Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Return to Comment Moderation

Comment moderation is back on. I dragged my feet in making this decision with high hopes that it wouldn't be necessary, that the snarkiness and flaming would die out, but obviously it hasn't.

Name calling, personal attacks or insinuations, flaming, conspiracy theories, etc., will be deleted, as will attacks by people who sign their names on those who remain anonymous. Even if you write the most brilliant essay on why a play does or doesn't work, but begin by attacking a prior commenter, that beautiful post will be deleted. Anonymous posting is still allowed; I can hardly disallow that (nor do I want to) given that followspot itself is a handle, and anonymous critics have existed since time eternal. As always, open, honest, constructive discussion, passionate debate, humor and silliness will be allowed (see Richard II or Assassins).

When and why the posting became so ugly is beyond me. So let me just say: The impetus behind this blog is a love of and fascination with theatre. For good or bad, theatre is a community; we're all in this together.

-- followspot


Marty Hughley said...

So...rather than requiring personal responsibility you're going to require niceness?
It strikes me as a sad state when that seems like the more fruitful approach -- not that I have anything against being nice. I just suppose that in trying to foster a vibrant and useful discussion, I'd put somewhat higher a value on honesty and transparency.
Then again, I imagine that from time to time there are circumstances that make signing of comments problematic.
Here's hoping the moderated approach works.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope to heck this works.

Anonymous said...

Peace happens

Anonymous said...

Simply awesome! Thank you followspot.

Tom said...

I still can't understand why we don't just force people to pick a username and login. They can still be anonymous and yet, their comments will be attributable to the one source. This format works very well in virtually all forums on the internet.

Tom Moorman

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, it's probably time for followspot to wrap up.

The site ads almost nothing other than the flame war ability. Hardly any shows are even reviewed here anymore. The last thing we need is another online listing of what's playing. There are many better ones.

The original fs was interesting as one person's point of view. It was a passionate, detailed record.

fs no longer has a clear function. It feels like it's just being kept alive as a burden. What's the point?

Anonymous said...


it's been three days and NO posts have either been posted or allowed.

followspot consider this.

to me, an anon poster who relishes any opportunity to denegrate, attack or otherwise vent my spleen, it's a sad day.

followspot said...

Sorry for the delay in getting comments through - blogger wasn't sending the comment notifications to my email, so I just now saw the link on the dashboard telling me there were comments.

Marty and Tom - I understand your points, particularly re personal responsibility. I'm definitely not asking for niceness on the blog, just a reduction in flaming and the wars that spring therefrom that have prevented vibrant and useful discussion. If a flame can be caught immediately, perhaps that will stop the spiral into madness that occurs. Once before the site used the format where people were required to choose an ID, however, I don’t think people understood that they could post under a handle that would not reveal their real identity, so people chose not to post. No doubt the issue of moderation will be revisited.

As for the comments about the usefulness of the blog, I suppose the audience, in the end, will determine if they wish to keep reading.

The site will be getting back on track for reviews. Night jobs put a temporary kabosh on seeing shows.

steve said...

I think this is a good move. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

One of the problems with anonymous posting that you don't get to "face your accuser"
Now by that I don't mean someone who says your performance was "weak"
That is an opinion.
What I refer to is posters who say
"you sucked, you've always sucked and I can't imagine how you ever get cast"
That is an attack.
The only people who would write something like that would be either a fundamentally mean person (for whom there is basically no hope) or person with a grudge.
Now how can I, as the subject of the grudge, make amends if I do not know the identity of the poster?
What if it's all a mistake.
What if the reason for their grudge is that they heard, or rather misheard something that simply is not true.
Therefore, anonymous posting is basically (if we use court law as a guide) against the law.
Now don't go all postal.
I am just making an illustration.

Anonymous said...

A Love Letter To Theatre:
Why is theatre so inspiring, addicting, wondrous and magical?
What is it?
It has been around for a while now -- there must be some reason.

My earliest recollections of theatre begin at age 7.
The family went to see a production of The Scarlet Pimpernel. (I thought it was going to be about pumpernickel bread with red jam). It was in a foreign language and I was not able to follow the story, but I knew from the reactions of the audience that something great was going on on that stage.
Next I can remember attending theatre in a large city. I loved mingling with the crowd in the lobby.
The buzz of anticipation, the well dressed couples, the delightful scents of the ladies.
The theatre experiences I had when in my teens tended to be mind blowingly good.
I was lucky to live in a city that ran a lot of Broadway shows with the original cast intact.
(In a way, from then on, I was spoiled for good theatre)
Thus, I learned early how important sharp direction was, coupled with confident, crisp performances.
I learned what the audience loved and what left them silent.
So what about the audience?
What makes them so devoted to this experience? What exactly is in it for them?
Why leave your house, pay big money and risk a big let down?
Why not trust the TV or the movie star to deliver that desired recreational interlude?
It used to be that the theatre was a little more naughty or a little more literate than those choices.
Not so anymore.
(Cable is as naughty as you wanna be and some cable shows and OPB are literate to be sure)
Is it the high-wire act of live performance that is so seductive?
Is it a form of hero worship? Celebrities we can see and maybe even talk to at the stage door?
Sure, but perhaps this view is a little misguided. Afterall, those who are practitioners of the theatre tend to be self-centered, overly sensitive, and vain. As well as immature and insecure. These characteristics are, not surprisingly, career assets. In fact, for said practitioners, is this the journey they must take to exorcise those demons? Do they come out the other end the better for it?
As for the non-performers, the designer types, they too, while wildly different from performers in personality, (ever try to talk to a designer for more than two minutes about something other than the work at hand? They are pretty private, retiring types) tend towards a certain, "my way or the highway" attitude when pushed.
Directors (and I include here choreographers, music directors) seem to have a certain disdain for the performers. I don't really blame them.
The discipline of acting almost demands that they, the actors, be largely childish in make up.
(It is their job to prance about in front of us aping emotions on cue. What is more childlike than that?)
A director then, has to be a parent. In that light, the right mix of nurturing and tough love can make for a devoted cast.
Still, directors I know see actors as a necessary evil. Hitchcock, when asked if it were true that he thought actors were cattle, denied it and explained, "What I said was that they should be treated like cattle."
The writers of theatre too, tend toward an alternative solitary lifestyle and personality. After all, they work alone.
If they were showoffs they would be actors too.
So certainly the attraction of theatre is not that its creators are perfect, admirable and to be emulated.
It is the sum of these imperfect parts that somehow coalesces into a marvelous whole of perfection. Isn't that was art is?
But I have gotten off the path of my initial question.

