To the editors:
I don't know whether February has become "death to the writer" month, but between the Ayatollah and threats made by anonymous artistic directors of local theaters [February 3 and 24]--against your reviewer, Tom Boeker--I see a very unfortunate trend.
Having been associated with two productions that have received the "Boeker cure" (one being particularly outrageous and devastating), I am not writing as an outside observer or as one who has been vindicated by Mr. Boeker's good judgment.
I wish merely to point out how lucky our theater community is to have such a controversial and irreverent scourge among us. As proponents of "dramatic art," we should certainly delight (and most of us secretly do when we're not the victim) in the passions aroused in Mr. Boeker's heart. And the reason for this delight lies in our recognizing that the real enemy of theater is indifference--evidenced in polite applause, "bittersweet" reviews and seats filled only by creditors, friends and kin.
In other cities where I've worked, reviewers have all too often engaged in a conspiracy to promote bad theater through TOO MUCH REVERENCE and an interior decorator's repertoire of adjectives. The result of the kid glove treatment is that theater has become ever more narcissistic, self-enclosed and marginal to the actual dramas of our society.
In the present controversy over Mr. Boeker, I believe that the first anonymous letter of February 3rd (suggesting the reviewer may be surprised one evening and marched on stage) is very much in the spirit of theater and of the natural antagonism between creators and critics. The author's anonymity in that case served the rather humorous threat contained in the letter.
As to last week's "Say No to Boeker" campaign letter, I think the anonymous author is both cowardly and unwittingly (I hope) serving the cause of censorship in this country. If this unnamed irate director thinks his theater should be able to select the reviewer your paper is in no way obliged to send, or to bar the door to anyone--I humbly suggest he write his own blurbs for the ads and that all his theater seats be filled by mirrors.
In wishing the Boeker controversy a long and passionate life, I'll sign myself, respectfully,