Sunday, September 15, 2013
FEEDBACK: Praise and Criticism
Hello everyone and welcome to Theater is a Sport.
Here is one e-mail I received this last Friday (note: I did not change a word):
"Hi I think this is how I reach Bobby Keniston? I am the Director of Theatre at St. Paul's School and am interested in producing The Re-programming of Jeremy. I would like for you to guide me through the process of achieving the rights?
Would also love for the playwright to possibly come in to discuss the process of writing this fine piece.
This obviously made me feel good. Especially the part about "the process of writing this fine piece." The play he is talking about, The Re-Programming of Jeremy, is an unpublished piece I am very fond of, and I'm very happy this nice gentlemen David liked it and wants to produce it.
Here is another e-mail I received on Friday, this one by a seventh-grade actress (I also did not change a word, though removed her last name):
"I recently purchased the end of the movie to preform in a forensics competition and received it in the mail today. I am a little confused by the ending, all if that leading up to one line changing his decision. It diminishes then piece and takes away drama from it. My friend and I are disappointed to preform it and wish it had ended another way. Could you explain what you were thinking?
Taylor (a seventh grade actress)"
Obviously, this second note stung a little. As a writer, you want to please people who read your scripts (particularly a young person). It's not easy to read about two young actors being "disappointed to perform" something you've written.
Now, I responded to David, thanking him very much for his kind words.
And I responded to Taylor as well... THANKING her as well. I thanked her for reading my script and taking the time to write to me, and then, to the best of my ability, answered the questions she asked me. I have no idea if I'll hear back from Taylor, or if my answers are going to help her see the play in a different way and like it better, but, I feel I owe it to a reader to write back if at all possible. I'm fairly certain that Taylor, being in seventh grade, perhaps didn't realize that she was a little direct with her criticism. To be truthful, I was sort of delighted by her message, considering she how young she is, and how her criticism of my play was well thought out, and obviously she had read the piece in its entirety and thought about it. Good for her! It's cool to think about a 7th grade actress taking it as seriously as she obviously does, and I do hope my response was met in that same serious spirit.
I so rarely receive correspondence about my work, that getting two messages on the same day was very exciting, the good and the not-so-good.
So... what's the lesson?
Well, to start with, always be appreciative of the feedback of your work, so long as it is clear that the person has truly read or watched your work and thought about it. Had I received a letter just saying that End of the Movie is stupid and that I'm obviously a bad writer, I wouldn't have even considered a moment in writing back. But this letter I received was thought out. My response to her was in no way defensive, but, rather, appreciative of her thoughts, and, attempting to give my thought process in why I made the choices I made in writing the piece. And, of course, I have had SO much positive feedback for End of the Movie, that I feel very good about the piece. It was almost somewhat refreshing to read a differing opinion.
So, appreciate the feedback you receive, good or thoughtfully critical. After all, it's still a person who is taking the time to read (or view) something you have created.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all we can really ask for.
Until next time, please remember--- Theater is a sport.