Anonymous said...

Why is theatre so important to so many?
Why does it inspire so much passion?
I guess, for me anyway, theatre is the place I feel most connected to my fellow beings.
A conversation is taking place through the actors. They speak, we respond.
Thus, I have magically gotten to know what others in the room think without asking them or even meeting them.
I guess that's it.
It makes me feel a part of this world.
It makes me feel (to quote Shaw) like "an active verb."

So, I will continue to go, and I will continue to seek the pure, joyous experience of that connection, that discovery, that elation at knowing a common bond with my seat mates.
It sounds almost religious in overtones, and in a way, it is.
(A church, or other place of worship, has a set, costumes, script(ures), music and performers.)
And like church, theatre can connect you with an invaluable lesson, or not so much.

Even now, decades in to my career as a lover of theatre, there is nothing more promising than the moment when the house lights dim and silence overtakes the crowd. That moment is perfect. That moment has nothing but potential.
At that moment, the production has 100 points.
When I exit the venue at the end of the couple of hours I have invested, my life will either be
improved, the same or I will be confused and bitter,
I accept that as part of the gamble.
Maybe that's part of the fascination: The Gamble of it all.
The players gamble that they will be "on" and the audience gambles that they will be moved to laughter, tears or awe.

Now that I think about it, theatre combines nearly all the arts into one cohesive (when things go well) package. Design (visual art), dance, written word, music -- both vocal and instrumental -- and even three dimensional sculpture, upon occasion. Fashion too, is on display.
It's all of a piece. (And if the intermission cookies are good, even the culinary arts make an appearance).
The best comedies incorporate dramatic tension and the best tragedies use humor to leaven the darkness.
What more can you ask for, really?
Hmmm. Maybe some popcorn and valet parking.
(Included in the price of admission of course)
Now that would be something.
But even without those adornments, theatre is just pretty damned interesting.

Anonymous said...

this is a legitimate alert.
someone is sending emails around town impersonating other persons and making incredibly harsh remarks.
html research is being done (by one of the victims) to track down the perpetrator of these fraudulent emails.
as this may have been going on for some time, everyone in this community should be aware that if you get a rude email from someone you wouldn't expect one from, or if people are acting strangely towards you, it may be the result of this poser who apparently enjoys stirring up trouble for others.
be warned.

splattworks said...

I'm not sure this adds anything to why theatre's important to people, but when I think of truly memorable shows, it seems like they had an element of danger. Like they were going to take me to some place where, man, I wasn't sure I even wanted to go. Or they took me to a place I couldn't imagine. I loved the feeling that, in my heart, there was a sense that I was about to experience something deep and powerful, and I had to brace myself for it. That sometimes there was even a feeling of panic, like I wasn't ready for it...for whatever was going to happen to the characters or what kind of twists they would put me through. If it worked, if that actually happened, there was a tremendous sense of completion, and I left the theatre wrung out, with a head full of ideas or images that I'd carry for days (and, in some instances, never forget).

Theatre often doesn't reach those heights, but it's frequently funny and entertaining, and it's a pleasure to watch talented people pull a piece together. But the reason I keep coming back (and I guess the reason I keep doing it myself) is to shoot for the Zone.


Anonymous said...

The paeans to theater above have largely left out one other part of the experience: being a viewer in an audience, WITH an audience. That's another factor that is different, because an audience not only affects -- feeds on -- itself, but also affects and feeds the performance. (Not the case in a movie house.) In a small way, and sometimes in a very large one (I went to "Inviting Desire" on Friday and stayed for the stand-up mike audience portion of the show, which was as moving and inspiring as the rehearsed performance that preceded it), a theater audience is part of the performance in a way that it isn't, quite, at any other mass event, save perhaps a rock concert.

Anonymous said...

to expand/distill on the preceding comment: the theatre audience and performers comprise a modern substitute for the ritual gatherings of our not really so distant past. we all need to commune on the spiritually charged level that great theatre provides. no matter who the audience is, popes and presidents or chidren or even the narrowist-minded; all are effected to the core by effective theatre and its catharthis. it's what i believe in.

Anonymous said...

right on.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't sure where to post this. Having seen A Chorus Line some 30 times with the original B'way cast, then watching the new doc about the mounting of the recent B'way revival, I found I knew every note, line and step of the show after 30 years.
For those who are fans, the film plays again on Saturday at Cinema 21.
It is a remarkable look at the audition process.