Bogner gives his take on the Morgan James INTO THE WOODS "controversy"
By Ryan Bogner (Producer, Wingnut)
An actress by the name of Morgan James (recently appearing the recent GODSPELL revival) made a critical error in judgement when she tweeted that the first preview of INTO THE WOODS at Shakespeare in the park was #horrible.
The entire twitterverse decended upon her for not supporting her community with such vitriol in a public forum, to the point where she issued a very conciliatory apology early last evening, clearly motivated by both geniune regret and a fear of the implications of her actions on the future of her career as an actress.
And that's pretty much the end of that story. She made a poor judgement call by lashing out with her feelings on Twitter in the middle of a first preview at intermission, her colleagues reminded her of that fact and she apologized. And honestly she probably should have known better than to make such a harsh judgement at an early preview.
But all this being said and even with my general agreement with the conventional wisdom here, there's one piece of the story that's stuck in my mind. In one of her tweets before her full on apology James mentions that she doesn't have to like everything and that the show "wasn't for her"
Her comment makes me wonder about the level of discourse we can have amongst ourselves in a public forum about our art.
James lacked tact here, but she is entitled to her opinion. I'm in full agreement that the method of voicing this opinion and choice of vocabulary were not calm and thoughtful expressions of criticism of a show...but I have a feeling that even if she expressed her dislike of this particular production in the most eloquent way possible she still would have received similar backlash for expressing that dislike publicly.
Are our only options to loudly and proudly support everything that's produced in our industry or remain silent about what we don't like just because we all work in the theater? Is there any way that she could have said "saw Into the Woods tonight, and you know what it wasn't for me" publicly without it exploding into an argument over who's supposed to support who, or worse be potentially career ending?
Maybe there isn't. Is our art form so fragile and our egos so precious that we can't handle critiscm from one of our own?
I'd like to think civil discourse in art has its place somewhere amongst the artists that work within it... we should be able to stand by what we make and respect when people don't like it. And we should be able to express thoughtfully what we don't respond to and why.
The real question is how public can we be with these criticisms. The advice I usually give to actors is never to post anything on the internet that you wouldn't put in print...but I'm starting to wonder if it's that black and white.
Oh and for the record... I am super excited for this production of INTO THE WOODS.
If I like it when I see it...you'll hear about it...if not...my lips are sealed.
RYAN BOGNER is a New York based Theater Producer. He has produced Yeast Nation, Here Lies Love, Hurricane and Hey, You Know What Movie Would Make a Good Musical? among others, and is working towards an MFA in Theater Management and Producing at Columbia University. www.heyyouknowwhatproductions.com