Confessions of a Broadway Stay – Put
I have just read a “Cultural Commentary” by an author called Joanne Kaufman that was published in The Wall Street Journal online. I use the word author with trepidation because what I read is not worthy (in my extremely humble opinion) of publication. I searched for information on Ms Kaufman and all I could find was old articles she had written. I could find no Wikepedia page or bio on her. I don’t know if she has written any books or what credentials she has for being paid to write for a publication as well respected as The Wall Street Journal; but I would not call her a professional, in any sense of the word. The reason? Her column is called cultural commentary and the story I read was one in which she, proudly, declares herself to be one of those people who leaves theaters during the intermission. She seems quite defiant and happy in her habitual intermission flight, stating that “Because of my profession, I get free tickets…”. I don’t think that it is professional to write about something that you have not, fully, experienced. I also don’t think it is cultural to leave a show at the intermission; but, then, Ms Kaufman proves that she is not interested in culture by stating her distaste for Shakespeare and plays that are not a 90 minute one act. She says her tastes are cosmopolitan; but her behaviour is not. She is the worst kind of audience member and the worst kind of journalist – the kind who goes to the theater looking for something to hate, to criticize, to spur her not very humourous jokes. This behaviour (and the pride she takes in it) is nothing more than self centered tackiness, masquerading as intelligent wit.
I believe that, if you are a professional whose job is to cover the theater scene, you should feel a sense of obligation to sit in the seat until the play is finished, applaud the professionals on the stage, go home and THEN, if you want to write a bitchy story about it, go ahead. It’s like the people who skip election day: if you don’t vote, don’t complain. If you can’t be bothered to respect the creators of that which you are there to observe in print, you have no right to the position you hold.
Yes. I have left shows during the intermission – as a member of the public, not as a writer sent to cover the show. Usually if I am ill. Rarely, other than that. Once, I attended a production of Hedda Gabler (not the one with Kate Burton, which I adored). It was dreadful. The friend who took me was on the Tony nominating committee and, upon the start of the intermission, she turned to me and said “Do you want to leave?” I replied “I will do whatever you would like.” She told me “I’m a Tony nominator, I will stay to the end of the play.” We were in agony but when it was over, we went home with our integrity intact.
I don’t understand Ms Kaufman’s delight, her glee, in taking up seats at costly theatrical productions (which many would like but cannot afford), only to flee, giddily, from the theater, disrespecting (also) the people who provided her with the seats, as a professional courtesy. She, then, follows up her disrespect by publishing not very well written, mean spirited stories about this appalling behaviour, using the names of the productions she has reviled (but not seen in their entirety), all the while defending her petty, juvenile actions in the name of her profession. WAIT. I used the word juvenile. That is unfair to the two children I know who are both under the age of ten but who sat through MATILDA, enrapt, for 2 hours and 45 minutes, a task the judgmental and disdainful Ms Kaufman was unable to accomplish. I think this behaviour is less than professional: it is shameful.
I wish the editors, the publishers, the powers that be at The Wall Street Journal, could look at this story in the light that many people online are seeing and decide that this so called author’s talents would be better served as a writer of greeting card sentiments (if the woman has sentiments which, to this point, I have noted no evidence of) and fire her smug and smarmy ass, replacing her with a writer who knows their job, their role, their place, has some talent, some respect, some manners, some dignity and maybe even a little human kindness.
I, for one, would be happy to fill out an application.