost. He kept making offhand comments about Jesus. ... Oh, and his so-called policies were half-baked at best and wholly unsustainable.

—Sabreur

"(Associated Press) follows TW's lead (in calling the Congressional District 8 race for Gabrielle Giffords." ... I'm sure the AP was just bursting with anticipation, wondering when Jim Nintzel and the TW would call the race! Jim ... do you feel respected when you see banner ads for tittie bars and dildo dealers flying all over your blog posts?

—willadamus

But ... Jan (Brewer) have uh, done ... so much and cannot believe that we have changed everything since she became governor ... and moving forward with ... everything ... we can possibly do ... uh ... (5 minute pause) we have, uh ... did. Stuff.

—impulsenine

There were (tens of thousands of) brain-dead excuses for human matter walking the streets of Tucson, and the other communities in Pima, Pinal, Cochise and Santa Cruz counties voting for little Missy Flip-Flop (Giffords) not because of her record, but because she's a cutie, but not much else. You can't be for us if you're for Obamacare and you oppose SB 1070, sweets.

—Real American Cowgirl

So, if I run a corporation, I can cut a company check to a candidate (or the third-party entity being used as the candidate's fig leaf) in the name of "free speech." (Thank you, SCOTUS!) However, if (like Keith Olbermann) I make donations of my own personal money on my own time, my "speech" is less free. Is this the latest interpretation of the "original intent" of the Constitution?

—daylate n'dollarshort

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