Anonymous Comments

I was informed last night that almost a year ago someone sharing the same IP address as I have sometimes used has anonymously written comments on the blog Confessions of a Chicago Theatre Addict. Because of the shared IP addresses, the writer of the blog, Robert Bullen, had been led to believe that I was posing as someone else in order to criticize his writing.

While there are multiple possibilities as to why someone might share the same IP address as the one that appeared when I commented, that is not the point of this post. The point is that I am deeply hurt that people would think I would stoop to such a low level as to hide behind anonymous commenting in order to criticize individuals, to draw attention to myself, or to start arguments with myself. I find anonymous commenting, particularly when using comments as a form of criticizing a writer, to be one of the greatest forms of cowardice and deeply unprofessional. After my own experiences with anonymous commenters, I am in favor of requiring people to connect their comments to Facebook or Twitter accounts in order to hold them more accountable for their actions. I would never hide behind an alias in order to attack someone or criticize them and would rather send them an email or discuss a matter over coffee. I am saddened people would jump to such a conclusion about me as a writer and a journalist because that does affect my credibility and integrity. If there is anyone else that has been led to believe I have attacked them anonymously, I am immensely sorry that you were led to believe this since it is something I would not do.

That being said, this is the second time in less than a month I have written on this blog about anonymous commenters on theater-related blogs. I am tired of writing about this topic because anonymous comments as a form of attacking a writer is something I deeply despise after my own experiences on this blog. I would like to think that the theater portion of the blogosphere is not as filled with vitriol as it tends to be, particularly in comments, but the past month has shown to me this is not the case.

As a result of my disdain for those who comment anonymously, I have decided to implement a new commenting policy for Fragments. Starting immediately, I will no longer approve comments in which a person does not use their full first and last name, unless their comment is linked to a WordPress blog. This applies to everyone, even members of my family and close friends. I have decided that if I am really annoyed by this, I should try to do something.

That is all. I will return to blogging about non-theater related topics next week because I’m in the middle of finals right now.

The Continuing Saga of Critics vs. Bloggers, Tweeters

For at least three years, it has been discussed as to whether or not bloggers were making theater critics, and critic in general, obsolete. This is a topic that won’t die, like whether or not print journalism is dead. In fact, the discussion of the irrelevance of print and broadcast theater critics prompted me to discuss this topic in a crudely drawn comic last year.
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I had announced about a month ago that I was going to stop reviewing theater. I then decided that I was going to pursue something I had wanted to do for a while and get the education to become an epidemiologist. Meaning that I’m not going to have theater be my primary career field.

I’ll still write plays and occasionally write posts about theater, but I realized one day that I could not see myself spending the rest of my life working in theater.

I would like to thank the people that have been very supportive of me after I made this decision. While other people were questioning my sanity because biology and epidemiology are polar opposites of theater, my mom, sister and my friends in Chicago have been there for when I’m frustrated and they haven’t questioned my decision at all. (My mother also put it this way, “When you go to the CDC’s website often and are frustrated by the website being down, you might want to rethink your career.”)

At this moment, Fragments feels a bit in limbo. I still want to have an outlet to write thought pieces and interviews or articles on topics other than theater; that is something that still interests me, but I don’t want to do it full time. So the focus of Fragments will be more of a culture blog that focuses on music, movies, books, food, and theater. Those are all things that interest me greatly and I think I can easily write about now and then without feeling obligated to do so.

Because another problem was that I was feeling obligated to write posts for this blog and I don’t want to constantly talk about theater. It’s a very bad sign if you feel obligated to update your blog and that’s why the focus of Fragments is going to change.

I hope you continue to read this blog despite my decisions.

Thank you.

Do Critics Matter Today?

There’s recently been some discussion and complaining after John Simon remarked that bloggers are “the vermin of this society.” After attempting to write a post, I found that the best way I could discuss this was through a comic. As a result, I drew the following comic. Please remember: I don’t draw comics or cartoons, so this is a first for me.

I present, “Do Critics Matter Today?: A Cartoon”

Do Critics Matter Today? Page 1

"Do Critics Matter Today?" Page 2

(Click to enlarge)

Moments of Wow

First of all, I turned on my computer yesterday morning to find messages telling me that I was mentioned on The Guardian’s theater blog. Chris Wilkinson of the Guardian addressed the lack of female theater bloggers on his 2009 best theater bloggers list. He pointed to a list on the Drama, Daily blog, which I was mentioned on along with many other very talented writers, many of whom I admire greatly.

He then pointed to particular posts that caught his eye and one of them was my post about the Halcyon Theatre’s Alcyone Festival, which is featuring the works of María Irene Fornés.

I’m really not sure what to say about this. I’m quite flattered and a bit surprised because I’m just a college student. I really don’t expect to find my blog linked to by the Guardian.

The second moment of wow is brought to you by Catey Sullivan of the Chicago Theater Blog, who sent WNEP founding artistic director Don Hall, who writes the blog An Angry White Guy in Chicago, a cease and desist letter after he put her review of WNEP’s The (edward) Hopper Project on his blog and commented on it.

It should be noted that Hall has done this with all of the reviews of the show, including the ones from the Windy City Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Reader and Time Out Chicago. Sullivan is the only one to send a cease and desist letter and I’m really not sure why other than that she was upset that it was put on there without her permission. In my opinion, if you’re writing something that will be put online, be prepared for people to copy it in its entirety. However, I also think that what Hall is doing is a great idea because it’s creating a dialogue between the critic and the artist, which I think needs to happen more.

Two Theater Bloggers Walk Into a Coffee Shop

The other night, I met Zev Valancy, who writes the excellent blog On Chicago Theatre, for coffee/tea and a discussion about theater and various other topics.

Zev happens to know what he’s talking about in terms of Chicago theater than I do, so I highly recommend you read his blog. Actually, I just recommend you read his blog period because he has some very well founded opinions that he puts in a very thought out manner. So, go read his blog now.

I now really wish I had seen “Titus Andronicus” at the Court Theatre after listening to Zev talk about it.

So, I repeat. Zev is a nice, very intelligent guy who has a great blog. It might not be updated every day, but when he does have a new post, it is definitely worth reading.