Cricket's Notebook "Sunday, 21 October, 2007 12:11 a m: <BR>"The 'Veiled Monologues' Controversey"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


Sunday, 21 October, 2007 12:11 a m:
"The 'Veiled Monologues' Controversey"

This has been a very busy theatrical year, and I just spent two uneasy weeks feeling the lightning-strikes of back-spasms while trying to get to nine shows and being interviewed over Walpole Public Television. The last thing I needed, nestled poisonously among the discomforts and the pains, was a vitriolic e-mail brangle over style with a supposedly experienced new critic I had over-rashly invited to send The Mirror her reviews. When several pointed comments and complaints of mine were ignored, that argument boiled over when I woke up, after seeing "The Veiled Monologues" at the One Arrow Theatre, to find a spray of emotional poetry purporting to be a "review" of that very show. Since all my suggestions that some sort of editing might help the lady have been either rebuffed or ignored, I'm taking the unusual and unpleasant tack of making the controversey public. First, you should read this:

[ ]

When I read it, I searched in vain for a "lead paragraph" or anything with basic information --- the sort of paragraph I use as the introductory snippet in the Review Summaries section of The Mirror's "welcome" page. I found nothing of the sort. Since my complaints and suggestions had already been voiced, I sent her this:

From: Larry Stark
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2007 15:58:40
To:Terry Calhoun
Subject: The Veiled Monologues

This is a reasonably interesting essay, but it isn't a Review.
Can you add a paragraph that DESCRIBES THE SHOW?
I was there Wednesday, and I can't find Anything in your personalized musings that covers any of the basics.
You continually write things that people Cannot Understand unless they have ALREADY SEEN THE SHOW. A review is a report about what happens in the show that is written for people who HAVEN'T.
I'll hold this till tomorrow. If you can't or won't add a paragraph for the people who Haven't seen the show, telling them what's in store ffor them, I'll run this.
Then, if I can find the time, I guess I have to try to write a REVIEW as an intrioduction to all your fantasies.
Your call.

Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2007 22:39:06 +0000 From: "terry"
Subject: Re: The Veiled Monologues
To: "Larry Stark"

This is all about the show. I will add another graph. What would you like me to describe since I've covered every aspect the history the music the women their views the players the context
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

And then this:

Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2007 23:03:29 +0000
From: "terry"
Subject: Re: The Veiled Monologues
To: "Larry Stark"

This review is not my musings. Its literally the core of the show. A bunch of openended questions. You were there. You are male. You have never experienced any of these things I have experienced several. The other women I walked home with felt the same. This sets the stage as they did with veiled meanings unfurled slowly suggestions of things. What do you want me to write that graph about. All the women here loved my review(s)
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Well, I had learned from the "reviewer's" other essays:
"The Kentucky Cycle --- Part II"
"Man of La Mancha"
that the only thing she ever reviews is --- herself. What I see in her work is a person standing in the camera-beam so that all she can see is, not the show, but her own shadow obscuring it. She is living proof that the chronic illness that affects most critics --- myself as well, I think --- is elephantiasis of the ego, which she has in its most full-blown advanced form.

Okay, maybe I should try to answer her own question: "What would you like me to describe [?]"

I really would like a bit more of the "who-what-when-where" basics. For instance:

"ART's one week tour of The Veiled Monologues at Zero Arrow Theatre, Cambridge"
This is innacurate --- though the press-packet could be to blame. I don't know what "one week tour" is supposed to mean, but The American Repertory Theatre is really nothing but The Landlord here.

"It is abundantly evident that the players have worked together intimately, fearfully, fearlessly and it's worth reading the program's history to fully comprehend."

Yeah, and it might be useful to people who haven't seen the show if this "reviewer" shared a little of that basic information:
The company is from Holland where they created the show, they toured it across Europe, and they were invited here by women's studies and Islamic studies departments at Harvard.
"The Veiled Monologues" grew out of a production in Holland of "The Vagina Monologues"; Adelheid Roosen directed; she wrote the script from interviews with women who had been born in Islamic countries but later moved to Holland. The twelve monologues focus on all ages of a woman's growing up, compare attitudes to sex (as well as to women) in both Islamic and Western cultures, and tell women's stories in unashamed graphic language. The Dutch word "Kont" is mostly the subject itself of one entire monologue. (The night I was there half a dozen people, male as well as female, trickled out of the audience at various times; I have no idea, really, why they did.)

"Their body language reeks familiarity, when appropriate and necessary, fear, contempt, male and/or female hormones." " .. there is underlying respect for the joys, loves, sorrows, pain in these women's tales that somehow echo Chaucer."

"reeks" ? When I saw the show, I smelled nothing. But of course I am an ignorant, irrelevent male. I would like to hear more about those "Chaucerian echoes," though...

And since there is no physical description in this "review" let me try to supply some:
The night I was there the four Dutch performers --- dressed in basic-black cocktail dresses and black high-heeled pumps which they often discarded to feel a large, lush beige rug with their bare, dancing feet --- were already on stage. Stretched along the back of the wide performance-space was a simple black sofa with short right-angle wings at both ends, plus a chair. One of the women --- probably Sercan Engin --- played a narrow, long-necked guitar-like instrument, and a round, flat drum. In turn, one of the other three would announce a title and then another would portray the interviewee telling her tale, giving her insights, making her comments. Once or twice a woman would tie a big colorful bandana over one hip for brief belly-dances.
To start the show, choosing one of their number, they ritually twined a long white strip into a loose turban around her forehead and hair, which she shook free to allow her long dark hair to flow.
Then, the monologues began.

Now, knowing some basic facts about the show, read this again:

[ "The Veiled Monologues" ]


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